So, this idea, sprung upon while watching Miss 4 playing in the fallen leaves of the beautiful Japanese weeping cherry trees in the Mt a Lofty Botanic Gardens, is to plant a weeping grafted standard tree in the backyard which will eventually grow into a living cubby house for the kidlets.
I've been researching all sorts of options, and talking to people in a couple of specialist tree nurseries around Adelaide. A weeping cherry would have been perfect, except I'm told they are very slow growing (damn) and would probably hate my hot-spot hilltop (double damn). Most other options (eg weeping crabapple, weeping apple, Japanese maple etc) would also be too slow, or too narrow etc etc. I have reluctantly settled on a weeping (grafted) mulberry. My reservations are two-fold: Firstly, I'm just in the process of taking out the black mulberry I planted three years ago because the fruit was rubbish and not at all like the mulberries I remember, and because the yard has evolved and there is no longer room for such a potentially large tree (especially one with tasteless fruit), and secondly I'm a little concerned that this eventual cubby will look like the Tombliboos house from that kids' TV show Miss 4 insists on subjecting us to every evening.
(Image from http://exigenomicon.typepad.com/exigenomicon/2012/01/what-i-think-about-during-in-the-night-garden-.html)
Image from http://ozmummy.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/in-mulberry-tree.html)
Mulberry trees do tick quite a few of the required boxes: they are comparatively fast growing, suitable for our dry climate, and have edible fruit (yes, even the white mulberry I plan on planting... fingers crossed).
So worth a punt, I think. And I wish I'd thought of it three years ago when I first planted that mulberry.