Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gardening Fun, Locally Grown and Harvested

Discover the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Last week we went to the Discovery Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Friday morning brought kids from schools on last field trips of the year and families with young children. We decided to take a spin through the different areas that make up the garden: the Nature Center, Woodland, Meadow, and Wetlands. Each was filled with blooming plants and chock full of activities for kids to explore and experience.

We started off in the Nature Center. A table at the entrance was an introduction to the Garden, with a sampling of insects and compost as well as nature books for kids to page through. Behind the table lay the good stuff. Huge compost bins with shovels encouraged kids to get their hands dirty, gently digging for red worms, pill bugs and shifting through the soil to see what lay underneath. We loved the water table. It was filled with aquatic plants that could be picked up and studied. The Center was rounded out with a Nature’s Object table that had pinecones, seed pods, and dried mosses. Observation based cards posed questions that helped guide exploration. A Garden Educator was on hand to answer questions and point out interesting facts.

We moved on to the Meadow, a small but beautiful spot featuring plants commonly found in meadows and fields. Signs identified different species of plants. Like the Nature Center there were laminated cards with observation-based questions for kids to consider. Last but not least there was an impressive metal spider with plants hanging from it.

We cooled off in the Woodlands, a shady spot where we found a fabulous bamboo water trough on the side of a small hill. Kids dump water into the trough and watch it flow down the hill into a small stream. The Wetlands’ yellow bamboo grove is right at the bottom of the trough. When harvested the bamboo is fed to the pandas in the Prospect Park Zoo. A cute little walkway allows kids to study the habitat. We looked for frogs but sadly didn’t see any.

The Discovery Garden has something there for everyone although it’s probably the most fun for kids ages 2-12. Drop-in workshops for kids are running Tuesdays & Thursday now through August 30th. — Beth Barbaro and Joanna Burgess

Beth Barbaro and Joanna Burgess are co-founders of PoP Gardens, a science education company. For more information visit

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