The spring will bring with it the opening of a Children’s Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville, which is being designed to provide the chance for play and learning in a botanical-rich setting.
Capping the Gainesville garden’s five-year anniversary, the grand opening for the new Ada Mae Pass Ivester Children’s Garden will be held on March 21.
Perched on the highest point of the property, the 2 ½-acre garden is planted with trees, flowering shrubs, and perennials, an estimated 95 percent of which were grown on-site, some for at least seven years from seeds or cuttings. Designed by Spurlock Landscape Architects, the garden features hands-on exploration, opportunities for adventure, and water play and free play elements.
But the new space, named in honor of an avid gardener and community supporter, is not just about plants; programming is an important component as well. Children may explore the world of carnivorous plants in the bog bowls, listen to a story by the pond, discover fun facts about nature at a Discovery Station or make a craft to take home. The Build-a-Fort will provide an opportunity for budding architects and engineers to create the building of their dreams. And the Lawn Labyrinth, Treehouse and Rock Climb will provide for free play.
The winding walkway to the top of the hill is an adventure itself, with shrub tunnels serving as hideouts for miniature fairies and dragons. A balance beam dragon guards the entrance to the garden; its flames of fire lead to the Labyrinth Lawn and water play area.
A boardwalk winds through tall grasses to the Fairy Forest, home to fairy houses, enchanted tree stumps, and a castle and fairy rings connected by the Train Garden. This garden features a trolley connecting two fairy villages with fairy houses made of natural materials such as bark, pine cones, acorns, sticks, and gourds. The villages are watched over by Desmond the Dragon, a friendly creature hidden behind the pond. And everyone’s favorite giant frog plant sculptures accent the two sides of the pond, with the smaller frog spitting at the larger.
“Having watched the development and evolution of the Children’s Garden at our Atlanta location, I look forward to the new dynamic of kids engaged in a new garden space – playing, laughing and learning in a beautiful setting with friends, parents and grandparents,” said Mildred Fockele, director of the Gainesville Garden since its 2015 opening.
Garden members are invited to an exclusive celebration of the children’s garden on Saturday, March 21 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., after which it opens to the general public.