Children's Garden & Education
About the Children's Garden
This extraordinary garden is a botanically-rich exploratory environment where children and their families enjoy the freedom to explore the natural world. Diversity is the main theme of this garden – diversity of environments, ecosystems, plants, adaptation and human culture. Supporting self-directed, informal learning and more structured, organized education programs, the universally accessible design ensures that visitors with disabilities can participate in a full experience of the garden.
- Learn more about Planning Your Visit with Children.
- Read about Etiquette in the Children's Garden.
- See the Children's Garden Map.
The Children’s Garden takes LGBG deeper into its mission by transporting children from their built environments, digital media, televisions and computers, organized sports and music lessons to the “real world” — the world that feeds and houses them, shelters and cures them, and provides their drinking water and fresh air.
International Village (East and West)
The International Village is composed of playhouses and plantscapes representing various cultures from around the world. Each area highlights plants native to a particular region, focusing on the interdependence of the people and plants in the daily lives and prosperity of its people. Simple household and garden implements such as brooms, baskets, and water containers - are available to facilitate role-playing and cultural immersion.
Along the east side of the Garden, visitors encounter three play structures: a “tukul” suggestive of an African shelter; a “casita” inspired by shelters in Latin America; a “longhouse” based on images of Native American (Powhatan) shelters. At the far west edge of the Garden, there are two additional play structures: an Asian-inspired “tea house”; “Everyone’s House,” which is a bamboo armature that children can build upon and decorate with natural materials.
Today’s children seldom get to visit grandparents on the family farm, so we have brought the farm to the children. These six – 20’x20’ plots will provide children an opportunity to see, plant, cultivate and harvest garden vegetables and fruits, with displays of agricultural crops in Virginia and the Southeast. Produce harvested from the Farm Garden is donated to the Central Virginia Food Bank.
Bird and Butterfly Meadow
Grasslands, butterfly meadow, and conifer forest. The pathway begins in a “secret” tunnel and features willow “hideaway” play forts, walkways embedded with impressions of pollinating insects and birds, whimsical garden decorations, and small bridges along the way. Midway along the ramping portion of the path is the Leafy Overlook where guests can relax and enjoy great views of the Garden.
This feature is accessible for all children to play and cool off in the heat of the summer. Shooting water jets, gentle sprays from a giant frog and cattails, and cycling, timed features are framed by plants and a picket fence. A shady sitting area for adults to observe and monitor the children is immediately adjacent.
Weird and Contrasting Plants
This area provides the opportunity to explore, compare, and contrast interesting and unusual plant characteristics. A world full of whimsy and wonder is created by the juxtaposition of plants that are climbing up and hanging down, soft and prickly, wet and dry, big and little, fragrant and stinky. Plants of all sorts, adaptive to their unique environments and ecosystems, demonstrate composition of forms and qualities that make the world of botany so fascinating and so beautiful.
Activity Area and Sand Play
These centers for digging, building, garden design, and arts and crafts invite children to creatively engage in hands-on activities using plants, plant products, soils, water, sand, and other natural materials. A stage area is both a performance space and a durable work surface for budding artists, craftsmen and landscape architects.
With its cooling shade and panoramic view of the garden in all directions, this whimsical arbor shelter is among the highest points in the Children’s Garden. It’s a perfect spot for parents and grandparents to relax and keep an eye on their young ones as they explore the Adventure Pathway or play in the activity center. From the Leafy Overlook, visitors can continue along the elevated ramp to the Tree House.
A very special component of the Children’s Garden is a tree house that can be “climbed” by all visitors, including those with limited mobility. The tree house is planted on the edge of the Garden’s lake with dramatic views to the Conservatory, the Rose Belvedere and all the elements of the botanically rich Children’s Garden. There is magic in being high above the ground in the tree canopy, eye-to-eye with the birds, – for the young-at-heart of any age.
Tree House and Leafy Overlook Ramp
This 500-foot ramp winds and climbs through the Children’s Garden from the main entrance to the Leafy Overlook and across an elevated ramp to the Tree House. The ramp is accessible to all visitors, young and old. Learning stations along the way offer stopping points for informal demonstrations and interpretation about the gardens below as visitors climb to a height of thirteen feet.
This area is constantly changing to reflect different themes of interest to children. Themes may relate to the seasons, holidays, literature, children’s artwork, color, time, the calendar, and other exhibits at the Garden or in the community.
The greenhouse is used to propagate plants for the Farm Garden.
Parent Rest Areas
These shaded seating and rest areas are located near the Activity Center and the Water Play area, offering parents a place to relax while they watch their children at play. Water fountains are close by and these areas are designed to provide for a few moments of relaxation or a quiet moment to enjoy the surrounding environment.