Jul 24th, 2023

Creating Waterway

Children play in Waterway

Last Friday was sunny and warm in the Children’s Garden and, for the first time, our young guests were able to keep cool with a visit to the brand-new, universally-accessible Waterway.

“Waterway is our reimagined splash pad, an area that’s always been a favorite for families,” says Marta Zoellner, Director of Youth and Family Engagement. “We are so excited to have it back open, expanded and redesigned with more fun features.”

Creating Waterway was a collaborative process across many of the Garden’s departments. Natural elements found in riparian areas, like grasses and rounded stones, served as inspiration for the new look, while surrounding plantings reflect the vegetation native to woodland streams.

The Youth and Family Engagement team worked to ensure the new layout and features were designed for an experience that young visitors would find enriching and interactive. “Waterway was made with two distinct areas, one for toddlers and one for older kids,” says Marta. “The toddler section has a little streambed they can sit and play in, while the part for bigger kids has sprays and jets.”

Young girl plays in Waterway

Caregivers were also considered during the design process. Waterway includes a seat wall and an added entry point for easier access to restrooms. Water fountains and water bottle refill stations, as well as shaded picnic areas, are nearby, as are vending machines with snacks and drinks.

Even the pump house has been spruced up thanks to National Art Honor Society students from the Center for the Arts at Henrico High School, who painted murals on the side of the building in the spring. Ally Lubold, Class of 2023, led the design process. She was inspired by the James River, seen in the murals depicting aquatic life, recognizable landmarks, and the biodiversity of wildlife.

National Art Honor Society students from the Center for the Arts at Henrico High School paint the pump house mural, inspired by the James River.

“Another wonderful thing about Waterway is that we will be able to use the space for watershed education, demonstrations, and children’s programs year-round,” Marta says. While the days are warm though, we expect Waterway to stay busy with kids exploring the new space.

“My favorite part is running under the giant leaves and getting sprayed by water, and also splashing my mom,” said eight-year-old visitor, Marcelo, during his first visit. “I can’t wait to come back.”

Kids play in the Waterway at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garde

Leigh Crandall is the marketing and communications writer for the Garden.

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