The beautiful environment of the famed Brooklyn Botanic Garden just got even more child-friendly. The recently opened Discovery Garden, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, maintains the authentic feel of being surrounded by nature, while at the same time opens up the mind of children of all ages to the surprises and excitement of the natural world.
The more cerebral among us will love the informative signs explaining the whys and wherefores of the trees, plants, insects and animals who inhabit the gardens. For example, one sign posted near a venerable cork tree explained the mystery of the burls, or bumps so prominently visible on the bark:
“The female (insect) lays her eggs under the bark. Inside, the young fatten up on wood, then eat their way out.”
Not everyone feels a need to read signs, and Discovery Garden is wonderfully conducive to the experience of nature. In the marsh children can jump across rocks; play with mud and water from the pool; examine the mysteries of vegetable plants such as tomatoes, peppers and basil growing on raised beds. In another place children (and there parents) can grab an available trowel and start digging in the dirt.
Digging is a great way to catch site of a magical earthworm or centipede. Those wanting a bit more elucidation can read a nearby explanatory sign and discover that, “soil isn’t just dirt” and that even just one small spoonful of earth “can be the home to one billion tiny living things.”
Discovery Garden is open every day but Monday. March-October: Tuesday-Friday from 8am-6pm and Saturday/Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed on Labor Day but Open on Memorial Day and Columbus Day. For more information go to Brooklyn Botanic Garden website.