UD demonstration and woodland gardens offer opportunities for little hands to explore

This past May, when Delaware’s flora and fauna were expanding and showing off their diverse vibrancy, the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension staff and volunteers invited pre-school and elementary students to explore their outdoor classrooms. Located on the Carvel Research & Education Center’s grounds in Georgetown, Dot Abbott, state extension agent in Renewable Natural Resources, and Tracy Wootten, Sussex County horticultural agent and liaison for the

Farmer McGregor explains how he and Peter Rabbit get along!

Sussex County Master Gardeners, hosted a variety of outdoor classrooms available to informally teach curious minds. Staffed by volunteer Master Gardeners, the Demonstration Garden and woodland outdoor classroom became a fresh-air venue for everything green and growing – a day of adventure, investigation and hands-on learning that included getting friendly with Delaware garden soil. There’s just no better way to get one’s hands dirty…er…we mean soily!  You can view all the pictures of May’s outdoor classroom activity here!

May is not the only opportunity to explore nature’s garden bounty! Although the Demonstration Garden is open throughout the growing season, Sussex Master Gardeners schedule and highlight specific days catering to parents, teachers, homeowners and students. On these occasions, Master Gardener volunteers and Extension staff are on hand to offer more detailed information, advice and insights into successful gardening in Delaware.  A very popular section of the garden has been especially designed for children to enjoy and participate in the rewards of gardening.

Who knew Delaware soil could be this interesting!

The Children’s Garden welcomes little hands to explore the soil, crawl under a teepee trellis, stick their heads through a blooming photo prop, watch butterflies land on a pink or purple petal and view  splashing goldfish and hear croaking frogs in a pond near the shade garden. Their annual open house,  A Day in the Garden, features opportunities to mix potting soil, plant flowers and vegetables, search for items in a scavenger hunt, and watch a command performance of “Peter Rabbit’s Adventures in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden,” featuring the voices, puppets and talents of many Sussex County volunteer Master Gardeners.

And while the children explore, learn and enjoy the colors of the garden, adults too, can have an opportunity to learn about what grows best in Delaware. An Accessible Garden area demonstrates that gardening can be enjoyed at any age – even with some physical limitations. Native plants, grown to encourage beneficial insects and songbirds, are clearly identified. Ornamental shrubs and trees, annual and perennial flowers, plants that thrive in shade or sun, are featured and marked with signs. Bring your camera! Back by popular demand, the Master Gardeners will again be holding a plant sale.

Sussex County Master Gardeners welcome the public to this very special, educational, family-friendly day. Let us demonstrate how rewarding any level of gardening can be!

Where: Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, Del. 19947.  Look for the blue and gold tent behind the Carvel Center.
When: Saturday, July 16, 2011
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: Free
Parking: Ample and free
Website: For more details about A Day at the Garden

Article by Michele Walfred

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