Michigan State University's 4-H Children's Garden
Michigan's Agricultural College
I recently took a trip to visit my Alma mater. The reason for my visit to Michigan State University was to bring my children to the children's garden that they have. Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of Michigan. Over the years the school has gone through several name changes but on January 1,1964 it's name officially changed to Michigan State University.
Michigan State University is well known for the development of leading technology to improve plant growth world wide. They are working with third world countries to help develop plants that will be able to grow in poor growing soil and climate conditions, they are working with farmers to create more natural ways of monitor and controlling pests and plant diseases, and much more. It would only be natural that they would host the 4-H Children's Garden. In 1993 the Children's Garden was created and dedicated.
The gardens are located on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. Although it has no exact address, you can find the gardens on the southwest part of campus. If you take Haggadorn Road South and turn west onto Service Drive on campus you will follow that until your reach Bogue Street. You will head north on Bogue and then turn west onto Trowbridge Road. You will find a metered parking lot on the south side of Trowbridge. The entrance is easy to miss so keep your eyes alert. You have to buy tokens for the meters but there is a token machine at the front of the lot.
Welcome to the Children's Garden
When you first reach the garden, you are greeted by a beautiful, colorful metal archway with very childlike metal art. It is quite inviting and my children dashed through the arch to the sitting area to the left. They were enchanted with the statues and little places to climb. There was even a little stone table and chairs. They excitedly invited the statues to join them for a little snack.
Soon they were off to climb the treehouse. Although it is not actually in a tree, you climb a ramp and you will see an overview of the gardens. You can exit the treehouse by the ramp or walk down the descending stairs made of logs. As you proceed toward the back of the gardens, you will encounter a pond filled with lily pads, frogs, and adorned with a replica of Monet's bridge.
As you head toward the back of the gardens, there is a small area in which to play. There are some ground chimes that play music as you jump on them. This was a great delight for my children. Also included in this area is a small climbing structure as well as a train. The idea is to have as much fun as possible and every kid in the garden was achieving this goal!
The Secret Garden
As you move away from the playground area, you encounter a gate. Entering into this gate leads you to the secret garden. This section of the gardens is a tribute to the story The Secret Garden.Complete with a statue of a girl, a bench, and a gate that leads to a maze of arborvitaes, it truly exemplifies the secret garden. As long as there are not children racing through the area, it is a peaceful place to sit and relax.
The pond area is a much smaller version of what you might find visiting Monet's home and gardens in Giverny, France. It has a little pond with frogs, water lilies, and is surrounded by rocks. The kids have a great time crossing the bridge and checking out the frogs and lily pads below.
As you approach the end of the bridge, you will see a few different kinds of gardens. One of them is a pizza garden. The border is in the shape of a pizza with a slice cut out of it. Planted inside of the garden are many things that you would find on a pizza; tomatoes, onions, peppers, and more. Next to that is a Peter Rabbit garden. Again a tribute to another story, Peter Rabbit. This garden holds many herbs and leaves that can be used for teas. Creating an edible garden is a fantastic way to get children involved in gardening as well as helping them to see how nature provides for people.
The children's garden is located right next to the other horticultural gardens. We took a walk through the perennial gardens and the rose gardens. The rose gardens were just starting to bloom and I can only imagine the beauty that they hold once they are in full bloom. There is also another pond area where people can enjoy the serenity and beauty of the lily pads adorns with gorgeous lilies and bright green frogs. My children, along with several others that were visiting, had a blast letting the tiny tadpoles swim into their hands. If you are in the area, it truly is a place not to be missed.