Spotlight Columns

Grow for It! A garden tour with children

By From page A11 | April 05, 2017

Stacey Price
UCCE Master Gardener of El Dorado County

Spring Break is approaching and it’s time to start coming up with ways to entertain the kids once they are out of school. Have you considered a visit to the Sherwood Demonstration Garden?

Located at the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College, the Sherwood Demonstration Garden is a great place for kids to learn about gardening and get outside for some fun. The SDG is comprised of 16 different gardens, each highlighting different aspects of gardening in El Dorado County. The purpose of the SDG is to provide the public with hands-on learning opportunities related to sustainable gardening practices.

UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County have demonstrated research-based garden and landscape practices in each of the 16 gardens for the public to explore.

The All-Star Garden showcases the UC Davis All-Stars and explores hardiness in our sunset zones 7 and 9. It’s great for kids to identify which plants are maybe in their own gardens at home and learn their names.

The Butterfly and Children’s Gardens will be favorites for exploring the life cycles of plants and learning about wildlife, pollinators and other beneficial insects.

The Cottage Garden is a great place for kids to use their imagination and the Japanese Garden shows many diverse plants and may have fish and frogs, too.

The Marsh, Mediterranean, Native, Orchard and Perennial gardens offer many plants to look at and each has its own micro-ecosystem for different bugs and wildlife.

There are Ornamental Grasses, a Succulent Garden and even a Rose Garden where the kids and visitors will see many different shades and shapes of green and other garden color.

The Rock Garden is always a favorite for kids and may inspire a budding gardener once the visit to the SDG is complete. You don’t need to worry about getting too hot because there is a Shade Garden that offers places to sit — shady trees and even a pergola.

Though all these gardens have so much information, my personal favorites are the Vegetable Garden and the Butterfly Garden.

Planting seeds with my children is one of my happiest activities. Quick-sprouting seeds such as pumpkins and sunflowers are always popular, but they also enjoy trying other fruit and vegetable seeds that develop into foods that they will enjoy. Our favorites to start at our house include tomatoes, sugar snap peas and bell peppers. Having your child “wake up” the seeds by covering them in soil and then watering helps them to understand the lifecycle of a plant. In the SGD Vegetable Garden you will be able to see how many of these favorites grow and come up with ideas for your own garden at home.

The Children’s Garden has many displays and hands-on activities. Dwarf fruit trees, climbing vines and different vegetables are planted here, along with towering sunflowers and other colorful plants. Art is displayed throughout the Children’s Garden. These ideas can be used as a starting point for an art project once the children have completed their garden tour. Best of all, the Children’s Garden has a special sensory garden area dedicated to plants that are soft to the touch, agreeable to the nose, appealing to the eye, interesting to the ear and tasty to the tongue. Bird feeders hang throughout this garden and you can often see and hear the birds that come around.

If you are interested in wildlife visit the Butterfly Garden. This garden features plants that encourage wildlife. Milkweed is displayed because it attracts the monarch butterfly and chrysanthemums are around to support the life cycle of the ladybugs. Many different types of butterflies can be found in this garden and spring break is an ideal time to come visit and see them. Along with the butterflies, have your children keep their eyes open for caterpillars and chrysalis.

For more bugs, check out the compost piles. Converting kitchen and garden waste into nutrient rich organic material for the garden is an amazing lesson. Teaching kids about what can and cannot be composted and how to maintain a healthy compost pile is a great hands-on activity.

The Sherwood Demonstration Garden has started its new season. It is open 9 a.m. to noon on Fridays and Saturdays until late fall. The SDG is located at 6699 Campus Drive, Placerville.

Master Gardeners are pleased to present free public education classes throughout the year. Saturday, April 8, learn about Landscaping with Trees and Shrubs at the El Dorado County Government Center Hearing Room, Building C, 2850 Fairlane Court in Placerville. If vegetable gardening is your special interest, we have a monthly class at the SDG — Saturdays with Barry on the second Saturday of every month. Wednesday, April 12, will be Orchids at the Cameron Park Community Center, 2502 Country Club Drive in Cameron Park. Irrigation will be discussed in detail at Folsom Lake College El Dorado Center on April 22. One of our year’s biggest events will be the Spring Plant Sale on April 29, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about our classes and activities, go to our UCCE Master Gardener of El Dorado County website at mgeldorado.ucanr.edu. Sign up to receive our online notices and e-newsletter at ucanr.edu/master_gardener_e-news. You can also find us on Facebook. UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, by calling (530) 621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome at our office located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.

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