New Secret Garden outdoor exhibit opens at Discovery Center

Online Staff Report

Rockford’s Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., has unveiled a new Secret Garden exhibit. Tucked away between the outdoor Dino Dig and Woodward Hall, this former weed patch has been transformed into a quaint little garden for children and families to interact with the natural world.

Nature offers unparalleled opportunities for exploration. Nature offers children not just physical room to play, but mental and emotional room as well. Research also indicates that children with autism and ADHD who spend time in nature showed improvements in concentration, impulse control and self-discipline. Nature experiences are beneficial to adults, too!

The Secret Garden is filled with gardens, a pathway, native plants and natural materials. The entry to the Secret Garden is through an arched trellis with vines creating a “secret” feel to the space. Around the perimeter is a lattice to soften the hard architecture of the buildings bordering the space on two sides and further the secret garden feel. Sculptures and birdhouses dot the space, adding color and interest. Within the space are planting beds for a butterfly garden, sensory garden and native plantings. There is a rain barrel and an accompanying watering can with directions on how to water the plants.

To get to the Secret Garden is an adventure in itself, complete with twists and turns through a wooden maze. The path and the Secret Garden are stroller and wheelchair accessible. There is a patio area where staff will conduct special programs and activities. For example, visitors will be able to touch, smell and even taste plants in the sensory garden area. The Secret Garden is included with admission to Discovery Center.

The Secret Garden was created with the assistance of an advisory panel of experts from the Rockford Park District, Natural Land Institute, Winnebago County Forest Preserve and the Winnebago County Soil & Water Conservation District.

General admission to the museum is $8 adults, $8 children (ages 2 to 17) and free to museum members and children age 1 and younger. Hours open are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. Call (815) 963-6769 or for more details.

Posted Oct. 2, 2013

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