Project at The UT Gardens Includes Treehouse, Play Area and Chance To Learn About Plants 

It’s an area where kids can run and play and engage with nature at the same time. The scenery isn’t bad either.


The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and UT Gardens, Knoxville, will hold a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for its new ‘Children’s Garden’ on Saturday, July 29, 2017, at 3 p.m. in the Gardens off Neyland Drive.


The children’s garden includes a digging pit, boulders and logs for climbing, an interactive sun clock, hobbit hole, crawling tunnel, water feature and a green roof playhouse. The signature feature is a treehouse – a 10-by-10-foot cube, 5 feet off the ground, accessible by a ramp, nicknamed “Nest.” It also includes a fireman’s pole where kids can slide to the ground. The garden meets all safety standards and is accessible for children with disabilities. It is free and open to the public any time.


“Our children’s garden allows us to teach kids in a fun and interactive way about something so important to our world,” says Dr. Sue Hamilton, director of the UT Gardens. “We encourage children to appreciate plants and trees and to develop a desire to plant and nurture them. We hope what we teach will influence positive life skills in adulthood.”


Hamilton and crew have a fun afternoon planned for kids and adults on the 29th. The day will include a storyteller (volunteer Elin Johnson, who donated to the project). Other activities include music, games, crafts, silly pictures and bubbles. Kids are also encouraged to bring their bathing suits. They’ll have some sprinkler time in the gardens. The event runs from 3 to 5:30.


Hamilton points out the children’s garden was built entirely with funding from generous donors, with the work done by the UT Gardens staff, volunteers and students in UTIA’s Landscape Construction classes.


“We thank everyone who helped make this important learning space possible,” Hamilton says. “This garden encourages what we like to call ‘nature play’ – where children can have self-directed, informal play through elements like stone, soil, water and light, all key elements needed by plants and for gardening.”


More than 1,600 children participated in educational programs and events at the Knoxville gardens in the past year, including a number of summer day camps. The children’s garden will be used further for these events in the future. This children’s garden is the second with the UT Gardens statewide. The Crossville location of the UT Gardens celebrated the opening of a “KinderGarden” in 2015.


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