The Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens will kick-off its 2017 season once again with the Butterflies in the Garden exhibit, presented with support from MSU Federal Credit Union.
The butterflies will be on display from March 15 to April 30, 2017 in the Indoor Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden at Michigan State University. The Butterflies in the Garden exhibit is open to the public from 2-4 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Butterflies will have extended hours and special activities during spring break, April 3-7, 2017 from 1-4 p.m. It will be closed Easter Sunday, April 16.
In addition to the butterfly exhibit, the garden hosts a variety of programs for youth and families around various themes.
General admission to the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens and Butterflies in the Garden exhibit are free, but donations are appreciated. Some events have a $5 fee. There is a parking fee on weekdays. Visit 4hgarden.msu.edu for more information and to pre-register for events.
Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens Spring & Summer 2017 Calendar
- Butterfly Day – Apr. 15, 10 a.m.-noon
Join us in celebrating another exciting season of “Butterflies in the Garden.” Come and explore the secret life of butterflies in the Indoor 4-H Children’s Garden. We will discover the amazing butterfly life cycle, create butterfly gardens to take home, and much more. Cost per child: $5, parking free.
- Plant Sale – May 20 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
Our plant sale features divisions from the DeLapa Perennial Garden as well as annuals, vegetables, succulents, houseplants, trees and shrubs. Cost per child: $5, parking free.
- Garden Geocache Event – June 10, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cache veterans and new enthusiasts are welcome at this geocaching adventure. Bring your picnic lunch and enjoy a day of caching in the garden. We will be finding new caches, trading travel bugs, exploring the gardens and much more. If you have a GPS unit please bring it to this event. If you do not have one, we will provide one. Cost per child: Free , parking free.
- Storybook Tea Party – June 20, 10 a.m.- noon
Join us and our garden storybook friends for a spot of tea and garden fun. Come dressed as your favorite storybook character and enjoy tea, activities and of course stories! SPECIAL ADDITION: Some of our readers will be the teens that are part of Stories in the Garden! Registration required. Cost per child: $5, parking not included.*
- Digger Day – June 29, 10 a.m.-noon
Come to the garden and explore the world of diggers. Front-end loaders, dump trucks and backs hoes, all of these tools help with projects both big and small in our communities. MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities will bring some of MSU’s biggest and best equipment to the garden for us to explore. We will also have activities and crafts so come ready to dig and get dirty at this new event! Cost per child: $5, parking not included.*
- Garden Writers Workshop – July 11-13, 10 a.m.-noon
Young writers will learn about the wonderful world of writing in the garden. Using the garden as their inspiration, campers will connect writing to nature, creating poems, stories, plays and much more. Ages 7 and up. (Limited to 20 participants). Cost per child: $30 for all three days, parking not included.*
- Stories in the Garden – July 12 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Teens will be reading stories to younger children – a magical time of fun and learning. Great for kids 0 to 100! Cost per child: free, parking not included.*
- Train Day – July 20, 10 a.m.-noon
All aboard! Join us in celebrating our love for locomotives with the Lansing Model Railroad Club and the Capital Area Railway Society. Watch trains of all shapes and sizes, help us construct a train village in the garden, discover what happens on the tracks and much more! Cost per child: $5, parking not included.*
- Water Day – July 25, 9 a.m.-noon
Come cool off from the summer heat and have fun in the garden with water. We will play water games, do water art and explore all things fun about water. Come ready to get wet! Cost per child: $5, parking not included.*
- Bug Day – July 27, 10 a.m.-noon
We cannot get enough of these amazing six-legged friends! Join us for what has become an annual tribute to insects in the garden. We will be collecting bugs, observing bugs, making bugs and even writing poetry about bugs! Our friends from the MSU Bug House will be back this year with their amazing collections of insects from all over the world! Cost per child: $5, parking not included.*
- Camp Monet – Aug. 8-10, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Young artists will love spending three days in the garden creating marvelous projects. Campers will use inspiration from the garden to make projects that involve sketching, painting, sculpting, dying, weaving and much more! Lunch will not be provided, so please bring a lunch each day. We will eat together in the garden. Ages 7 and up. (Limited to 20 participants.) Registration required. Cost per child: $70 for all three days, parking not included.*
- Garden Chefs from Garden to Table – Aug. 15 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Join us in the garden and learn all about interesting edibles and how to make delicious, easy creations. Each session will focus on a different theme and we will prepare a delicious and nutritious lunch using items from the garden. Ages 7 and up. This is a drop off program. Cost per child: $25 per person, parking not included.*
- Bubble Day – Aug. 17, 10 a.m.-noon
Come celebrate the end of summer vacation at the garden with bubbles! As we explore the wonderful world of bubbles we will paint, eat, and even make music with bubbles. Don’t forget to invite your friends and family to come to this bubblelicious bash! Cost per child: $5, parking not included.*
- Dinosaur Day – Aug. 22, 10 a.m.-noon
Come and explore the exciting world of dinosaurs in the garden. We will uncover dinosaur mysteries; discover what plants they ate, and learn what the earth was like when dinosaurs roamed here. Cost per child: $5, parking not included.*
- Stories in the Garden – Aug. 23 from 7-8:30 p.m.
Teens will be reading stories to younger children – a magical time of fun and learning. Great for kids 0 to 100! Cost per child: free, parking free.
- Holiday Open House – Dec. 7, 5-7 p.m.
Enjoy our displays of poinsettias and 16′ poinsettia tree under evening lights. Bring your camera and the kids. Santa will arrive in his sleigh at 5:30 pm. MSU Poinsettias, centerpieces, and wreaths will be for sale. Enjoy some holiday refreshments. Cost per child: free, parking free.
Stories for Sprouts & Seedlings
This program is designed especially for young children, ages 2-4, to experience the wonders of gardening through stories and hands-on projects. Each month a different book is featured with an accompanying gardening activity. This program occurs the third Wednesday of the month from 10-11 a.m.
- May 17 from 10-11 a.m. – Syliva’s Spinach by Katherine Pryor.
- June 21 from 10-11 a.m. – In Mary’s Garden by Tina Kugler.
- July 19 from 10-11 a.m. – Over in the Garden by Jennifer Ward.
- Aug. 16 from 10-11 a.m. – The Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon.
- Sept. 20 from 10-11 a.m. – Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer.
- Oct. 18 from 10-11 a.m. – From Apple Tree to Cider Please by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky.
*The MSU Horticulture Garden parking meters are a cash/credit system. Parking can be paid at the meter and the machines accept both credit and U.S. coins. The charge for parking is $0.25 for 8 minutes. There is a $1.80 minimum for credit card charges. All major credit cards accepted.
The Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens received a facelift this past summer. A new entrance and theme garden were installed in the Schoolyard Demonstration Garden and three willow art structures are among the additions.
“The willow structures were created by artist Bim Willow, who does art all around the country and is very well known. He created our willow dragon a few years ago,” said Jessica Wright, Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens education coordinator. “We knew we wanted to do something to change the feel near the east entrance.
The willow structures are under the spruce trees, which makes you feel like you’re in an enchanted forest.”
The willow structures are equipped with miniature furniture, which makes for a comfortable and creative space for children to read and write.
“So far, people love them! I was hoping that kids would go down there and think ‘Wow, this is a space where I can play whatever kind of imaginary game that I want!’” Wright said.
This year, the 4-H Children’s Gardens will be celebrating their 23rd year of operation. Wright and garden curator Norm Lownds have big plans for the future.
“We’re designing a plan for a new play structure,” she said. “There are lots of new developments and play equipment out there that we want to take advantage of, and these additions are the kick-off to new play equipment.”
In addition to the willow art structures, the Schoolyard Demonstration Garden has a fresh, new look and features new learning experiences.
“We also installed a new schoolhouse entrance to the Schoolyard Demonstration Garden with a cast iron bell that the kids can ring. We wanted to add a ‘wow’ presence, so we put it in to let people know they can explore inside,” she said. “We also added a flag with a light outside, just like real schoolhouses have. It looks really nice, and we’re really excited about how much it has changed the entrance to the garden.”
The Schoolyard Demonstration Garden has a new theme garden. The My Plate Garden – complete with a plate, knife, fork and spoon – is a space where kids and parents can learn about agriculture and food sciences. Even with all the new additions, the gardens have kept and maintained their most popular attractions, such as the musical chimes and the treehouse. “We want the garden to be recognizable but include spots for new things. We want to keep the iconic pieces in the garden but also add new features that can be changed, adapted and grown upon,” Wright said.
In addition to the keyboard, a new drum set has been added to the Sound Garden, and a new trellis in the Better Living Garden. The new additions create a more imaginative environment for kids to play in, create, and explore science and art.
“Overall, the new additions have encouraged our visitors to have a more lasting experience in the garden instead of just a walk through,” Wright said.
From Vantage, Fall 2015
In 2014, the Michigan 4-H Foundation received a generous estate gift from Pete and Sally Smith, which not only supported endowment and general operating support for the Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens but also funded the construction of new bathrooms in the outdoor Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens.
“After 22 years, we are very excited to finally be able to meet our visitors’ needs with a state-of-the-art restroom that fits the garden, is environmentally friendly and looks good outside and inside,” said Norm Lownds, Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens curator.
In 2007, Margaret Marshall Murdoch funded the creation of the Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden in memory of her sister, Mary (Sally) Marshall Smith and brother-in-law Donovan (Pete) Smith. With that gift came the promise that the Michigan 4-H Foundation and Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden would be supported by charitable remainder trusts created by the Smiths as well.
“Margaret was interested in supporting the 4-H Children’s Garden because of the good things she heard, because her sister and brother-in-law loved to garden and because she (Margaret) was an MSU graduate. We discussed doing something to honor her sister as quickly as possible – thus the Pete and Sally Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden. Longer term, we discussed doing something to make the gardens even better, and the biggest need there was restrooms and a drinking fountain.
“Margaret was dedicated to honoring her sister and brother-in-law with a garden. She became more excited about providing the facility infrastructure for the garden so that our visitors, especially families with young children, would have an even better experience that would likely encourage them to visit over and over.
“Margaret had been a teacher, so she understood the need for the best facilities,” Lownds said. “She wanted to honor and remember her sister, and she wanted to give back to her alma mater. The 4-H Children’s Gardens provided a place where all of this could happen.”
The new bathrooms are located between the outdoor 4-H Children’s Garden and the Pete and Sally Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden.
“We completed construction just in time to test and then shut the water off for the winter. We will open the bathrooms to the public in the spring,” Lownds said.
The new facility is a two-stall family restroom with sinks and drinking fountains to accommodate visitors to the gardens.
Solar tubes provide much of the daytime lighting, the faucets are automatic (solar-controlled), and the fixtures are on sensors to conserve water. Additionally, the doors lock and unlock automatically, allowing the restrooms to remain open into the evening.
The bathrooms will provide part of the east edge of the Pete and Sally Smith Schoolyard Demonstration Garden — plants will grow up the wall. The other side provides the backdrop for the Creation Station, which will have a new counter and sink with running water as a result of the bathroom construction.
“When designing the facility, we really took efficiency and sustainability into account,” said Jessica Wright, 4-H Children’s Gardens educational coordinator. “The designers wanted to maintain a level of whimsy with the structure, so they tried to mimic as best they could the existing Garden House structure.
“All the people that we have told about the new bathroom, both teachers and visitors, are very excited!” Wright said. “It will make everyone’s visit to the garden much more enjoyable. Moms will be able to take strollers into the bathroom; students will be able to get drinks at the drinking fountain.
“The bathrooms are going to allow visitors to the gardens to enjoy more of their visit without having to leave the garden to use the facilities. It will also increase instruction time for field trips because there will be much less disruption of activities by participants having to walk into the building,” she said.