May 14, 2011

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After several years of planning, fundraising, design, construction and planting, the Kentucky Children’s Garden  is open at The Arboretum  on the University of Kentucky campus.

"The Arboretum has grown and developed dramatically during its comparatively short lifetime,” said Scott Smith, Dean of the UK College of Agriculture . “It is an exceptional model of successful collaboration among the University, local government, and dedicated community volunteers."Staff and friends of The Arboretum had a daunting task of raising $1.3 million to complete the garden. To date, more than $1.2 million has been raised and put to use in creating the fun and educational features of the garden.

Some of those features include various child-themed gardens and garden-like elements for experiential play, gardens for children to maintain, a small amphitheater for presentations, interactive exhibits, interconnecting pathways and comfortable benches.

“I believe the Kentucky Children’s Garden  will become one of the most cherished locations for children in Lexington and, ultimately, the state of Kentucky,” said state Rep. Susan Westrom.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Kentucky Children’s Garden May 14.

“One of the wonderful things about (my) job is getting the chance to see what a giving and caring community can do.  What you’ve all done here represents such an inspiration (to the city),” he said.The Kentucky Children’s Garden will provide a place for children and their families to develop an understanding of the environment and a love and respect for the Earth through hands-on activities.

“We want to inspire children, parents and teachers to learn about the importance of plants and how they affect the world,” said Marcia Farris, director of The Arboretum. “The children’s garden provides a place to experience nature and discover the cycles of life.”

Although the children’s garden is new, The Arboretum has always created special programs to serve the area’s youngsters.

“For years we have gardened with children at The Arboretum, and numbers and interest have increased,” Farris said. “We’ve also seen an increase in the desire by children and their parents to have interactions with nature and gardening. We feel like we are fulfilling a need of people in the community to connect with nature and to learn where their food comes from with the opening of the Kentucky Children’s Garden.”

Through May, the children’s garden will be open Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In June, the children’s garden will be open one additional day – Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The children’s garden will not be open on Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is $3 per person or $50 for an annual family pass. Passes may be purchased at The Arboretum.