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A Tour of the Children’s Garden at the Arboretum

This summer marked the opening of the latest addition to the Penn State Arboretum: The Children’s Garden. The new addition is meant for both children and anyone who is young at heart, according to Penn State News, and is a beautiful addition to the Arboretum’s space.

Here’s a look at what you can expect to see on your visit to the Children’s Garden:

The entrance to the garden features a whimsical sculpture connecting two large rock formations, one of which reads “Childhood’s Gate,” an homage to a line in the Penn State alma mater “when we stood at childhood’s gate.”


Upon entering the garden, the visitors are greeted with a beautiful view.


There’s a small fountain directly in front of the gate.


Footprints of various animals line the pathways throughout the Children’s Garden.


On days when there are volunteers at the Children’s Garden, they set up various activities for visiting children.


To the right of the path from Childhood’s Gate, the view is still gorgeous.


Various foods including apples, tomatoes, peppers, and gourds are grown to the right side of the garden. Some of the vegetables and fruits grown are used for cooking in programs held for visiting kids.



The cloche (glass building) toward the edge of the garden was used for learning programs for children on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the summer.


The inside of the cloche features several tables and cabinets that are used for various programs as well as some hanging plants.


Next to the cloche, the cement path turns to mulch and leads to another interactive part of the garden.


A large green bench flanked by decorative green beams provides a pretty place for visitors to take a break.


A small patch of colorful mushroom sculptures decorates the corner of this section of the garden.


A giant caterpillar statue adds a whimsical touch to the garden (and makes for a great photo op).


The path from the caterpillar leads to a giant tree-like structure.


The tree-like structure contains more interesting features for visiting children to see.


An interactive xylophone-like instrument provides kids with a chance to make some music in the garden.


Looking past the tree structure, the rest of the Children’s Garden comes into view.


One portion of the garden features several ocean-inspired sculptures, including a giant shell and coral.


A small area to the side of the coral sculpture features several stumps placed to serve as a table and chairs to facilitate learning activities for visiting children.


Beyond the stump table and chairs, a box of chalk sits by a chalkboard wall.


Visitors are welcomed to draw on the chalk wall.


Next to the chalk wall, a rock formation opens to reveal the Limestone Cave.


Inside the Limestone Cave, stalactites and stalagmites are gathered in the center.


In the corner, a sand pit holds small shovels to provide visitors with another interactive experience.


To the left side of the cave the rocks part to reveal a small tunnel.


Outside the cave sits the front portion of the garden.


To the left of the cave exit, a small stream where visitors can wade trickles between lines of rocks.


Earlier in the day, volunteers helped children float miniature sailboats made of cork and wooden pegs across the stream.


Past the stream, several huts for kids to play in stand in a small group.


And of course, like the rest of the Arboretum, the Children’s Garden includes a multitude of plants and pretty flowers.


The entirety of the Children’s Garden is designed to represent the topography of Central Pennsylvania, including a valley-like area and ridge system.  The garden is also meant to serve as more of an area for children to play outside rather than a playground.


The Children’s Garden is already a stellar addition to the Arboretum, and it’s not even complete yet. In the future, plans for activity tables and decorative bronze sculptures as well as a large trough and a small library hut that will house children’s books are in place.

A big thank you goes out to the volunteers at the Arboretum for their factual contributions to this article.

About the Author

Anna Ungar

Penn State Class of 2015 Visual Communications major, Onward State photographer, THON 2014 Public Relations Captain, Camp Kesem of Penn State Marketing & PR Coordinator, anglophile, lover of chocolate milk, bows, cats, The Office, photography, Morgan Freeman, and british accents. Orders a side of pickles with everything.


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