Behind the south Garden construction fences, the major components of the new Discovery Garden have been completed and the landscape is coming to life, ready to bloom later this spring. Relocated to the southwestern corner of BBG and expanded to a full acre, four times the size of the original Discovery Garden, the new design includes three ecosystems—meadow, marsh, and woodland—for children to explore and immerse themselves in the natural world.
The soil has been graded, the rolling hills and valleys of the three exploration habitats have been sculpted, and the winding pathways and raised boardwalks that will guide visitors through the garden are now in place. These trails segue into the Hamm Children’s Learning Courtyard, where construction of the walls and roof of the gardeners’ pavilion are also in progress.
In addition, storm pipes are being laid and catch basins dug at the base of the marsh to allow the habitat to capture excess rainfall and safely discharge it without overloading city storm-water systems. When completed, the marsh will constitute the first stage of the Water Conservation Project, a comprehensive plan that will reduce the Garden’s consumption of water by more than 21 million gallons annually and steeply decrease storm-water outflow.
This past fall, shrubs, deciduous and evergreen trees, and bulbs were planted on the site, and work will resume after the winter weather thaws to add perennial flowers, ferns, vines, and groundcovers to each habitat. When the Discovery Garden opens in early June, young visitors will get hands-on gardening experience with soil, compost, and food plants; practice their observational skills in the Marquard Family Woodland; enjoy interactive science activity stations and drop-in education programs throughout the site; and investigate the 16,000 new plantings that have been added to this beautiful new garden.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates are the lead designers for the new Discovery Garden. You can learn more about the conception and planning of this garden on the Campaign for the Next Century’s website at nextcentury.bbg.org/priorities.