Hobbits at the Arboretum

On Friday, June 16th Hobbits visited the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. Hobbits, a popular character from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien, are small mythical creatures who enjoy living life to the fullest. To celebrate, the children’s garden committee held a Hobbit Hole open house and had great success! We had over 150 people in attendance and were so excited to share the magic of the Shire in our little garden.

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The completed Hobbit Hole in the Children’s Garden

Many visitors were able to see the final project but we thought it appropriate to show the progress that leads to such an event. The journey from paper to party began during our 2016 season. Last year the Arboretum purchased a Hobbit Hole playhouse kit and spent the season building, painting, and making the Hobbit Hole come to life. The finishing touches of landscaping were completed in early June. Read more below to learn how the Hobbit House came to be.

The idea for the Hobbit Hole started as a way of finding a way to use the space of the old train garden. While the train garden was a hit with children it only ran during story time meaning that a lot of children missed out on the magic if they could not attend. It was decided that space could be better used and through research, the planning and operation committee came across the Hobbit Hole kit. The project was fun and offered a place for children to play all the time. With backing from the planning and operation committee, the Arboretum dove headfirst into creating its magical piece of the Shire. The idea of such a unique piece in the children’s garden lead to a snowball effect. The excitement brought in many donors who helped to purchase the kit and with the excitement of the purchased kit came the help from volunteers.

Randy and Gary lead volunteers through most of the construction of the Hobbit Hole. From laying down vinyl flooring to staining the wood, the Hobbit hole couldn’t have been completed without them. We are also thankful to Jan, Maurine & Jay, Pat & Randy, Kathy & Jerry, Diane, Gary & Karin, Cyndie & Mark, and Paul for their kind donations which allowed us to purchase the Hobbit Hole.

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Gary reads the instructions for building

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Gary & a volunteer hold a support beam as it is being put into place

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Randy screws parts into the front of the Hobbit Hole

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Volunteers work to put the finishing touches on the roof

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Randy & Gary work on getting the roof secured

After the initial building process came paint and securing flooring. The vinyl flooring is easy to clean and durable to handle the thousands of feet, both big and little, entering and exiting the hole. The outside of the Hobbit Hole was stained and a selection of green paint was added to the door and windows to create a woodsy feel.

After the paint had dried and floors were secured came the time to look for plants like those found in the Hobbit books and movies but that would also grow in Iowa’s climate. Plants for the garden were chosen to be low maintenance and provide a whimsical and magic feel. Board member Autumn Miller helped to draw the plans for landscaping and plant placement

To finish the Hobbit Hole and make it safe and accessible for all children, Cedar Valley Renovations poured concrete and used stencils to provide the cobblestone look. With the Hobbit Hole complete and Bilbo ready to greet visitors it was time to have a party!

The party was a great success featuring Hobbit-themed foods and games. Looking back on the progress that was made within the last year it’s amazing to see what happens when the perfect harmony of donors and volunteers are able to help meet a common goal. We’ve had many visitors who have come to visit us and see the Hobbit Hole and hope to throw many Hobbit Parties in the future.




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