A History Rewritten- 2002


There is a flash of light as our time machine bursts into 2002. As we hover in the air we get a clear picture of what has happened since we were here last. The grass field to the West (top of picture) is relatively unchanged, the Ethnic Garden is there, no parking lot yet. Moving East (toward the bottom of the picture), we see the Head House. Notice that the service road in that area delineates two square shapes. The one to the left of the picture is where the green scene gardens are while to the right is empty space with a bit of the nursery still remaining. If we keep coming toward the bottom we can see the brand-new Rose Garden (no fence or surrounding trees yet). Crossing the North-South service road we come to the Tower Hill area and it is pretty much the same except on the North end is a new complex which is the just completed Children’s Garden and Education Center.


Looks like for a while we quit taking pictures of the annual retreat and I didn’t come across any paper documents.


  • Memorial Day Event (Freedom Tree)

September 11, 2001, is a date we all remember when our country suffered a terrorist attack. This year the Federated Garden Club planned an event at the Arboretum to commemorate that time and to plant a tree as a memorial. They chose a spot in the newly created Children’s Garden

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  • Grand Opening of the Children’s Garden

We can see from the document below that this event was quite elaborate and contained several components.


Orkin put on a display all about bugs, of course


We had music


The schedule included hot air balloons and small aircraft

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Of course, there were loads of things for kids

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  • Organ Donor Night

From the time it opened, the Children’s Garden has been an excellent venue for events

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  • Children’s Garden

This project has been in the works since 1999, our time travels even showed us a glimpse of the ceremonial groundbreaking back then. At last, after three years of hard work, we are ready to build.

To refresh our memories; the Master Plan says in part: “children visiting the garden should have a place for their own needs, a safe and stimulating environment where whimsical structures for climbing will allow them to expend some of their abundant energy……” “this garden will offer greater freedom of movement and exploration to youngsters and serve as a gathering space for many educational activities.”


The red dot shows us where it was on the Master Plan and we find that the present location is very near this spot. There is a four-page document in the archives called the concept plan, rather than include copies of the entire thing; I am listing the main points from this document, but first a quote from the opening statement of the plan.


“The Children’s Garden is designed for playful and engaging education. It is not conceived as an active playground or a pre-school tot lot. The garden is meant to support the teachers, docents, and educational programs for school children between the ages of 6-12 in grades 1-6. The goal of the garden is to stimulate inquisitive thought and encourage critical analysis. The garden is meant to train the young scientific minds of future scientists.”


Main points and/or features

  • Storybook garden
  • Different animal homes and habitats
  • A compass Rose
  • A sundial
  • A water- channel
  • Shade structures
  • Weather station
  • Fast plant garden
  • Windbreak play area
  • Soils study area
  • Compost study area
  • Prairie butterfly maze
  • Sand area

We should note here that the original concept was changed early on to accommodate an Education Center as evidenced in this document shown below, given the early success of our Earth Connections program and the stated importance of education in the Mater Plan, it is not surprising that the garden shed has given way to an Education Center.


Now let’s take a look at the actual building process

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One item of interest that has to do with the Children’s Garden is the advent of our T-Rex.

According to an article in our newsletter dated March of 2002, an 8 feet tall steel Tyrannosaurus Rex created by welding students from Hawkeye in 1993 was looking for a new home. So, Sparky, as he was named by the students, was donated to the newly created Children’s Garden. He originally resided in some type of cage by the sandbox, according to the article. Today you can find Sparky in the tall grass right outside the Children’s Garden fence.


Sparky (this photo taken after he was moved outside the fence)


Photos from this year seem to have been limited to the newest gardens, the Children’s and Rose Garden.

  • Rose Garden

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  • Children’s Garden

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According to the disk, lots of trees this year, many one-of-kind. A lot of them went into the Peek-a-boo forest in the Children’s Garden

Tree Species Number Planted
Pagoda Dogwood 1
Emerald Green Arborvitae 1
False Cyprus 1
Kentucky Coffee Tree 1
Swamp White Oak 1
Ginkgo 1
Weeping Mulberry 1
White Ash 1
Patmore Ash 1
Hosford Dwarf Eastern White Pine 1
Pendula Eastern White Pine 1
Dwarf Scots Pine 1
Norway Spruce 1
Dwarf Canadian Hemlock 1
Montgomery Colorado Spruce 1
Serbian Spruce 1
Mutant Mountain Hemlock 1
Bristlecone Pine 1
Little John Douglas Fir 1
Japanese White Pine 1
Rocky Mountain Fir 1
Korean Fir 1
Golden Raindrops Crabapple 1
Red Jade Crabapple 1
Quaking Aspen 7
Little Leaf Linden 1
Princeton Gold Maple 1
Hard Maple 1
Crimson Frost Birch 1
Northern Catalpa 1


My favorite topic

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Things are happening at the best green space around; can’t wait to see what lies in store!