New Children’s PlayGarden Debuts at the Show

New Children’s PlayGarden Debuts at the Show

The Seattle Children’s PlayGarden is a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives of children with challenges by providing a hands-on garden and garden-inspired programming. Located at the Colman Playfield, a public park in Seattle, it has been a phenomenal success since it was established in 2002.


Thanks to the sponsorship of U.S. Bank, the Northwest Flower & Garden Show has teamed up with the good people at the PlayGarden, including director Liz Bullard and designer Wendy Welch, to create an interactive children’s exhibit in the theme of the beloved children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The goal of this new exhibition at the garden show is to inspire and entertain children of all ages and abilities on urban farming techniques, vegetable gardening, poultry keeping and the role spiders play in our ecosystem, along with providing parents with practical knowledge about gardening with children at home. Learning has never been so fun!


The garden show has been firmly committed to expanding the experiences for children at the show. In 2006 we started the “Sprout Stage,” offering children lively presentations on the weekends. Now the show is taking a giant step further with the sponsorship by U.S. Bank and the partnership with Seattle Children’s Playgarden. As Show Manager Jeff Swenson explains, “We feel a strong commitment to fostering the love of gardening and nature in children. After all, children are the gardeners of tomorrow, the future stewards of the Earth. And while our inspirational show gardens might not capture their young imaginations, the PlayGarden surely will. We’re inviting them to participate in activities where they get to do what gardeners of all ages love to do – play in the dirt.” 


The PlayGarden will have a number of unique areas to engage children. An entrance structure will have a real, working metal weathervane on top. Naturally there will be Wilbur’s spider web, made from twisted shrunk wrap, complete with the well-known words, “Some Pig.” Three smaller spider webs will say “Humble,” Terrific” and “Radiant,” so familiar to fans of the book. And of course, kids should be on the lookout for Wilber himself.


There will be an interactive compost station based on Templeton the Rat’s nest. Children will be able to play a sorting game and sort items for a compost yard waste bin and a worm bin, to discover the things worms like and what should go into a compost pile. Both will find a permanent home at the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden after the show is over.


This is not an area of the show where the rule is “Look, but don’t touch.” Large play tables will be a wonderful source of hands-on amusement for children. One of these tables, inspired by both the children’s gardens of past shows and an old-fashioned model train table, will feature grassy hills (made of Irish moss) with grazing plastic cows, and ‘fields’ to plow, rake, and plant. Budding farmers will love this! Another table will emphasize playing with dirt, worms, herbs, seeds, and roots. There will be barn stalls to play in, with gates to open and close. (Relax parents – we did draw the line at having real cow manure in the barn!)


Perhaps most fun of all there will be live chickens and bunnies. They would be primarily strutting their stuff on display, but at certain times they will be brought out for petting. They are quite accustomed to being handled by children, since these animals are lucky PlayGarden residents, coming to the garden show for a visit. Parents and children can learn about raising chickens at home, different breeds of chickens, and where eggs come from, and also how to raise bunnies and use their beneficial manure in the garden.


There’s going to be so much more in the show’s PlayGarden: A farm stand surrounded by baskets and barrels of un-shucked corn, potatoes, carrots; three craft tables where children can make keepsake items, such as pantyhose grass heads, yarn spider webs and newspaper pots; a table showing children the difference between arachnids and insects; and raised beds where children can try their hand at planting healthy greens, in the hopes of encouraging them to eat more of them (the dream of parents everywhere).


The entire PlayGarden fun is included in the adult ticket price, with children 12 and under free (really – free!) and tickets for youth 13 – 17 years old are only $5 each. This is a wonderfully affordable interactive exhibit for the entire family that will keep children talking for months to come!


The show also offers a Scavenger Hunt to children to engage them in the actual Show Gardens. Each garden creator has hidden a small pig somewhere in the garden. Children need to look carefully and find the hidden piggies, and write the location on their Scavenger Hunt paper. Then when they turn it in, they get a small prize.


On the weekend we will also have family-friendly entertainment for children of all ages on the Sprout Stage, where children can learn about bug-eating, insects and the value of worms, and they can celebrate Shelly the Snail’s birthday, make their own mini-greenhouse, and dance along to some wonderful songs. For the complete schedule, click here:


U.S. Bank is also giving families the opportunity to support the Seattle’s Children’s PlayGarden by purchasing a pig, stocked with seeds for starting a garden at home, for only $10. All of the proceeds of these purchases go to support the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden. The Northwest Flower & Garden Show PlayGarden is sponsored by U.S. Bank. For more information on the Seattle Children’s Playgarden go to – Janet

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