Running along the path

Photo credit: Teresa Shaw / Working TravelingMom

We’re always on the lookout for fun, free and local events around town. This past Sunday, our family attended the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens grand opening.

While my toddler daughter had a blast running around the herb garden and playing in the sandbox with some of the other kids, my nine-month-old son had a different goal in mind. As I wandered through the herb garden pushing his stroller, he reached his pudgy little hands out and grabbed hold of any and every plant he could reach and – like he does with everything he comes into contact with – started eating.

Fortunately, the herb garden offers plenty of variety, including the usual rosemary, thyme and lavender, as well as some less mainstream herbs, like more varieties of chives than I knew existed. Just seeing these herbs and how pretty the plants were made my husband and I vow to plant a larger herb garden next spring.

Chalk drawings

Chalk drawings. Photo credit: Teresa Shaw / Working TravelingMom

While the baby wanted to munch on the herbs, my toddler daughter (as well as the numerous other kids at the grand opening) explored the butterfly garden, digging area, sandbox, and sensory garden, and even sampled some of the fresh fruits and vegetables planted throughout the ground, including beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries. They learned about how the plants grow and what these veggies look like before they reach the grocery store or farmer’s market – an important lesson for their young minds.

The Children’s Garden, as well as the Botanical Gardens that surround it, also has hiking trails, fountains, and plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the landscape. Be sure to lather on the sunscreen and be mindful of the bugs if you go, as the sun was shining and the bees were buzzing – especially with all the flowers in bloom. A bottle or two of water and some snacks will also be handy to have.

Be sure to bring a camera as well (and a video camera if possible), as there are plenty of opportunities to photograph the pretty landscaping, flowers and, of course, kids.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens is located at 1800 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, MI. Admission to the Children’s Garden and outdoor Botanical Gardens is free. For more information, phone (734) 647-7600.