Young children who may have a green thumb or are curious where vegetables come from have a local place they can explore and enjoy.
Located at 2607 West Pioneer Way in Puyallup is the Pierce County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, a large portion of which is dedicated to the Children’s Garden program.
At 1 p.m. on select Saturdays through Sept. 6, the Pierce County Master Gardeners will host free education events for children age 3-11, taking place in the garden.
“It’s all about the family unit enjoying themselves,” said Diane Frey, the Children’s Garden co-chair. “Our children’s programs began in 2004. We have a large corner of the (1.8-acre) Puyallup Demonstration Garden dedicated to the children that began in 2003.”
Currently, that area includes a Jack in the Beanstalk area complete with a giant chair and giant footprints, a frog pond, a rainbow garden, a tiny space garden with two-square-foot gardens and potted plants and a pirate’s garden that has a pirate ship.
The demonstration garden opened in 1985 with the purpose of providing meaningful research and/or publicly displaying sound gardening techniques relate to home horticulture.
“We lease the land from (Washington State University),” Frey explained.
Frey, a Master Gardener since 2009 and the Children’s Garden co-chair since 2011, said a large part of what the more than 400 Pierce County Master Gardeners do is connect with children.
“So far this year we have worked with 171 children and their families in our garden,” Frey said. “We also sponsor a booth at the Puyallup Spring Fair where we saw over 2,000 children and their families this year. Last year, we served 2,243 children and their families. We should exceed that number this year.”
Frey said between 12-15 Master Gardeners supervise each Saturday event.
One of those gardeners is Puyallup resident Donna Pierson.
Pierson serves as the Children’s Garden intern coordinator, a mentor and adviser to the current group of 12 interns who have chosen the Children’s Garden as their intern portion of training. “They have designed, planted and maintained three out of the 10 gardens that make up the Children’s Garden portion of the Puyallup Demonstration Garden,” Pierson said of the interns.
These are the Pirate’s Garden, the Rainbow Garden and the Small Space/Sensory Garden.
“I enjoy working in our child-centered gardens, thinking of creative ideas to make them even more enchanting and developing curriculum to ignite a child’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity,” Pierson said.
Being a master gardener was on the top of Pierson’s list of things she wanted to do after she retired from teaching science three years ago.
One Saturday program Pierson is looking forward to is one she designed: “Teeny Tiny Creatures in Your Garden,” debuting at 1 p.m. on July 12.
Another fun one, Pierson said, will be “Treasures of the Garden” on Sept. 6.
“Children will be encouraged to dress as pirates,” she said.
Pierson said she hopes children will come away from the events with a new knowledge about the world around them.
“Children have a natural curiosity about their world,” she said. “It is our desire to provide experiences that nurture and develop that curiosity. The Children’s Garden is a place where magical things happen.”
If you go
The Master Gardener Demonstration Garden is located at 2607 West Pioneer in Puyallup. Pre-registration for Saturday programs is not required. Upcoming programs are:
• June 28: Teensy Weensie Hummers
• July 12: Teeny Tiny Creatures in Your Garden
• July 26: Dog in Boots
• Aug. 9: Worm Wranglin
• Aug. 23: Scarecrows
• Sept. 6: Treasures of the Garden
All programs are free and begin at 1 p.m.Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes @puyallupherald.com @herald_andrew