Comox’s Gardens on Anderton has many child-friendly features

The sand play area of Children’s Garden at the Gardens on Anderton is a popular attraction. Photo supplied.The sand play area of Children’s Garden at the Gardens on Anderton is a popular attraction. Photo supplied.
The Children’s Garden at the Gardens on Anderton is in what used to be known as the Butterfly Gardens space. Photo suppliedThe Children’s Garden at the Gardens on Anderton is in what used to be known as the Butterfly Gardens space. Photo supplied

Marla Temoin

Special to The Record

Tucked away in the back corner of the Gardens on Anderton, encircled by trees and hedges with its own special entrance, is the new Children’s Interactive Garden.

In 2002, the then full-sun site was planted with pollinator-friendly flowers as the Butterfly Gardens. Since then, the surrounding trees have grown to heights that shade the area for most of the day, changing the growing conditions and requiring a change of vision. Trish Smith, a long-time member and volunteer at the Gardens, had the idea to create a Children’s Garden in the Butterfly Gardens space.

“We want to involve younger people and families at the Gardens,” said Smith. “Kids can learn how plants grow and really explore in the Children’s area.”

To bring her vision to life, Smith invited Colleen Friendship, an experienced early childhood educator who has been visiting the Gardens with her StrongStart groups for many years, to help develop engaging and educational features for children to explore. Once Smith and Friendship had decided on the elements and design, the Children’s Garden became a reality this spring with the hard digging by Gail Sequin and wonderful painting by Louise Abbott. The result is a magical space dedicated to young gardeners, artists and naturalists.

In June this year, Friendship invited her StrongStart group from Queneesh to ‘test out’ the Children’s Garden. The kids especially enjoyed the figurines sandbox, the see/touch/smell garden and spotting water buffalo at a neighbouring farm through the fence. After garden play, the group had story time under the shade tents in the big grass field while they enjoyed their snacks, the sounds of birds and the nearby pond fountain providing the perfect background music.

Other features of the Children’s Garden include: a sand play kitchen, loose parts play area, rainbow flower garden, bug hunt, vegetable tasting garden, and hibernaculum (come for a visit to find out what a hibernaculum is). There are two small tents for sunny times of the day or rain showers, as well as benches and a picnic table.

The Gardens on Anderton is a wonderful place to visit for folks of all ages and is a delightful spot for kids. When you first enter, a volunteer host will be there to greet you. Children are offered a ‘Fairy House Hunt’ checklist matching the coloured shapes to markers on the 10 fairy houses nestled throughout the two acres of the Garden grounds. The houses themselves have an interesting history, having been built by residents at Berwick Retirement Community in Comox. The fairy houses bring further enchantment to the Gardens, it really does seem that there may be fairies living amongst the flowers.

Bring the kids to visit the Gardens on Anderton this summer. Explore the Children’s Garden, picnic in the large grassy area with optional shade, find all the fairy houses and enjoy ice cream or coffee in the courtyard seating area. The Gardens on Anderton, created and run by the non-profit volunteer Anderton Therapeutic Gardens Society, are situated behind the Anderton Nursery in Comox, at 2012 Anderton Rd. on the way to the Little River ferry. They are open daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from May to September. Check the website www.gardensonanderton.org or the Facebook page for more information and upcoming events.

ALSO: Gardens on Anderton hosts summer concert series

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