The initial site preparations are nearly complete at the children’s garden at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park in North Side.

Workers from K.P. Heavy Equipment were wrapping up their work this week, setting the stage for the next phases of work to get under way.

“It’s been a long time from when the children’s garden was originally conceived on the park’s original 1994 master plan, but happily it is now starting to take shape,” said park manager John Lawrus.

“I hope it is completed in time for our 25th anniversary in 2019, but it could be completed earlier if fundraising efforts continue in a positive way like they have been,” he said.

“With the supply of fill being provided by K.P. Heavy Equipment and with donations continuing to come in, I am hopeful the community comes together to help build an educational outdoor space for our children to learn in, here at the QEII Botanic Park.”

Tourism Attraction Board Chairwoman Carla Reid says she is pleased with the progress.

“We have received tremendous support from the community for the children’s garden, and I’m delighted with the start that has been made,” she said.

Mr. Lawrus says the need for an outdoor space for children to play and learn in at the same time is long overdue in the Cayman Islands, and the Botanic Park is an ideal location for it. The scale of its components will be designed for children ages 2-14.

“Through various means this garden will allow children to take ownership and be proud of what they accomplish in it, whether it be growing crops with their respective schools, or discovering what a bird recycles from nature to make its own nest, which are all elements that can be found in the Children’s Garden.”

Mr. Lawrus says the heart of the garden will be the outdoor education center or classroom, which he envisions schools using to teach their science classes in after the students have been out in the garden collecting or studying flowers, insects, ecosystems or the environment that surrounds them.

“The outdoor classroom is being designed as a multi-use facility where book readings, performances, educational displays, birthdays and regular classroom use can all occur.”

He also highlighted other areas of the garden, including the “growzone,” which will allow each school in Cayman to have its own raised bed for planting crops, providing a real-world demonstration of crops, life cycles of plants from seed to fruit, and the interaction of insects and their roles in the ecosystem.

“Other main features of the garden include a climbing tree house … and the education of bird identification and study,” said Mr. Lawrus.

He noted that around the world, successful children’s gardens allow for space for children to run.

“Although that may present an idea that is not in line with the ethos of a ‘botanic garden,’ we have to remember that this is a purpose-designed garden for children. The solution to this is to direct their energy in specific areas such as the maze and tunnel areas. The other factor is that children love to run in circles. Again, this is captured in the design of the maze, and the climbing structure has elements of circles.”

Mr. Lawrus said the hope is to make a science book come to life, and to make it fun to learn while being outside in a healthy environment.

“I hope science and play can come together in a way that educates, entertains and arouses curiosity in one location.”

For further inquiries or to assist, contact John Lawrus at [email protected]

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