LARGO — Something is set to bloom this year at the Florida Botanical Gardens, and it isn’t a new species of flower.
Groundbreaking is expected to begin within the next two months on a Children’s Discovery Garden that will allow kids to experience nature and teach them to be good stewards of the environment.
The new garden will be built on 2 acres of land along McKay Creek and will be adjacent to an acre of wetland and native plants, surrounded by pine, oak and palmettos.
“This is really an untapped resource,” said Emily Bloxam, communications coordinator for the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation. “We are really excited to get this project rolling.”
The space will be divided into an east and west section, divided by concrete pavers, with the east side home to the majority of green space.
“It’s going to be more than just another park,” Bloxam said. “It’s going to be more of an education space.”
The garden will include a 600-square-foot outdoor classroom, raised beds and a potting area, a pollinator landing and large honeycomb structure.
“It’s kind of a multipurpose area,” Bloxam said. “You can climb on it, and it also has a presentation area for kids and adults.”
Play features will include equipment for climbing and jumping, exploratory trails and an old-fashioned hand water pump. There will also be picnic tables and ADA-compliant walkways, as well as cellphone charging stations.
Bloxam said the project has completed the design process and is currently in the permitting process with the county. The estimated cost of the garden is $1.5 million, of which a private donation of $500,000 has already been secured, as well as $500,000 having been set aside by the foundation. A capital campaign to raise the additional half-million is underway.
According to Bloxam, this garden will provide a space where children can learn and grow, right along with the garden itself.
“It’s a place for kids to get their hands a little dirty and learn about nature and become stewards of this garden for years to come,” she said.
For more information or to learn how to contribute, visit www.flbgfoundation.org.