Hidden Lake Gardens in East Lansing vows to “leave no child inside!” as it prepares for the annual Children’s Garden Day on August 11th. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., families are invited to tour the 775 acre grounds until 4:00 p.m. and engage in fun and exciting activities designed to raise awareness and intrigue about the oft-ignored outdoors.
Children’s Garden Day is part educational-outdoor journey and part party. It features a live butterfly exhibit, interactions with reptiles, and kids rock music by The Mister Laurence Experience. There’s also storytellers, crafts, balloon-animal creations, wagon rides, sidewalk-chalking, and painting. Groups will explore the grounds though docent-led nature hikes and scavenger hunts all while learning about their vast surroundings.
Julie Conley, education director for Hidden Lake, says the goal of the Children’s Garden Day is to “provide a venue for people to explore Hidden Lake Gardens, enjoy time with their families and, hopefully, learn something interesting.” Children under 12 are the key demographic, though Conley notes that “there will be something for everyone to enjoy.” She expects several hundred children and their families to attend, though the event is outdoors and therefore heavily weather dependent.
Though the event is designed for children, Hidden Lake Gardens is appealing to all ages. The website boasts that the establishment is “a paradise in a park… an escape from the everyday world.” More than 10 miles of paths and trails wind through the sanctuary which has been carefully built up and maintained since 1945. Hidden Lake’s crown jewel is the 200-acre Arboretum, a rolling rainbow of trees, bushes, and flowers crafted to be the finest specimens of their kind.
The Harper Collection (a forest of rare, handsome conifers) is settled on another section of the green quilt, while the flowering Hosta Hillside blankets the gently shaded banks of crystalline Hidden Lake. The Conservatory houses the blooms and branches of exotic flora, while the adjoining lathhouse hides other flourishing favorites. Small, potted trees create an artistic imitation through the serene pathways of the Bonsai garden, while still more colorful flowers, plants, and trees sprawl through the Demonstration Gardens, a bountiful array dutifully arranged to create a visual feast.
The gardens have grown by a cooperative effort from many generous benefactors, but began as a donation to Michigan State University (MSU) by Harry A. Fee, a businessman and avid patron of MSU. He envisioned the park as a “dream as you go development… with the prime object of its being for the benefit of the public.” And, in MSU’s able hands, it has been: Year-round educational programs for all ages are offered in the Visitor Center, which also houses a library, exhibits, auditorium, meeting rooms, and a gift shop.
Children’s Garden Day promises a magical introduction to the park for both kids and adults. Hidden Lake hosts a variety of other events throughout the year if you miss it, and makes an ideal trip for scout troops, classes, or family outings. Admission is $3.00 for adults, and the garden is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with different hours throughout the seasons. The garden is located at 6214 Monroe Rd in Tipton, Michigan (near Tecumseh).
~Samantha Stemler, feature writer