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Child's Play

As McKee Botanical Garden celebrates 15 years since reopening, plans for a children’s garden are underway

The entrance to the Children’s Garden features a rope bridge for children and a wheelchair- and stroller-accessible entrance for families. The monkeys and the parrot are nods to the original jungle garden that opened in 1932.

The entrance to the Children’s Garden features a rope bridge for children and a wheelchair- and stroller-accessible entrance for families. The monkeys and the parrot are nods to the original jungle garden that opened in 1932.

In the northeast corner of McKee Botanical Garden, fairies flitter among the trees, monkeys perch on branches and a pirate ship sits atop a giant tree stump. It’s November 2018 and the long-awaited Children’s Garden has opened, the next iteration in the ever-evolving botanical garden. 

In November of 2016, McKee celebrated its 15th anniversary since reopening in 2001. Earlier that year, one of the board members endowed the garden with funds to design the plans for a Children’s Garden, the perfect gift to complement the anniversary as well as the garden’s increased attendance and membership. 

“When we first re-opened we had 20,000 visitors; this past year we had 61,500,” says Christine Hobart, executive director of McKee Botanical Garden. “When we opened, the attendance was 40 percent families, 60 percent seniors. Now we’re at about 60 percent families. We said there’s no better time to continue on the path that we’re on with families and encourage them to spend even more time in the garden by building a Children’s Garden.”