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VISIT & explore

Backyard Discovery Gardens

The Children's Garden at The Morton ArboretumMake a frog spit in the Curiousity Garden
Backyard Discovery Gardens present familiar things that children might recognize in their own backyard, in a way that encourages deeper exploration.


The Curiosity Garden, Bloom, Zoom, & Sprout, Every Which Way, and the Windmill Garden are all part of the Backyard Discovery area.

Curiosity Garden

Alice in Wonderland would have loved this garden, where children are directed to look at common things in new ways and to use their senses to explore. Touching, smelling and taking a closer look are strongly encouraged!

Kids, use your senses in this garden. What is the softest leaf you can find? Which is the sweetest smelling flower? The most colorful plant? Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the garden. 


Bloom, Zoom, & Sprout

Explore the life cycle of plants in exciting and hands-on ways. Be like a bee and pollinate! Our large, colorful flowers, fruits and seeds beckon kids to play and giant acorns beg to be climbed. Can’t you just hear the buzz?

Kids, the story of a plant is written in the pavement. What do flowers and seeds do? How do animals help plants? (Hint: think about bees, squirrels and deer)


Every Which Way

Discover how plants grow. What are the names of plant parts that you see…and don't see? This garden includes a giant tree root model, a tree house, a water garden, and a water feature where children can get their hands into the basic elements that all plants need.

Kids, why does a plant need roots? What are the basic foods that all plants need in order to live? Are there any plants that don't need dirt? Can you hop a leaf pattern, slide down a root and dig in the sand?


Windmill Garden

The garden illustrates what many Illinois children see in their own backyards. Every year, the field behind the windmill will be planted with a crop that grows in Illinois.

Kids, can you name a crop that grows in Illinois? Which kinds of crops might you grow in your backyard garden? Do you have a favorite?