New Discovery Garden for Children Opens at BBG
by BBG
May 31, 2015

On June 6, 2015, kids, families, and urban naturalists of all stripes are invited to the opening of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s (BBG) Discovery Garden, a new space to explore plants and ecosystems through hands-on play and scientific investigations. The naturalistic, immersive design by award-winning landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) models habitats found in the greater New York area—woodland, meadow, and marsh—interlaced with meandering paths and boardwalks that allow visitors to slow down and observe nature. There is also a four seasons garden and an area for hands-on gardening in the Hamm Children’s Learning Courtyard. The new Discovery Garden offers free, year-round, drop-in programming, including Family Discovery Weekends, Kids’ Discovery Stations, First Discoveries for Toddlers, and school and camp group visits.

Frolic, a festival for families on Saturday, June 6, celebrates the opening of BBG’s new Discovery Garden. Live music, craft workshops, family garden walks, and a larger-than-life puppet and stilt-walker parade embrace springtime whimsy and the winged creatures—butterflies, dragonflies, and moths—that make the Garden buzz! Brooklyn Botanic Garden admission and Discovery Garden and Frolic festival activities will be free all day on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

BBG will also present a Discovery Garden–related exhibit, The Art of Discovery, in the Conservatory Gallery from June 2 through August 30, featuring artwork from the Garden’s book for young naturalists, The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature. The environmental scenes created by illustrator Laszlo Veres in partnership with members of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Education staff show dozens of the plants and animals found in the forests, ponds, and meadows in the northeastern United States, including in New York City and other cities nearby. Character illustrations by BBG graphic designer Manny Jose depict some of the real careers naturalists may choose today.

For more than 100 years, BBG has inspired kids to learn about plants and become lifelong advocates for the environment. Today, the Garden serves more than 150,000 children every year through classes, drop-in activities, displays and guides, and a range of formal education programs that complement STEM curriculum standards in schools. The Discovery Garden is part of BBG’s continuing Campaign for the Next Century, the most significant garden renewal effort since the Garden’s founding over 100 years ago.

Frolic: Discovery Garden Opening Festival

The Discovery Garden’s opening day festival, Frolic, celebrates the joy and wonder of play in nature. Festival activities begin on BBG’s Cherry Esplanade, where kids and families can join a stroll to watch butterflies, moths, and dragonflies with naturalist Brad Klein, take a garden walk with BBG’s Romi Ige, create a giant scrap-sculpture dragonfly with artist Javaka Steptoe, and craft butterfly antennae to take home.

Ralph Lee, famed founder of New York’s Village Halloween Parade, brings his tree-sized Grandmother Earth puppet and other giant puppets from the Mettawee River Theatre Company collection to lead a raucous dance party on Cherry Esplanade. Dixieland jazz and shenanigans by The Shinbone Alley Stilt Band and ragtime by exotic musical beasts The Xylopholks accompany butterflies on stilts from Mortal Beasts & Deities and a kaleidoscope of colorful butterflies from Mark Lamb Dance.

A sonic scavenger hunt will lead visitors from Cherry Esplanade to the new Discovery Garden with international musical surprises along the route, including West African kora by Salieu Suso; Aboriginal Australian didgeridoo by Marc Mueller; Indian tabla and sitar by Jonathan Singer and G.L. Diana; Brazilian accordion by Uri Sharlin; Persian hammer dulcimer by Paul Mueller; Native American Lakota flute by Charley Buckland; and Indonesian Gamelan by Suzanne La, Lela Chapman, and Victoria Lo.

Discovery Garden Seasonal Programming

BBG’s Discovery Garden offers free drop-in programming, along with school and camp visits and special programs, all year. The opening season programming includes the following:

Family Discovery Weekends

Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. | June 7, 13, 14; July 11–August 23; September 19–November 1 (No programs September 26; October 10, 11, 24)

Experiment, learn, and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s meadow, woodland, and marsh habitats and in the vegetable garden encourage families to explore nature together.

First Discoveries for Toddlers

Tuesdays, 1:30–3 p.m. | June 16–August 25 (No programs June 23 or 30)

Calling all explorers 2–4 years old (and their caregivers)! Plant a carrot seed, touch a wriggly worm, nestle into a meadow nook to read a story, or create a unique nature craft at special Discovery Garden activity stations designed for toddlers.

Kids’ Discovery Stations

Tuesday–Friday, 10:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. | July 7–August 28

Get your hands dirty at kids’ discovery stations throughout the Garden. Investigate a mystery plant, hold a water plant and learn how it floats, or go on a pollinator hunt in the meadow!

School and Camp Group Visits to the Discovery Garden

Tuesday–Friday, 10:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. | June 16–19; October 6–November 6

Young scientists are invited to make their own nature discoveries on a free, fun visit to the Discovery Garden. Students solve plant mysteries and sharpen science skills as they explore the garden’s habitats and visit hands-on, docent-facilitated discovery stations. Groups visiting the Discovery Garden during peak hours (Tuesday–Friday, June 16–November 6 | 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m.) must register for a time slot.

About the Campaign for the Next Century

BBG’s Campaign for the Next Century supports a suite of new and enhanced gardens, facilities, and programs created in response to increased attendance at the Garden, ongoing revitalization in Brooklyn, and growing interest in urban horticulture and sustainability. Other notable projects include the extension of the Native Flora Garden (2013); the new Visitor Center (2012); and the new Herb Garden (2010). The new Discovery Garden is part of the South Garden Project, an ambitious series of renovations at the southern end of BBG that will improve the visitor experience and enable the institution to operate in a more environmentally sustainable fashion. They include the relocated and expanded Discovery Garden; an expanded and redesigned public entrance at Flatbush Avenue by Architecture Research Office; a new Early Spring Garden; renewal of the historic McKim, Mead & White brick archway; a relocated and expanded indoor café and outdoor food kiosk; a new Water Garden; and completion of a larger water conservation project.

General Information

Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is an urban botanic garden that connects people to the world of plants, fostering delight and curiosity while inspiring an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn, the Garden is home to over 14,000 kinds of plants and hosts more than 800,000 visitors annually.

Learn what’s happening at Brooklyn Botanic Garden at, read the Garden’s blog at, and find out what’s in bloom at Visitor entrances are at 990 Washington Avenue, 150 Eastern Parkway, and at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard. For hours, directions, and admission information, please visit Follow BBG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and join the conversation using the hashtag #brooklynbotanic.

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