Children’s garden blooms

Published 6:35 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shelly Sorgen plants a pussy willow in the rich soil of the children’s garden at Sleepy Hole Park. “It will be good for the children because it’s very tactile,” she said.

Tulips blooming, compost brewing, soil readied for planting — the children’s garden at North Suffolk’s Sleepy Hole Park is looking good, thanks to hard work from members of an area gardening group and the support of other partners.

The garden’s newest additions are four raised beds, installed two weeks ago thanks to a grant from the City of Suffolk, Suffolk Master Gardeners Association Vice President Shelley Sorgen said.

Their sides made from recycled milk jugs, each bed will be dedicated to a different project, she said.

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“One of them will be a pizza garden, with peppers, tomatoes, oregano and probably some basil,” according to Sorgen.

Another raised bed will become a “three sisters garden” with corn, squash and beans — a Native American system of gardening — and one of the remaining two is earmarked for an herb garden.

Children from area schools visit the garden for regular learning programs, including one affording them the opportunity to taste what they grow.

“We bring out some ranch dressing and the children get to taste what we grow,” Sorgen said. “We grow radishes (for instance), and then they come back and eat them.”

Composting is another topic covered at the garden, with anything that’s not eaten added to the pile of decomposing vegetable matter. Rain barrels teach the importance of conservation.

The ornamental side of the garden incorporates a butterfly garden, Sorgen said, and it’s a riot of color.

“We’ve been working all winter; it’s been a nice warm winter,” she said.

The master gardeners are also establishing at the garden a “children’s village,” with a picket fence and little gardens inside; and a “bedroom,” with planting beds inside small model beds and the drawers of mock dressers.

They also plan to install boxes with information leaflets and laminated cards used for “plant hunts.”

The master gardeners will hold a plant sale at the Suffolk National Guard Armory, on Godwin Boulevard, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 21.

Plants for sale will include annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and a broad range of plants from wholesale nurseries, Sorgen said.