November 27, 2014

Elyria
Flurries
31°F
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Welcome, children of all ages

BIRMINGHAM — Mother Nature has not been a friend to the many landscapers working on the new Schoepfle Children’s Garden.
Crews faced sweltering temperatures on some days and torrential downpours on others. It have been easy for anyone to believe a Sept. 1 opening was not possible.

However, itis not only possible, but it will happen without a doubt, said Dan Martin, director of the Lorain County Metro Parks.
“We want to throw open our doors on Saturday just like we said and show Lorain County what a half-million dollars in donated time, money and resources looks like,” he said. “It will be spectacular when it opens.”

It didn’t look that way during a sneak peak Friday. But behind the scenes of organized chaos, hints of spectacular things were definitely taking shape.

To take in the full picture, adults may want to get on their knees as they enter the garden because it is not designed with them in mind. It is all about the children. A white picket fence invites visitors into the garden and leads them on a path that makes its first stop at the “Flute-A-Pillar.” An odd name, but like the entire garden concept, it is a nod to the late Otto Schoepfle’s love of classical music and gardening.

Children can crawl through a caterpillar-designed tunnel while enjoying the sights and smells of more than 60 different flowers and plants.

“A caterpillar becomes a butterfly, so this was designed to be a kid-friendly butterfly garden,” said Kit Kimmich, of Kimmich Landscaping in Fairview Park.

“All of the plants will attract butterflies through sight and smell to let children see firsthand the metamorphosis of a caterpillar’s life. It starts the garden off in a fun way.”

From there, the path takes kids through the “Wind Woods or is it Woodwinds Garden,” a walk-though bamboo forest that leads to an arbor of hanging chimes in the form of musical notes and then on to the 24-foot sensory cymbal.

The serene setting of the “Pause Garden” gives kids — and all the parents who likely need a rest — a place to collect their thoughts among the sounds of trickling water.

“Hopefully, this will be the perfect place were moms and kids can relax, rest and maybe read a story,” said Kevin O’Brien, of Lifestyle Landscaping, as he stood in the musical note-inspired garden that is highlighted by a small, self-contained rock fountain

The next stop, the “A-Maze-Ing Piano,” is sure to become a park favorite.

Otto Schoepfle loved to play the grand piano. Therefore, Martin said, the children’s garden would not be complete without the grand piano-shaped shrub maze, which has a walkway that resembles the black and white keys on a piano.

Eventually, the keyboard pathway will have sensors that will play musical notes each time a key is stepped on

After getting lost in the maze, kids can run up the “Rocky ‘G’ Clef” rock pile and slide down to the waterfall and pond. While most water features in gardens are for looking and not touching, Martin said that will not be the case at the children’s garden.

Parents should bring an extra set of clothes or at least a towel to protect the car’s interior because kids are going to be encouraged to get into the water, grab a watering can and sprinkle the flowers to their little hearts’ delights. The garden also has what Martin calls its “wow factor” in the form of a completely refurbished 19-animal carousel. Located a short walk from the garden, the fully operating carousel is the perfect way to conclude a visit to the children’s garden.

“Your first inclination when you think garden is that there is not a lot of play here, but actually this garden is all about play,” Martin said.