Mike & Rosemary McGarrah, Coordinators.
Located across from the Bird of Prey Exhibit at Mesker Park Zoo on Evansville’s West Side, the MPZBG is intended to provide an interactive learning experience for both adults and children. The garden showcases the use of plants and garden features that are low maintenance, non-invasive and conserve natural resources. There is a garden showcasing many native shrubs and perennials suitable for landscaping, plants with “animal names” for children to find as they “safari” through the garden, small (pocket) gardens which attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and one which demonstrates the use of hardy plants to create a tropical look in the landscape. The garden also includes a bubbling rock fountain, which provides a cool play break for children during the hot weather.
~While their parents relax in the rocking chairs in the nearby gazebo, children enjoy the bubbling rock fountain. In addition to providing fun for the children, the fountain illustrates a safe, water-conserving aquatic feature for the home landscape. The bubbling rock fountain loses less water to evaporation than a conventional fountain, it uses rainwater to replenish the water supply, does not present a drowning hazard for children and does not provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
~Families can “safari” through the garden and find many “animal” plants in the garden. These visitors have found zebra grass, spiderwort and lambs ear. Visitors can walk through the native plant section of the garden, which illustrates the use of native flowering plant, grass and shrub cultivars for landscaping. The use of native shrubs and plants in the home landscape has many advantages, including plant hardiness, providing habitat and food for birds and other wildlife, and not introducing imported plants which may be invasive and threaten the local environment. The garden also features “pocket” butterfly and temperate tropical gardens, illustrating the use of themed plantings in small spaces to provide variety in the home landscape.
~On Earth Day and Plant Conservation Day, there are activities for families in the garden. On Earth Day, children plant flower seeds and take them home to watch them grow.
~From March through November, there is always something in bloom in the garden, providing numerous photo opportunities. In addition to taking pictures of their families and friends, many visitors take photos of the flowers, butterflies and hummingbirds that abound in the garden.
Click on each picture to enlarge.