How Well Do You Know Meijer Gardens?

How well do you know Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park?

Try to identify the artist and title of each of these sculptures, which all reside in the Sculpture Park’s permanent collection. Submit your answers by leaving a comment on this post.

HowWellDoYouKnowFMGClaim bragging rights by naming all the pieces correctly!

We’ll share the answers next week. 

Countdown ‘til School’s Back

Parents and teachers know it’s better to learn by doing rather than watching. That’s where we come in! There are many hands-on activities for children available until the end of August at Meijer Gardens.

Countdown the days until school’s back in session by doing these five Meijer Gardens family-friendly activities.


1. Meet Me at the Fair Saturday and Sunday August 10 and 11; 1-4 pm
Bring the whole family to join us in our annual Meet Me at the Fair activity this weekend! Children can learn about life on the farm while doing fun activities including, picking vegetables, feeding and petting live animals, and playing traditional fair games at the Michigan Farm Garden.

2. Let’s Keep Moving in the Sculpture Park Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturdays; $3 adults and $1 kids
The Kids’ Tram Tour is an interactive way of learning combining a variety of easy fitness activities related to our sculpture collection. Designed for kids ages 8 and under and their families, Let’s Keep Moving in the Sculpture is a great way to keep children active while learning about art.

3. Outdoor Artists Studio – Tuesdays at 6 pm IMG_0670
Art can provide skills important in academic success—creativity, confidence and focus. Stop by the Children’s Garden on Tuesday evenings and work with an artist to create miniature clay sculptures or colorful drawings of plants and flowers.

4. Squirmy Worms – Fridays at 11 am
The little ones interested in creepy crawlers? On Fridays at 11 am, kids can investigate the science of worm bins and composting in the Children’s Garden. They can examine worms in a compost bin, find out what food scraps worms eat, and go on a worm hunt for artificial worms hidden in the garden.

LMCG Topiary Frog5. Search & Find and Family Sculpture Hunt – Sundays 2 pm
Critical thinking skills can be developed in kids of all ages. Enjoy Search & Find in the Children’s Garden for the young ones, then go on to the Family Sculpture Hunt in the Sculpture Park (ask for copies of both at the Children’s Garden Information Center).

With these exciting educational activities here at Meijer Gardens, kids will be ready to go back to school before doors even open!

Imagination At Its Best

Imagine you’re a five-year-old wandering into the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden for the first time.
You’re drawn to the miniature Great Lakes filled with water and kids “sailing” little boats. You see colorful flowers everywhere and paths leading in all directions. Then suddenly, you hear singing. You wander down into the Storytelling area and come upon Kevin Kammeraad waving his arms about and asking you to sing along

“Can we stay for this, Mom?”

moving with music 2013

Full of kid-friendly songs— like Old McDonald, The Ants Go Marching, Boom, Boom, Ain’t it Great to be Crazy and many others—Moving to the Music is full of surprise, humor and suggestions from the audience.

It’s “kid improv” at its best.

Moving to the Music is presented by Kevin Kammeraad every Monday at 2:00 pm all summer and is included with admission. No tickets are needed, but space is limited, so come early.


Now that you’ve had fun singing songs, you beg your parents to see Dorothy and Toto in the Children’s Garden on Thursday (and every Thursday) at 11 am.

The Wicked Witch called in on her cell phone to tell Dorothy she’ll use her magic powers to close the Children’s Garden because kids can learn using technology; they don’t need to be outside in a garden at all. But clever Dorothy convinces her if kids show courage, heart and brains by solving three challenges then the Children’s Garden can stay open.

Together with Dorothy, kids can enjoy being outdoors without needing technology.

What fun it is to be a kid again! Especially at the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden this summer.

Spring weather is coming… is your garden ready?

By Julie Francke, Curator of Horticulture Education

The last week of the Spring Gardening Mini-Series concludes on April 11!


Courtesy photo from Ginny Pearce.

If you have a shady garden, but find yourself envying your neighbor’s sunny flower beds, be sure to join us on Thursday, April 11 for “Gardening in the Shade” from 1–2:15 p.m. during the last leg of the Spring Gardening Mini-Series.

Ginny Pearce will inspire you with ways to create a beautiful shady sanctuary that is cool and inviting during a mid-summer day. She will introduce you to a wide variety of plants that thrive underneath the canopy of trees—from plants that provide colorful foliage such as European ginger, Japanese forest grass, variegated Solomon’s seal, and hostas to those that offer splashes of color—such as astilbe, anemone and hardy geraniums.

Gardening in the shade can present a unique set of challenges—competition from tree roots and varying levels of shade determine what will thrive. According to Ginny, the key is to match a plant’s growing preferences to your garden’s natural conditions. Garden smarter—not harder.


Taken from Google

During “Rhododendrons and More” from 2:30–3:45 p.m., Jeri Kiel will dispel the myth that rhododendrons are difficult to grow in West Michigan. According to Jeri, if you purchase hardy varieties and pay attention to their physical requirements, “you’re golden.” She also suggests keeping the motto “buy local” in mind when selecting rhododendrons. Plants produced by local nurseries have been carefully chosen to thrive in our climate and are already fully acclimated to our conditions. Why waste your time and money on plants that won’t succeed?

Jeri will also introduce you to the rhododendrons’ gorgeous relatives—azaleas, mountain-laurels and even decorative varieties of blueberries. They’re beautiful and easier to grow than you might think.

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension Educator said, “Pruning can be one of the most perplexing rituals for the spring gardener because pruning requirements vary with each species.”

In “Pruning Trees and Shrubs” from 4–5:15 p.m., Rebecca will take the confusion out of pruning and discuss the best timing, tools, and techniques.

Simply noting when a shrub blooms can reveal when it should be pruned. Shrubs that flower in the spring, such as forsythia and lilac, should be pruned after they bloom. Those that bloom in the summer, such as rose-of-Sharon and Annabelle hydrangeas, should be pruned in late winter or early spring. Rather than getting out the hedge shears and carving your shrubs into “meatballs and tuna cans” she will provide alternative techniques that will bring out their natural form and help maintain a desirable size. Whether you’re a “reluctant pruner” or an “overachiever,” this class will help you prune with greater confidence and skill.

Spring Gardening classes are also available on April 9. To find out about these classes and how to register for any class, follow this link.

Achieve Beautiful Gardens – March 26 Gardening Mini-Series

By Julie Francke, Curator of Horticulture Education


“Garden Design: Composition in the Garden”

On March 26, Meijer Gardens’ Spring Gardening Mini-Series will reveal ways to make your garden more beautiful!

We’ll begin with “Garden Design: Composition in the Garden” from 4–5:15 p.m., taught by Chris Major, landscape designer with Blue Ridge Landscaping. Chris will help reexamine your garden through a garden designer’s eyes and inspire you with great plant combinations. More importantly, he’ll reveal why these combinations look great and how to apply these principles to your garden. Chris will also reveal how hardscapes (anything that is not a plant) can help tie the overall garden design together.

When asked, “What is the most common mistake people make when designing their gardens?” Chris revealed it is not paying enough attention to the scale.

“When selecting hardscapes, such as boulders, sculptures and walkways, we need to select materials with respect to the scale of their outdoor environment—this is generally larger than the homeowner realizes.”

In regards to plants, scale is equally as important. Understanding a plant’s growth habit and rate need to be taken into consideration. “We’ve all seen the cute spruce trees at the garden center and proceeded to plant them a few feet from the corner of the house. At first, this makes sense because that little guy would look ridiculous if you planted it 15 or 18 feet away. Unfortunately, the end of this story usually involves a landscaper having to remove said tree 15 years later as it is now attacking the side of the home!”

"Perennials: The Power of One"

“Perennials: The Power of One”

If you are searching for the “best of the best” perennials for your West Michigan garden, you won’t want to miss “Perennials: The Power of One” from 5:30–6:45 p.m. presented by Susan Martin, perennial specialist and director of marketing communications for Walters Gardens. Susan is passionate about perennials and writes about them in the Walters Gardens catalog, on websites, in industry publications and Michigan Gardening Magazine. With more than 1,000 perennials growing in display and trial gardens right outside her office door, she sees first-hand how they perform.

Susan’s profession is also her hobby—she describes her own garden as a “collector’s garden” that includes a broad mix of perennials, annuals, shrubs and vines. In this class, Susan will reveal some incredibly improved perennials including:

  • A series of Tickseed (Coreopsis) that blooms for 5 months non-stop
  • A hardy perennial with dinner plate-sized blossoms that will be center of attention for a full three months in the garden
  • A shasta daisy (Leucanthemum) that puts out four rounds of flowers from early summer into mid-fall
  • A tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) that never gets powdery mildew
  • A tall stonecrop (Sedum) with stems so strong you’ll have to cut them down in spring–it never flops!

According to Susan, “To find out which varieties they are, you’ll have to attend my talk!”

“Drought Tolerant Landscapes”

“Drought Tolerant Landscapes”

In “Drought Tolerant Landscapes” from 7–8:15 p.m., Richard Sierra, senior sales representative for Hortech, will reveal ways you can help your garden thrive despite our hotter and drier summers and suggest plants that thrive on less water.

According to Richard, Hortech has seen an increasing demand for plants that require less water and maintenance. Gardeners are changing the way they think about water and are becoming more aware of water as an important resource—both from an environmental standpoint as well as financial. Last summer, some Midwestern cities even experienced water restrictions and bans.

Richard came into the green industry by accident—24 years ago he began working as a team leader in the shipping department and later became certified as a Green Industry Professional—and now advises landscapers and garden centers across the Midwest on the best plants for their needs. He also landscaped his first home in Grand Haven entirely with groundcovers and rocks; a low-growing sedum was his lawn, surrounded by drought-tolerant ornamental grasses, and punctuated by boulders.  Richard’s garden only needed to be irrigated during periods of extreme drought, saving time, money, and the important water resource.

All classes in the Spring Gardening Mini-Series are offered at the affordable price of $10 for members and $15 for non-members thanks to the support of the Association of Grand Rapids Landscape Professionals.

Click here to register for any of these classes, as well as classes held on April 9 and April 11. Full descriptions and other information are also included. Walk-ins welcome.

Spring Ushers in Spring Gardening Mini-Series, first one March 21

By Julie Francke, Curator of Horticulture Education

Part I of a three part series

Butterfly Bush in front of Meijer Gardens.

Butterfly Bush in front of Meijer Gardens.

March 20 is the vernal equinox—what most of us refer to as the first day of spring. While this may conjure up images of flowers blooming and bees buzzing, we could welcome a fresh blanket of snow or summer weather in mid-Michigan (do you recall last year’s record-setting temperature of 86 degrees?). The days will continue to lengthen, the weather will warm, the flowers will bloom, and the Meijer Gardens Spring Gardening Mini-Series will begin!

The Spring Gardening Mini-Series showcases four days of inspiring gardening classes at Meijer Gardens. These classes are on Thursday, March 21, Tuesday, March 26, Tuesday, April 9 and Thursday, April 11 throughout the day.

On March 21, the Mini-Series classes address the nation’s new gardening passion—growing your own vegetables. In “Growing Vegetables from Seed” from 1–2:15 p.m., you will learn about the different types of seeds (hybrid, heirloom and ark) and the best ways to start them.


Heirloom Garden in the Meijer Gardens Michigan Farm Garden.

“Patio Vegetables: Thinking Outside the Plot” from 2:30–3:45 p.m. reveals a new and attractive way to grow your own food—in containers right on your patio. Delving deeper, discover the rewards of “Underground Vegetables” from 4–5:15 p.m.—everything you need to know about growing “root vegetables,” from colorful potatoes to unusual sunchokes.

The local experts who will teach these classes are not only passionate about gardening, they understand the challenges and opportunities that West Michigan gardeners face. Meet the instructors even before you attend a class:

Growing Vegetables from Seed, 1–2:15 PM

Karen Lubbers owns Lubbers Family Farm, a picturesque farm nestled along the Grand River, where her family grows their own food and raises their own livestock using sustainable practices.  Their farm is also home to Cowslip Creamery and Little Rooster Bread Company. They began growing their own food in 1993 after their youngest daughter, then six, was diagnosed with brain cancer.  As Karen describes, “We began extensive research into the origins of cancer, which led us, inevitably, to our food supply, along with other things over which we had no control. We became increasingly alarmed by what was in our food in the form of pesticides, herbicides, dyes, preservatives— it is a very long list. Then we became equally alarmed by what we found was not in our food nutritionally.”

S_Hirvela_gardener Patio Vegetables: Thinking Outside the Plot, 2:30–3:45 PM

Stacey Hirvela, social media specialist for Spring Meadow Nursery, is looking forward to the release of her first book by Rodale Press (due out January 2014) which will detail all the information you need to grow edibles in raised beds and containers of all types. After earning her bachelor’s degree in linguistics at the University of Michigan, she changed direction and followed her passion by attending school at New York Botanic Garden. Stacey has been a rooftop gardener in Manhattan, the horticulturist at the former Tavern on the Green restaurant and has worked for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You will love Stacey’s passion and enthusiasm for all things green.

Ana Bosma1 Underground Vegetables, 4–5:15 PM

Ana Bosma is horticulturist at Meijer Garden and is responsible for Michigan’s Farm Garden as well as the Gwen Frostic Woodland Garden. Ana was born and raised in Grand Rapids and attended Michigan State University earning a degree in Horticulture with a focus on organic vegetable production. Before joining the Meijer Gardens staff, she worked for several years growing vegetables for farmers markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs.

All classes in the Spring Gardening Mini-Series are offered at the affordable price of $10 for members and $15 for non-members thanks to the support of the Association of Grand Rapids Landscape Professionals.

Click here to register for any of these classes, as well as classes held on March 26, April 9 and April 11. Full descriptions and other information are also included. Walk-ins welcome.

Watch for future blogs that will provide an inside look at the topics and instructors of the next Spring Gardening Mini-Series classes!

Sweet Sounds of Summer

Singing songs. Air guitar rocking. Children create musical masterpieces at home all the time. Encourage these musical talents by giving your kids an opportunity to attend a summer camp.

Kids are led around the gardens to gain inspiration for their songs!

This summer at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park your children will have the opportunity to unleash their musical creativity. Two of the summer camps offered in July and August, In the Spotlight and Kids Jam, provide children the chance to write and perform their own original songs. Jessica Doyle will be teaching these delightful camps. She has worked with young artists at theaters around the world.

“I’m excited to bring my knowledge and experience to the students at Meijer Gardens. It’s a big world out there and I’m all about encouraging young people to explore it,” Doyle said.


In the Spotlight is a one-day camp for children ages 10 to 14 on July 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Campers will be led through the gardens with a notebook for them to sketch their favorite parts. They will then create a rap or song incorporating different instrumental tracks and various beats. After creating the song, the kids will perform it on the Amphitheater stage.

Kids Jam is for kids ages 8 to 9 and lasts four days from 9:30 a.m. to noon August 6 through 9. The children will explore a different genre of music including country, rock and roll, classical and contemporary singing. Each day they will learn a new song. They will then explore the gardens to see a sculpture that relates to each genre. On the last day the kids will perform songs for their families on the Amphitheater stage.

Use your listening sense to make musical masterpieces!

“I’m excited about both of my summer camps, and about the opportunity to make music in such a beautiful surrounding with some excited young artists,” Doyle said.

Register today for these summer camps at Frederik Meijer Gardens before the classes fill up!