Discovery Garden features eight theme gardens, each designed to provide opportunities for outdoor education about plants, flowers, and ecology. Themes include: Butterfly Garden, Cottage Garden, Evergreen Garden, Horticultural Therapy Garden, Planting Garden, Secret Garden, Sensory Garden, and Time Garden.
Flowers and plants that attract butterflies provide an opportunity to discuss metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly; the importance of nectars; the role of host plants; and much more.
Popular in the British Isles, cottage gardens contain a charming combination of flowers and herbs. They may include fragrant cheery country flowers of snapdragons, allium, iris ,hibiscus, and zinnias.
Added in June 2002, the Evergreen Garden adds winter interest and demonstrates the unique forms and textures of various evergreens. Specimen plantings include Chamaecyparis Obtusa Fern Leaf, Weeping Hemlock, Dwarf Blue Spruce on a standard and Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar. The garden contains a bronze statue and several large boulders.
Horticultural Therapy Garden
The Discovery Garden plays a key role in the horticultural therapy programming offered by Skills of Central PA. Skills program participants visit the Discovery Garden regularly to explore their interests in plants and gardening, spend meaningful time outdoors, and interact with other people in the community.
The Planting Garden offers elementary school groups and individuals with disabilities an opportunity to cultivate seedlings, learn about plants and flowers, and plant them in Discovery Garden. The raised planting beds have a wheelchair-accessible portion
The Secret Garden is tucked away to the left, just as you enter the Discovery Garden through its main entrance. Here, after crossing a beautiful wooden bridge, you'll find specimen plants that often change with the seasons. Children enjoy exploring the elements of this garden including a potting shed with creative, interactive learning boards, a plant part tower, a rock garden bridge, a rabbit hole tunnel, and a rainbow garden complete with a pot of gold.
Designed specifically to allow individuals with visual impairments or who use wheelchairs to touch and smell herbs and flowers, Sensory Garden contains plants with unusual textures and distinctive fragrances, such as lambs ear, dill, heliotrope, garlic chives, and a variety of mints and sages.
The garden’s centerpiece is a 25-foot horizontal sundial. The sundial was the first 25-foot sundial on the east coast and is listed on the North American Sundial Society Registry. Designing, building, and erecting it was a labor of love for many individuals, both local and far away. Another noteworthy element of this garden is a water feature that was added in memory of three former Skills of Central PA Employees: Andrea Eckenrod, Jackie Crust, and Bob Crum.
This garden presents opportunities for school-aged children to explore time-related topics and includes flowers with time-related names, such as day lilies, morning glories, thyme, autumn joy sedum, daisies, sunflowers, and a ginkgo tree, the oldest species of tree recorded back to dinosaur years.