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Posted on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 6:16 a.m.

Children's Garden at U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens

By Teresa Shaw

I don't think eating lavender is quite what they had in mind when the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens hosted a summer harvest.

My seven-month-old son, however, had another idea in mind. As I pushed his stroller through the herb garden section, he reached his chubby little fingers out to run them through the flowers and, in the process, grabbed hold of a sprig of lavender. Before I could see what he was doing, he brought the flowers up to his mouth and - like he does with everything he comes into contact with - started eating.

While the baby wanted to munch on the herbs, my toddler daughter (as well as the handful of other kids at the Gaffield Children's Garden summer harvest event) sampled beans, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, and other treats from the fruit and vegetable gardens. They learned about how the plants grow and what these veggies look like before they reach the grocery store or farmer's market - an important lesson for their young minds.

The Children's Garden, which officially opens on September 13 but is open to the public now, also has hiking trails and fountains with goldfish swimming in the pools, and several cool features under construction, including a fairy and troll knoll, digging pit, and butterfly and hummingbird garden.

And there is, of course, plenty of lavender.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens is located at 1800 N. Dixboro Road. Admission to the Children's Garden is free. For more information, phone 647-7600.

Teresa Shaw is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Contact her at teresawrites (at) yahoo (dot) com or visit her Web site, Think Inside the Icebox.