Science Center's Rooftop Garden Opens With Family Gardening Weekend

By JAIMIE CURA (Patch Staff) - May 10, 2016

Science Center's Rooftop Garden Opens With Family Gardening Weekend The Connecticut Science Center will celebrate spring and the opening of the Rooftop Garden with a Family Gardening Weekend, taking place May 14 and 15. Family Gardening activities are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also included with the purchase of general admission or Science Center Membership.

The Rooftop Garden is one of the special features that helps make the Science Center a green building. In addition, the garden’s birds-eye location makes it the perfect space for visitors to learn about the surrounding nature, better understand the growth cycle of local plant life, or simply enjoy the sweeping views of the Hartford area and the Connecticut River.

On Family Gardening Weekend, presented by the Petit Family Foundation, visitors are invited to plant seeds and seedlings and participate in other 'green' hands-on activities the whole family will enjoy.

“Michaela and her Uncle, Dennis Chapman who championed the Michaela's Garden concept, would love the fact that Four O'Clocks are planted each year in the Connecticut Science Center's rooftop garden,” said Hanna Petit Chapman and Dr. William Petit of the Petit Family Foundation. “Children visiting the garden can plant, admire and later harvest seeds from these flowers all while being outdoors with a beautiful view of the Connecticut River and Hartford and learning science”.

Visitors will notice that a very specific planting design that reduces the amount of water necessary to keep the plants thriving by 50-percent. Plants were chosen to highlight native species, and to explore some of the more interesting plants that have evolved in nature. The ground cover on the roof helps to insulate the building, making it more energy efficient, and the garden is home to many pollinating insects.

In addition to being an energy saving feature of the building, the Rooftop Garden is an extension of the Science Center’s galleries and learning labs, with a unique set of growing conditions that allow for many different types of plants to all grow within one garden.

There are many different zones in the garden — a shade garden, an alpine garden, a children's sensory garden and even a section that uses xeriscaping, a gardening practice that reduces the need for additional watering.

This year, STEM Educator Lyn Wojcik is giving the garden updates and fresh looks, including thirty new plants.

More from Across Patch Kleenex Tissue; Mrs. Meyer's Soap; LED Lights, Lamps: Wednesday's Best Deals Stink Bug Hordes Back, Ready for Courtship: What to Do Georgia Prison Escapee Captured After 48 Years FOX's Greta Van Susteren Cuts $900K From Sales Price of Annapolis Home “We are incorporating plants and features that inspire our visitors and contribute to sustainability," Wojcik said. "The space is becoming more practical, as well as beautiful, so that people take something away that they can practice at home."

Visitors will notice new vines climbing vertically; a great way to grow plants in small spaces. Also new for this season, we are modeling simple urban agriculture practices including growing edible plants in containers, and using perennials when possible.

“We are working in more sustainable principles that care for our resources,” Wojcik noted. Included in this initiative is modeling composting of food scraps. Visitors will learn how organic materials from Science Center guests and staff are turned into rich soil for plants, right up on the roof, and how they can compost at home.

One of the more emotive aspects of the rooftop area is known as Michaela’s Garden, in the North plot of the space. The Petit Family Foundation planted Four-O-Clock flowers, which are offspring from flowers originally planted in Dr. William A. Petit Jr. and his youngest daughter Michaela’s garden at their home.

Last year, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill naming the Four-O-Clock flowers the “Official State Children’s Flower” to honor Michaela’s memory and her message of generosity and kindness. The seeds that fall from these flowers, which visitors pick up and place in a repository sculpture in the garden, are re-packaged and sold to raise funds for the Petit Family Foundation. Among other endeavors the foundation pursues, it encourages girls to pursue careers in science fields.

The Rooftop Garden area is now open, weather permitting, and is included with the cost of General Admission to the Connecticut Science Center. It is also a great area for functions or events as well, providing a beautiful and natural event space for the Hartford area.

For more information about the Connecticut Science Center, visit: the CT Science Center website.