Southern California style: Planting curiosity

A great way to instill nature awareness in kids

Debra Lee Baldwin

As parents watch, kids run to a toolshed, select small watering cans, then drench tomato plants in raised beds. A 5-year-old girl "feeds" bright orange poppies to a topiary dinosaur formed by English ivy. Welcome to Seeds of Wonder, the one-year-old children's garden at Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas. "When kids enter this space, they know it's for them," says Julian Duval, Quail's executive director. "Everything is hands-on and safe." The concept, Duval explains, is to instill in children an awareness of the wonder of nature.

Volunteers, staff members, and Encinitas landscape architects Bruce and Pamela Dugmore created the 10,000-square-foot garden.

INFO: Quail Botanical Gardens ($8, $3 ages 3-12, ages 2 and under free; 230 Quail Gardens Dr.; 760/436-3036)