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Local sensory garden takes national award

A special garden in Schuylkill County is a treat for all the senses, especially the taste buds. The project has now received a national award.

Walborn Avenue Playground is tucked away in the northwest corner of Orwigsburg. There's a little-known gem in the middle of all the jungle gyms.

"Playgrounds are wonderful places people collect, but they collect on things like slides and monkey bars and all that," said Jane Kruse. "But we want them also to take an interest in nature."

Kruse is one of the designers from the South Schuylkill Garden Club. She helped install this sensory garden in 2019, inviting kids to smell the flowers, watch the bees, and feel the evergreens.

"We have herbs in one corner that have all different smells; you can touch the lamb's ears, eat strawberries — they love that, that's one of their favorite things," she said.

A stone path weaves through the small garden, leading to new discoveries and attracting wildlife.

"Hopefully drawing in the bees, the butterflies, the birds," Kruse said. "This year, we don't have sunflowers, but they've been really popular too."

This sensory garden is now an award winner, receiving a community development award from the Garden Club Association of Pennsylvania.

"Very pleased with that," Kruse said. "It's a small little garden; we're a small club."

But the garden received an even bigger award, tying for first place in the National Garden Club's community development contest.

While she's proud of the accomplishment and excited to be recognized, Kruse is even more excited that the garden is a winner with kids.

"All those little animal characters in the front, it's not a fence to keep people out," Kruse said. "It's really to say, 'Hey, something special here.'"

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