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Library’s garden was ‘too much of a secret’

Story walk draws guests, praise

POSTED: July 6, 2014 12:03 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

Holly Raus, information specialist for youth services at the Cumming Library, looks over a book where guests to the library’s Secret Garden and its new Share a Story Walk can relate their experiences.

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CUMMING — Visitors to the Cumming Library can read a book and be active in the outdoors at the same time.

Holly Raus, information specialist for youth services at the library, said she and local Master Gardeners wanted to bring more attention to the library’s Secret Garden, which is behind the facility.

Master Gardeners created the spot in 2007 and continue to maintain it.

It’s one of four public gardens at local libraries that the organization uses to educate the public about different types of plants and gardening methods.

“It’s called the Secret Garden, but the problem is that it’s too much of a secret,” Raus said.

That’s one of the reasons why she recently created the Share a Story Walk inside the garden.

Through the story walk, young visitors and their families can stroll through the garden to read a book, each page of which has been posted on a garden stake, planted a few feet apart.

“Basically, I took a children’s book and I mounted it page by page on poster board and laminated it,” Raus said.

“As families and children walk through the area, they read the story as they go.”

Raus said she got the idea from growing up in New England, where story walks are popular.

“They often did them on community hiking trails, where it was a much longer route and you’d hike quite a while before you’d find the next sign.”

Raus said story walks have several purposes, all of which fit perfectly with the missions of the library and the Master Gardens.

“They promote literacy, physical activity, family togetherness and being in the outdoors,” she said. “You want your kids read, but you don’t want them to be couch potatoes, so this is a good way to get them out and moving.”

Bonnie Williams, one of the Master Gardeners who helps maintain the space, said she and her peers loved the idea.

“We’ll really glad Holly did this because the garden is too much of a secret,” Williams said. “We want people to come back here and enjoy it.”

Williams added that the garden’s year-round plants make it a good fit for the story walk.

“This garden, since it was meant to be a multi-season garden, you can go from the very hot sunshine into a nice cool shade with these shade plants,” she said. “So that makes it go hand-in-hand with this story walk.”

Raus said the story walk’s current featured book, “Just Call Me Charlie,” about a frog who thinks he wants to become a prince, also fits in perfectly with the library’s summer reading program.

“It’s all about science, and this book, since the book is all about a frog, we also included some information about the type of frog Charlie is,” Raus said.

The story walk, which went up June 1, has drawn rave reviews. Raus said about 85 people have signed a guest book kept in a Master Gardeners mailbox at the beginning of the path.

“We’ve gotten really good feedback,” she said. “So many people didn’t even know the garden was back here and now they’re enjoying it and getting a read a fun book with their kids … and that’s what it’s all about.”

 

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