Read in a Botanical Garden by Exploring Bookworm Gardens

Each May I remember Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat. Though I do not attend every year, my heart is always there in spirit. This piece was originally published on my Stay Gardening blog in 2018.

A simple entrance to a garden stuffed with stories. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)

For eight days this past May, I was in my native Wisconsin to attend a fiction writing retreat. The day before classes began I donned my mantle as “garden writer” and went to visit Bookworm Gardens.

Bookworm Gardens for Children

A reminder this garden is first for children. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)

A couple of years prior, the offer came as a pleasant surprise when one of the Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat instructors asked if I had ever been to the public garden on the grounds of the University of Wisconsin, Sheboygan. I had not. She offered to take me, and soon another writer visiting from Arizona joined us.

Perfect spot for a child to set and read with a bronze imaginary friend. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)

I have been preoccupied writing fiction these days, but I never forget my roots. Here is just one more way to Stay Gardening, for fun and for life. A visit to a little known garden meant to inspire all you read about.


Reading Books in Gardens

Garden Whimsy paired with plant material in He Came with the Couch by David Slorim. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)

The botanical garden is built around favorite children’s literature, the natural world and the imagination. Open May 1 through October 31, the 65 different gardens are each brought to life by creating a landscape around a children’s book.

The garden displays are made interactive by matching plants to books. Throughout the gardens are chairs and benches to sit and book nooks that offer reading material, all you have to do is open the door.

Linaria ‘Flamenco’ with spring kale and sweet alyssum and pin wheels. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)
The gardens offer interactive play with characters like Harry the Dirty Dog. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)

You will find Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is decorated with white and grey shade plants and white bowling balls.
The Frog & Toad by Arnold Lobel welcomes visitors and McElligot’s Pool by Dr. Seuss is home to fish in the wetland area.

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert inspires food garden and keeps company with characters, Charlotte and Peter Rabbit. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)


Enabling garden displays pairs plants for touch and smell with a book called A Girl Named Helen Keller. Nearby is Frankie the Walk and Roll Dog by Barb Techel.

Big people like Lisa Lickel (f) and Rhonda McDonnell (b) stop by Jack and the Beanstalk. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)


Visit the Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan Wisconsin

The public garden has been open approximately 20 years. There is no admission cost and parking is free. However, a freewill donation is appreciated and the organization is always accepting children’s books for the lending library located in an outdoor cupboard just outside their front gate. Inside the garden’s grounds is a gift shop near Hansel and Gretel, restroom facilities in The Secret Garden, and an indoor reading area.

The professor and the editor take a moment from writing fiction at Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp to build blocks at Bookworm Gardens. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)

Bookworm Gardens is a grassroots nonprofit operation found on the grounds of the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan-Extension and is run by local residents. Encouragement is sure to be found for children to stay gardening in this magical place.
Pond and Wetland Gateway

Kids and adults will enjoy The Pond & Wetland Gateway at Bookworm Gardens where art and plants bring to life stories for the young, or the young at heart. (Photo credit Chris Eirschele)


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