ABC Discovery Garden

abc discovery garden lowe park marion iowa family fun activity free

The Linn County Master Gardeners’ Lowe Park Demonstration Gardens offer an outdoor plant growing lab. Visit our public outdoor plant learning lab at Lowe Park, 4500 N 10th Street in Marion, Iowa.

Twelve continuously developing gardens are available for public education and enjoyment. The gardens are accessible all day, every day. Take a self-guided tour through the gardens using the Demonstration Garden brochure.
One of the twelve gardens on display this season include: The ABC Discovery Garden.  A garden designed to help kids and adults alike learn about plants from A-Z.  Take a self guided tour through the garden using the signs you'll find near each plant.  On one side there is a letter and on the other side you'll find the name of the plant.  Make it a game for your family to try and identify as many plants as you can (download and use this plant game worksheet) only by looking at the letter side of each sign.  Then come back to each plant sign and see how many you get right! 
The plants in the ABC Discovery Garden include:
•  Also called Snowdrift
•  Works well as edging plant
•  A steady bloomer
•  Thrives in poor, dry soil
•  Also called wormwood
•  Grown for aromatic foliage
Baby’s Breath
•  Great filler for bouquets
•  Also works well in dried arrangements
Bells of Ireland
•  Ornamental annual herb
•  Native to Asia Minor
•  Also called Shellflower
Blackberry Lily
•  Also called Leopard Lily
•  Drought tolerant
•  Easy to grow
•  Seed pods open in fall with black seeds
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Butterfly Weed
•  Pleurisy root used for lung problems
•  Slow to emerge in the spring
•  Attracts butterflies
•  Grown for bright colored flowers
•  Flower can be feather, plume or cockscomb
Clary Sage
•  Biennial
•  Seeds are used in eye lotions
•  Native to N. Mediterranean
•  Flowers are mauve to lilac, white to pink
•  Grown for brilliant colored foliage
•  In mint family
•  Varieties for shade to full sun
Coral Bells
•  Very successful hybridized plant
•  Comes in green, peach, bronze and purple
•  Known mostly for the foliage
•  Attracts hummingbirds
•  Conveys cheerfulness
•  Daisy leaves are edible and can be used in salads
•  Leaves are leathery and smooth
•  Leaves have a strong distinctive odor
•  Likes well drained soil
•  Each flower last one day
•  Used to make linseed oil and linen
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Four O’Clocks
•  Flowers open in late afternoon
•  Flowers  are a variety of colors
•  One of most versatile long blooming summer plants
•  Variety of colors
•  Used as bedding plant or hanging basket
Globe Thistle
•  Unusual globelike blue or gray blue flowers
•  Make excellent dried flowers
•  Grown mostly east of the Rocky Mountains
•  Misrepresented as cause for hay fever and sneezing
•  Good accent flower in arrangements
•  Good for cut flowers and for drying
•  Also known as globe amaranth
•  Comes from tropical America
•  Traditionally found in cottage gardens
•  Biennial
•  Double and single flowers
Hyacinth Bean
•  Also called Lablab
•  Vine produces flat, purple pods.
•  Needs hot weather to grow
•  Grown for food in the Middle East
•  Seed pods eject the seed by popping open violently
•  Thus, called snapweed or touch me not
•  Attract hummingbirds
Johnny Jump Ups
•  Blossoms resemble smiling faces
•  Names comes from quick growth
•  Seeds shoot all over the garden
•  Short lived perennial
•  Good for cut or dried flowers
•  Excellent cut flower
•  Attracts birds
•  A cottage flower
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Lamb’s Ear
•  Also called wooly betony
•  Used in dried arrangements and herbal wreaths
•  Lovely fragrance used in soaps and lotions
•  Used in bouquets or dried
•  Used in potpourri or place among stored linens
•  Likes warm, protected spot with good drainage
•  Hidcote and Munstead work best in the Midwest
•  Commonly known as gayfeather and blazing star
•  Hardy N. American perennial
•  Tolerates heat, cold, drought and poor soil
•  Good dried flower
•  Easy to grow
•  Blooms all season
•  Like hot, dry sites
•  Flowers are edible
•  Make long lasting cut flowers
Morning Glory
•  Open in early morning
•  First grown in China for laxative properties
•  Reseeds profusely
•  Fruits are pickled and used in place of capers
•  Flowers and leaves used in salads, adds peppery flavor
•  Both bush and vine varieties
•  Cottage garden plant
•  Attractive to cats
•  Commonly called cat mint
•  Great bouquet filler
•  Also called French cow parsley
•  Carrot-like root
•  Self seeds
•  Come in dazzling range of colors
•  May be bicolor, double or single
•  Deadheading is required for optimum performance
•  Extremely hardy perennial
•  Large single, double or fully double flowers
•  Wide range of colors
•  Sweet fragrance
Queen Anne’s Lace
•  Hardy biennial
•  Considered a wildflower and self seeds readily
•  Also known as wild carrot and Devil’s plaque
•  Often called coneflower
•  Center seeds are good winter source for birds
•  Many are native to N. America
•  Great winter seed source for birds
•  Flowers turn to follow the sun across the sky
•  Excellent cut flower
•  Pinching and removal of old florets required for good flowering
•  Comes in a variety of colors and heights.
Thumbergia Vine
•  A twining climber
•  Doesn’t’ like excess heat
•  Native to S. Africa
•  Daisy family
•  Native to S. Africa
•  Annual
•  Known as Madagascar periwinkle
•  Plant in June
•  Blooms all summer
•  Drought tolerant
•  Likes dappled shade or full sun
Walking Stick
•  Grown for unusual branching pattern
•  Likes well drained soil and full sun to part shade
•  Tends to sucker so prune immediately
•  Good for winter interest
•  Direct seed
•  Symbol of eternity and immortality
•  Superb cut flower for dried arrangements
•  Comes in white, pink, magenta and paprika
•  Yellow variety best for drying and use in wreaths
•  Native to Americas, mostly Mexico
•  Range from 6 inches to 3 feet.
•  Single or double flowers with wide range of colors
•  Wonderful cut flower
Learn about the other demonstration gardens at Lowe Park. 
Do you have questions about a plant, your yard or garden?  Get unbiased, research-based answers and information provided by Linn County Master Gardeners by calling (319) 447-0647.

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