Expansions are underway at the 11-acre New Leaf Sensory Garden in Kennett Square, including a new nature-inspired children's book along the story walk, additional plants in the pollinator garden, and story rocks where visitors can create their own fairy tale. Over the last few years, The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County has transitioned the former New Leaf Eco Center to a sensory garden to make a fun and nurturing place for visitors of all ages to interact and engage with nature.
A sensory garden is an intentionally designed garden or outdoor area that nurtures and enriches all sensory systems through stimulation, courtesy of plants and materials that engage one's senses of sight, smell, touch, and sound. Sensory gardens are popular with and beneficial to both children and adults, especially those with sensory processing issues, including autism, dementia, and Alzheimer's. For others, it can simply be a safe space to go without feeling overwhelmed, which may also help hone coping skills and the ability to get through the day.
Located at 776 Rosedale Road in Kennett Square, New Leaf features nature trails, a honey bee apiary, a cairn-building station, and opportunities to observe wildlife, photograph nature, and explore the stream.
The sensory garden serves as a hub for young children and families to engage with the natural world through interactive features making this preserve perfect for honest exploration. Visitors can choose to follow the meadow loop trail or a wetland trail then compare the sounds from the meadow with those in the creek and woodland corridor. Learn to identify common bird calls and distinguish between natural and human-made sounds of the Garden located along a section of the East Penn Railroad.
New Leaf features a story walk funded by the E. Kneale Dockstader Foundation. Visitors can follow the trail loop to find pages of a nature-inspired children's book changed seasonally and read along as you explore the meadow. Afterward, visitors can create their own tale at the story rock library.
Visitors can cross the creek and follow the hopping logs to build their very own architectural creation, known as a cairn. A cairn is a human-made stack of stones, historically constructed as a memorial or landmark. Visitors can focus their attention on stacking rocks next to the babbling creek and experience the calming effect. We do ask visitors to please only build cairns at the designated station with the stones provided.
Dig into a dozen different materials to compare size, texture, weight, and more in the fun texture tiles. Can you identify the materials by touch alone? The tiles help provide a tactile experience for children and anyone who enjoys getting their hands dirty.
Thanks to a generous donation from The Xerces Society, TLC planted a 6,000-square-foot area at New Leaf this past spring with native flower plant species that enhance monarch butterfly and other important pollinator habitats in the Northeast. The eastern monarch population has declined more than 80% since the 1990s due to multiple threats, including habitat loss and degradation, pesticide exposure, and climate change. These plants offer high quality, pesticide-free habitat to help protect this iconic insect.
Bags to Benches
Thanks to Giant food stores, visitors can enjoy resting on a new bench while enjoying the pollinator garden. All plastic bags returned to Giant grocery stores are recycled by Trex, which then works with a third-party vendor to provide Giant with benches made of recycled material that the store donates. Since 2001, Giant has donated 1,800 benches to local libraries, parks, playgrounds, and schools.
New Leaf's honey bee apiary has been thriving since 2011, thanks to our donors and grant funders and, of course, the honey bee colonies. The hives are maintained using organic methods by Mike Langer, owner of Brandywine Bee Company and member of the Chester County Beekeepers Association. Between May and October, Mike leads Open Hive Day workshops for current and prospective beekeepers and those who are simply interested in learning about the world of honey bees. The apiary contains three Langstroth Hives located in our Outdoor Classroom. In 2022, a transparent hive will be available for visitors to see bee activity throughout the year.
Donations are being accepted to complete future expansion, including a musical station. Once you choose a donation amount and add the gift to your cart, during checkout, you can note in the "Comments" box what project or preserve you want to support with your donation.
About The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County
The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County in Avondale, Pennsylvania, is a nationally accredited land conservancy whose mission is to ensure the perpetual preservation and stewardship of open space, natural resources, historic sites, and working agricultural lands throughout Southern Chester County. Founded in the 1970s by a group of concerned citizens, TLC was incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 1995 to provide meaningful, hands-on interaction with the land that feeds our bodies and nourishes our health, our creativity, and our spirits. For more information, visit tlcforscc.org.