Bring the kids, there’s more than just plants!

At the midway point through my weekly one day off with the kids and with the first stroke of spring on display my wife Amanda suggested we should go to this garden centre in Warrandyte that the kids love. Hmmm, there are two places I don’t particularly love taking kids, book shops and garden centres. I’m obsessed with reading and gardening alike and I prefer to meander around and look at all the options before buying a number of books/plants. Kids tend to impact on the meandering part. But, it was a really nice day, there is a café there and I didn’t really need to buy any more plants, as much as I always want to. Plus for some reason we have never really thought to explore much of Warrandyte until recently, so it was off to a garden centre with kids.

I had driven past the Warren Glen Garden Centre dozens of times and passed it off as your average nursery, but as it turns out it isn’t. Entering the car park Fletch sparks up with excitement, “This is the one Daddy, there is crocodiles here!” So the first thing to do on Fletchy’s tour was for him to show me the amazing crocodiles, which for the record were fake plastic water feature things, bitterly disappointing for me but they captivated him to no end.

Whilst he was occupied with the “massive crocs” I took in the place, which seemed to keep expanding at every angle I looked. The creek running through the middle separated the nursery from the gardens and café and it took me a couple of scans to realise it is all part of the centre. We eventually made our way through all the pots and birdbaths looking/splashing for fish in every single one, but none were found, they were sure there were fish here last time. I needed to find something to stop them from splashing in the freezing water, thankfully I found a cool looking insect to distract them.

As it is with kids bugs are a fascination and this was no exception. They were fixated on this Angle-Winged Katydid [yep, impressed? Don’t be I Googled it for far too long to find that out!]. Fletch, as is his nature, was timid at the beginning really wanting to hold it, but changing his mind at the last minute. Immy on the other hand I couldn’t hold back. I finally got her to hold out her hand and placed it there. She was really gentle and wide eyed with amazement as it moved around her hand. Seeing her so calm and happy was the catalyst Fletch needed, if Immy could do it so could he! I was impressed he kept his cool as it climbed its way up his sleeve. We put the Katydid into one of the bushes and spoke about camouflage for a while before heading over a bridge and across the creek.

Tale of two kids – Immy surprisingly gentle; Fletch surprisingly brave.

Over the other side of the creek is the landscaped gardens, where the kids ran ahead only for me to find them both start creeping together so they didn’t scare the bears and wake them up. Of course as old dad here joins in on the fun Fletch stops me to clarify that they are actually just pretend bears and we don’t have to be scared of them. We walked through the gardens a couple of times looping around the multiple bridges and paths, chasing ducks and looking for more bugs before heading to the café for morning tea.
duck watch.jpg

Duck Watch!

Just before we walked into the café we FOUND THE FISH! Not quite as exciting as the kids made them out to be, I guess there is something more to a fish pond when you’re a kid. The café’s brekky menu looked great judging by all the meals I ogled on the tables as we walked through, but we settled for our signature hot choccies and scones. Fletch was running the show at this point and our little tour guide took us to sit in the outdoor area with the mock Thomas train play area. The outdoor area looked prime made for parents with plenty of tables so you can kick back and enjoy your hot drink and scones whilst the kids play safely in the train and around the gardens…or do as I did and run around chasing your fearless daughter whilst she copies her brother balancing around the high garden edge beams and over the train.

Play time over and we wandered around the gardens a little longer, I mulled over buying more plants, but alas no impulsive purchases, so we finished up and headed back home for lunch and to tidy up the house. Just when I thought the best of the kids was done for the day, as they usually turn a bit feral late in the afternoons, they surprised me later in the evening giving me one of those moments you know you’ll cherish forever.

With the kids ready for bed, I left the bedroom as they played in Immy’s room, which was to Immy’s exhausted horror. She starts crying (screaming) wanting me to come back, so I start rushing what I was doing saying across rooms “Daddy’s coming back, it’s alright…” Then the sweetest thing happened, I hear Fletch speak up and say “It’s ok Immy, c’mon let’s read a book.” Immy immediately stops crying and I sneak peek around the corner to watch Fletch read book after book to Immy who is sitting next to him completely engrossed in her brothers story telling. From day one Fletch was extremely gentle and paternal towards Immy and this was just next level stuff from him taking it upon himself to care for his little sister. The love I saw between them both, with Fletch cheering her up and Immy being completely comforted by him was heart exploding stuff.

The night completely outshone what happened in the day, but I will say if you are looking for a place to get the kids out for a couple of hours then Warren Glen Garden Centre is a perfect escape. Enjoy the coming Spring weather and get outside!

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

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Josh Duthie

Josh Duthie is a keen writer of action and adventure across mediums such as comics and novels. He is passionate about the environment and conservation and hopes his writing can help to create awareness for both, through his story telling. His blog 'Adventures of Duth' is a casual look into his family outings and a snapshot of parenthood with his wife and his two gorgeous and at times troublesome toddlers.

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