Make believe becomes reality at botanical garden in Sheboygan

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SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (CBS 58)-- In a land not so far, far away sits a storybook paradise.

Bookworm Gardens is a botanical garden inspired by children's books.

"Really there's nothing else like this in the world," Director of Education and Community Programming Cate Tinker said. "We're a unicorn. We're very unique."

Surrounded by forests and embedded with flowers, people of all ages can discover a world where their favorite fairytales come to life.

"The number on word that people say when they come to visit the gardens is that it's a little bit like magic," Tinker said.

A little bit of magic is all it took to create Bookworm Gardens.

"Our mission is to inspire the love of literature and nature for the young and young at heart," Tinker said.

Sitting on seven and a half acres in the heart of Sheboygan, Bookworm is home to 75 different storybooks, each one of them represented in its garden spaces.

"Once you walk through the entry gates, you get to the Giving Tree Circle. You can take a left or take a right, and it's a choose your own adventure type of situation," Tinker said.

Bookworm Gardens is the only place people will find the Magic School Bus waiting to pick up eager to learn students or transport people to the Woodlands where Winnie the Pooh lives.

"There are so many little nooks and crannies to explore," Tinker said.

Between 50,000 to 80,000 people from all over the United States visit every year, according to Tinker.

"My suggestion for visitors to the gardens is to sunscreen up, bring a water bottle, and kind of put on your curiosity hat," Tinker said.

Tinker helps lead field trips and teach summer camps. She said the gardens teach students in ways a traditional classroom cant.

"We talk about out owl eyes, which is what we use to see really closely. We use our scientist fingers, because scientists are gentle, and they touch things, but they don't pick or pull the flowers and the plants. We use our walking feet. We use our fox listening ears, because there is so much to hear in the gardens, and I think that this space is just one of the most unique classroom spaces that you can come and visit to," Tinker said.

This is Bookworm Gardens' 12th season, and it's constantly growing.

"Every year, we add two to three new books and new garden spaces," Tinker said.

Soon it will more than double in size. They recently leased an additional 23 and a half acres of space next to the Sheboygan River, according to Tinker.

"You definitely can expect more books, more gardens and some incredible, just entries into nature and into hiking spaces," Tinker said.

Bookworm Gardens is open May through October. Tickets can be reserved in advance or bought at the gate.

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