Owner of Glendale flower shop offers free learning tours to preschool kids

Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS

The owner of Secret Garden flower shop in Glendale is teaching kids the importance of plants and flowers through walking tours of her little shop on Myrtle Avenue.

Dorothy Stepnowska always had the idea of hosting a walking tour of her shop for children, and after speaking with one of the teachers at the Happily Ever After Daycare & Preschool who suggested taking the kids for a field trip through the flower shop, Stepnowska put her plan in motion.

So in May, Stepnowska and her friend Gail Grabowski brought two classes from the preschool for a 45-minute tour of Secret Garden, located at 64-02 Myrtle Ave., to teach the kids how plants are not only nice things to look at, but they also play a big role in their lives, from the smells they smell to the foods they eat.

“We had to come up with a theme of some sort,” Grabowski said. “So the theme was, which I asked [the kids] when they came in, ‘Does everybody agree that flowers and trees are very pretty?’ And they all screamed, ‘Yes.’ Then my question, which was the theme, was ‘But did you know that flowers, and plants, and trees are also our friends?’ And it was dead silent.”

As the tour continued, the children were instructed to gather around a table where Stepnowska had a wide variety of plants set out such as cocoa beans, vanilla beans, basil, mint and more. There they learned how these plants help create the food they love from ice cream to chocolate, and how aloe plants can help heal.

“We got coffee beans for them, and all different stuff,” Stepnowska said. “We explained to them how it works, how the plants grow. And they were in love.”

Now, Stepnowska and Grabowski are looking to hold two more tours before the end of the school year. And the duo is also interested in offering their free tour to students of other schools around Glendale with preschools such as St. Pancras and Redeemer Lutheran School.

“I want to teach kids to have a love of flowers, to be respectful when you see a flower to not run and step on it,” Stepnowska said. “I want them to learn that [plants] are living things and you have to respect that as well. I think them having the experience and touching things, and talking about plants and flowers, will teach them to be respectful.”

Stepnowska has always been community-oriented and hosted other free events at Secret Garden, like a Christmas-themed event in the back of the shop where kids were invited to take free photos with Santa Claus, and an event on Memorial Day for veterans.

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