Sunday, May 31, 2009

Family Fun Day: We're on for sure

The weather is looking fabulous. Come on down!

Family Fun Day: Watching the weather

It looks like there's just one more storm band passing through this morning. So as of now, Family Fun Day is on. We'll update again before the festival's start time at 11 a.m. See below for more Family Fun Day info.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer programs at Duke Gardens

With Memorial Day behind us, it’s time to look ahead to summer activities at Duke Gardens. And we have plenty to offer, including new tours, a big concert and a Sunday drop-in program for children (see article here). And just about everything is free.

(Also, check out our April 30 post for the whole Duke Performances Wednesday night Music in the Gardens summer series schedule. And -- for a July program update -- see our later post here.)

The season kicks off with a free Family Fun Day May 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Rain date June 7). This 75th anniversary celebration will feature an array of fun stuff to do, including: The Scrap Exchange and other ecological children's activities; painting with Nasher Museum volunteers; scavenger hunts for children of all ages; Nickel Shakespeare Girls performing acrobatic scenes on demand; tours with garden curators; house-building for garden creatures and fairies; and a festival-ending children's parade at 1:30 p.m. with Grand Marshal Byron Jennings and flutist Terry Britton. Children can wear costumes for the parade or make embellishments while they’re here. Bring your cameras!

The new Sunday drop-in program for children age 4 and older begins June 7 and will run every Sunday through the end of August, except for July 5. In June, it begins at 11 a.m. and runs for three hours. In July, it’s two hours beginning at 8 a.m. And in August, it’s two hours starting at 3 p.m. Activities will vary weekly. They’re geared toward nurturing children’s naturally scientific minds, and they all include components families can work on afterward at home. The full schedule is below.

And adding to our popular Walk on the Wild Side tours at the Blomquist Garden with curator Stefan Bloodworth will be two new free walk series: summer Waterlily Walks with horticulturist and aquatic plants specialist Tamara Kilbane, and Autumn in the Arboretum tours beginning in October with Culberson Asiatic Arboretum curator Paul Jones. Stefan’s walks are from 11 a.m. to noon on the first Thursday of every month. Tamara’s are from 9 to 11 a.m. on the following Thursdays: July 2, 16, 30; Aug. 6 & 20; Sept. 3 & 17.

We’ll also have a movie series called Films at Dusk on Wednesdays in August. Details to come.

And if you haven’t brought your children to our Nature Rangers cart, you have one last chance tomorrow before it rolls away ‘til fall. Children can play flower bingo or make pressed flower bookmarks, paper butterflies, pond life pictures and bark, insect or leaf rubbings. They can also get some nutritious food for the Gardens' ducks. Look for it at the foot of the Terrace Gardens from 10 a.m. to noon.

Our Nature Adventures Camp June 15-19 and June 22-26 is almost full. Call Annie Nashold at 668-1708 if you're interested.

And for $5 and a refundable deposit, you can borrow Family Backpacks at the information desk. The backpacks are full of fun activities for children to enjoy with their families. Duke Gardens also has weekday programs from March to November for daycare, camp and school groups and home-schooled children. Call Annie Nashold at 668-1708 if you're interested.

In adult programs, aquatic plant specialist Tamara Kilbane will teach a workshop on making container water gardens June 4 from 2 to 4 p.m., the Triangle Orchid Society will discuss orchid culture at its monthly meeting June 8 at 7 p.m. (free and open to the public), and Duke Gardens hosts From Grower to Market: Organic Farming in Chatham County, a field trip June 11 from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Call 668-1707 for details or to register for those events.

Also, stay tuned here for an announcement regarding a free late-afternoon concert August 30 by a Grammy Award-winning group on the South Lawn. We can’t reveal the act yet – co-producers Duke Performances will announce it soon – but we can hardly contain our excitement. You’ll want to mark your calendars. Edited to add: OK, now we can announce: Sweet Honey in the Rock! At 4 p.m. No tickets necessary, just come on down. Parking is free and we're on the No. 6 public bus line.

Here’s the Sunday drop-in schedule:

June 7
: Germ Experiment. Children will grow germs on two pieces of bread, one prior to washing hands and one with clean hands.

June 14: Build a Toad Abode. Children will make toad houses like the one in the photo above, which they can bring home to their own gardens. They can also still do the Germ Experiment if they missed it, as we have leftover bread.

June 21: Father’s Day. Build a twig photo frame.

June 28: Plant a Lawn Sponge. Using sponges and annual grass seed, children will plant their own miniature lawns. They can later mow it or let it grow into a “meadow.”

July 5: No program.

July 12: Build a Toad Abode

July 19: Play with Your Food. Families will learn to plant sweet potatoes and avocados.

July 26: Mini Bio-Blitz. Families will list everything they can locate in a “1 square foot world.”

August 2: Rock Salt Mosaic. Create colorful textural art.

August 9: Plant a Lawn Sponge

August 16: Sand Paintings in a Jar. Pour planned rainbows or let the colors fall where they will and see what surprises develop.

August 23: Build an Orange Rind Bird Feeder. Kids will get a kick out of watching birds eat at their own little “Orange Julius” stand.

August 30: Sound Experiments. Create rhythm shakers and other natural noisemakers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Duke Gardens button bonanza

Our button-making table at the Nasher Museum's Free Family Day Sunday was a big hit. Some children drew their own images, while others colored templates with existing images. The lines got crazy long at some points, with children grabbing colored pencils and moving to the floor for space. We'll definitely need a bigger table next time.

Here are some of the young -- and older -- button makers. We'll probably do this activity again, so keep an eye out here and at our Facebook page for updates.

Fumi is only 3, but she had definite ideas about the colors her button needed.

Here's a hand-drawn image by 7-year-old Celie.

And a sunburst design by 6-1/2-year-old Olivia.

Olivia was spending the afternoon with her pal Jasmina, also 6-1/2.

Jasmina, Olivia and Jasmina's mom, Rachel Galanter, who made a button with a peace sign on it.

Peter, 10, couldn't get enough of button making. Here he is with some of his designs.

Grace, also 10, made buttons with her little sister and brother.

Alex, age 5-3/4, got a kick out of his finished product. His bird, he says, is a red-breasted nuthatch.

Ashlin, 8-1/2, also made her own design.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Make your own Duke Gardens pin

Come to Sunday's Family Day down the street from the Gardens at the Nasher Museum and make your own Duke Gardens 1-inch button. You can color a template with an image already on it or draw your own tiny picture. It's free!

We'll also have brochures about our fall class schedule, our May 31 Family Fun Day and our summer Sunday drop-in programs for children.

The Nasher's day of fun goes from 12-4 p.m. We'll be making buttons from 12-2 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's in bloom: Magnolia ashei

Magnolia ashei, Ash’s Magnolia, is the rarest of the big-leafed Native American magnolias. Found only in the Florida panhandle, it is in danger from habitat disturbance.

It is a desirable small, often multi-trunked tree that does well in cultivation, especially as it will bloom at an early age (three to four years from seed).

The outstanding flowers are up to 10 inches wide, white with maroon markings at the base of the petals and a jasmine- or citrus-like fragrance.

This magnolia likes well-drained, moist, acidic to neutral soils. Enjoy exploring the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants and discovering the fascinating collection of Magnolias.

-- Alice Le Duc, director of adult education

Monday, May 4, 2009

A visitor's perspective of Duke Gardens

Sarah P. Duke Gardens: Botanical History

By Michael Hatcher

Student, N.C. Agricultural and Technical University

Years from now, when I am remembering my first visit to Sarah P. Duke Gardens, there are a few images that will be a little more vivid than the others. Even before I visited, I knew the gardens had a history that paralleled in many ways our very nation’s history. However, I discovered a different historical perspective while I visited. The botanical history of the gardens took me back in time and sent me to another world.

What I will remember is my first sight of a Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). The vision of this tree sent me 2,500 miles away to Northern California. As its image dwarfed me, it also humbled me at the thought of how easily its grandparents would dwarf it. I viewed the most massive Loblolly Pines (Pinus taeda). They were well over 75 feet tall, and there trunks were so straight, so tall, and so large. I was in awe of the history these trees have experienced. I also saw some White Oaks (Quercus alba). These trees, named for the white bark plates that develop on them with age, have a majestic form and a distinctive personality. However, the White Oaks at the gardens also have a creamy yellow bark coloration that is extremely distinctive. In addition, we viewed Gingko biloba, Junipers, other magnificent trees, and landscaping and water features that were amazing.

There is a lake that was created when they built a dam to keep the valley from flooding. This lake and the Asia garden they created around it have such peacefulness about them. A walk through this area sends you to another world of Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum), Chinese Sweetgums (Liquidambar formosana), and Japanese Black Pines (Pinus thumbergiana). Also, a walk through the Azalea garden is a walk into a world that comes alive every April. The colors and contrasts of the many species of Azaleas (Rhododendron ...) are truly stunning.

The beauty throughout the gardens is truly a sight to see. The only negative of my recent visit is the short time we were able to visit the garden. Despite the dozens of plants we were able to see, there were hundreds more we did not have time to see. The patience and knowledge that our tour guide, Dr. Alice LeDuc, had in showing us as much of the garden as time would allow was very appreciated. However, with so much to see, it felt like we walked in and walked out. The only thing that could compare to the beautiful plant materials we saw during our visit is the fall colors I assume will be just as stunning when I make my next planned visit to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

(photo by Alice Le Duc)