Friday, March 29, 2013

Enjoy Easter and Spring at Duke Gardens

Visit the egg-laying hens at Duke Gardens

Updated for 2014

With Easter Sunday approaching, many families are looking forward to creating Easter egg hunts for children to enjoy in their yards. Others will head to Duke Gardens, hoping to bring their egg hunts to a larger space. We want to remind visitors that Easter egg hunts are not permitted in Duke Gardens, and to offer some fun ways for visitors—particularly youngsters—to celebrate Easter and enjoy all springtime visits together.

Why no Easter egg hunts at Duke Gardens? We ask visitors to refrain from egg hunts so that we can keep the fragile plants in this botanic garden safe from excited little hands and feet searching high and low for eggs and candies. We also ask visitors to help protect wildlife, so animals and birds won't try to eat the large number of forgotten eggs and candies later. Many people are unaware that chocolate can be especially harmful to dogs, and we want our visiting dogs to be safe, too.

What to do instead? We'd love to hear your ideas. Here are some of ours:

* Where did those Easter eggs come from? Why not visit the chicken coop in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden so children can meet some egg-laying hens? Baroness von Brody, Big Mama and her pals would love to greet you.

* Continue exploring the Discovery Garden to see broccoli, cauliflower, blueberries, kale, chard and other yummy foods being grown. For children who've only ever seen these foods on a plate or in a grocery store, seeing where the plants are "born" can be fun. The Exploration Station will not be available on Easter weekend 2014.

* Play a game of Search with Your Eyes (not hands, please): Kids can have lots of fun looking all over the Gardens for signs of spring, from new buds to colorful blossoms. How many times can they find their favorite color? How about familiar shapes that appear in leaves and flowers? How many circles, triangles or squares can you find? If you visit our information desk before heading out into the Gardens, we'll give you a free Scavenger Hunt for young visitors to follow. The Nature Ranger Cart will be taking a holiday for Easter weekend 2014 and will not be at the Gothic Gate.

* Bird watch: From a great blue heron to a red-tailed hawk, a black-necked swan and many other species, lots of birds will be enjoying the spring weather in the Gardens this weekend. How many different birds can you spot? Any you've never seen before? Check out the photos at the Asiatic Arboretum Pond or the Bird Viewing Shelter in the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, and you can write down species names to learn more about when you get home.

* Shutterbug Madness: We'd love to see your favorite photos that celebrate spring in Duke Gardens. Please share them on our Facebook page or email them to On April 2, we'll draw a few names randomly to win some prizes.

*Easter Sunday Services: Join Duke Chapel for a 6:30 a.m. Easter Sunrise Service or an 11 a.m. Catholic Mass on the South Lawn of Duke Gardens. If you're coming for the sunrise service, please don't forget to bring a flashlight to help find your way to the lawn in the morning darkness, and a towel to wipe the dew from your chairs.

Thank you for joining us in celebrating spring and protecting the plants and animals that we all love.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens creates and nurtures an environment in the heart of Duke University for learning, inspiration and enjoyment through excellence in horticulture. Duke Gardens is at 420 Anderson St.

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