Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Explore nature as a family at Duke Gardens
By Katie Jones
Photo by Megan Morr/Duke Photography
The garden—with all of its boundless life, activity and potential for discovery—is a perfect place to explore with the whole family. Whether your family simply wants to enjoy a day in the garden or wants to investigate nature or our food sources, Duke Gardens has much to offer.
“Nature is endlessly fascinating, and everything in the garden is exciting,” says Kavanah Anderson, education program coordinator at Duke Gardens.
Because there is so much to discover, parents should encourage their children to use their imaginations to guide them to the areas that intrigue them. The most important thing to do with your kids in the garden is to build the sense that they can investigate and discover at their own pace, says Anderson, who puts together classes, camps and programs for children of all ages and their families.
“The families must feel like they have some ways to explore safely and know where to take their questions for satisfying answers,” she says.
Did you know that earthworms carry their eggs around their waists in a band—kind of like they are wearing a special kind of belt? It’s wacky facts like these that make people of all ages smile and want to learn more about nature’s inhabitants.
“Sometimes it’s really fun just to find a weed and pull it up to really look closely at the different parts of a plant,” says Anderson. “You’re looking up close at the stem and the roots and the leaves and finding flowers and talking about the function of the different parts.”
Duke Gardens’ Discovery Garden Family Workshops provide an opportunity to learn more tips and tools for discovery that you and the whole family can take to your own back yard. Upcoming workshops in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden (a new organic food garden) include “Insect Investigation” on March 28 from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m., "Three Sister Gardens" on April 24 from 1:30-2:30 p.m., and "Plant a Rainbow," on May 1 from 2-3 p.m. Although there are pre-determined themes to these events, many activities will be guided by the interests of the children and families in attendance.
Another great program for children to investigate nature more deeply is spring break or summer Nature Adventures Camps. Campers will prowl their way around the Gardens to discover animal habitats, learn how clever plants can be, and become scientists in these weekly day camps, beginning with spring break from April 1-5 and then running from June 10 to Aug. 2.
For more information about these and other family programs, please go to gardens.duke.edu or call 919-668-1707.
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.
Columnist Katie Jones is an undergraduate student at Duke and a work-study student at Duke Gardens. This column first appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun.