By Jan Little
Autumn brings change to our world: cooler temperatures, glorious fall foliage and ripening fruit. Along with these annual markers is a return to school schedules and the rush of activity helping your children prepare for that important first day of school.
There is a flurry of activity in nature as well. Trees and plants are pushing their energy into fruits and seeds to send generations into the future. Animals and insects are playing their role by collecting and distributing the fruits and seeds. Some will be eaten over the course of the winter, while other seeds will germinate next spring to make their leap into the future. Wintertime shelters are being built, stores of honey accumulating, caches of berries and seeds hoarded.
Autumn is a quieter show than the springtime bombastic arrival of flowers and leaves; this is a season to savor as you seek out evidence of its role. It’s a time to give your child the thrill of discovery that comes when picking fruit directly from a plant, watching a squirrel bury acorns, or collecting leaves of many colors.
Duke Gardens offers a number of autumn programs and events that will help you celebrate the season with your family. Beginning in early September, “Sprouts” (children ages 3 and 4) and “Seedlings” (children ages 4 and 5) will learn about nature by exploring wild and garden areas in Nature for Sprouts or Nature for Seedlings. Registration is required.
For the entire family, autumn events kick off with Discovery Garden Family Workshops, in which you will learn about planting and harvesting in an edible garden. Please call to register. The Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden also takes center stage during Discovery Day’s free drop-in events, including demonstrations, experiments, storytelling and hands-on projects on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Autumn tales will captivate children in Nature Storytime, scheduled for Thursday and Saturday mornings and open to all. Children will also find an outlet for their creativity in activities offered on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our free Nature Ranger Cart. No registration is required for these two programs.
Add nature to your list this autumn and help your child explore the wonders of the season at Duke Gardens.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens creates and nurtures an environment in the heart of Duke University for learning, inspiration and enjoyment through excellence in horticulture. The Gardens receives roughly half of its operating budget from Duke University. The rest comes from people like you, who value all that this public botanic garden has to offer. Duke Gardens is at 420 Anderson St. in Durham, N.C.
Jan Little is Duke Gardens’ director of education and public programs. For information about Gardens programs, please go to gardens.duke.edu.