Welcome Spring at Triangle-Area Gardens

Odile Microlocalgarden

What better way to welcome spring than by spending time as a family in one of the Triangle’s relaxing gardens? The third annual National Public Gardens Day is Friday, May 6, 2011, just in time for Mother’s Day weekend. In honor of this special event, several gardens in the region will host activities that range from taking a walk with Mom to making colorful butterflies. If you can’t make it to a garden that day, there are plenty of other spring garden activities to enjoy.

National Public Gardens Day, presented by the American Public Gardens Association in partnership with Rain Bird, is an initiative to raise awareness of the many public gardens across the country. The national holiday celebrates the role that public gardens play in promoting environmental stewardship and awareness, plant and water conservation, and education in nationwide communities.

“National Public Gardens Day is a day in which I can only hope that people will realize the treasure trove of gardening information that public gardens have to offer,” says NPGD spokesperson Paul James. “It’s a wonderful day to spend with the family.”

Triangle gardens offer families a chance to escape to the outdoors and enjoy beautiful, restorative settings.

Take advantage of some of the activities below at area gardens in the coming months:

* Mother’s Day Mason Farm Walk at North Carolina Botanical Gardens. Sunday, May 8, 2 -4 p.m. Registered visitors can stroll through the Mason Farm Biological Reserve’s “old farm trail” and explore 200 years of the farm’s cultural and natural history. Naturalist Ed Harrison guides visitors through the garden’s wildflowers and other plant life and discusses local biological diversity. Directions to the designated meeting spot are provided after registering at www.ncbg.unc.edu. The cost of the walk is $5 for NCBG members and $10 for the general public. Located at 100 Mason Farm Rd., Chapel Hill.

* Botanical Sweet Peas program at North Carolina Botanical Gardens for children ages 2½-4 years, Tuesday, May 3, and Tuesday, May 17, 10-11 a.m. Program themes are Wildflower Wonders and Bees Please. Registration is $10 per child with an adult; $8 for NCBG members. Visit ncbg.unc.edu to reserve your spot.

* Free tours of the Coker Arboretum on the third Saturday of each month until November. Enjoy a relaxing, meditative experience surrounded by nature’s beauty while visiting one of the garden’s oldest tracts – a quiet haven nestled in the midst of UNC Chapel-Hill campus. No registration necessary; the tours are offered on a first-come first-served basis. Call 919-962-0522 for details.

* Sarah P. Duke Gardens, named one of the South’s 10 best public gardens in Southern Living magazine, is offering activities as part of National Public Gardens Day.

On May 6, children can create colorful butterflies, make bookmarks from dried botanicals, and experiment with “sound sandwiches” and other creations to learn about vibrations and sound. Other offerings include scavenger hunts for children who can read and those who can’t.

That day also includes a presentation at the Frances P. Rollins Overlook at 2 p.m. by Durham Mayor Bill Bell for National Public Gardens Day. Ten-year old gardens enthusiast Sarah Kunz will recite a haiku, and Duke Dance Program student Anna Lipkin will perform a short dance.

The regularly scheduled Saturday Arts in The Garden show includes performances by dancers, actors, puppeteers and more.

To register for specific Arts in the Garden programs, and for more information about the garden’s offerings, visit www.gardens.duke.edu.

* Mayday program in honor of Mother’s Day, Saturday, May 7, 1-3 p.m., at JC Raulston Arboretum. Children can dance around the May Pole or make their own gift for mom. The event is designed for children ages 5 and older and the cost is $5 per child. Parents are admitted free. Located on the North Carolina State University campus. Pre-registration is required by calling 919-513-7007.

Families interested in a day trip can visit gardens across the state, including Tryon Palace in New Bern. On Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., families can join a Second Saturday event featuring 19th century crafting demonstrations, craft activities for children and work by local artisans. The event is sponsored through the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Tryon’s Tales for Tots is a fun and educational program geared to children ages 3-5 and their parents on Wednesday, May 11, and Wednesday, June 8, 10-11 a.m. at the palace’s North Carolina History Center. Get free admission to Tryon Palace the first Sunday of each month through October and a discounted price on interior tours.

Beth Thompson is a student in the UNC School of Journalism in Chapel Hill and an intern at Carolina Parent.

To find out more about North Carolina’s Public Gardens, visit Fun Family Activities in N.C. Gardens.

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