Archive for December, 2013

Selecting Native Woody Plants for the Maine Garden, with Justin Nichols

Monday, December 30th, 2013
October 16, 2014toOctober 17, 2014

The use of native woody plants in a horticultural setting will be the topic of this combination classroom and in-garden course for second-year students in Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ Certificate Program in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture. The course, on Thursday and Friday, October 16 and 17, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day,  is open to all, subject to availability. 

During this, the final class in this two-year program, staff horticulturist Justin Nichols will introduce students to native trees, shrubs, and vines to use in different horticultural settings based on their habitat preferences in nature. Recommended species, cultivars and sources of materials will be covered. To see authentic examples of woody plants in natural and landscaped settings, Justin will take the class on short forays into the Gardens and locally.

Staff Horticulturist Justin Nichols has been professionally maintaining gardens for more than 20 years, the last six here at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.  He has a master’s degree in education and enjoys teaching horticultural topics to people of all ages. 

Where:  Bosarge Family Education Center, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Price:    $140 members, $170 nonmembers (preregistration requested)

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Year’s End (with a tip of the trowel to Irving Berlin)

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Diane WaldenPlease channel your best Ethel Merman and help me sing out the old year….

There’s no business like grow business,
Like no business I know.
Everything about it is appealing,
Everything the good earth will allow.
Nowhere could you have that happy feeling
When you’re not wielding that muddy trowel.

There’s no business like grow business ,
Like no business I know,
Chug-chugging in your Kabota down the road
You press on, working out in the cold.
Still you wouldn’t change it for a sack of gold,
Let’s go on with the grow

There’s no people like grow people,
Smelly dirt, it thrills them so.
Five hard weeks a-mulching your seasonal fare,
Those nights you ache so, but there you are.
Springs comes, the gardens boom, they’re sprung with flower
Let’s get on with the grow,
Let’s get on with the grow!

A Happiest and Most Bountiful New Year to you all. See you in 2014.

Diane Walden-Rapalyea (December 30, 2013)
Staff Horticulturalist, Milliner, and Aspiring Diva

Ants in Your Plants, with Elizabeth Farnsworth and Aaron Ellison

Monday, December 30th, 2013
July 10, 2014
9:30 amto12:30 pm
ants-spiraea latifolia pink with carpenter ant-300W
Carpenter ant on Spirea  latifolia
(photo by William Cullina)
ants-asclepias incarnata with carpenter ant-300W
Carpenter ant on Asclepias incarnata
(photo by William Cullina)

Co-sponsor: New England Wild Flower Society

Ants are the little things that run the world, and are very important to the ecology of plants. Botanic gardens have a variety of native and exotic plants, both of which provide opportunities for learning about interactions between ants and plants. Yet we know little of the distribution of ants or the range of ecological interactions between ants and the wide range of plants grown in botanic gardens. 

Join two of the authors of the new Field Guide to the Ants of New England, Aaron Ellison and Elizabeth Farnsworth, for a morning of learning about ants in the cultivated and wild sections of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. We’ll explore the variety of plants and begin to uncover the diversity of ants in the Gardens. We will also learn how to catch ants using just our hands or with specialized equipment, and how to quickly identify both plants and ants in the field using only a hand lens.

Dr. Elizabeth Farnsworth is Senior Research Ecologist at the New England Wild Flower Society.  Dr. Aaron Ellison is a Senior Ecologist at Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts.

This class, an elective in the Certificate Program in Native Plants and Ecological Horticulture, is open to everyone, subject to availability.

Where:   Bosarge Family Education Center and Grounds
Price:      $35 members, $42 nonmembers

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Nature Adventure Camp (ages 6-8)

Friday, December 13th, 2013
July 28, 2014toAugust 1, 2014
Nature Adventure Camp

Nature Adventure Campers heading into the woods

At Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, children can learn about plants and wildlife in spectacular settings including the two-acre Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Nature Adventure Camp is one of many day-camp programs we’re offering in 2014 for children in several age groups. Since numbers are limited, we suggest signing up as soon as possible.

Monday-Friday, July 28-August 1
Nature Adventure Camp (ages 6-8)
When:   12:30-4:00 p.m.
Where:  Education Center and grounds (drop-off and pick-up children in the Education Center)
Price:    $125 members, $150 nonmembers

Our summer nature camps provide fun and enriching opportunities for young people to learn about the natural world.  Week-long, half-day sessions fully engage children in an outdoor setting, while encouraging imagination and creativity through garden walks, stories, games, arts and crafts, and nature-related projects.  In Nature Adventure Camp, new, exploration-filled activities will take us on adventures throughout the gardens and surrounding forests as we turn over rocks and logs in the woods, scope out the pond, and look for signs of life near the river to discover just who calls these habitats home. By the end of the week, Nature Adventurers will be well on their way to becoming young naturalists!    

New for 2014: Parents-we listened to your requests and have lengthened the daily camp session by an hour.     

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Garden Explorers Camp (ages 4-5)

Friday, December 13th, 2013
August 4, 2014toAugust 8, 2014
Garden Explorers harvest cucumbers with Camp Coordinator Karen Jones to make pickles.

Garden Explorers harvest cucumbers with Camp Coordinator Karen Jones to make pickles. (Erica Huber photo)

At Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, children can learn about plants and wildlife in spectacular settings including the two-acre Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Garden Explorers Camp is one of many day-camp programs we’re offering in 2014 for children in several age groups. Since numbers are limited, we suggest signing up as soon as possible.

Monday-Friday, August 4-8
Garden Explorers Camp (ages 4-5)
When:   9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: Education Center and grounds (drop-off and pick-up children in the Education Center)
Price:    $125 members, $150 nonmembers

Budding gardeners will spend the week digging, planting, watering and harvesting, as they learn how to care for our Learning Garden and greenhouse. We’ll investigate the inner workings of a garden from the ground up and get the real “dirt” on plants, life cycles, composting, garden critters and more!  Join us for a week filled with new observations, experiments, taste tests, games and take-home garden projects.  In celebration of this year’s theme at the Gardens, this camp will have a special emphasis on pollinators and the important role they play in our garden.

New for 2014: Parents-we listened to your requests and have lengthened the daily camp session by an hour.  

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Garden Explorers Camp (ages 6-8)

Friday, December 13th, 2013
August 11, 2014toAugust 15, 2014
Garden Explorers campers record observations about flowers during a scavenger hunt

Garden Explorers campers record observations about flowers during a scavenger hunt

At Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, children can learn about plants and wildlife in spectacular settings including the two-acre Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Garden Explorers Camp is one of many day-camp programs we’re offering in 2014 for children in several age groups. Since numbers are limited, we suggest signing up as soon as possible.

Monday-Friday, August 11-15
Garden Explorers Camp (ages 6-8)
When:   12:30-4:00 p.m.
Where: Education Center and grounds (drop-off and pick-up children in the Education Center)
Price:    $125 members, $150 nonmembers

Budding gardeners will spend the week digging, planting, watering and harvesting, as they learn how to care for our Learning Garden and greenhouse. We’ll investigate the inner workings of a garden from the ground up and get the real “dirt” on plants and their life cycle, composting, garden critters and more!  Join us for a week filled with new observations, experiments, taste tests, games and take-home garden projects.  In celebration of this year’s theme at the Gardens, this camp will have a special emphasis on pollinators and the important role they play in our garden.

New for 2014: Parents-we listened to your requests and have lengthened the daily camp session by an hour.     

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Nature Adventure Camp (ages 4-5)

Thursday, December 12th, 2013
July 21, 2014toJuly 25, 2014
Pond explorations in Nature Adventure Camp

Pond explorations in Nature Adventure Camp

At Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, children can learn about plants and wildlife in spectacular settings including the two-acre Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Nature Adventure Camp is one of many day-camp programs we’re offering in 2014 for children in several age groups. Since numbers are limited, we suggest signing up as soon as possible.

Monday-Friday, July 21-25
Nature Adventure Camp (ages 4-5)
When:   9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where:  Education Center and grounds (drop-off and pick-up children in the Education Center)
Price:    $125 members, $150 nonmembers

Our summer nature camps provide fun and enriching opportunities for young people to learn about the natural world.  Week-long, half-day sessions fully engage children in an outdoor setting, while encouraging imagination and creativity through garden walks, stories, games, arts and crafts, and nature-related projects.  In Nature Adventure Camp, new, exploration-filled activities will take us on adventures throughout the gardens and surrounding forests as we turn over rocks and logs in the woods, scope out the pond, and look for signs of life near the river to discover just who calls these habitats home. By the end of the week, Nature Adventurers will be well on their way to becoming young naturalists! 

New for 2014: Parents-we listened to your requests and have lengthened the daily camp session by an hour.      

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Nature Explorers Camp (ages 9-13)

Thursday, December 12th, 2013
July 14, 2014toJuly 18, 2014
This activity raises awareness about the need for water conservation.activity

This activity raises awareness about the need for water conservation – and is fun, too. (photo by Barbara Freeman)

At Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, children can learn about plants and wildlife in spectacular settings including the two-acre Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Nature Explorers Camp is one of many day-camp programs we’re offering in 2014 for children in several age groups. Since numbers are limited, we suggest signing up as soon as possible.

Monday-Friday, July 14-18
Nature Explorers Camp (ages 9-13)
When:   9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Where: Education Center and grounds (drop-off and pick-up children in the Education Center)
Price:    $185 members, $222 non-members

Kids who love exploring the great outdoors, learning new outdoor skills, and geocaching, will LOVE Nature Explorers Camp! Explorers will expand their knowledge of the natural world through an inquiry-based week of outdoor activities utilizing both old and new methods of nature exploration, including the use of technology. We’ll put our newly learned skills to use as we branch out into new areas of the Gardens’ 248 acres, hiking to its more “wild” parts as we investigate the remnants of an old homestead and discover life on the shore of a tidal river and beyond.  We’ll even spend a morning kayaking around the Back River with an experienced guide as we explore life in and around this saltwater habitat. Campers will work together to create a series of geocaches for all visitors of the Gardens to enjoy as a culminating project of a fun-filled, skill-building week!

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New! Nature Illustration Camp with Hillary Parker (ages 9-14)

Thursday, December 12th, 2013
July 7, 2014toJuly 11, 2014

Nature Illustration with Hillary ParkerAt Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, children can learn about plants and wildlife in spectacular settings including the two-acre Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Nature Illustration Camp is one of many day-camp programs we’re offering in 2014 for children in several age groups. Since numbers are limited, we suggest signing up as soon as possible.

NEW for 2014!!
Monday-Friday, July 7-11
Nature Illustration Camp (ages 9-14)
When:   9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Where:  Education Center and grounds (drop-off and pick-up children in the Education Center)
Price:    $225 members, $270 non-members (art supplies included)

Does your child love to draw and have an appreciation for all things natural?  Join us for a week-long Nature Illustration Camp with Hillary Parker, naturalist and international award-winning botanical watercolor artist.  Hillary, who was one of our artists-in-residence last summer, will be back this summer to share her knowledge and passion with young artists.  Setting out to work on location in a different part of the Gardens each day, armed with magnifying glasses, nets, and containers, campers will become “botanical art explorers” as they spend the week investigating, discovering, and learning keen observation skills in the field.   Documenting their findings each day through sketches, notes, and selected cuttings, campers will learn and/or improve upon basic art skills while creating a naturalist’s journal using mediums that are easy to work with in the field, like watercolors, colored pencils, graphite, and pen.  On the final day, campers will bind their journals and focus on creating a single study of art.  Family and friends will be invited to an art reception at the end of the week, where our young artists will share their findings, journals, artwork and experiences as naturalists, botanists and artists! 

To learn more about Hillary Parker and to view her portfolio, visit: http://www.hillaryparkerwatercolors.com/home.html.

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Savoring the Moments

Thursday, December 5th, 2013
meditation garden for Patty's post-300w
 A snowy Vayo Meditation Garden
(photo by Patty Robbins)

It is here, with frost glistening on the autumn grasses, that I still find peace in the early mornings at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.  The air is chilled and the squirrels have just begun to stir.  I stand in the Meditation Garden, looking down over the stones, cold and bare, reflecting on the season that has come to an end.

I remember the days filled with visitors, people full of wonder and questions.  I recall how far I’ve come since the early days, when I feared the questions, knowing I may not have the right answers to give.  But, as the years have passed, I no longer have that fear.  I have come to a point of knowing more than I give myself credit for and the ability to direct people to an answer, if I have none.

I think about the hours of hard work we’ve all put in during the past months; trying our best to make each and every part of the gardens the best that they can be. I recall the pride that we shared, as visitors young and old expressed wonder at the beauty before them.

The property that surrounds me on this cold December morning is a gift from God.  Each piece of ledge that juts out from the moss covered earth, every rolling hill and timber that reaches to the sky, has been placed here for us to work with.

It is like the perfect canvas before the artist starts his work.  Each stroke of the brush, each burst of color only adds to the magic before us.  We swoop through the gardens, with rakes instead of brushes, and plants instead of paint. 

We do this as much for ourselves as we do for those who will come to marvel at the beauty.  There is something that is born in us, a need to put our fingers in the soil, a need to plant, sow seed and nurture every seedling that springs from the ground and the desire to make these gardens as good as they can be.

We work the season alone or as a team.  Each day brings forth a new challenge, a new desire to fulfill.  We pull each other’s weeds, deadhead each other’s flowers, rake each other’s leaves; or we spend countless hours in our own small world in the boundaries of our gardens.

We watched as spring brought forth a burst of bulbs, a welcome sight after the past winter.  We raked and mulched and finally pulled those same bulbs and rushed to get in annuals before the visitors even knew what happened.  We watered in the dry spells and weeded in the wet.  And before we even knew what had happened, autumn was upon us. 

We removed the plants that had gone by and, with great reluctance, pulled the ones that still screamed to be admired, as their colors hung on with urgency.  It was that time again; the season had ended in a flash and autumn dropped in overnight.  There were bulbs that needed planting before the ground froze, so with knees upon the ground, we went to work.

But, here and now, when the visitors are a sacred few, when our days are numbered before the garden is buried in snow, I savor the moments.  And though I can’t stop and smell the roses, I can stop, take a deep breath and admire the canvas that lies before me.

Patty Robbins, Horticulturist (December 5, 2013)