A Hint of Autumn

In September nature turns the page on the calendar. The arduous migration of the monarch butterfly is underway. The first batches of birds have departed for warmer climes. Blossoming Joe-Pye weed towers along the roadside. Summer’s sure shift into autumn has begun.

Learn how nature prepares us for change.   

Classes online and in-person connect us to our place in the natural world.

 

Scroll down the page for a listing of our current classes.

For more information, please contact Adult Education Programs at AdultEducation@ncarboretum.org.

September Online, Onsite and Field-Based Classes

  • ONLINE Five sessions: Wednesdays, September 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29; 10 to 11:30 a.m.

    This immersive online class gives you an up close and personal look at the region’s fall-season wildflowers and trees. Naturalist Scott Dean uses his extensive photography collection to teach you how to identify native mountain flora using a non-technical keying system. Along the virtual trail, he also covers the characteristics of plant families, the basics of plant community, and the natural and cultural history of the flora of the Blue Ridge.

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  • FIELD  Five Sessions: Tuesdays, September 7, 14, 21, 28, and October 5; 9 a.m. to Noon(ish) 

    In this entirely field-based class led by Naturalist Scott Dean, you will learn to identify native mountain flora on the trail, training your eyes and using a non-technical dichotomous keying system. You will study the characteristics of plant families and the basics of plant communities all in place. While the focus is on fall wildflowers and trees, you will also pick up a wealth of information on the natural and cultural history of the flora of the Blue Ridge. Locations for hikes will be announced in advance and participants will be briefed on current safety guidelines. Return times may vary according to hiker’s pace, fall traffic and trail conditions.

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  • ONLINE  Tuesday, September 21; 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Hawks, falcons and the other daytime raptors are the most visible of our birds of prey and continually delight both novice and expert bird watchers. Carlton Burke offers tips for identification and information on migration in this informative and interactive two-hour class. Participants will learn about and meet a live captive education raptor in the virtual classroom. Register separately for a small-group, distanced Hawk Watch, led by Carlton and Vicky Burke!

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  • ONLINE  Six sessions: Wednesdays and Fridays, September 22, 24, 29, October 1, 6 and 8; 1 to 2:30 p.m.

    Discover why the Southern Appalachians are home to more tree species than all of Europe. Learn how ants and whitetail deer determine where trilliums grow. Naturalist Dan Lazar guides this comprehensive course on the amazing natural ecosystems of Western North Carolina, from riverside amphibian breeding ponds to mountaintop Spruce-Fir forests. Students registered for the online course will have the opportunity to register separately for a small-group distanced field experience.

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  • ONLINE  Friday, September 24; 10 to 11:30 a.m.

    Native plants are beautiful, low maintenance, ecologically beneficial, and bestow a distinct sense of place to cultivated landscapes. This class will guide students in planning a native garden to serve a diverse range of pollinators. Sarah Coury covers native plant sourcing, propagation, and options for various site conditions in this informative overview.

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  • ONSITE  Friday, September 24; 10 to 11:30 a.m.

    Take this special small-group guided stroll through the Arboretum’s outdoor sculpture exhibition, Wild Art, before it closes on September 26th. The Arboretum’s Senior Director for Mission Delivery, Clara Curtis, and Landscape Architect Lynn Raker will highlight sculptures created by selected local and national artists who were inspired by nature to create using a variety of approaches to the theme of “wild art” and a diverse array of materials. Pick up some inspiration for incorporating art into your garden!

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  • FIELD  Saturday, September 25; 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Recommended pre-requisite: Register separately for All About Hawks: Hunters in the Sky, offered online Tuesday, September 21.

    Join Carlton and Vicky Burke to learn more about migrating hawks and get a chance to observe some migrating birds of prey (especially broad-winged hawks). The class will meet at a designated hawk watching location where tallies of various species are recorded yearly. Official counts are kept by volunteers for the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

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  • ONSITE  Eight Sessions: Wednesdays, September 29 – November 17; 9 to 10 a.m.

    Start the day with Tai Chi outdoors in a beautiful setting. This elegant short form introduces the signature movements of Tai Chi Chuan in a simplified and compact sequence, making it a meditative practice for all but especially welcoming for beginners. Participants will learn the basic principles of each movement as well as modifications to accommodate individual needs.

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  • FIELD Thursday, September 30; 2 to 3:30 p.m.

    What’s one step you can take to protect pollinators? Consider planting a pollinator garden at home or in your community! This informational tour and talk, held at a certified pollinator habitat, offers tangible steps for creating a beautiful garden of any size. And you’ll learn how to seek certification as a Pollinator Habitat from Asheville GreenWork’s Bee City USA Chapter. The idea for this habitat grew from two projects undertaken for the Blue Ridge Naturalist Certificate of Merit program offered through the Arboretum, which blossomed into a dynamic community-based project located in a busy city park area!

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October Online, Onsite and Field-Based Classes

  • ONSITE  Five Sessions: Fridays, October 1 – 29 ; 9 to 10 a.m.
    Register for the series or by session

    Experience the deep peace and simple joy of slow walking meditation in the Plants of Promise Garden at the Arboretum. Each walking meditation practice begins with a series of very gentle Qigong movements, an easy, mindful movement practice that supports the body’s natural healing processes, promotes healthy circulation, invites a sense of inner calm, and releases tension from the body.

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  • ONLINE  Friday, October 1, 10 – 11 a.m.

    Topic: Plants and People: Creating Sustainable Communities

    Join in this discussion about ecological principles in practice in your gardens and landscapes and at the Arboretum. Instructors Nina Shippen and Rebecca Caldwell lead this discussion with faculty and students in the Blue Ridge Eco Gardener (BREG) Certificate of Merit program. Anyone is welcome to attend with questions about the program and upcoming classes.

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  • ONSITE  Saturday, October 2; 1 to 3 p.m.

    The various species of Oak trees are among our most beautiful and stately native tree species. They can also be difficult to distinguish from each other. Naturalist Carlton Burke guides students on this small-group experience in the Arboretum forest, covering helpful tips on identifying many of our mountain oak species. Along the way, participants will learn more about how humans and wildlife to micro-organisms depend on these valuable trees in any ecosystem.

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  • ONSITE  Tuesday, October 5; 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

    Our monthly Meditative Mornings provide the perfect setting for birding. No leaf blowers, no equipment noise: Enjoy  a quiet morning in the company of birds, an expert guide and very quiet humans, all eyes skyward! Open to beginning and experienced birders alike.

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  • ONLINE Tuesday, October 5; 1 to 2:30 p.m.

    Many gardeners neglect thinking about fall after the blooms of summer are gone. But some plants will offer superb fall foliage or reveal colorful stems or sculptural forms after the leaves are gone, even after a few frosts. This online class will focus on plants that are at their best in fall, with a special nod to annual plants that are prevalent during the fall months.

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  • ONSITE  Sunday, October 10; 10:30 to Noon   

    Let’s enjoy a quiet, mindful stroll through the woods together. A silent hike takes us to scenic treasures on the Arboretum property where we will do a restorative qigong practice. Hikes will be mindfully-paced and qigong practices easy and accessible.

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  • ONLINE  Sunday, October 10; 2 to 3:15 p.m.

    Available to register by individual session. Additional dates in Autumn Series include November 14 and December 12; 2 – 3:15 p.m.

    Join us online for this guided lying-down meditation to induce full-body relaxation and peaceful states of awareness. This practice will help you sleep better, release anxiety, and access inner calm, compassion, and clarity. Each session begins with very gentle tension-relieving stretches that can be done seated in a chair or on the floor. No prior yoga experience is required, and students who are working with injury, illness and physical limitations will find this class to be highly accessible.

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  • ONSITE  Sunday, October 10; 4 to 5:30 p.m.

    An interesting new psychological study contends that people who take a fresh look at the objects, moments and vistas that surround them during brief “awe walks” feel more upbeat and hopeful. For this small-group class in the Arboretum forest and Forest Meadow, documentary photographer Susan Patrice shares  practices from her contemplative photography classes that help participants experience place through new and loving eyes. Bring cameras or phones to capture what calls to you in the enveloping landscape. 

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  • ONLINE  Six Sessions: Wednesdays & Fridays, October 13 – November 3, 1 to 3 p.m.; Onsite Optional Session: Wednesday, October 20, 1 – 4 p.m.

    Gardeners of all levels of interest and ability will find this informative and interactive online class valuable for learning ecologically sustainable practices that you can adapt and apply in gardening on your site. Ecological gardening is a way of thinking about the designed landscape in which gardens are no longer seen as a collection of plants, but as a community of complex interdependencies among plants, soils, environment and animals. Ecology-based methods used in design, site assessment, planning, planting and management are all covered in this class, which is a core requirement for the Arboretum’s Blue Ridge Eco Gardener Certificate of Merit program.

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  • ONLINE  Eight Sessions: Thursdays, October 14 – 28, November 4 – 18, December 2 – 9, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

    The quest for the meaning of our dreams is one of humanity’s oldest continuing explorations. In this experiential online course, students will join in that ancient quest, scouting their nightscapes with tools, tips and techniques shared by the instructor.  The practice of attending to dreams—even other people’s dreams—tends to “prime the pump” for remembering your own. Participants will share their dreams and actively participate in prospecting for the gold in each other’s. You don’t have to know already how to remember and record dreams.  This class may be of special interest to people involved in the creative arts, health, and human potential, but we welcome all dreamers everywhere who are interested in mapping the Wild Within.

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  • ONLINE  Friday, October 15, 10 a.m. -12 p.m.

    Bringing dramatic variations in temperature and precipitation patterns, creating disruptions in phenology and even requiring adjustments to plant hardiness zones, climate change is already changing ways of gardening in Western North Carolina. This course will provide an overview of the many new tools that will help gardeners create a climate-resilient garden. Learn about evaluating climate risk, monitoring changes in plant and animal behavior, reducing the garden’s carbon footprint, and managing for the high response and recovery capacity needed to maintain the health of a garden no matter the weather.

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  • ONSITE  Tuesday, October 19, 5 – 6:30 p.m.

    Established in October 2005, the Bonsai Exhibition Garden is a signature feature of the Arboretum and a unique environment displaying up to 50 specimens at a time. Traditional Asian bonsai subjects such as Japanese maple and Chinese elm are shown alongside diverse species from other parts of the world. Of particular importance are the plants native to the Blue Ridge, including American hornbeam, red maple and eastern white pine, which bring the thousand-year tradition of bonsai home to the mountains of western North Carolina. Accompany Bonsai Curator Arthur Joura on this after-hours tour of the garden for a personal and informative overview of the art of bonsai and the Arboretum’s own creative approach to it. Deciduous trees in the collection will likely be ablaze with the colors the season!

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  • ONLINE  Wednesday, October 20, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

    Many trees in Western North Carolina combine to create the spectacular foliage color show during the autumn months. Naturalist Carlton Burke leads this online survey class covering the biology of what causes seasonal color change and the basics of identifying trees by their leaves, bark, fruit and other characteristics. Pair this with our onsite Fall Color & Native Tree ID Field Experience onsite at the Arboretum for a primer on fall’s palette. 

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, October 21; 10 to 11:30 a.m.

    Gardening takes place all year long and timing is critical to certain garden activities. Each seasonal class offers tips, projects and considerations for activities such as fertilizing, watering, planting, pruning, pest control, planning, clearing, harvesting and cleaning in your garden year round.

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  • ONSITE  Friday, October 22, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

    Many trees in Western North Carolina combine to create the spectacular foliage color show during the autumn months. Carlton Burke leads this field experience in the Arboretum forest that covers the biology of what causes seasonal color change and the basics of identifying trees by their leaves, bark, fruit and other characteristics.

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  • ONSITE  Saturday, October 23, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

    Learn how to see through sketching. In this course, we will carefully examine trees in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden and practice putting down what we see on paper. With a few simple exercises, we will loosen up our drawing styles and learn to let our hands trust our eyes. We will cover basic drawing techniques like blending and hatching to define shapes, textures, light and shadow; no previous drawing experience is necessary.

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  • ONSITE  Saturday, October 23, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    We are now in the throes of a sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. Some call it the Anthropocene, but biologist E.O. Wilson said it may be called by scientists and poets alike the Eremozoic, meaning “The Age of Loneliness.” If we take the worries of climate change and habitat destruction seriously—and in this lonely age potentially bereft of our fellow creatures — how can we help but feel an incapacitating sense of hopelessness that threatens to render things like literature and art utterly useless? We’ll ask questions to urge us on: What is our responsibility as writers to this epoch? Can the average working person with limited access to nature make any difference? How might we depict the suffering of non-human but sentient beings? How can one write about plants and animals without producing work that is sentimental, overly personified, flat-lined with facts, or, worse, rendered incapable of communicating from its own rage? What impact can we make with our words? During this writing retreat, we’ll spend a day outside at the Arboretum investigating these questions together. The class will include discussions of recommended readings with time for writing and sharing in order to determine ways to write with awareness, control and even hope.

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  • ONSITE  Saturday, October 23, 1 – 3 p.m.     

    Spend time with two expert native plant growers in this onsite workshop covering collecting, storing, and propagating seed from native plant species. Participants will have the rare opportunity — with permission — to take an assortment of seeds home with them for their own landscapes.

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  • ONLINE  Tuesday, October  26, 1:30 – 3 p.m.

    Using plants in ways that create pleasing and attractive gardens can be as simple as using nature for your inspiration. Combining plants that work together, given the moisture, sunlight, and soil conditions in your landscape, can elevate your enjoyment of your garden, providing welcoming and satisfying surroundings requiring minimal additional inputs (watering, fertilizing, or extra coddling). Learn how to observe and evaluate what is pleasing (or not) to you in your landscape and how to create patterns and combinations that look “just right.”

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  • ONLINE  Wednesday, October 27, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.   

    The subtle beauty of the sparrow species is often overlooked, and these small brown birds that dart in and out of the brush can be challenging to identify. In this class we will go over helpful hints and tips to sort out this difficult-to-identify family of birds. We will discuss habitat, feeding habits and quick field ID tips, as well as all the species that regularly occur in Western North Carolina.

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  • ONSITE  Thursday, October 28, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.         

    Stitching can be used for embellishment or as a way to slow down and learn about the natural world. Students will learn several ways of stitching line with a focus on leaf shapes to start a small sample book, sampler, or other project to complete at home. This class is intended for beginners or anyone wanting to revive their interest in embroidery. students should bring their own scissors and appropriate eyewear. We’ll sit and stitch outside on the veranda, take a break for lunch and stitch some more.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, October 28, 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    Join Astronomer Stephan Martin for an exploration of the treasures of the autumn night sky. Discover the constellations, bright stars, planets, and deep sky objects that fill the evening skies, including the upcoming Taurid Fireball Meteor Showers. During this online class, we’ll review the basic use of planispheres and star charts to find our way around the night sky and learn about some of the rich collections of objects that are visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

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  • ONLINE  Four Sessions: Thursday, October 28, 4 to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday & Thursday, November 9 & 11, 6:30 to 8 p.m.; Tuesday, November 30, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

    Available in a Package or Individual Sessions. Hurry: Package registration closes October 28.

    Traverse centuries and philosophies, continents and cultural boundaries in the company of acclaimed bonsai artists for an in-depth look at the sensibilities shaping a timeless art in the present day. The series includes Felix Laughlin and Arthur Joura on “Awakening Wabi-Sabi” on Thursday, October 28; David De Groot on “Bonsai of Japan/Punjae of Korea” & “The Penjing of China,” set for Tuesday and Thursday, November 9 and 11; and Jennifer Price on “Women in Bonsai,” the focus on Tuesday, November 30.

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  • ONLINE  Four sessions: Fridays, October 29, November 5, 12 and 19; 3:30 to 5 p.m.

    Deepen your intimacy with your surroundings and the natural world through photography. Award-winning documentary photographer Susan Patrice offers a heart-felt photography workshop that combines contemplative practices with ways to document this extraordinary time that might keep us six feet apart from other humans but can inspire a closer and more intimate focus on nature and our surroundings. Four Zoom-based class meetings include photographic assignments, rich sharing and discussion, and supportive critiques.

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  • ONSITE  Saturday, October 30, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

    Discover fine lines and delicate details in leaves that you can only see through making prints. In this course, we will print ink from leaves on a small etching press, revealing features that are difficult to see by looking at leaves alone. With help from other artists and horticulturists, we will use these prints to help identify the unique characteristics of the leaves and trees on display in the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, followed by experimental play to create beautiful leaf compositions. Includes all materials and open to all skill levels.

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November Online, Onsite and Field-Based Classes

  • ONSITE  Tuesday, October 2; 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

    Our monthly Meditative Mornings provide the perfect setting for birding. No leaf blowers, no equipment noise: Enjoy  a quiet, crisp autumn morning in the company of birds, an expert guide and very quiet humans, all eyes skyward! Open to beginning and experienced birders alike.

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  • Tuesday, November 2, 1:30  – 3 p.m.

    More species of salamanders exist in the Southern Appalachians than anywhere else in the world. The class will begin with a lecture focusing on the biology of salamanders, reasons for the enormous diversity in this region and threats to salamander species. A self-guided lesson provided by the instructor encourages participants to take their learning into the field to investigate salamander habitats and identify different species in their areas.

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  • Three Sessions: ONLINE  Tuesday & Thursday, November 2 – 4, 10 – 11:30 a.m. ONSITE  optional Autumn Skywatch, November 4, 7:30 p.m.

    No science background is necessary for this fascinating look at contemporary science writing focused on the night sky. Astronomer Stephan Martin leads this exploration of evocative and skillful essays about the astronomical phenomena visible in our night skies and will help participants unpack some of the science they encounter in the writings. Wrap up the class with an Autumn Skywatch onsite after hours at the Arboretum. Weather and conditions permitting, we’ll have a possible sighting of the Taurid Fireball Meteor Shower.

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  • ONLINE Wednesday, November 3, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

    A look at how both native edible and other edible plants have been historically important as as well as a popular design element in landscapes over the decades. Landscape architects Jennifer Verprauskus and Hillary Cole cover ideas for incorporating native edible and edible plants in current designs for both residential and commercial landscapes.

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  • ONSITE  Thursday, November 4, 5:30 – 7 p.m.

    Join us onsite at the Arboretum to christen our new Adult Education Outdoor Classroom in a special “spaced” gathering. Leading our fourth Blue Ridge Naturalist Round Table is Stephan Martin, astronomy and physics instructor, who’ll talk about noctural ecology and dark sky citizen science advocacy. With much of the Earth’s population living under light-polluted skies, over lighting is an international concern and places dark enough for good skywatching are fast disappearing. Stay after hours and enjoy an Autumn Skywatch and the chance to view the Taurids Fireball Meteor Shower in the night sky. Participants must register in advance for this limited-capacity gathering. Meeting details and location will be sent in advance.

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  • ONSITE  Two Sessions: Saturday & Sunday, November 6 – 7, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

    Botanical illustration provides plant lovers an opportunity to slow down, to shift from looking to seeing, and to find pleasure in exploring details of life the busy mind filters out. These behaviors make botanical illustration a powerful tool for learning plant identification. Studies show that drawing is a power mnemonic strategy for improving memory, and undoubtedly trains the eye of the artist to recognize patterns and detail so critical in the process of identifying plants. Join landscape architect and artist Preston Montague for a botanical illustration class focused on learning basic tenets of plant ID using botanical illustration. Reinforce both the practices of identification and representation. Open to individuals of all skill levels in both plant ID and drawing.

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Onsite and field-based classes are subject to rescheduling due to county and state health and safety guidelines and/or inclement weather. View current Safety Guidelines. Select online classes are shared with registered students for on demand viewing following the live session for 30 days.  

On Demand Classes

  • ON DEMAND

    Want to rejuvenate an older houseplant or share your plant with a friend? Arboretum Production Greenhouse Manager June Smathers-Jolley covers the basics of propagating houseplants through seeds, cuttings, division and air layering in this informative video, produced in-house by the Education Department’s creative team and available to watch “on demand” at your own convenience through September 30. Whether you have a colorful coleus, an aging aglaonema, a peppy peperomia, or a savvy succulent, you will pick up some proven techniques for expanding your houseplant collection.

    Register Here

  • ON DEMAND

    Arboretum Production Greenhouse Manager June Smathers-Jolley leads this engaging and packed-full-of-useful-information class on how to be a good plant parent to your houseplants. June shares on-trend resources from the horticulture industry, popular magazines, and social media that will make you want to adopt a few new family members of the botanical variety. Topics to be covered include selecting the best plants for different locations and conditions in your home, proper watering techniques, repotting, fertilizing, and pest identification/management.

    Register Here

  • ON DEMAND

    Follow along in this on-demand class anytime to take a break and focus on nature and love in this season. Begin with a brief online introduction to mandalas, practice a loving kindness meditation, and have a nature experience from your home, or in your neighborhood, the Arboretum, or elsewhere. Then settle in to design your own mandala inspired by nature and loving kindness.

    Register Here

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