The Wonder of Wetlands
Classes Online, Onsite and On Demand

 

To slip on a pair of waterproof boots and explore a wetland ecosystem is to slip into a vibrant, hidden world full of plants and animals that are as wondrous as they are threatened. This spring, Adult Education Programs invites you to explore the complex and endangered wetlands of our region and the broader fluvial systems that connect them all. Learn about the important role that Willow Pond, our new outdoor education center, has to play in the Arboretum’s conservation efforts.

Pictured: Atamasco Lily (Zephranthes atamasco), a native spring flower of North Carolina wetlands. Credit: Sarah Coury.

Scroll down the page for a listing of our current classes. For more information, please contact Adult Education Programs at AdultEducation@ncarboretum.org.

Onsite and Field-Based Small Group Classes

  • ONSITE  Tuesday, April 6; 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

    The Blue Ridge Mountains are a beautiful place to be in the spring and this walk has been designed to visit some of the best spots to enjoy early birding at the Arboretum. Bring your binoculars to explore the area’s avian bounty. Open to beginning and experienced birders alike.

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  • ONSITE  Friday, April 16; 2 – 3:30 p.m. 

    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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  • FIELD  Monday, April 19; 1 – 3:30 p.m.

    Spring is here and the natural world is waking from its winter rest! Let’s get out and see what’s happening with the wildflowers, trees and critters. We’ll discuss what’s happening now and how that relates to changes that will occur as the season and year progresses.

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  • ONSITE  Six sessions: Wednesdays, April 21 – May 26; 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. 

    Gentle, relaxing yoga stretches outside in the fresh air. Connect with the beauty of nature while releasing tension and building flexibility, balance, and inner calm. This in-person class takes place at the Arboretum in partial shade and is beginner-friendly. Participants wear loose, comfortable clothing and bring their own mat and a mask.

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  • ONSITE  Thursday, April 22; 3 – 4:30 p.m.

    Aurality, Wonder, Environment. Musicologist and sonic artist Tyler Kinnear takes participants on a Listening Awe Walk designed to deepen an aural connection to the local soundscape. Learn to give your ears priority and listen to the sounds around you. Pay attention to the ways you experience and interpret the sonic environment, then ask how you contribute to that composition.

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  • ONSITE  Six sessions: Fridays, April 23 – May 28; 1 – 2 p.m. 

    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.  Participants wear loose, comfortable clothing and bring their own mat and a mask.

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  • ONSITE  Saturday, April 24; 1 – 3:30 p.m.

    Accept an invitation to receive the forests’ healing gifts and insights on this guided restorative walk, which is designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and restore the body to a calm and composed state. Boosted immune system, lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, decreased depression and anxiety are a few possible benefits associated with nature-based experiences.

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  • ONSITE  Sunday, April 25; 3 – 4:30 p.m.

    Strolling with an eye toward the wonders around you during an otherwise ordinary walk could have significant benefits for your mental health. 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. Bundle up, wear your mask and be awed along with documentary photography Susan Patrice, who will help you look at the landscape through new and loving eyes.

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  • ONSITE  Sunday, May 2; 10 – 11:30 a.m.

    A short stroll leads to an awe-filled learning experience. Join this guided awe walk to the Arboretum’s National Native Azalea Collection, a hidden gem along the winding shores of Bent Creek. At peak bloom in early May, the collection, featuring 16 of the 17 U.S. native azalea species, is a wonder to behold. The collection’s location at the Arboretum is also a fantastic example of ecological gardening in a woodland space — enhanced with naturalistic plantings and selectively maintained while retaining and spotlighting characteristic natural elements of the original habitat — making the garden an indispensable resource for landowners of forested property.

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  • ONSITE  Tuesday, May 4; 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

    The Blue Ridge Mountains are a beautiful place to be in the spring and this walk has been designed to visit some of the best spots to enjoy early birding at the Arboretum. Bring your binoculars to explore the area’s avian bounty. Open to beginning and experienced birders alike.

    LEARN MORE

  • ONSITE  Tuesday, May 4, 8:15 – 9:15 a.m.

    Spend a quiet morning in nature. Gentle standing yoga stretches and peaceful flowing qigong movements lead into a guided meditation practice. The meditation portion of the class can be done lying-down on a blanket or seated on a chair or cushion. We will enjoy the sounds of nature and a light sound bath with singing bowls.

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  • ONSITE  Wednesday, May 5; 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

    What makes a pond so important? This new two-hour field experience provides you with fascinating answers as to the role Willow Pond plays in the Arboretum’s ecosystem. Learn about the planning behind making a ravine and a former stormwater catchment area into an outdoor education center for all age humans and all kinds of critters to enjoy, including the rare Mole Salamander.

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  • FIELD  Thursday, May 6; 8 – 11:30 a.m.

    The habitats of the Sandy Mush Gamelands vary from open areas to cove and riverine forests, and, as a result, attract quite a diversity of birds. It’s a great spot to see open country birds from Northern Bobwhite and Blue Grosbeak to Field Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, and an assortment of raptors. Bring your binoculars to see the spring species that will make an appearance for us while exploring these varying habitats.

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  • ONSITE  Sunday, May 16; 10:30 – 12 p.m. 

    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.

    LEARN MORE

  • ONSITE  Saturday, May 22; 1 – 3:30 p.m.

    Accept an invitation to receive the forests’ healing gifts and insights on this guided restorative walk, which is designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and restore the body to a calm and composed state. Boosted immune system, lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, decreased depression and anxiety are a few possible benefits associated with nature-based experiences.

    LEARN MORE

  • ONSITE  Thursday, June 17; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    Many insects spend their egg and larval stages in local streams, ponds and rivers. This immersive field experience starts at Willow Pond, the Arboretum’s new outdoor educational center, and ends at an area set aside for research at Bent Creek. Learn to identify and understand Benthic Macroinvertebrates that spend most of their lives in or on the water. Studying their life cycles and sampling various parts of a watershed can tell us about the health of our local and regional water ecology.  You’ll get plenty of feet-in-water and hands-on-nets time in this class!

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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.

Online Classes: April

  • ONLINE  Thursday, April 1; 9:30 – 11 a.m.

    Join in this discussion about permaculture and plants in the home landscape. We’ll share a few tips to apply ecological principles and methods in your gardening practice. A facilitated discussion with faculty and students in the Blue Ridge Eco-Gardener (BREG) program, anyone is welcome to attend with questions and tips for what works for growing in our region.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, April 1; 4 — 5 p.m.

    Whoo… whoo… whoo’s making all that racket after sunset? There seems to be a lot of activity taking place when most of us expect our birds to be resting. Many species of birds are active at night, including owls, nightjars, and even some songbirds. Take this class to learn about the ecology and behavior of Western North Carolina’s nocturnal avian residents as well as helpful patterns for identifying them by their vocalizations.

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  • ONLINE  Eight sessions: Tuesdays and Thursdays, April 6 – 29; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    Plants have many amazing abilities: They make their own food, pull water hundreds of feet in the air against gravity, and trick insects and other animals into helping them reproduce. In this class we will explore all these phenomena and more as we look at the basics of plant structure, function, evolution, classification, and ecology.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, April 8; 4 – 5 p.m. 

    Everyone loves Hummingbirds and the first males will be arriving in our area any day. They will stake out their territories before the females start to arrive later in the month. We will learn about their biology, feeding techniques and what flowers to plant to encourage them to stay in our gardens.

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  • ONLINE  Wednesday, April 14; 10 – 11 a.m.

    Following on the Introduction to Permaculture class, the focus here is on choosing the best plants for a site and for sustainability. Choose plants with an eye toward developing beneficial relationships in the ecosystem, minimizing waste and energy, replicating natural systems, valuing diversity and garden efficiency.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, April 15; 4 – 5 p.m.

    The Eastern United States is home to an interesting diversity of diurnal and nocturnal birds of prey. In this birding basics class we will go over what makes a bird a raptor and the individual species that make up the Eastern population. Please join us as we explore all things raptor in this interesting addition to the series.

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  • ONLINE  Saturday, April 17; 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

    Spend the morning delving into the enchanting and essential world of lichens with lichen lover and science teacher Jennifer Love. In this online workshop covering lichen ecology, natural history and how lichens are often used as biological indicators, participants will learn ways to identify lichens common to the Southern Appalachians.

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  • ONLINE  Tuesday, April 20; 1:30 – 3 p.m.

    A small-scale, carefully managed vegetable garden can be a lovely (as well as tasty) addition to home landscapes, by attention to design and plant selection. You’ll learn about planting intensively, choosing cool and warm season vegetables, planning small-scale rotations, succession cropping, and preserving the harvest.

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  • ONLINE  Wednesday, April 21; 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

    When we think of flowers in the spring, our attention often is turned towards the numerous showy flowers found on herbaceous plants on the forest floor. If we look upwards however, we would notice the many species of mountain trees which also begin blooming at this time of the year as well. In this online class, we will learn about identifying trees by their flowers, buds and bark, and investigate tree structures and pollination strategies.

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  • ONLINE  Wednesday, April 21; 1 – 2 p.m.

    Nobody better to teach us about wildlife in the Blue Ridge than Carlton Burke, a naturalist, educator, and licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. This lunch hour series will introduce you to a different animal neighbor each month. Learn more about mountain wildlife species and what you can to do protect and preserve them.

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  • ONLINE  Five sessions: Wednesdays, April 21 – May 19; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    Learn to identify native spring-blooming mountain flora using a non-technical keying system, while studying the characteristics of plant families, the basics of plant community and the natural and the cultural history of the flora of the Blue Ridge.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, April 22; 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

    Ethnobotanist Marc Williams considers the specific botanical traditions of indigenous groups and later settlers in the Appalachian mountains. He provides a general history of nature studies of the region, paying particular attention to food, medicine and crafts.

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  • ONLINE  Four sessions: Fridays, April 23 – May 14; 1 – 2:30 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 inspire a closer and more intimate focus on nature and our surroundings. Through this simple photographic practice, a nearby green space can become an oasis of beauty and connection and your own backyard can come alive with extraordinary photographic opportunities.

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  • ONLINE  Sunday, April 25; 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. 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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  • ONLINE  Tuesday, April 27; 12 – 1 p.m.

    Wetlands often tend to get a bad rap. Many people look at a soggy woodland and recoil with images of snake-filled holes and mosquitos carrying diseases. Today, scientists recognize a need to maintain, manage, and restore wetlands, but public image hasn’t changed much. Sign on for this informative Lunch & Learn overview on the history and ecological significance of wetlands with April Smith, a former wetlands researcher.

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  • ONLINE Tuesday, April 27; 7- 8 p.m.

    Crossing mediums and bridging disciplines: Join this discussion focused on a nature-inspired contemplative practice offered in connection with The Enveloping Landscape: A Contemplative Photographic Journey, on exhibit through May 2 at the Arboretum. Consider nature for its sources of aural inspiration. In what ways do we interpret the sonic environment? In what ways do we contribute to its composition?  Consider how the creative and contemplative practices of two artists — Susan Patrice and Tyler Kinnear — coalesce in learning to see and hear more deeply in the enveloping landscape.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, April 29; 4 – 5 p.m.

    Native plant appreciation, regional identification, intensive horticulture, and an expanded vision of bonsai are all illuminated in this program, when the spotlight is focused on red maple — a beautiful tree every nature lover should know. Almost all maples are suitable for bonsai use, yet our abundant, attractive, thoroughly American red maple (Acer rubrum) is only rarely seen in public or private bonsai collections. The exception to that rule, not surprisingly, can be found at The North Carolina Arboretum. Sign on for this fourth installment of “More Than Meets the Eye” to see how Curator Arthur Joura has developed cultivation techniques for producing quality specimens from this challenging species, while simultaneously advancing the “locally grown” flavor of the Arboretum’s bonsai brand.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, April 29; 6:30 – 8 p.m.

    Be part of a worldwide effort to document the planet’s biodiversity!  Learn how you can participate as part of Team WNC in the 2021 City Nature Challenge, scheduled for April 30 to May 3. This friendly competition between other cities and regions across the state and across the world is designed to see who can document the most sightings of plants, insects, animals and more! Take this course to learn how to use iNaturalist app or website to find new places to explore, get help identifying plants and animals in your own neighborhood, and help Team WNC gain world domination in our ecologically diverse place on the planet! Plus you can earn a cool patch in the process!

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  • ONLINE/ONSITE HYBRID  Three Sessions: Friday, April 30; 3 – 6 p.m. | Saturday, May 1; 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. | Sunday, May 2; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

    The beautiful and ancient landscape that we inhabit also inhabits us. In this retreat, makers can give mindful attention to the power of place with making a simple book and using as a container for the weekend’s writing and imaging practice. No previous experience in making books, writing poetry or taking photographs is needed. Recommended text for background is “Nature-based Expressive Arts Therapy” and “Poetry in Expressive Arts.” The class will meet in a hybrid format, with meetings both online and onsite at the Arboretum.

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Online Classes: May

  • ONLINE  Three sessions: Wednesdays, May 5, 12 and 19; 10 – 11:30 a.m.

    This foundational readings course provides Blue Ridge Eco-Gardener learners an opportunity to discuss core concepts that shape the BREG certificate program through review of the recommended text, Planting in a Post-Wild World by Claudia West and Thomas Rainer. Facilitated discussions will complement BREG core courses and are designed to lend support in creating ecologically sustainable landscapes through a better understanding of plant communities of the Blue Ridge mountains.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, May 6; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    Join us for an exploration of the treasures of the night sky as we discover the constellations, bright stars, planets, and deep sky objects that fill the evening skies in spring, including the Eta Aquarids meteor shower! 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  Thursday, May 6; 9:30 – 10:30 p.m.

    Stargazing and social distancing come together to form a unique virtual stargazing community as we gather to explore the constellations, bright stars, planets and deep sky objects of the spring night sky with local astronomer Stephan Martin as our guide. A dark moon will should set the stage for the Eta Aquarids meteor shower to put on a good show!

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  • ONLINE  Four sessions: Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 11, 13, 18 and 20; 10 – 11 a.m.

    Today, scientists recognize a need to maintain, manage, and restore wetlands. About half of the wetlands occurring in the continental US currently exist in the Southeast, and North Carolina happens to have some of the rarest of all. This course, conducted live in an interactive forum on Zoom, will discuss the roles that wetlands play in our environment. We will cover a brief bit of history about wetlands, their ecological significance, environmental issues currently affecting wetlands, and climate change implications.

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  • ONLINE  Wednesdays, May 12 and 19; 1:30 – 3 p.m.

    The process of transforming a yard into a garden – and a landscape that you love – is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a gardener. Understanding plants and their needs is key to creating a landscape that’s a joy, not a chore. In this two-part class, Lisa Wagner will help you better understand how to learn how to observe and evaluate what is pleasing (or not) to you and how to incorporate those observations in your gardening activities, including garden renovation.

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  • ONLINE  Wednesday, May 19; 1 – 2 p.m.

    Nobody better to teach us about wildlife in the Blue Ridge than Carlton Burke, a naturalist, educator, and licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. This lunch hour series will introduce you to a different animal neighbor each month. Learn more about mountain wildlife species and what you can to do protect and preserve them.

    On our May online presentation of “Wildlife with Carlton Burke”, we will be learning all kinds of interesting information about our official North Carolina state reptile – the Eastern Box Turtle. Box turtles are declining across much of their range for a variety of reasons, despite the fact that they can live decades longer than most of our other wildlife species. Find out why and what you can do to help box turtles that you might come across. You’ll also get to virtually meet a couple of live box turtles from Carlton’s educational collection.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, May 20; 3:30 – 5 p.m.

    What a difference one letter makes! Take a closer look at Corvids, the highly intelligent and inquisitive family of birds that includes over 120 species, including crows, ravens, magpies and blue jays. Birding expert Aaron Steed sifts through confusion, sets aside stereotypes and stirs our curiosity with information on the birds that hold important roles in myths across cultures and in our ecosystems.

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  • ONLINE  Friday, May 21; 5 – 6 p.m.

    Current students, BRN graduates, BRNN members, and anyone interested in the Blue Ridge Naturalist Certificate of Merit Program are encouraged to attend the second of these free quarterly conversations hosted by BRN faculty. We hope you’ll sign on for this chance to check in with each other, learn about trails yet to be blazed, and get program updates and a preview on upcoming courses!

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  • ONLINE  Four sessions: Wednesdays and Fridays, May 26 – June 4; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    On a single mountainside in the Southern Appalachians, a careful observer might identify more than 1,200 species of moths during the course of a year. This class looks at the seemingly limitless diversity of insects and the important roles they play from pollinator to pathogen in the ecosystems of the Blue Ridge. We will explore the life cycles of the more common local insects, and discuss threats to these important elements of biodiversity.

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Online Classes: June

  • ONLINE  Four Sessions: Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 1 – 10; 10 – 11 a.m.

    Water flow across a diverse geological framework shapes the Earth’s surface. The process of surface water flow and the earth’s response to this flow is investigated across three physiographic provinces, including the Blue Ridge, Piedmont, Coastal Plains/Continental Shelf. Processes and responses include erosion, sediment transport, and formation of associated depositional environments.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, June 3; 3 – 4:30 p.m.

    Sign on to congratulate the first graduating cohort of the Blue Ridge Eco-Gardener program. Graduates will share photographs and describe ways they’ve applied their learning in their own home landscapes and in service projects for their communities. The second half of the meeting is a round table discussion with faculty, current students and anyone interested in the Blue Ridge Eco-Gardener (BREG) program. Get a preview of upcoming classes online and hear about some exciting new opportunities for learning in place!

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  • ONLINE  Tuesday, June 8; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    Summer is a perfect time to notice plants that are at the peak of growth, flower or fruit. Fragrance is a welcome characteristic of many summer flowers, while aromatic foliage adds interest throughout the growing season. This online class will focus on plants that are at their best in summer, with a special nod to annual plants that are prevalent during the summer months.

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  • ONLINE  Four Sessions: Wednesdays, June 9 – 30; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    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 complex interdependencies among plants, soils, environment and animals. Join this informative and interactive online class to learn ecologically sustainable practices for gardening on your site.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, June 10; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

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

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Registrants also have the opportunity to view recorded videos on demand for select online classes if they are unable to attend the live session.

On Demand Online Classes

  • ON DEMAND

    Used by over 30 million people world-wide, Star Chart is an app that provides a magical star gazing experience like no other. In this online introductory class for adults, originally presented in April of 2020, Astronomer Stephan Martin introduces you to Star Chart and other free stargazing apps so that you can carry around a virtual planetarium in your pocket! Look through your smartphone or other handheld device to help you bring the whole visible universe into focus. Steve will share insights on the treasures of the night sky that you can see this spring, including tips for viewing Meteor Showers!

    Register Here

  • ON DEMAND

    Correctly pruning woody trees and shrubs improves their general appearance and promotes plant health. In this On-Demand course, professional horticulturalist Ben Pick will discuss and demonstrate various types of pruning — structural, aesthetic, regenerative, and corrective — along with tools, techniques and timing, for successful pruning of small trees and flowering shrubs.

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  • ON DEMAND

    The world comes together for the love of birds each February to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a program of Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Learn how to participate in this worldwide citizen science project that aids scientists in learning more about the birds we enjoy in our own neighborhoods. This session includes a brief overview of the project including what previous counts have revealed about changes in bird populations and how scientists use this data. We’ll then explore how to submit your observations and join the world in celebrating birds. By taking this course and contributing to the project you can receive your own NC Bird Count badge.

    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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