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  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  Six sessions: Wednesdays, April 28 – May 26; 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. 

    Individual Sessions Still Open for Registration 

    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, May 6; 3 – 5 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 learn to notice the many species of mountain trees that also begin blooming at this time of the year as well. Whether you’re a budding dendrologist or an experienced naturalist, you’ll enjoy this immersive field-based experience with Naturalist Carlton Burke identifying trees and woody shrubs, and investigating tree structures and pollination strategies.

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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.

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  • ONSITE  Wednesday, May 19; 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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  • ONSITE  Saturday, May 22; 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

    Experience spring’s renewing energy at the Arboretum by contemplating nature, the season, and mandala-making with found natural items.

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  • 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.

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  • FIELD  Sunday, May 23; 8 – 11:30 a.m.

    The habitats of the Sandy Mush Game Lands 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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  • ONLINE  Four sessions: Sundays, May 23, June 27, July 25 and August 22; 2 to 3:15 p.m.

    Available to register as a package or by individual session

    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, May 23; 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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  • FIELD  Tuesday, May 25; 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

    Explore the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians and look for some of the area’s most exciting birds. Expert guide Kevin Burke will help you look for the many species of warblers, vireos, and hard-to-identify Empidomax Flycatchers in higher elevations in spring.  Bring your binoculars and birding guides; You’ll likely add on to your birding life list on this enjoyable trip.

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  • ONSITE  Tuesday, June 1, 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  Tuesday, June 1; 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

    Celebrate the launch of a new monthly program. But this is no raucous celebration. Shhhh. Our new monthly Meditative Mornings provide the perfect setting for birding. No leaf blowers, no equipment noise a quiet morning to enjoy the company of birds and very quiet humans, eyes skyward! Bring your binoculars and explore the Arb’s avian bounty. Open to beginning and experienced birders alike. (Set aside the first Tuesday of every month for a standing distanced date for birding and breakfast together.)

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  • 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: 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  Wednesday, May 19; 6:30 – 8 p.m.

    ONLINE  Thursday, May 20; 6:30 – 8 p.m.

    The Greater Asheville Science for All Bookclub is an informal networking group that meets regularly to discuss books and topics regarding current science as well as science that addresses the unique and diverse landscapes of the Southern Appalachians. The group meets online at present with assistance and support from Adult Education Programs at The North Carolina Arboretum. The May topic is the Science of Invertebrates, and we will be examining two of the most distant branches on the tree of life: the mollusks and the cnidarians, or jellyfish.  Click below for more information on the current selections.

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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.

    Leading our second Blue Ridge Naturalist Round Table are Alexandra Holland and Dan Lazar, core faculty for our certificate of merit programs. Alexandra, who teaches botany, and Dan, who teaches ecology, will facilitate from the field, meeting with us via ZOOM! They’ll be on the trail observing as they go the interconnectedness of all the living things in our ecosystem, including how plants communicate with each other, how they interact with fungi and bacteria, how they react to changes in the environment, and more. And, signing on from our separate locations, forming another web of interconnectedness, we’ll bring our own questions and comments, making for a moveable round table large enough to accommodate all from wherever we’re placed.

    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. 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  Thursday, May 27; 4 – 5 p.m.

    Inside Appalachian Cove:  If one planting in our collection had to be selected to represent the uniqueness of the Arboretum’s bonsai program, the large landscape titled “Appalachian Cove” would be an excellent choice. This program, in addition to telling the story behind the planting and its one-of-a-kind container, will demonstrate the tricky transplanting process. There are many other public bonsai collections in the United States, but only one features the “Appalachian Cove.” This is a story that can’t be told anywhere but here.

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  • ONLINE  Thursday, May 27; 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

    Sign on for a special book launch and talk with Niki Irving of Flourish Flower Farm as we celebrate the publication of Growing Flowers, Niki’s beautiful new book on growing, harvesting and arranging the season’s blooms. If you’ve followed her on Instagram, you know every gorgeous photograph inspires a desire to grow, pick and arrange your own backyard blossoms to create similarly simple yet stunning bouquets and floral arrangements. Then watch for registration to open on June 1 for  some hands-on practice “Arranging the Petite Posy Bouquet,” a small-group workshop to be held onsite at the Arboretum on Tuesday, June 22.

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  • ONLINE  Four sessions: Fridays, May 28 – June 18; 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 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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  • ONLINE  Thursday, June 24; 4 – 5:30 p.m.

    Points of Connection Across Collections: Join North Carolina Arboretum bonsai curator Arthur Joura in conversation with Chicago Botanic Garden bonsai curator Chris Baker for a look inside two of the most acclaimed bonsai collections in the country through the eyes of their curators and chief interpreters. Though there are several states between them, they find common ground in their innovative approaches to bonsai and awe for trees in nature, both discovering endless sources of creative inspiration while continuously honing a craft.

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  • ONLINE  Wednesdays, June 16, 23, 30, July 7 and 14; 1 – 2:30 p.m.

    Learn to identify seasonal native 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. Presented online with plant lists and pointers provided for conducting observations in the “field,” whether that’s your own yard or neighborhood, at the Arboretum or sighted off trails in the region. Small-group walks with Instructor Scott Dean will be scheduled for experience in the field.

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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

    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

    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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