Botanical Garden Activities: What To Do At A Botanical Garden

By: Amy Grant

There are around 200 botanical gardens in North America and amassive 1,800 more spanning across 150 countries. Could there be so manybecause of what botanical gardens do? These gardens serve many purposes andoften feature special garden activities. Interested in things to do at abotanical garden? The following article contains information on what to do at abotanical garden as well as activities found in a botanical garden.

What Botanical Gardens Do

The origins of the botanical garden can be traced back toancient China, but the more modern footprint of today’s botanical gardens datesto the Renaissance in the 1540’s. This era was a time ripe with horticulturalstudy regarding the medicinal uses of plants.

At that time, only doctors and botanists were interested inbotanical gardens. Today, botanical garden activities draw thousands ofvisitors. So what are some things to do at botanical gardens?

Things to Do at Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens feature plant life in all its variedforms, but many gardens also offer concerts, restaurants and even classes. Theactivities in a botanical garden are often dictated by the season, yet everyseason offers something.

During the spring and summer growing season, the plants willbe at their peak. Even in the fall and winter, the gardens still offer anopportunity to stroll about. Gardeners at any time of the year can admire thedifferent gardens. Many botanical gardens are quite large and may not all beseen in only one day.

Some gardens are quite extensive; therefore, plan to weargood walking shoes. Packing water, snacks, and a camera are a few ways toprepare for your garden adventure. Take your time and really absorb thegardens. There is a connection we have with plant life that allows us to viewourselves as part of a whole rather than one person.

Walking the different areas of a botanical garden will alsogive avid gardeners some ideas for their own garden. Many botanical gardenshave separate areas such as Japanese, rose, or even desert gardens. Some of the larger ones offer classeson everything from propagation to pruning. Many offer conservatories that houseexotic species such as cacti and succulents, or orchids and other tropical specimens.

Walking is a main activity you will be participating in, butthere are a number of other botanical garden activities offered. It has becomean increasingly popular place to host musical events. Some gardens allow foryou to bring your own picnic and spread out a blanket. Other botanical gardenshave plays or poetry readings.

While many botanical gardens functionsomewhat on government funding, most need supplemental funding, hence an entryfee. They may also host a plant sale where gardeners may find the perfect shadeloving perennial or heat tolerant shrub they’ve been coveting on their strollsthrough the botanical gardens.

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Children participate in high-quality learning activities with experienced teachers who use inquiry-based, hands-on activities. Programming connects nature to a range of themes including art, cuisine, and conservation. Children will dissect and plant seeds, explore fragrant herbs and flowers, search for birds and plants on nature hikes, create take-home science-themed projects, and much more!

Onsite Exploration Resources

Parts of a Plant
Using this passport, students explore our Conservatory to find seven different plants and learn about plant parts and function. This resource is great for our younger visitors. Allow 30 to 45 minutes for this activity. Find the passports at the front information desk. Passports are not available during the Season's Greenings holiday show. Look for the holiday plant hunt instead.

Junior Botanist
Using the backpack and adventure sheets, students work in teams to explore each room of our Conservatory. This free resource is designed for third through sixth grade students. Junior Botanist Adventure Kits are available for checkout at the front information desk. Backpacks are not available during the Season's Greenings holiday show. Look for the holiday plant hunt instead.

Plant Explorer's Field Journal - Conservatory
Using this guide, students explore the Conservatory and learn about the U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-42) during which scientists collected both living plants and pressed specimens and discover plants from around the world to include three plants descended from the Expedition. This resource is recommended for readers of all ages. Allow 45 minutes to one hour for this activity. Find the field journals at the front information desk. This journal is not available during the Season's Greenings holiday show. Look for the holiday plant hunt instead.

Plants and Food
Using this passport, students explore our Conservatory to learn where many of our foods come from and discover which part of the plants we eat. This is a great resource for our younger visitors. Allow 30 - 45 minutes for this activity. Find the passports at the front information desk. Passports are not available during the Season's Greenings holiday show. Look for the holiday plant hunt instead.

How Plants Work Curriculum
This curriculum includes a teacher journal and student journals that explore four Big Ideas -A Puzzle of Plant Parts, Plant Multiplication, Surviving Against the Odds, and Are Plants Like Us. This resource is available only by download. Allow 30-45 minutes for each Big Idea.

Regional Garden Field Journal
Using this field journal, students explore our native plant collection in our outdoor Regional Garden. This journal encourages students to learn about native plants and observe plants in different seasons. Allow 30 to 45 minutes for this activity. Find the field journals at the front information desk.

10 Things to do at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens

1. Start at the tropical Conservatory and Visitor Center

Get acclimated to the Garden campus at the Visitor Center. Pick up a map, get tips from the Master Gardener at the Information Desk, and even grab a Children’s Activity Guide for the little ones in your group. The Conservatory is home to a variety of tropical plants, including orchids (TIP: check out Orchid Days in February!) You’ll also find art on display, the café, and a well-stocked gift shop of items for nature-lovers.

2. Stroll through the themed gardens

Did you know? The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is made up of several different types of gardens! The Heritage Garden is a collection of plants that have been important to our region of the country. You’ll find examples of cash crops, fruits and vegetables. There are also lovely blooms in the spring from azaleas dogwoods. The International Garden explores how plants were discovered and cultivated in different times and places, including the Middle Ages, Age of Exploration and by Native Americans. There is also the Shade Garden, the Native Flora Garden, the Flower Garden and the Herb and Physic Garden

3. Tour the NEW Porcelain & Decorative Arts Museum

Opened in March 2021, the newest attraction at the Garden has eight different gallery spaces blending conservation, botanicals, art, beauty and curiosity. Adjacent to the building is the Discovery and Inspiration Garden where visitors can connect to the living botanical collection that is represented on so much of the porcelain pieces in the museum.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Located in Boothbay
Region: MidCoast & Islands
Activities: walking, nature and birdwatching, family friendly

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the largest botanical garden in New England, is located on nearly 300 tidal acres in the MidCoast region and is ideal for a day’s exploration with the whole family. This spectacular landscape has 17 acres of gardens and numerous walking trails through forests and along the shore of Back River. There are flowers blooming throughout the gardens and you can check the website to see what’s currently in bloom. Stop and relax a moment in the Vayo Mediation Garden, or stroll through the Lerner Garden of Five Senses. Watch butterflies soar and pollinate in the Native Butterfly House. The many features and unique gardens throughout the property provide inspiration and beauty to all who visit. The interpretive theme for 2020 is Wicked Wetland Wonders and the Gardens alone have over 250 wetlands to explore and learn about.

The Gardens also have numerous art and sculpture exhibits throughout the year as well as many permanent pieces. There is always something new to discover as you wend your way along the paths and through the gardens. Don’t miss the kinetic Wind Orchid or Chiseled Glass Orb sculptures.

If you want a cup of coffee or to grab a bite to eat, the Snack Shack and Market are open, serving foods prepared with local ingredients and Maine-made products.

To welcome guests back safely, a limited number of tickets are available for each arrival time. Advance tickets are required for admission, and no walk-ins are allowed. Visitors are required to have face masks available and to wear them indoors at all times (including in restrooms) and outdoors whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain. Some high-touch features of the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden are currently closed.

Driving Distances:
From Bangor: 112 miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 52 miles
From Portland: 57 miles

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