On Saturday, February 25, 2012, my daughter and I enjoyed a few afternoon hours at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden Winter Carnival. Because the day was typically New England – windy with scattered snow flurries and intermittent sunshine – we spent most of our time inside.
Festive Displays and Activities
Special events offered guests a chance to enjoy nature on many levels. Our first encounter came by meeting some alpacas on the way in. We also saw ice sculptures by the turtle fountains. There was a demonstration on how to make one of your own by a local ice sculptor, along with sheets that outline the process for guests to take home and try themselves. Since we did not arrive in time for the demonstration, I took the sheet for a future at-home winter project idea.
Inside, there were 2 rooms for making things from recycled/re-purposed materials. My daughter made a white paper snowflake, a “chia pet” that will grow grass as hair, and a pine cone bird feeder. Later in the week, she hung the pine cone feeder from the railing of our back deck and scattered the seeds that did not stick across our backyard.
The artist in me could not resist the chance to create something myself, so I made a snow man by decorating a toilet paper tube.
When my daughter and her friend were finished making crafts, they wrote down the names of as many plants as they could while they were there, inspired by the scavenger hunt sheets that the staff gave to visitors as we entered the lobby of the main building.
One favorite plant found in the greenhouse known as the Orangerie was the “Dragon Tree,” which grows leaves of several colors, and adds a splash of hope for spring in the middle of the winter.
Other science displays related to local flora and fauna were set up along the corridor between the main lobby and the back doors to the outdoor exhibits and trails. One table was set up with labeled bud-bearing twigs from various tree species, and magnifying glasses for studying them. Pictures of those trees were displayed in collage form on a board that stood in back of the samples.
Another table was set up with jars of “scat ” (poop) and the pictures of the animals that the scat samples came from. Young guests were challenged to attempt matching the scat to the animals that they thought produced them.
My daughter’s favorite table sported plaster animal tracks, a mouse nest in a protective plastic container, and pictures of local wild critters caught on camera doing what comes to them naturally. Along with the tracks, which my daughter enjoyed looking at and rearranging, were the deer antlers and jawbone. The staff allowed children to handle and study them, so my daughter could not resist trying them on for size.
A Fond Farewell
At the end of the day, my daughter’s excitement of nature made it difficult for her to leave, but we know that we will return soon.
On our way back to our car, my daughter petted the alpaca llamas one more time, sporting the image of one on her cheek.
You are invited to visit my home page and order my book, The Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Fruits and Berries: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply.