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posted: 4/21/2013 5:00 AM

Arboretum, botanic garden celebrate nature in a big way

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  • Children can water the spring vegetable container gardens in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

      Children can water the spring vegetable container gardens in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
    Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

  • Planting a tree will be one of the activities children can participate in during the Earth Day celebration at the Morton Arboretum.

      Planting a tree will be one of the activities children can participate in during the Earth Day celebration at the Morton Arboretum.
    Courtesy of the Morton Arboretum

  • Young visitors can study trees as part of special Earth Day programs at Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

      Young visitors can study trees as part of special Earth Day programs at Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
    Courtesy of the Morton Arboretum

 
 

In light of the dangerous rains of the past few days, the adage "April showers bring May flowers," will be put to the test this spring. After April's storms, floods, and sinkholes, the resulting May flowers better be every color of the rainbow and 20 stories high.

As unlikely as it seems to those who are still drying out waterlogged shoes and flooded homes, this week includes two days devoted to the gift of nature. Monday, April 22, is Earth Day -- a chance to focus on the environment and the gift of Mother Earth, while Friday, April 26, marks Arbor Day.

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle and the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, two of the area's most renowned nature venues, are hosting special events to welcome spring and celebrate the biggest environmental holidays on the calendar.

The arboretum is going all out with a whole week of activities for Arbor Day, which is no surprise for those who know the history of the 1,700-acre institution. The arboretum was established in 1922 by Joy Morton, the founder of the Morton Salt Company, whose father, J. Sterling Morton, founded the very first Arbor Day on April 10, 1872.

Because of extensive flooding due to the heavy rains of the past week, the arboretum was forced to close Saturday and Sunday and had to cancel the Arbor Day 10K race and the EcoFest events planned for Sunday. Rescheduling details will be announced early this coming week, according to arboretum officials.

The rest of the arboretum's Arbor Day celebrations will be next weekend, starting at 11 a.m. Friday, April 26, with the kids-themed program Tree Planting and Story Time with Curious George.

Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat will be on hand and, after a story, children can help them plant a real tree for Arbor Day.

The Children's Garden will host a variety of other activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday to Sunday, April 26-28, weather permitting. Young visitors will be able to plant tree seeds, investigate tree cookies and go on a hunt for five unique trees throughout the garden, all free with admission.

Those looking to get a jump-start on their spring garden planting should check out the Arbor Day Plant Sale. More than 300 trees, shrubs and flowers will be available. The sale will be for members from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The sale opens to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The arboretum also will be hosting a pair of nature walks to appreciate the early-blooming spring plants and flowers.

From 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, there will be a walking tour program with a ranger called Spring Woodland Wildflowers. While on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon, visitors can go Around the World in 80 Trees, which will feature 20 of spring's best specimens. Each of the tours are $18 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, in Glencoe, is hosting several events for Earth Day throughout the week.

Author and educator Jeanne Pinsof Nolan will speak on organic gardening at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 21. Nolan will discuss how your family can craft a custom organic garden suited for your home. Tickets are $40, $35 for members.

A gardens spokesperson said visitors are welcome to visit the Regestein Fruit & Vegetable Garden to get ideas on how to grow their own organic vegetables at home.

The botanic garden also will host a special guided Earth Day Walk at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27, through McDonald Woods.

The free tour will be a chance to learn about spring wildflowers and get a look at the restoration work happening at the gardens. The walk starts at the What's in Bloom cart in front of the visitor center.

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