|Pollinator on Rosa palustris. Photo by Uli Lorimer.|
|Children’s Garden from Home|
Flowers and Pollinators
|Hello Children’s Garden Friends and Families, |
Many thanks to the hundreds of you who have been following along with our nature explorations this spring! This will be our last activity guide for the season, but we will be picking up again in July with more fun projects to try together.
|Food Distribution Project|
| Romaine freckles lettuce. Photo by Rebecca Bullene. |
|We have an exciting announcement: Since we can’t hold classes in person this summer, BBG has decided to focus on serving our neighbors in need. To this end, the Children’s Garden team has transformed the Children’s Garden into a production farm, growing vegetables to share.|
In partnership with The Campaign Against Hunger and the Brooklyn Museum, the Children’s Garden crops will be shared with families at food distribution sites all over Brooklyn. This work is just getting started and we have already shared over 330 heads of lettuce and bundles of spinach in our first two weeks. Our staff is still only allowed on-site a few days per week, but they have been working furiously behind the scenes this spring, hacking back the weeds and cover crops that took over while we were away, and transforming the field from a wild grassland back to a functioning urban farm.
We are calling this initiative the Education Food Distribution Project, and it's supported in part by the U.S. Botanic Garden and American Public Gardens Association Urban Agriculture Resilience Program. We’ll be sure to send updates, and we hope to see you all visit and wave over the fence once we’re allowed to reopen!
|Video Lesson: Pollinators and Flowers|
(Ages 4–6, 30 minutes)
| Video lesson by Emily Carter and Ashley Gagñay.|
|Now onto one of our favorite garden topics: flowers and pollinators. Pollinators can be insects like butterflies, bees, and dragonflies, or animals like birds and bats. Even the wind can sometimes aid in pollination. Bees and butterflies float from flower to flower sipping on the sweet, yummy nectar that can be found inside the flower. While that happens, tiny little yellow particles called pollen attach to the legs and bodies of the bugs. When they fly to a new flower, some of the pollen from the last flower falls off and just like that, the new flower has just been pollinated, so that it can make seeds! This process is how seed-bearing plants reproduce and it is the reason we have tomatoes, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds.|
If we were to take a walk in the Garden now, we would see fragrant colorful roses, bright pink peonies, and stunning poppies, all showing off to attract as many pollinators as possible. You can follow along with BBG’s flowers that are blooming! Check in frequently to see the changing array of flowers in bloom.
This week, join Emily and Ashley to learn about flowers and pollinators, create butterfly wings and antennae, and make plant parts pasta salad.
|Let’s Become Scientists: Plant Press|
(Ages 4–13, 20 minutes plus nature walk)
| Photo by Ellen McCarthy.|
|For centuries, scientists and botanists have pressed flowers and plants. This means that they collect an interesting specimen, dry it in a press, and then mount the pressed plant on a piece of paper or in a frame. Accurate pressing and data on where the plant was collected allows scientists to understand changes in species distribution over time and space. A collection of many plant pressings is called an herbarium! Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a historic herbarium with over 300,000 species collected and saved. |
Cardboard (2 pieces, same size)
Newspaper cut to the same size as the cardboard
4 rubber bands
Flowers, plants, or leaves
*Don’t have flowers? No problem! Snip a cutting from a house plant, pull up a weed from the sidewalk, or buy a bouquet from a local store.
Cut two pieces of cardboard to the same size. They can be any size, from 4-by-6 to 11-by-17 inches. The bigger the press, the larger the flowers and plants can be. For example, if you are pressing ferns, you’ll need a larger press. Cut a newspaper the same size as the cardboard. Once you collect flowers and leaves, put them in layers of the newspaper. Cover the slice of newspaper and go to the next slice. You can have layers of different flowers and leaves. Note: Thin, flat flowers work best like pansies, daisies, violets, and buttercups. Once your press is full, put a few rubber bands around it and place it under some heavy books.
In a few weeks, open your press to see how your flowers are progressing. A fully pressed flower will be papery and flat; all the moisture will be gone. Now you are ready to use your pressed flowers to make cards or bookmarks, or put your flowers or leaves in a simple frame to make your own herbarium!
| Photos by Ellen McCarthy. |
|Let’s Make: Citrus Sunshine Smoothie|
(All ages, 15 minutes)
|Photos by Ellen McCarthy.|
|This creamy, fruity citrus sunshine smoothie is the perfect breakfast, snack, or immune-boosting drink. You might already have these items in your kitchen: an orange, a lemon, ginger, honey, yogurt, and ice. Sweet like nectar—just what a pollinator would love. Makes one smoothie but increase the ingredients to make more! |
½ cup vanilla or plain yogurt
1 cup ice cubes
½ cup fresh orange juice (juice of one orange)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
½ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
Honey (to taste)
Use a grater to zest your lemon and orange—you’ll need about ½ teaspoon of zest from each. Grate ½ teaspoon of ginger. Use more if you love ginger. Juice one lemon and one orange. Put all ingredients into a blender with ice and add honey. You can add a little water to aid in blending. Enjoy!
|Let’s Craft: Flower Petal Bracelet|
(Ages 4–13, 15 minutes plus nature walk)
| Photos by Ellen McCarthy.|
Masking tape, scissors, flowers, and leaves from nature walk
Take a piece of masking tape a little bigger than the circumference of your wrist. Put it around your wrist with the sticky side facing out. As you take a nature walk, find flowers, petals, and leaves to add to your bracelet. By the end of your walk, you’ll have a colorful, temporary bracelet. If you sit still, pollinators might even come visit!
*Don’t have flowers? Use colorful leaves or even flowering weeds from near your home!
|We hope that these projects bring you some joy and happiness. Soon enough we will be smelling the flowers together, back at the Garden! |
Though this is our last spring email, we’ll be back during the first week of July with fun summer activities and nature projects you can do at home. As always, please share photos of your art projects or stories of your adventures in at-home gardening.
Emily, Ellen, Ashley, and Greta
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BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN
1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225