Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Large yellow sunflower in bloom.
Sunflower in bloom in the Children’s Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
BBG Summer at Home
Dear Garden Friends, 

Flowers are growing all over Brooklyn at this time of year—some carefully planted in people’s gardens and some growing wild out of cracks in the sidewalk and in empty lots. They come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing all flowers have in common is the role they play for the plant. Flowers attract pollinators with their bright colors and strong smells. Some flowers even have small lines in them that guide the pollinators right to the flower’s stamen, where pollen is found. 

This week we have a few activities to do related to flowers. We hope you enjoy them! 
Let’s Cook: Sorrel
(All ages with adult supervision, active time 40 minutes)
Sorrel, sugar, orange, bay leaves, star anise, and cloves.
Container with ingredients sorrel and other ingredients being steeped.
Straining the finished sorrel mixture into a glass jar.
Finished sorrel in a glass.
Photos by Hester Griffin.
Sorrel is a Caribbean drink usually enjoyed around the holidays. This dark red, sweet but tart drink is made from the roselle plant, which is in the hibiscus family. The plant parts used to make this drink are its bright red sepals, or the part of the flower that holds the petals together before blooming. The botanical term for all of the sepals together is known as the calyx. The calyx of sorrel is fleshy and succulent. Dried sorrel is available at many grocery stores near the Garden and throughout Brooklyn. 

2 ½ cups dried sorrel flowers (5–6 ounces)
20 cups water
10–12 whole cloves 
1–2 cinnamon sticks
4-inch piece orange peel
1 ½ cups brown or white granulated sugar
Optional: One star anise, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, ½ teaspoon 
allspice, 2–3 bay leaves 
Directions: Add dried sorrel flowers to a pot with 20 cups of water and all the spices (including optional spices, if using). Give it a stir and allow to boil on low for 30 minutes. Turn heat off, cover pot, and allow to steep overnight. If leaving overnight is not possible, leave for 2–4 hours. Use cheesecloth or a strainer to separate plant parts after steeping. Add sugar or sweetener of choice. You can use more or less sugar to taste. You might need to heat up the liquid to dissolve. The drink may seem thick, but this is normal. Serve over lots of ice and enjoy! 
Let’s Craft: Flower Pounding
(All ages with adult supervision, 30 minutes
Flowers and plants, a clipboard, mallet, and fabric.
Flowers on a piece of white fabric.
A mallet on top of a clipboard, ready for pounding.
Fabric with flower prints.
Photos by Hester Griffin.
Hapa-zome is the Japanese art of smashing flowers or plants to make prints. Hapa-zome is a Japanese term that means leaf dye.

Materials: Fabric, clipboard, a range of plant materials (leaves, berries, petals), rubber mallet or anything that can be used like a hammer such as a rock. 
1. Collect a range of plant materials from around your home or neighborhood including berries, leaves, and flowers that have dropped on the ground. Remember to never take parts off a living plant unless you have permission.
2. Cut a piece of fabric to your desired size or use anything else you would like to decorate. Can you add some color to a white dish cloth or cloth face mask?
3. Set your fabric on the ground and gather the plant materials you have collected. 
4. Arrange your plant materials on your fabric in a design you like, then place your clipboard on top of the plants. If you can work outside, use your “hammer” to start smashing. If you need to stay indoors, try rubbing the flowers into the fabric with the back of a spoon. You will see that the color of the plant beneath starts to transfer to the fabric with each smash. 
5. After pounding or rubbing for about 5–10 minutes, remove the clipboard and gently remove the squashed plant parts.
6. Let fabric dry and admire your work!
Let’s Investigate: Nectar Guides
(Ages 5 and up, 45 minutes) 
Graphic showing three flowers with color patterns.
Graphic by Ellen McCarthy.
Pretend to be a bee and look for nectar guides on your next walk! Nectar guides are patterns found on the petals of some flowers that lead pollinators to nectar, pollen, and more. Print out this worksheet to bring with you on your flower walk, and investigate flowers and their nectar guides. Try to find different patterns and colors! 

Materials: Clipboard, worksheet, colored pencils or crayons
Soon you can visit the Garden to see the summer flowers in bloom. Brooklyn Botanic Garden reopens on August 7 with four special free Welcome Weeks. Advance timed-entry tickets are required to enter. Reserve your free tickets now. 
Wherever you are, make sure you take time today to admire and smell the flowers! 

Until next time,

—BBG’s Children’s Education Team
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