Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Party invitations printed with okra.
Invite your family to a garden party. Photo by Ellen McCarthy.
BBG Summer at Home
Garden Party
Dear Garden Friends, 

This week we are celebrating summer! It’s been an unusual summer and you might not have been able to do all the things that you normally do. We hope you can gather with your family and enjoy many of the things there are to love about the season. This week, we’ll show you some fun ways to have a garden party at home.

To enhance your party, you can dress yourself up with nature. Make a flower crown to wear or create a simple flower petal braceletYou can even make special invitations to your party by printing okra onto paper. Have fun.
Let’s Cook: Chocolate Beet Cake
(All ages with adult supervision, 1 hour)
Ingredients for chocolate beet cake: butter, eggs, beets, flour, salt, sugar, etc.
saucepan: butter, sugar, chocolate.
Cooked beets being stirred into other ingredients.
Finished chocolate cake on a plate.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
This cake is sweet and delicious, with hidden veggies inside. 

9 ounces beets (about 3 beets, cooked)
4 ounces 60% chocolate
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
¼ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour or garbanzo bean flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

  1. Peel beets. Cut them into quarters (or smaller, depending on the size of your beets) and set in a pot of water to boil. Boil until easily pierced by a fork, approximately 30 minutes. Drain and let cool. (Save the bright pink juice and use for dying materials or painting on watercolor paper!)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan (or line with parchment paper and spray with baking spray). Melt chocolate, butter, and sugar together in a saucepan set over medium-low heat. Whisk until smooth and completely melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Once the beets have cooled, place them in blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
  4. Mix beets, eggs, vanilla, and cocoa powder into melted mixture until well combined. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the large bowl and stir until all the flour is incorporated.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  6. Let cool before cutting, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Let’s Craft: Strawberry Piñata
(All ages with adult supervision, 2 hours + drying time) 
Strawberry pinata
Photo by Hester Griffin.
This strawberry piñata is a sweet addition to your garden party. You can adjust the size of the piñata according to how big you blow up the balloon.

½ cup flour
½ cup water
X-acto knife
Candy (or anything you’d like to put inside)
Tissue paper (red, green, and black)

  1. Using a whisk or hand blender, create a paste by mixing equal parts water and flour until there are no lumps. It should be about the consistency of white glue. Add more flour or water to thicken or thin as needed. 
  2. Blow up balloon and rip newspaper into 1-inch strips.
  3. Dip newspaper strip into paste, squeezing off excess paste. Apply to balloon.
  4. Repeat step 3, layering newspaper on until the balloon is covered three to four layers deep. Leave an opening at the top for candy.
  5. Let dry for at least 24 hours. Then pop the balloon and decorate!

Below, we show you how to decorate your piñata like a strawberry. Click here for more step-by-step photos.
Balloon, newspaper, glue, string, and tissue paper.
Paper mache on a balloon.
Tissue paper cut into strips with glue.
Balloon being decorated with strips of tissue paper.
Photos by Hester Griffin.
Let’s Make: Watermelon Mint Lemonade
(All ages with supervision, 25 minutes) 
Watermelon, mint, lemons, and sugar.
Mint in a pot with water and sugar.
Straining the watermelon mixture into a glass.
Finished watermelon mint lemonade in a glass with a sprig of mint.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
We’re always looking for fun recipes to use mint, an herb you can often find growing wild.

1 ½ quarts water
½ cup sugar
2 sprigs mint, plus more for garnish
5–6 cups cubed watermelon
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

  1. In a large pot, bring water and sugar to a light boil until the sugar is dissolved and your mixture is clear, stirring to dissolve sugar—this will be your simple syrup.
  2. Turn off the heat and toss in the sprigs of mint. Allow mint to steep for 15 minutes, then remove it from the simple syrup and discard sprigs.
  3. Allow mint-infused water to cool for about 10 minutes and then pour into a blender with the watermelon. Blend until smooth and then pour mixture into a pitcher through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer to get rid of any seeds and pulp.
  4. Add lemon juice to the pitcher and stir. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint for garnish.
We have loved spending the summer with you virtually. Please send along photos of your nature projects and garden celebrations!

We look forward to seeing you in the Garden soon.

—BBG’s Children’s Education Team
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