Science Programs for Homeschool Students Begin Sept. 5 at Adkins Arboretum

Homeschool students of all ages can get down and dirty with science this fall at Adkins Arboretum!

In Animals of the Arboretum, an eight-session program for students ages 7 to 10, budding scientists will explore the Arboretum’s wetland, forest, stream and meadow habitats to study the native animals of Maryland. From squirrels to skins, foxes to finches, this program uses a hands-on approach to develop key scientific skills, including observation, experimentation and documentation. Scientific equipment will be part of the learning process. Animals of the Arboretum meets every other Tuesday, Sept. 5 to Dec. 12, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

In Forestkeepers, for ages 11 and up, students will learn how forestry—the science of planting, managing and caring for forests—is critical to the preservation of healthy forest ecosystems. Homeschoolers will develop their science skills as they explore the field of forestry through hands-on outdoor experiences. Forestkeepers meets every other Tuesday, Sept. 12 to Dec. 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Advance registration is required for both programs. Visit adkinsarboretum.org for more information or to register your student, or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0. 

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Paintings by Kathryn O’Grady on View at Adkins Arboretum

Artist Kathryn O’Grady will make you think differently about the flocks of blackbirds that are such a familiar sight in the Chesapeake region. In “Four and Twenty,” a series of blackbird “portraits” on view in Adkins Arboretum’s Visitor’s Center through Sept. 29, every bird is an individual with its own quirky personality.

In Close to the Big Pond, her show of oil paintings and watercolors augmented with crayon and metallic pigment, O’Grady zeros in on nature’s mind-boggling diversity and its irrepressible energy. There will be a reception on Sat., Aug. 12 from 3 to 5 p.m. to meet the artist and learn how she became so entranced with Maryland’s birds and rural landscapes.

O’Grady has always been in love with color.

“It’s a deep-seated obsession,” she admitted. “I remember when I found out that Crayolas came in more than eight colors when I was two or three, I felt like my mother had been holding out on me.”

“Panic, Mayhem and Ullabee” by Kathryn O’Grady

Exhibiting at the Arboretum courtesy of Baltimore’s Steven Scott Gallery, O’Grady earned her BFA from Michigan State University and an MFA from the University of Texas and has shown her work widely in the U.S. In 1997, she moved from Texas to the tiny, rural town of Tracys Landing, south of Annapolis, where she has been painting the landscapes and birds near her house ever since.

“When we first moved here from Texas, my first overwhelming impression was I’ve got to find more colors of green paint,” she said.

As it turned out, she began to discover the many colors that underlie the green of plants and make it so lively. Like an Impressionist artist, when she painted an old tobacco barn sagging under the weight of a complicated tangle of vines, she did it with thousands of tiny strokes of scarlet, maroon, yellow, lime, pine green and shadowy blue. A riot of color and activity, it brilliantly captures how plants reclaim any building or field left vacant.

“I like seeing the plants take over,” O’Grady explained. “In Texas, it’s so hot and dry, it takes a lot longer for the plant life to reclaim the structures. Here it happens as soon as you turn your back.”

O’Grady had already been keeping chickens and peacocks when her daughter rescued a lost mallard duckling eight years ago and brought it home. Less than a day old, the exhausted bird fell asleep in O’Grady’s hand. Rather than put it in the aviary with her other birds, she raised it in the house until it was old enough to move to a nearby pond. Not long afterward, the duck returned, bringing along a new mate that she presented to O’Grady. The pair soon nested and began an extended family that still lives near the artist’s home.

“It changed the way I look at all birds,” O’Grady said. “I learned from my ducks that birds are individuals.”

In several portraits she has painted of her ducks, there’s no doubt of this. Each bird has its own distinctive personality. To make it even better, some of the portraits are accompanied by the ducks’ own stories engagingly told by writer Peter Guttmacher.

Throughout her paintings, O’Grady has a knack for capturing the vivacious energy of birds and plants, amiably conveying her awe of the indomitable spirit and incredible complexity of the natural world.

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Sept. 29 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Sculptures and Drawings by Elizabeth Miller McCue on View through July 28

“Ball of Leaves,” a patinated bronze sculpture, is among the works of Elizabeth Miller McCue.

Step into the gallery in Adkins Arboretum’s Visitor’s Center and you’ll feel as if a breeze has just sent multitudes of delicate leaves flying into the air. Gracefully scattering down one corner and across a long white wall, each of these 135 leaves is a tiny bronze sculpture artist Elizabeth Miller McCue cast from butterfly bush leaves.

On view through July 28, A Walk in the Garden, McCue’s show of bronze sculptures and large black-and-white drawings, is all about the beauty, bounty and aliveness of nature. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., June 24 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Many Arboretum visitors are already familiar with McCue’s site-specific sculptures created for the past five biennial Outdoor Sculpture Invitational shows. Now living in Yardley, Penn., she studied art in New York at the Art Students League and the New York Studio School and worked in documentary film before she began concentrating on drawing and sculpture. She has received numerous grants and commissions, and her work is in more than 30 corporate and private collections.

McCue began making castings of actual leaves in 1995 when she was awarded a commission for the corporate headquarters of Salomon, Inc. at the World Trade Center in New York. The finished sculpture, “Ball of Leaves,” was destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attack, but a maquette (a smaller, preliminary model) is included in this show. With its layers of subtly shaded blue-green bronze leaves, showing every detail of the veins and zigzagged edges of the original leaves, this sphere is an exuberant image of growth and abundance.

More recently, McCue was chosen as a semifinalist for a large sculpture for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. She received an honorarium to develop her proposal with preliminary castings of flowers, leaves and stems from a butterfly bush along with butterflies created from bronze screening.

“I was in and out of New York a lot and actually made a lot of the butterflies on the train,” she said. “Very entertaining to the other passengers.”

When a D.C.-based artist was awarded the final commission, McCue was left with the castings and butterflies and soon turned them into other sculptures. The butterfly bush leaves became a site-specific work for an exhibit on New York’s Governor’s Island in 2014, a piece that was so successful that McCue cast dozens more leaves to create “In the Wind,” her piece on the Adkins walls.

Likewise, her delicate butterflies became “A Walk in the Garden,” in which several clusters of butterflies are suspended on deep brown panels, creating the impression of butterflies gathered in the gentle shade under trees.

McCue’s drawings are large, strong and spare. Whether perching in her children’s playhouse to get a lofty vantage point for sketching pine trees or capturing the bare-bones shapes of the weathered stalks of plants still standing in her garden in autumn, her work is unfailingly direct and is animated by a powerful sense of growth and change.

“I work directly from nature and often make sketches, then enlarge them,” she explained, “I like linear, gestural drawings. They tend to be large because I always think that—and this is why I do sculpture—I like to be physically engaged.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through July 28 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps Begin June 19

Summer belongs to children! For more than a decade, families and children have grown with Adkins Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps. The camps provide extraordinary ways for children to enjoy summer the old-fashioned way—outdoors. 

Campers ages 2 to 13 will make lifelong memories while exploring the Arboretum’s woodland, meadows, streams and wetland. From grazing on blackberries to splashing in the Blockston Branch, the Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps provide children with a truly enchanted experience.

Calling our littlest nature lovers! Camp Bumblebee, for preschoolers ages 2 and 3, runs June 19–23. The Arboretum’s littlest campers will search for wiggly caterpillars in the Funshine Garden, blow bubbles under the trees and visit the Arboretum goat herd. From splashing in the stream to hunting for tadpoles in the wetland, Camp Bumblebee is summer at its best. Adults attend this camp with their children and enjoy the experience of discovering nature together.

Children learn through play, and nature is the best playground. Camp Pollywog (June 26–30) campers ages 4 to 6 will float leaf and twig boats down the Blockston Branch, create leafy magic carpets on the forest floor and mix up gooey wetland “sundaes” while listening to a chorus of frogs and red-winged blackbirds. Songs, crafts, stories, games and a healthy snack will round out each morning.

It’s “All About the Birds” in Camp Whippoorwill, a special birding camp for ages 8 to 12 (June 26–30). Campers will look for birds on the grounds with naturalist and educator Jim Wilson and will learn to identify birdsong, dissect owl pellets and meet a real-life falconer. They’ll also learn about nesting, migration, owls and vultures, hike to the Tuckahoe State park aviary, and much more.

In Camp Paw Paw (July 10–14), campers ages 7 to 9 will experience the magic of an outdoor summer. They’ll pick blackberries in the meadow, climb trees, toast marshmallows over a campfire and build forts in the woods. When temperatures rise, campers will cool off with sprinkler time in the Funshine Garden and whip up a batch of icy mint tea. Campers will top off the week with a special hike to the Tuckahoe Tire Park, stopping on the way to wade and search for stream critters.

In Camp Egret (July 17–21), campers ages 10 to 13 will hone their wilderness survival skills. Egret campers will navigate with compasses, build shelters, track wildlife and purify water. They’ll also brush up on first-aid, cook over a campfire, and forage, all while building valuable teamwork and leadership skills.

Registration fees vary, and advance registration is required. A special camp T-shirt is included. Register at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum Hosts David Haskell for “The Songs of Trees”

Every living being is not only sustained by biological connections but is made from these relationships. In his newest book, The Songs of Trees, Pulitzer Prize finalist David Haskell visits with nature’s most magnificent networkers—trees—and shows how this networked view of life enriches our understanding of biology, human nature and ethics. On Thurs., June 8, join the author for a discussion of how biological networks surround all species, including humans. Sponsored by Adkins Arboretum, the program begins at 4 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum in Easton.

Haskell’s work integrates scientific, literary and contemplative studies of the natural world. Chronicling his year’s observation of one square meter of forest, his 2012 book The Forest Unseen was instrumental in galvanizing a renewed interest in observing and documenting nature among citizen scientists and nature lovers. A New York Times profile says of Haskell, “[he] thinks like a biologist, writes like a poet, and gives the natural world the kind of open-minded attention one expects from a Zen monk rather than a hypothesis-driven scientist.”

In The Songs of Trees, Haskell brings his powers of observation to a dozen trees around the world, exploring their connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants. An Amazonian ceibo tree reveals the rich ecological turmoil of the tropical forest, along with threats from expanding oil fields. Thousands of miles away, the roots of a balsam fir in Canada survive in poor soil only with the help of fungal partners. These links are nearly two billion years old: the fir’s roots cling to rocks containing fossils of the first networked cells.

By unearthing charcoal left by Ice Age humans and petrified redwoods in the Rocky Mountains, Haskell shows how Earth’s climate has emerged from exchanges among trees, soil communities and the atmospheres—and how humans have transformed these networks by tending some forests but destroying others. Haskell argues that when we listen to trees, nature’s greatest connectors, we learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance and beauty.

Haskell is a professor of biology and environmental studies at the University of the South and a Guggenheim Fellow. His classes have received national attention for the innovative ways in which they combine scientific exploration, contemplative practice and action in the community. In 2009, the Carnegie and CASE Foundations named him Professor of the year for Tennessee, an award given to college professors who have achieved national distinction and whose work shows “extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching.” Along with his scholarly research, he has published essays, op-eds and poetry.

The program is $15 for Arboretum members and $20 for non-members. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Advance registration is requested at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum to Offer Maryland Master Naturalist Training

This fall, Adkins Arboretum will offer Maryland Master Naturalist training in partnership with Pickering Creek Audubon Center and Phillips Wharf Environmental Center. Geared toward study of the coastal plain, the program provides training for volunteers to learn and share knowledge of the natural world in Maryland and engages citizens as stewards of Maryland’s natural ecosystems and resources through science-based education and volunteer service in their communities.

Individuals accepted into Master Naturalist training receive 60 hours of instruction, including hands-on outdoors experience. All classes are taught by experts in the subject. The curriculum includes sessions on Maryland’s natural history, flora and fauna, principles of ecology, human interaction with the landscape, and teaching and interpretation. Following training, participants serve in their communities as University of Maryland Extension volunteers. 

Training sessions will be held monthly from October to July. The program fee is $250. For more information or to apply for the Master Naturalist program, contact Robyn Affron at 410-634-2847, ext. 25 or raffron@adkinsarboretum.org, or visit extension.umd.edu/ masternaturalist. 

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum Announces Spring Open House, Native Plant Sale

Adkins Arboretum, offering the Chesapeake gardener the largest selection of native plants for more than 20 years, announces its Spring Open House & Native Plant Sale weekend, April 28-30. The sale benefits the Arboretum’s education programs and affords the public an opportunity to learn about the Delmarva’s native plants and their connection to a healthy Chesapeake Bay.

Plants for sale include a large variety of native perennials, ferns, vines, grasses and flowering shrubs and trees for spring planting. Native flowers and trees provide food and habitat for wildlife and make colorful additions to home landscapes, whether in a perennial border, a woodland garden or a restoration project. Tall spikes of purplish flowers grace blue wild indigo, while native honeysuckle entices hummingbirds. Cardinal flower, ferns and Joe-pye attract frogs, butterflies and dragonflies, and native azaleas present a veritable rainbow of bloom colors. Presale orders may be placed at adkinsplants.com through April 16. Simply place your order, and your plants will be ready for pick-up during the Open House weekend.

Native trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). Photo by Kellen McCluskey.

All are invited on Fri., April 28 from 2 to 7 p.m. to shop in a fun and festive environment with live music, light fare, a silent auction, a cash wine and beer bar beginning at 4 p.m., and drawing of the winning ticket for the Arboretum’s Native Table raffle.

The Open House continues Sat. and Sun., April 29 and 30 with plant sales, music by Driven Women, guided walks, coffee, pastries for sale by Steve Konopelski of Denton’s Turnbridge Point Bed & Breakfast and much more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Following the Open House, plants will be for sale at the Visitor’s Center throughout the growing season.

The Arboretum is a participating nursery in the Marylanders Plant Trees native tree discount program. For any native tree valued at $50 or more, shoppers will receive a $25 discount. Some of the special larger trees available for this discount include birch, dogwood, redbud and magnolia.

The Arboretum gift shop will be open during the Nursery Opening Day and will offer books and nature-inspired gifts for gardeners. Members receive a 10% discount on plant, gift shop and book purchases. Members at the Contributor level ($100) and above receive a 20% discount on plants.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Trees, Landscape Photographs by Mark Muse, on View at Adkins Arboretum

“Hemlocks,” an archival pigment print, is among Shepherdstown, W.Va., artist Mark Muse’s works.

The magic of momentary effects of light and atmosphere permeates Mark Muse’s exquisite landscape photographs in his exhibit Trees, on view in the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center through June 2. In both black-and-white and color photos, he captures trees ghostly in the fog, sweeping mountain vistas and billows of leaves awash with sunlight. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Saturday, April 22 from 3 to 5 p.m.

For Muse, who lives in Shepherdstown, W.Va., photography is an excuse to walk on nearby farms and travel to the many parks and national forests in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania where he shoots most of his photographs. Often sleeping in his car to be up in time for the early-morning light and mist, he finds moments when light and shadow are just right to tell the stories of the trees, wild grasses and windswept bedrock that he has discovered.

Massive hemlock trunks soar upwards in a large black-and-white photo titled “Hemlocks, Tsuga Canadensis, Heart’s Content, Pennsylvania.” Thanks to Muse’s remarkable sensitivity to tone and texture, clear sunlight sculpts every crevasse and ridge in their rough bark and every delicate needle along their branches. Shot in a stand of old-growth forest, these trees are giants towering above the forest floor.

“This photograph doesn’t even convey how big they really are,” Muse said. “Those ferns down at the bottom are probably over knee high, so just picture yourself standing there with them halfway up your legs.”

A keen observer, Muse has learned much from his travels with his camera. The geology of the Appalachian region fascinates him, as do its weather patterns and the subtle seasonal differences in the quality of light and delicacy of leaves. With a passion for the natural landscape, he composes his photos to reveal the beauty and character in a weather-beaten sandstone outcrop, a red oak shaped by the west wind or lichen-covered hawthorns caught in a swirling mist.

Muse earned a degree in photography in the late 1960s but only became a serious photographer a dozen years ago. He credits his career in the printing industry for the development of his skill in working with photographs.

“I’ve spent years in the darkroom—literally, years,” he said.

Muse processes his digital photographs with great care and skill. Coaxing astonishing clarity from a confusing tangle of tree trunks, twigs and vines, he turned “Along the Potomac, Maryland” into a warm, animated dance of subtle grays and browns where every detail can be seen and enjoyed.

“None of these are just straight captures,” Muse explained. “I do a lot of work getting things balanced.”

Most of Muse’s photos are printed with archival pigments on a professional-level inkjet printer, but he also enjoys experimenting with platinum prints in which a digital negative is substituted for the customary film negative. A shot of tupelo trees growing amid billows of delicate woodland plants owes its incredibly warm, nuanced tones to this more traditional process.

Muse said, “The subtlety and the smoothness of the tonality, it’s really nice. So I’m going to be doing a lot more platinum once I retire.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through June 2 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Calling All Runners for Adkins Arboretum Arbor Day Run

Last call for runners! Adkins Arboretum will hold its twelfth annual Arbor Day Run on Sat., April 8. Runners, walkers, families and nature enthusiasts are invited to enjoy an early-spring morning while hustling to support the Arboretum’s goat herd, used for targeted grazing of invasive plants.

Advance registration for the 5K and 10K runs, family-friendly one-mile Fun Run/Walk and 100-yard Healthy Kids’ Dash ends Sun., March 26.

Visit adkinsarboretum.org for registration and information.

Photos by Kellen McCluskey

Learn About Soil Health with Dr. Sara Via at Adkins Arboretum

Microbes in the soil have a huge impact on how plants grow and react to stress situations. It’s a wild world down there, and some of the interactions will surprise you! Learn about the importance of soil health on Wed., March 22 when Dr. Sara Via presents Life Underground: Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy Planet at Adkins Arboretum.

Building and maintaining soil health is essential for food production, the conservation of forest and natural areas, and climate-resistant gardening, agriculture and forestry. Learn what healthy soil is, how to know if you have it, and how to build it if you don’t. A hands-on demonstration will follow Via’s talk.

The program runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Advance registration is requested at adkinsarboretum.org.

Via is a professor of biology and entomology at University of Maryland, College Park. She is interested in the effects of climate change on agriculture and home gardening, biodiversity and human health. In association with University of Maryland Extension and Maryland Master Gardeners, she works with community groups, high schools and universities to increase awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and to motivate effective action to curb its rapid progression.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature, conservation and gardening. For more information, visit www.adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.