How-To

Baby, it’s Cold Outside!

Many years ago, I took a college class called “The Natural Environment in Winter.” It was January, and we met outdoors for about three hours—regardless of the temperature. I showed up at the first class wearing jeans, a medium-heavy jacket, a sweat shirt, gym shoes, cotton socks, and gloves, but no hat or scarf. (Hey, I was a city kid.) The ink in my pen froze and I couldn’t take notes. We spent a lot of time standing still to observe birds, twigs, moss, ice crystals, and seed heads while the wind sent bone-chilling blasts through my clothes.

How to Make a Pumpkin Volcano

My 2-year-old son is a little too young to carve or paint his own pumpkin this year, so creating a “pump-cano” was the perfect fall fun activity for him. This is an entertaining and simple activity for children of all ages and a great way to extend Halloween celebrations during the first week of November with leftover jack-o’-lanterns. It’s also a great time to remind kids that pumpkins are plants that grow as a vine. Along with squash and cucumbers, pumpkins are part of the plant family Cucurbita.

Why your grandmother’s apron is suddenly cool

Have you noticed anyone foraging mushrooms lately? Building campfires? Baking bread? In these disorienting times, there’s a growing movement to embrace such pursuits as a way to get centered, to lead a more simple, slower life. It has been called #cottagecore, but really it is more than that. It’s a throwback to a rustic aesthetic. That could mean thrifting, DIY, or repurposing gently used items. Here at the Chicago Botanic Garden, we’re all about fuss-free pursuits—plants, nature crafts, plant-based meals...we had you at plants, right?

How to Press Flowers in Four Easy Steps

The bright blooms of summer never last long enough for me—but I’ve found an easy way to preserve the color and beauty of favorites. Lately, I’ve been pressing flowers to give them a second chance to be appreciated—ranunculus, chamomile, and more. The process is straightforward, using things you have around your home. And it’s easy enough that you can do it with kids.

Finding Beauty Outside, Naturally

The world could use a little more beauty right now. Why not help create some in nature? Try your hand at ephemeral nature art. It’s simple and relaxing, and something the whole family can do. Ephemeral art uses found materials and is created and left in the environment. It is temporary and evolving. The materials can include anything you find outside, such as sticks, bark, leaves, flowers, sand, shells, etc.

Dividing Aloe

My Great Aunt Lila used to say that plants bring out the goodness in people. Her house in the Hudson Valley was full of exotic tropicals and orchids that she cared for meticulously. And yet she was always ready to give them away when anyone showed an interest in one, which for me was every visit. She would carefully divide an established plant that she had nurtured for decades, wrap up a chunk of the roots in a wet paper towel, and send me home on the five-hour drive holding a new precious plant in my lap.