Summer is the time to be outdoors, but it's also a time to learn more about the outdoors. Here are some local events to pick from, adapted from the calendars of some local gardens and parks.


(U.S. National Arboretum, 24th and R streets NE; call 202-245-5898;

U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory, southwestern corner of the Capitol grounds, 245 First St. SW; call 202-226-4082 to register for programs or 202-225-8333 for information;


21: Tour of Pots -- From Necessity to Artistry: Much has been written about the history of gardening. Few of us, however, know the stories of plant containers. Tours at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Free. Botanic Garden.

24: Oak -- The Frame of Civilization: The story of oak is at the root of everything we know. Explore the impact of oaks on human history. Noon to 1:30 p.m. Free. Pre-registration required. Botanic Garden.

25: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: The medicinal use of herbs has a long history, filled with legends and lore. Join Herb Society of America member-at-large Jane Irvin-Klotz for a lecture about this history and discover the health benefits of herbs that are being rediscovered today. 11 a.m. to noon. Fee $12. Registration required. National Arboretum.


2: Bonsai demonstration: Drop in for an informal demonstration and learn basic bonsai techniques. 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Free. National Arboretum Bonsai and Penjing Museum.

9: Crazy Containers: Looking for a way to add excitement to your garden containers? Have you ever thought of planting in an old shoe or a bucket? Create your own crazy container. 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Fee. Registration required. Botanic Garden.

9-17: Visiting Sogetsu exhibit and demonstration: Experience the avant-garde style of Japanese flower arrangements known as Sogetsu, which often include unusual plant materials and objects. 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Demonstration July 17, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Free. National Arboretum.

10: Penjing in Shanghai: Learn the difference between penjing and bonsai, as Jim Hughes, assistant curator, shares knowledge gleaned during four weeks of study at the Shanghai Botanical Garden. 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Fee $12. Registration required. National Arboretum Bonsai and Penjing Museum.

15: Therapeutic Plants in Classical Greece and Rome: This presentation will explore some of the ancient Mediterraneanis almost forgotten botanical texts and suggest some interpretations. Noon to 1:30 p.m. Free. Pre-registration required. Botanic Garden.

21: Bonsai demonstration: Drop in for an informal demonstration and learn basic bonsai techniques. 1 to 2:30 p.m. Free. National Arboretum Bonsai and Penjing Museum.

22, 23, 24: Colored Pencils on Transparent Watercolor: This three-day intensive workshop will explore how to create a multimedia, botanically accurate work of art. Previous drawing experience is recommended. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fee $175. Pre-registration required. Botanic Garden.


(Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton. For registration and information, call 301-962-1451 or 301-962-1400;

Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave., Baltimore; call 410-367-2217; e-mail


May 7 - Sept. 18: Wings of Fancy: Brookside's ninth annual live butterfly show will transport you to a tropical paradise, with hundreds of beautiful butterflies flying and masses of colorful flowers. Call or check their Web site for more information.

June 21 - July 28: Creating Gardens in a Digital Age: New class at Montgomery College, Germantown campus, will introduce students to historical garden designs as well as current ecologically influenced trends, such as sustainable landscaping and native plant designs. Through digital media, students will learn to apply these influences to create their own designs and to prepare graphic presentations, plant palettes and price quotes. Contact Stephen Dubik, Landscape Technology program adviser, 301-353-7803.


7, 14, 21, 28: Nature story hour: For children from 3 to 6 and their accompanying adults. Stories and activities about trees, flowers, birds and bugs. 10 to 11 a.m. $1 for children, free for adults. Pre-registration required. Cylburn Arboretum.

9: Garden walk: Discover flowers and growing things in season at Cylburn. 1 p.m. Free. Pre-registration required. Cylburn Arboretum.

10: Free State Daylily Society exhibit and sale: See hundreds of day lilies in bloom and receive expert advice at this annual exhibit. Cylburn Arboretum. Noon to 4 p.m. Free.


(Green Spring Gardens Park, 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria; call 703-642-5173;

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct., Vienna; call 703-255-3631;

Oatlands Plantation, 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane, Leesburg; call 703-777-3174;

Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 N. Marcey Rd., Arlington; call 703-528-5406;


18: Carnivorous Plants: Most of us are familiar with Venus flytraps, but what other plants are carnivorous? Michael Szesze, owner of Carnivorous Plant Nursery, has colorful slides, unbelievable facts and alluring carnivorous plants. Following the lecture, participants will create their own miniature carnivorous garden to take home. 10 a.m. to noon. Fee $5, plus $25 supply fee. Adults and children. Pre-registration required. Green Spring Gardens Park.

18: Water Gardening in Outdoor Containers: Learn to create and maintain water gardens at the demonstration by horticulturist Laurie Short. 10 a.m. Fee $5. Reservations required. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

18: Introduction to Edible Wild Plants: Which forest plants are safe to eat? Which are poisonous? Discover the answers at the Northern Virginia Regional Park authority free slide show and hike. 2 p.m. Free. Reservations required. Potomac Overlook Regional Park.

19: An afternoon in the Oatlands gardens: Featuring a pruning demonstration by certified arborist Peter Deahl. Pruning demonstration starts at 1:30 p.m. Garden slide presentation at 4:30 p.m. Fee.

19-Sept. 25: Butterfly walks: Discover butterflies in their natural habitat in these walks for new and experienced butterfly fans. Walk participants may assist Washington area butterfly club members in releasing native species raised, tagged and donated by members. Sundays at noon. $2 fee benefits the butterfly restoration project. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

24: Dramatic Plant Combinations: Staff horticulturist Mary Frogale will acquaint you with her favorite summer stunners, and talk about their idiosyncrasies and design possibilities. Bold color combinations, contrasting textures and exciting new plants will be highlighted in the garden. 1 to 3 p.m. Fee $9. Reservations required. Green Spring Gardens Park.

25: Hydrangeas: Many people remember hydrangeas from their childhood -- big billowy pillows arranged neatly around the front porch -- and are interested in adding them to modern gardens. 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Fee $9. Reservations required. Green Spring Gardens Park.


9: Tasty Tomatoes: Juicy, red-ripe tomatoes are the subject of songs, the catalyst for great recipes and the focus of fantasies. Taste heirloom and hybrid tomatoes with vibrant summer herbs. 10 a.m. to noon. Fee $11. Reservations required. Green Spring Gardens Park.

16: Summer Sunset Walk: Explore nature just after twilight in this guided one-hour walk through the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority's nature preserve. View and hear owls, bats and other nocturnal species only active after dark. Bring a flashlight and wear long sleeves. 8 p.m. Free. Reservations required. Potomac Overlook Regional Park.

16: What's New: Are you the type of gardener who must have new and unusual plants? Staff horticulturist Nancy Olney fills her borders with plants that create excitement. See the plants she has discovered, find out which temptations have flopped and learn how to include the unusual in existing garden designs. 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Fee $9. Reservations required. Green Spring Gardens Park.

23: Making Stepping Stones and Leaf Imprints: Create leaf-imprinted stepping stones in this Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority workshop with the horticulturist Tammy Burke. 10 a.m. Fee $10. Reservations required. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

Joel M. Lerner is president of Environmental Design in Capitol View Park, Md. E-mail or contact him through his Web site,

A juniper bonsai tree. The National Arboretum plans demonstrations.A monarch butterfly at Brookside Gardens. Brookside features a live butterfly show.