Discover Living Art at the Bonsai Show May 12-13

A bonsai demonstration.

Bonsai are considered to be a living works of art. See some of Michigan’s greatest living works of art during the Michigan All-State Bonsai Show on May 12-13 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

From families to bonsai enthusiasts, there’s something for everyone during this free two-day event. Starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, vote for your favorite skillfully trained bonsai and attend free demonstrations on how a bonsai is created.

Interested in making your own bonsai? There will be a wide variety of workshops for beginners to experienced aficionados on both days. Find out more about the workshops by clicking here and typing “bonsai” in the search box.

Past President of the American Bonsai Society, bonsai instructor and author, Pauline Muth is this year’s featured bonsai artist. She has studied with some of the greatest bonsai masters, received numerous regional and international awards, and owns and operates pfm bonsai studio in New York. Along with judging the bonsai show, she will be presenting “Land & Water Penjing” on Saturday and “Designing the 5 Styles of Bonsai” on Sunday.

If you’re still not sure what to expect, here are examples of bonsai from years past:


Fun Spring Break Activities for the Kids

It’s almost Spring Break! That means the kids will be home and in need of something fun to do.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Starting Monday, April 2-4, we have Spring Break Classes for every age that fits both your schedule and your child’s curiosity. Creative, hands-on activities are planned for children four to 14-years-old that involve learning and an active imagination.


Here’s a glimpse of a few classes available next week:

Monday, April 2
Butterfly Biscuits (ages 57) 1–3PM
Fee: $20 members, $27 non-members
Decorate your own chef’s hat! Mix the dough and make butterfly biscuits using cookie cutters. Sample these delicious treats while they’re warm and learn butterfly facts in the process.

Tuesday, April 3
Carnivorous Plant Karaoke (ages 5–10) 13PM
Fee: $20 members, $27 non-members
Make a carnivorous plant sock puppet and discover how these plants trap their prey. Teach your puppet to sing by learning hilarious new lyrics to a variety of familiar songs.

Wednesday, April 4
Painting Turtles (ages 4–5) 1–3PM
Fee: $20 members, $27 non-members
Paint a poster-sized turtle, play a game to learn why turtles hide in their shells and find out why some turtles can stay underwater so long. Have fun listening to turtle stories.

There are 56 classes per day — each a new, unique learning activity. Sound like fun for the kids? Register now before classes fill up!

To register, visit our ticket page and search for class titles or dates. 

Feeling Creative?

Has winter left you with idle hands? Are you looking for fun activities? Our latest edition of Seasons Magazine—scheduled to reach your mailbox in a few weeks—includes all of our upcoming spring and summer classes! From our Spring Gardening Mini-Series to Bonsai Workshops and Four-Day Camps, there’s enough to keep your whole family busy during the warmer months.

Here are some unique upcoming classes if you’re feeling crafty:


Artisan Soap-Making
Saturday, February 25, 10AM–Noon
What is the “cold-process” method of making soap? Find out during our Artisan Soap-Making class with Barb Jenness, owner of Dogwood Farm and Dancing Goat Creamery, and make soap the old-fashioned way. Personalize your handmade soap with essential oils and scents to your liking and take home soap making recipes and resources!  Member and non-member fees apply.

Find Barb Jenness’ website or add her on Facebook.

Springtime Arrangements
Tuesday, March 6, 6–8PM
Are you a budding gardener or interested in making beautiful arrangements for your home? Join us on Tuesday, March 6 and get ideas on how to put together a fun spring arrangement. Learn how to use household materials to create an impressive floral piece for very little cost. Member and non-member fees apply.

Follow the link and search for “soap” or “springtime” to sign up for these classes today:

You can also check your next Seasons Magazine or head to our Education page to find a list of current and upcoming classes. Happy crafting!

Fabulous and fragrant orchids

By Julie Francke, Curator of Horticulture Education


While orchids are best known for their beauty, some orchids are also wonderfully fragrant.  Perhaps the orchid best known for its fragrance is the Cattleya, with large flowers and a heavy, sweet fragrance. It is one of the most popular flower for corsages; if you ever received one, a single sniff can instantly take you back to that moment. Fragrance can do this—our sense of smell is the best memory trigger.

A variety of other orchids are also fragrant, with essences that vary from fruity, spicy and pungent to minty, chocolaty or musky. Some emit their fragrance all day, while others are fragrant for specific periods of time.


The Angraecum orchid, with pure white flowers, releases a jasmine-like fragrance only at night. Others release their scents for just a few hours in the morning while many reach their peak in the middle of the day.  The timing and characteristics of the scent can be tied directly to the type of pollinator the orchid is trying to attract—bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and even gnats and flies. The Angraecum attracts a night-flying moth.

In the past, orchid breeders largely ignored fragrance and instead selected for other traits—flower size, shape, number and color. Many breeders are now recognizing that fragrance is a quality that many people value and are creating more crosses with this in mind.

Oncidium 'Sharry Baby'

If you would like to purchase a fragrant orchid be sure to find out how much light it requires. In Michigan, our short, cloudy winter days can make it difficult to provide enough light for orchids requiring high levels of light, such as many cattleya orchids. Oncidium ‘Sharry Baby’ is easy to grow and produces a sweet, luscious chocolate scent. Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) are one of the best choices for beginners with low to medium light conditions.  While many lack fragrance there are some varieties with a light or spicy scent.

With hundreds of gorgeous orchids available for purchase at the upcoming Orchid Show, there is bound to be one that will capture your attention with its beauty and fragrance.  The orchid vendors can help ensure it is also a good match for your home.  The Orchid Show, presented in collaboration with the Grand Valley Orchid Society, will take place at Meijer Gardens on January 28 and 29, 2012.

Exploring sculpture through storytelling

Meijer Gardens is bursting with summer activities for the kids, including the popular Kids’ Tram Tour, where children can explore and become inspired by our very own version of Beauty and the Beast!

“Beauty In the Beast, a Kids’ Tram Tour of the Sculpture Park” is an imaginative and fun way to learn about our sculpture park. The story brings to life a character named Beast, a personified sculpture by Lynn Chadwick featured in our permanent collection. During this interactive tour, kids will learn why Beast is sad and how the other sculptures try to help him. Starting in the Children’s Garden, children and their parents will journey with the Beast sculpture through the rest of park and “talk” to the other sculptures as they try to help Beast.

More than just a tram ride, this interactive experience will have children exploring the sculpture park and learning while they have fun. Sing, act, and dance to help make Beast happy and learn the importance of “just being you!” Parents and children alike will love this engaging tour with its fun activities and upbeat message about self-esteem.

Now through August 27, you and your little ones can enjoy this engaging experience every Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tours are at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, and 1:30 pm, and cost $3 for adults and $1 for kids.

Check back for more details about our autumn Kids’ Tram Tour!

Hands-on learning all summer long

Summer is in full swing and that means Meijer Gardens is bursting with activities for children of all ages. Whether it’s at the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden or Michigan’s Farm Garden, there’s so much to keep kids exploring, learning, and having fun.

“Meijer Gardens is an exciting and fun place for kids and families because there are so many engaging activities,” says Linda Thompson, director of education at Meijer Gardens. “In the Children’s Garden there are artists, musicians, story-times, classic games and ‘storybook characters.’” Now through August 26 is A Classic Summer in the Children’s Garden. Kids can explore the classics in new ways, like during “Stories and Games” every weekday at 10 am.  Classic stories are read and paired with favorite games like Duck, Duck, Goose, hopscotch, and more.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday at 2 pm in the Children’s Garden, kids can engage their creativity and curiosity for music and art by joining a musician with instruments or creating a whole rainbow of garden colors with a local artist.

Have your kids ever wondered how Jack grew such a tall beanstalk? Have they wanted to help Little Red Riding Hood find her way to her grandmother’s house? With an interactive storytime in the Children’s Garden on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30 pm, kids can see classic stories come to life with characters played by student actors from Civic Theatre’s School of the Arts.

Out at the Farm Garden, every Friday is packed with activities. In true 1930s-era style, kids can quilt, experience farm chores, and play old-fashioned games from 1-4 pm.

Every month features a new special family weekend. “Meet Me at the Fair” on August 13 and 14 will feature live farm and traditional fair activities like beanbag toss, sack races and ice cream eating. The “Heirloom Tomatoes” weekend on September 3 and 4 will focus on heirloom varieties with cooking demonstrations, sampling and tomato-inspired games.

Take the fun indoors to the Snell Sculpture Education Gallery where kids of all ages can create their own sculpture park. Arrange the sculptures throughout the miniature park and decide how to landscape around them. When the kids are finished, they can give a tour of their creation using little wooden trams. This unique and interactive activity provides an engaging opportunity to learn about the Sculpture Park and develop critical thinking skills, all while having fun.

Note: All activities occur through the end of August.

Michigan’s Farm Garden is buzzing with fun this weekend

Did you know honeybees must tap 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey? Or that lighter colored honey tends to be milder while darker colored honey has a bolder flavor? Learn all this and more at the Meijer Garden’s Amazing Honeybees this weekend.

Michigan’s Farm Garden is hosting all kinds of family-friendly events this summer. This weekend (1-4 pm Saturday and Sunday), kids and adults alike can take part in activities and demonstrations to learn about bees. Families can explore and learn together in a beautiful setting at Michigan’s Farm Garden. Several different types of honey will be available for tasting, as well as cooking demonstrations to highlight the versatility of honey. Kids can learn about the unique way bees communicate by taking part in a “bee dance” and find their way through a bee obstacle course.

Visitors can also learn about the many different aspects of beekeeping by viewing an observation hive, exploring a beekeeper’s unusual equipment and creating a beeswax candle.

This event is free with the price of regular admission to the Meijer Gardens.

Come join us for Amazing Honeybees July 9-10, 1-4 pm, at Michigan’s Farm Garden and see why honeybees are the bees knees!