Feb 7th, 2013

101 Things to Spot in the Garden Through Paper Binoculars

Children's binoculars make during the Young Buds program.

Children’s binoculars make during the Young Buds program.

Text & photos by Kristin Mullen, Children’s Garden Educator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Have you ever played “I Spy” in the Garden? Some of our youngest guests spent the winter ‘spying’ amazing animals, trees, blooms, habitats, and botanical treasures as part of our preschool Young Buds program. As diligent and thoughtful scientists, the enthusiastic 3- to 5-year-olds (mostly Richmond Public Schools Head Start students) donned their winter gear, strapped on cardboard binoculars, and headed out into the Children’s Garden, Central Garden and Asian Valley to literally see what they could find. The result? Truly amazing observations!

more binocular fun

What wonderful things to see and find! This is the Children’s Garden wildlife tree viewed with binoculars – the closeup of the lotus seed pod.

Here are a few of the highlights, as reported by the preschool students: a bird nest made of sticks and grass in the Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), huge acorns under the Highbeam Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata ‘QLFTB’), a lion of lights guarding the Asian Valley path, a mysterious whirlpool in the Asian Valley pond, red and brown birds pecking the ground under the bird feeder, bees visiting the Camellias (Camellia x ‘Winter’s Joy’), a cardinal taking a bath, and pine cones clinging to the branches of the Himalayan Pine (Pinus wallichiana).

As we explored, one of their favorite parts of the program was choosing a variety of leaves from the lawns and walkways to decorate their binoculars – perfect camouflage! We picked up long skinny needles from the Himalayan pine, red leaves with fingers from the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), tiny yellow oval leaves from the Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Allee’), and large brown leaves with noticeable veins from the Highbeam Overcup Oak.  Several of the students asked if they were going to be able to take their treasured binoculars home. My favorite part of the program? Telling them YES!

So keep your eyes out throughout Richmond for short, binocular-toting scientists scouring the landscape for the next big discovery!

binocular fun

Oh, what do you see!? Kale!

paper binoculars

What a great way to see the world!

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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