Stuck at Home, not Stuck Inside

kids looking at flowers with binoculars

We care deeply about the health and well-being of our visitors, staff, and volunteers. As part of the University community, the North Carolina Botanical Garden operates under the same conditions as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For University updates and advisories on the Coronavirus, please visit www.unc.edu/coronavirus. Check for our most recent Garden-specific updates at ncbg.unc.edu/coronavirus.

Many of us have been asked to work from home and/or limit our exposure to others. If you can, we encourage you to take time to enjoy the great outdoors right outside your door. We’ve compiled a list of activities to help you still get your Vitamin N (nature), even if you are confined to your home.

Plant (or Plan!) a garden

If you have supplies on hand, plant a garden! If you don’t have supplies on hand, this could be an opportunity to plan your garden. If you are interested in planning or planting a pollinator garden, here is a handy guide. We also have guides for native trees and shrubs and wildflowers, ferns, and grasses. And you can send questions to our Green Gardener!

Citizen Science

iNaturalist
Contribute to science during your next nature outing. Record your nature observations on iNaturalist!

iNaturalist entries:
North Carolina Botanical Garden, Piedmont Nature Trails, and Coker Pinetum
Mason Farm Biological Reserve
Battle Park
Penny’s Bend

Find more citizen science projects.

Activities for Kids

We’ll keep adding content here, so check back!

ecoEXPLORE
ecoEXPLORE (Experiences Promoting Learning Outdoors for Research and Education) is an incentive-based citizen science program for children in grades K-8. Developed by The North Carolina Arboretum, this innovative pilot program combines science exploration with kid-friendly technology to foster a fun learning environment for children while encouraging them to explore the outdoors and participate in citizen science.

ecoEXPLORE website
ecoEXPLORE Facebook (includes daily live stream)

Birding with the Cornell Lab
The Cornell Lab has some great resources, including citizen science projects for kids! Here are a few links to our favorite pages:

The NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has some great resources, too!

10 Nature Activities to Help Get Your Family Through the Coronavirus Pandemic by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

Trees! Check out some great activities from Project Learning Tree!

Things to do in your garden (updated April 13)

  1. Act now to get rid of spring annuals like chickweed, and veronica before they go to seed — more weeding now is less weeding next year! Did you know chickweed is edible? So are columbine flowers!
  2. Youngia japonica (oriental false hawksbeard) is in flower. The good news is this makes it easier to see and easier to pull but the bad news is once you see flowers you know the ripe seeds are already spreading. It’s time to pull all that you can find and put the plants in the trash to keep those wind dispersed seeds from getting around. Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast is not just for identifying native wildflowers, it’s also a great resource for garden weeds. If you have a copy, you can check out pictures of Youngia japonica and also put a name to a bunch of those other confusing little purple weeds (Mazus, Veronica, and Glechoma to name a few) that are blooming right now.
  3. As we approach the end of the easy to pull annual weeds and start in on the harder to remove perennials consider getting yourself a soil knife like this one. It’s a great help for weeding and planting, too.
  4. If frost asters are taking up too much space in your garden consider cutting them back. If you do this regularly you and the late fall pollinators can enjoy the flowers without giving up too much garden space. This technique works on lots of perennials that have a tendency to get unwieldy.
  5. Spring can be a good time for dividing perennials to let new divisions get established before it gets hot and dry.

See what’s growing in your yard

Do some backyard botanizing and see what’s growing. There are resources online for identifying plants, in addition to our handy field guide, Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast.

Remove invasive species

Do you have invasive plants in your yard? Identify them and find out how to remove them with our Controlling Invasive Plants booklet, available online.

Binge listen to our podcast

Through interviews with some of North Carolina’s finest naturalists, Our Plant Power: The Power of Plants in a Changing Climate podcast explores native plants and their connection with climate change. Each episode is focused on providing listeners with resources to mitigate climate change impacts in their communities. Five of the six episodes are available now.  Subscribe to the Plant Power podcast in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or SoundCloud.

Curl up with a good book

Check out our list of recommended gardening books:

A Botanist’s Vocabulary: 1300 Terms Explained and Illustrated by Susan K. Pell Bobbi Angell|
Plant Conservation: Why It Matters and How It Works by Timothy Walker
The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by Ira Wallace
Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded by Douglas W. Tallamy with contributions by Rick Darke
Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?: 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants by Andrew Keys
Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West
Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identification Guide
The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden by Rick Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy
Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
Understanding Perennials: A New Look at an Old Favorite by William Cullina
Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher
Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden by Larry Mellichamp
The Plant Lover’s Guide to Ferns by Richie Steffen and Sue Olsen
The Magical World of Moss Gardening by Annie Martin
Designing with Grasses by Neil Lucas