Images of trees shot from the ground, looking up at the sky.

Learn Something New in Nature’s Classroom

By Katie Testa, on

With the start of a new year, now is the time to prioritize wellness, connect with the natural world, and invite new hobbies and interests into your life. At Longwood, we create many spaces to explore your passions, practice your creativity, and deepen your wellness through diverse learning opportunities that allow you to dive deeper into your relationship with nature—and wellness. 

With opportunities in creative arts to gardening, birdwatching to storytelling, our classes and experiences are designed with fun, engagement, and developing connections in mind. “The classes and workshops we’re offering this coming year are all about creating opportunities for presence and growth,” shares Longwood Director of Continuing Education Timothy Gould. “Whether you’re hoping to surround yourself with the inspirational beauty of the Gardens and nature; spend time with loved ones and a community of like-minded passionate people; expand your knowledge and skills in a familiar practice or new hobby; or flex your creative (or literal) muscles, we’re giving you ways to practice wellness in all of its various forms.”

A group of people on a garden path looking at a large shrub.

Continuing Education classes welcome students to learn—and have fun—with experts in the field. With dozens of available courses, we have something for everyone, whether you’re interested in gardening, landscape design, floral design, creative arts, and more. Photo by William Hill.

As one of our many upcoming class experiences, we invite you to explore nature using your senses, with a creative and open mind, and with curiosity at the forefront. With our upcoming Understanding Nature Therapy class, join Forest Therapy Guide Elizabeth Mills for a mindful morning with a nature therapy stroll, connecting with nature to promote wellness. This is a perfect opportunity to begin your own mindfulness practice—as, once the therapy stroll concludes, Mills will guide the group in reflection on their experience in order to recognize the benefits of nature immersion. 

Two people with their backs turned to the camera, walking along a forest path.

During Understanding Nature Therapy, bask in the beauty of our Gardens and develop tools you can then apply to future nature exploration. Photo by Holden Barnes.

Mindfully connecting with nature can also involve focusing on not just the flora, but the fauna too! Birdwatching is an excellent way to ground yourself in your surroundings and use your senses to discover even the smallest details in the landscape—from the different sounds of birdcalls to the wide variety of birds you can spot. During our May Migration Morning experience, explore a section of our property actively managed for biological and ecological diversity during the height of spring bird migration, while in search of birds in all their bright breeding colors. Along the way, take in a diversity of plants that attract a wide variety of bird species, and learn how to make your home garden more “bird-friendly.”

A group of people all looking at the ski with binoculars in a brown winter landscape.

Look forward to May with this upcoming class, where you will not only be able to spot fascinating and colorful birds, but also learn to identify them by their songs and calls. Photo by Daniel Traub.

A bluebird in winter time perched on a tree branch.

We also have an upcoming course designed to help you welcome the beautiful and unique bluebird into your yard. You’ll learn the ideal flora plantings for bluebirds, how to build and install bluebird nest boxes, how to protect them from predators, and many other bluebird best practices. Photo by Hank Davis.

Beyond the benefit of being in nature as an outside observer, there is also a lot to discover in taking what you’ve observed and turning it into art. Nature presents a thousand subjects, muses, and moments to capture—through a painting, photograph, creative writing piece, and more. Creating art while immersed in nature allows the artist to understand their relationship to the natural world in a different way, placing themselves amongst their subjects—and we have plenty of opportunities to explore this relationship. Explore our upcoming creative arts courses at Longwood, in which you can try a new art form, start a new hobby, or build your portfolio all inspired by the natural world—and work with a variety of creative experts to help you along the way. 

A person walking down a paved path in a garden with blooming cherry blossom trees in the distance.

Painting what you see in nature is a perfect way to ground yourself in your surroundings. We have several upcoming opportunities to paint natural beauty in our Garden—with our Painting Tulips En Plein Air and Capturing the Conservatory En Plein Air classes. Photo by William Hill.

A person sitting outdoors writing in a notebook.

Beautiful art and expression can also be found in what we write about the natural world around us. Our upcoming Stories in the Gardens experience allows you to connect with the Gardens and with your creative self. No writing experience is necessary for this course, only an open mind! Photo by William Hill.

A person taking a photo with a large camera in the Longwood Conservatory.

Want to sharpen your photography skills or start a new hobby? Explore our available photography experiences—from practicing portrait photography to macro photography, capturing morning light, or even the art of camera-less image-capturing. Photo by Carol Gross.

As you continue in your journey of wellness and creative expression, consider bringing nature to your own home and outdoor spaces—by exploring gardening and horticulture in its many forms. Now, during the winter months, is a great time to get inspired for the coming spring—and gear up to garden! Check out our many horticulture & gardening classes—focused on everything from transitioning your garden to spring, to creating the ultimate flower garden, and more—to get inspired and learn some gardening tips from Longwood experts. 

A garden setting in spring, with blooming beds and a wooden bench.

As we make our way through the winter months, start preparing with us to transition your garden to spring. In Transitioning to Spring: Perennial Care and Maintenance, explore the Gardens while observing perennials and gather tips for growing perennials at home. Photo by Cathy Matos.

You can also come to Longwood to tie together both your love of planting and the creative arts. Come home with a beautiful piece of botanical beauty made-by-you with our Design Tuesday: Hanging Kokedama class at The Garden Shop. We have all the materials you’ll need to create two kokedama and display them proudly in your home—bringing some green to your indoor spaces. Continue bringing the beauty of the outdoors in with our other offering, Design Tuesday: Foliage Terrariums. Using ferns, groundcovers, moss, driftwood, and other materials—all included in the workshop—create your own miniature, lush landscape to display in your home. Design Tuesdays experiences are a perfect way to unwind with your friends and family, gain exclusive access to our beautiful Garden Shop, and enjoy light refreshments while you create. 

A person putting together a moss ball wrapped around a orchid.

Kokedama, which literally translates to “moss ball”, is a century-old form of Japanese garden art that suspends living plants within a sphere of moss and twine. Photo by Matthew Ross.

People sitting around a table in a plant shop doing a workshop.

Our Design Tuesday experiences at The Garden Shop are a great way to expand your mind and have some fun during hands-on workshops. Photo by Holden Barnes.

Continue this new year with a focus on well-rounded wellness. No matter how you choose to enrich yourself into the natural world, we hope you discover something new about yourself and that your interests begin to grow and expand. Nature is our greatest teacher and classroom, and here at Longwood we tap into every way it can help us grow for the better. 

Editor’s Note:  The Garden Shop offers a variety of holistic skin care, organic and clean ingredients, and products by local artisans who use eco-conscious practices to create their unique goods. You can also get prepared for your new gardening endeavors with our gardening products online —from high quality tools to gardening books to Longwood compost—or visit us in-store to check out available seeds, houseplants, plant food, and more. Admission to the Gardens is not required to visit The Garden Shop.

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