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Can you dig it?: 6 ways to get hands-on with plants

The Philadelphia area abounds with lush gardens and arboreta to explore. If you're looking for something a little more hands-on, many of these verdant arenas also offer classes.


The Philadelphia area abounds with lush gardens and arboreta to explore. If you're looking for something a little more hands-on, many of these verdant arenas also offer classes.

» READ MORE: Art of Bonsai

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday to next Friday. 18-22. Grounds for Sculpture, 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, N.J. $495 members, $595 nonmembers. 609-586-0616.

Chase Rosade, who started studying the art of bonsai in Japan in 1963, will lead this weeklong class. Mornings will consist of lectures and instruction, and in the afternoon, everyone will get hands-on experience. At the end of the week, everyone will take home a bonsai and pot, as well as tropical and evergreen plant material. Rosade said this class can be both for beginners and people wanting to brush up on their skills.

» READ MORE: Make your own hot sauce

6-7 p.m. July 25. PHS Pop Up Garden, 1438 South St.. Free..

Viery Ricketts-Thomas will teach you how to make a sauce - and you'll get a chance to taste how a peppers affect flavor and heat.

No, this event doesn't involve growing or picking, but it is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Pop Up Garden event. Proceeds support programs to raise fresh food for more than 1,200 families in need.

» READ MORE: Harvest & preserve your herbs

5-7 p.m. July 28. Meadowbrook Farm, 1633 Washington Lane, Jenkintown. $20 members; $30 nonmembers. 215-988-8800.

"The middle of the summer is the best time to do the harvesting," says Meadowbrook Farm director Jenny Rose Carey. Carey will talk about the best ways to dry herbs to retain their flavor and color, and which preservation methods are better for what herb. Carey said she will highlight lavendar. "You can use it in cooking, which most people don't know, [not only] the savory side, but also in cookies," she said. You will take home herbs, and Carey will share her favorite recipes.

» READ MORE: Herbalist workshop: Crafting summertime tinctures

6:30-8:30 p.m. July 28. Bartram's Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia. $15. 215-729-5281.

Kelly McCarthy, a clinical herbalist, will teach workshop participants about plant medicine. McCarthy said participants will learn about harvesting such wild plants as mugwort, and how to make a tincture, an herbal extract. It's "the basics for making a home apothecary," she said. Participants should bring a 4-ounce glass jar with a lid and 8 ounces of vodka (as a solvent for the tinctures).

» READ MORE: Gardens on tap: Meet the brewer

7-8 p.m. Sept. 21. Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square. $27; includes event, Nightscape, and all-day admission.

Experts will speak about how the fruits grown at Longwood Gardens are used to develop Victory Brewing Co.'s Longwood Seasons: Fruit House Ale, followed by a Q&A. Guests are invited to stay after the event and enjoy Nightscape - the art-and-sound installation highlighting the natural beauty of Longwood Gardens.

» READ MORE: Orchids under glass

10-11:30 a.m. Aug. 6. Tyler Arboretum, 515 Painter Rd., Media. $45 members; $50 nonmembers. 610-566-9134.

Samuel Hoadley, gardener at Longwood Gardens, will teach you how create and care for a miniature, orchid-based plant world in an open terrarium. Hoadley said this a class for beginners. "Most of the flowers are from cloud forests from Central and South America, and are smaller than an inch," Hoadley said. "Everyone will get to put their own spin on it. My idea is to create your own rain forest in your home and be able to look at it every day."