Family Flower Fun

Fall Garden Festival promises outdoor activities

The weather in New Orleans is finally cooling off, and by that, I mean it’s 89 degrees. It’s a perfect time to spend a weekend outdoors surrounded by fall colors, even if they have been imported from north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

This weekend kicks off the 22nd annual Fall Garden Festival at New Orleans City Park in the Botanical Garden. It’s one of the best-value events you can do, and it’s perfect for families.

The New Orleans Botanical Garden at City Park is one of the most beautiful places in our city, and that’s saying a lot. It was started in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project and has retained many of its Art Deco influences.

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The Garden contains more than 2,000 plant varieties which include aquatics, roses, native plants, ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials and more. Within its border of live oaks, it organizes its collection into various themed gardens. For the dinosaur-loving kids (and grown-ups), be sure to visit the garden inside the Conservatory of the Two Sisters, which has cycads—think ferns and palms—that  shared the earth with dinosaurs.

The Fall Garden Festival makes the Botanical Garden especially approachable and fun for children. The educational classes might be hard for them to sit through, but there is a special Fun Fest Activities Area as part of the festival, where kids can make clothespin butterflies, make a seed sprouting experiment, do yoga and listen to storytellers, in addition to various crafting and even a scavenger hunt organized by the Garden staff.

The Scarecrow Trail is another kid-friendly aspect of the event. Families, schools, organizations and businesses have decorated scarecrows with various themes and are competing for the best. The results of their work are on display during the festival.

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Nature is sure to put on her own show with butterflies this time of year, and you may even see a monarch caterpillar eating its way through milkweed. The festival also offers cooking demonstrations and tastings, a birdhouse exhibit and live music. The schedule of educational talks is as follows:


Saturday, Oct. 8

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11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: “Beginning Birdwatching”

Speaker Wendy Rhiner, Education Chair, Orleans Audubon Society


12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: “Attracting Birds to the Landscape”

Speaker Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter


2 p.m. – 3 p.m.: “Backyard Birds”

Speaker Joelle Finely, Orleans Audubon Society


Sunday, Oct. 9

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: “Birds and How to Attract Them to Your Garden”

Speaker Cathy DiSalvo, Bird and Garden Enthusiast


2 p.m. – 3 p.m.: “Tree Planting 101”

Speaker Chris Dunaway, LSU AgCenter Assistant


The Fall Garden Festival takes place on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children 5-12, and free for children 4 and under. Friends of City Park members are free as well.



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