March-April 2018 Events, Programs and Classes at The Morton Arboretum

Runners at the start of the race
The Champion of Trees 10K takes place April 22.
December 18, 2017

The Morton Arboretum welcomes spring with a slate of events for all ages, and a celebration of trees on Arbor Day, the Arboretum’s signature holiday.

Ring in March with a walk through our woods, your pup by your side, during Dog Admission Day. Then enjoy a rocking night out with the dueling pianos of Howl at the Moon. This April, celebrate Easter with our kid-friendly Breakfast with the Bunny and a delicious Easter Brunch. 

Our annual Arbor Day festivities begin with The Champion of Trees 10K on April 22, a challenging and fun race. Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat will join tree champions for a special story time and tree planting on Arbor Day, April 27. Arbor Day also marks the time for our annual Arbor Day Plant Sale, one of the largest plant sales in the Chicago area with more than 100,000 expertly-chosen plants and trees, which is open to the public April 29.

The Arboretum’s Edible Gardening Workshop series also kicks off this spring. Workshops will highlight practical tips on growing food and inspire beautiful, productive, edible gardens.

A complete list of March and April Arboretum events and details is below. All information listed is subject to change; we encourage media to check our website prior to publication. For the latest dates and times, visit


March-April Highlights

Dog Admission Day
Saturday, March 3, 7 a.m.-sunset
$5 per dog and Arboretum admission
Visitors can bring their dog with them to hike the Arboretum’s 16 miles of trails. Dogs are not allowed in any of the Arboretum’s buildings, the Children’s Garden or Maze Garden.

Howl at the Moon at The Morton Arboretum
Saturday, March 10, 5:30-9 p.m.
Howl at the Moon at The Morton Arboretum is a high-energy live music show centered around dance hits and party anthems. Tickets include seating at shared tables and one complimentary beverage. Additional food and beverage will be available for purchase. Visit for further details.

Easter Events

Breakfast with the Bunny
Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31, 9-11 a.m.
Visitors are encouraged to hop on over for a tasty springtime buffet featuring a visit from the Easter Bunny. Families can take a photo with the Easter Bunny and kids will receive an Easter treat. Visit us online for further details, including price.

Easter Brunch
Sunday, April  1, seatings at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.
Celebrate Easter while savoring a delicious meal and the breathtaking view of Meadow Lake.  The Easter Bunny will visit your table during brunch. Plus, delight in the early spring blooms that are popping up all around the Arboretum.

Arbor Day

The Champion of Trees 10K
Sunday, April 22, 8 a.m. start time
Visit for registration information
Unleash your inner champion as you run on a springtime morning surrounded by trees from around the world. The challenging USATF-certified course follows the Arboretum's east side main route through rolling terrain. Runners can enjoy a post-race party with other tree champions, including live music, recovery food and a complimentary beer for those 21 and older.

Arbor Day Tree Planting
Friday, April 27, 11 a.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Celebrate Arbor Day with a visit from Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat at the Arboretum. Enjoy a group reading of Curious George Plants a Tree, and join in a tree planting in the Children’s Garden.

Arbor Weekend Celebration in the Children’s Garden
Friday, April 27-Sunday, April 29, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Celebrate Arbor Day in the Children's Garden all weekend long.  We will plant tree seeds, investigate tree cookies and go on a hunt for five unique trees throughout the garden. These are self-guided hands-on discovery activities.

We (heart) Trees!
Weekends in April, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Discover some of the wonderful products trees give us, then make a recycled plant container out of newspaper and plant a tree seed to take home and grow in this self-guided, hands-on discovery activity.

Arbor Day Plant Sale
Open to the public Sunday, April 29, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Shop an exciting variety of plants chosen by our experts for success in your Chicago-area garden. The Arbor Day Plant Sale is one of the largest seasonal plant sales in the Chicago region. It offers more than 100,000 plants, including hundreds of species and varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, ferns, vegetables and herbs. The plants are specially chosen by the Arboretum’s expert staff and many are grown at the Arboretum. Our Plant Geniuses, a team of Arboretum tree and plant experts, are available throughout the sale to answer questions, suggest plants and help shoppers narrow their choices. Arboretum members will be admitted into the sale beginning Friday, April 27.


Store Events

Artist's Trunk Show: Art by Rozanne
Saturday, March 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Shop delightful creations from local artist Rozanne Priebe. Her whimsical, yet defined, interpretation of the natural world can be found on greeting cards, pillows, canvases, art boards, and more.


Children’s Garden Programs

Clovers and Rainbows
18-35 months
Tuesday, March 6 or Wednesday, March 14, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
3-5 years
Wednesday, March 7 or Tuesday, March 13, 9:30-11 a.m.
$22 for 18-35 months class, $25 for 3-5 years class
Hunt for clovers and explore the colors of the rainbow in this sensory-based program.  We’ll hike, listen to stories, play and make colorful art to take home.   

Gnome Hunt
Daily in March, 9:30 a.m. -4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
The animals may be hibernating, but we still have gnomes.  Children and families are encouraged to find all of the gnomes hiding in the Children’s Garden in this drop-in activity.

Youth and Family Programs

Arbor Reading Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays in March, 11-11:45 a.m.
$5 per child
Join us in the Sterling Morton Library for an interactive story time and fun.  We’ll make a craft and then head out on the grounds for an adventure walk. This program is best suited for children ages 3 to 5, and an adult must accompany a child.  

Syrup Tree and Silver Dollar Brunch 
Saturday, March 17 or Sunday, March 18, 2018, Select times from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Take a guided hike to learn the history of maple tapping and see how it’s done.  Complete your experience with maple syrup sampling and family-style brunch.

Family Explorers Backpack
Daily in April, Backpacks are available from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
$5 and Arboretum admission
Looking for a unique experience in the Children’s Garden? Rent a self-guided family backpack and enhance your visit. Backpack rental includes science tools, guides and fun props to explore nature as a family.


Wellness Programs

Forest Therapy Walks
Saturday, March 3 and March 24, 9:30-11:15 a.m.
$20 per class
Experience the healing and wellness promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest. Take a mindful walk with a certified Forest Therapy guide on a trail at the Morton Arboretum as you awaken your senses and reconnect with nature. The walks will visit different locations at the Arboretum and will include a variety of awareness-raising exercises. The walks will conclude with tea made from edible plants foraged along the trail.

Full & New Moon Yoga
Thursday, March 1 or Sunday, March 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Explore your lunar energy while connecting the mind and body in this peaceful yoga class in honor of the full and new moons each month.


Adult Classes and Programs


Bird Walks

Bird Walk
Saturday, March 17, 8-10:30 a.m.
Search the woods, fields, and edges of the Arboretum for birds. Walk with an expert guide, who will help you locate and identify species spotted along the way. See how things change each month and season. No prior experience is necessary. 

Beginning Birdwatching 
Saturday, April 7, 2018, 9 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
In this single morning workshop for beginners, learn how to find birds, discuss equipment as well as what to wear on birding expeditions. This course will also help participants learn how to keep track of their observations. We’ll stroll around the Arboretum to observe birds that inhabit Illinois all year and learn key bird features for identification and how to match birds to their preferred food or habitat.


Guided Hikes

Nature at Night Hike
Thursday, March 1 or Friday, March 2, 7-9 p.m.
Discover what happens at the Arboretum at night when no one is around. With the moon shining through the trees and reflecting off the snow, a winter evening reveals a captivating symphony of sounds and mysterious spaces as we hope to spot wildlife darting through the darkness. During our hike we will find out how animals are adapted for the night and enjoy the magic of hiking through the silent woods. The program will end at the shelter with a warm fire and s’mores.

Arboretum Running Tour 
Saturday, March 24, 8-9:30 a.m.
Strap on your running shoes for an informative running tour of the Arboretum. Learn about the natural surroundings with an experienced guide. Enjoy a 5K route on the Arboretum’s east side on a tour that will include stops along the way to learn about the Arboretum and the plants and animals that call it home. This program is suitable for all levels of runners, with two guides to accommodate varying paces.

Learn about Nature


Edible Gardening Workshop Series 2018
This spring’s Edible Gardening Workshop Series will bring top gardening experts to The Morton Arboretum. Workshops will highlight practical tips on growing your own food and inspire you with new ways to create beautiful, productive, edible gardens.

Grow Epic Tomatoes with Craig LeHoullier
Saturday, March 17, 9:30 a.m.-noon
Grow epic tomatoes this summer with guidance from author, educator, and self-proclaimed tomato nut Craig LeHoullier. In this colorful and engaging talk, you’ll learn the history of the tomato, stories behind select varieties, colorful photos, and gardening tips to help you grow epic tomatoes in your own garden.

Kid-Friendly Edible Gardening with Natasha Nicholes
Saturday, March 24, 9:30 a.m.-noon
Start an edible garden and make it fun for the whole family. Gardening with your kids or grandkids will help forge deeper connections to each other, to our family’s health, to our food sources, and to the planet. Get tips on how to engage your kids in gardening through ownership, responsibility, and having fun. Learn how and when to start your edible garden, which plants are great for beginners, and basic care tips for throughout the season. Practice a hands-on project you can do at home with your kids. Help pass on the love of gardening and raise the next generation of home gardeners.

Keep your Garden Thriving All Season Long with Nina Koziol
Saturday, April 7, 9:30 a.m.-noon
Starting the season strong is easy. But if you’re like many gardeners, it can be a challenge to keep that energy and production going. Join horticulturist Nina Koziol to learn how to keep your garden thriving until first frost--and beyond! With tips on interplanting, succession planting, season extension, organization, and more, Nina will send you home full of inspiration and loaded with valuable gardening nuggets that will help you sustain a beautiful and productive edible garden all season long.

Small Space Organic Gardens with Big Impact with Shawna Coronado
Saturday, April 14, 9:30 a.m.-noon
Grow a productive, beautiful, and organic edible garden, even if you have only a few square feet to spare. Local gardening expert and speaker Shawna Coronado will inspire you with dozens of creative tips for making the most of the space you have all while spending very little money. Each tip is natural or organic and easy to accomplish in the garden.

Winter Plant ID
Saturday, March 3, 8 a.m.-noon
Learn to identify plants without leaves or flowers. Explore the Schulenberg Prairie and adjacent woodlands to practice identifying native perennials and grasses in winter with a local expert.

Get Started with Edible Gardening 
Saturday, March 3, 1-4 p.m.
Grow your own food this summer! Learn the basics of vegetable gardening in this class designed for true beginners. Find out where to put your edible garden, what to plant, when to plant and how to care for your garden.

Navigating with a Map and Compass
Saturday, March 10, noon-4 p.m.
Be prepared for your next wilderness outing. In this program, you will learn to find your way using a map and compass. In this class, you will learn how to read a topographic map, understand the parts of a compass and their purpose, and set your declination to keep you on track. The program will also familiarize participants with a compass to orient their map, take bearings from a map to find the destination and cover the basics of GPS.

Tool-Sharpening Workshop
Saturday, March 10 or Friday, April 13, 9:30-11 a.m.
Learn the ins and outs of sharpening garden tools and bring a tool of your own to sharpen. An Arboretum horticulturist will explain how properly maintained tools will make a difference for both you and for your plants. Learn safe and proper techniques for sharpening and maintenance. This class will be held outdoors.

Backyard Conservation
Thursday, March 15, 7-9:30 p.m.
Make a difference in your own backyard with simple ideas that have a big impact on the planet. Learn how you can have an attractive, functional, outdoor space that your family as well as the birds and the butterflies can enjoy.

Grafting Workshop: Fruit Trees and Other Hardwoods 
Saturday, March 17, 1-4 p.m.
Learn to graft in this hands-on workshop and go home with your very own grafted apple tree. Learn why we might decide to graft a tree, what trees can be grafted, when to graft and grafting techniques, the tools you’ll need, and how to protect your graft. These techniques can be applied to any hardwood tree. Then practice grafting onto a rootstock.

Early Bloomers: Plants for Spring
Thursday, March 22, 2018, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Get early spring color in your garden. Horticulturist Nina Koziol will share her favorite perennials that flower early in the season. Enjoy photographs of these plants in gardens and get inspiration on ways to incorporate them into your own landscape.

Pruning Shrubs
Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m.-Noon
Friday, April 13, Noon-3 p.m.
Practice correct pruning techniques and learn which plants to prune now and more importantly, which to prune later. Known as “dormant” pruning, thoughtful removal of branches in winter is easy and encourages proper spring growth.

Healing Herbs
Saturday, April 7, 1-3 p.m.
Learn about the benefits of herbs and spices and how to infuse them into salves, tonics and tisanes, and an invigorating and delicious beverage called a shrub. Discuss the benefits of local honey and sample different delectable varieties. Find out which herbal remedies are known to positively impact your health.

Botanical Art

Visiting Photographer: Rick Sammon
Saturday, March 3, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Join award-winning, prolific photographer Rick Sammon for a full-day seminar that will both entertain and enrich your nature photography skills.  This engaging and informative presentation will include
practical and creative tips for successful wildlife and landscape photography, travel photography essentials that every photographer needs, and secrets to stay motivated and inspired.

Begin to Draw Nature
Saturdays, March 3 through Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m.-noon
Learn the basics of drawing nature in this course designed for true beginners. We will discuss everything from how to hold your pencil to what kind of paper to use. You will have time to work on drawing skills in a no-pressure setting.

Beginning Smartphone Photography
Saturday, March 3, 1-4 p.m.
Whether you are new to photography or new to smartphones, discover techniques for getting great nature images with your phone. This class will cover the basics of using your smartphone to capture attractive images, provide tips and tricks, and recommend a selection of good starter apps for some basic photo editing. 

Nature Photography: Introduction to Composition
Saturdays, March 3 through March 24, 8-11 a.m.
Develop your skills as a photographer by seeing nature through thoughtful compositions. Learn tools of composition and how to use your camera to make an image that captures the moment, feeling or experience in nature.

Nature in Graphite
Thursdays, March 8 through March 29, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Learn to capture early spring with graphite, the perfect medium for textures. As you study and draw the details of living plants, you will learn the techniques of pencil drawing, develop your eye-hand coordination, and learn the structures of the plants you draw. Regular activities include daily drawing exercises, weekly home assignments, and constructive critiques.

Beginner’s Nature Art Workshops
Saturday, April 7 or Sunday, April 8, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Tap into your creative side with an introductory workshop on nature art. Enjoy light refreshments as you learn the basics of mixing and blending colors to create a watercolor painting of a delicate fall leaf under the guidance of an instructor.

Nature Photography: Intro to Light and Exposure
Saturdays, April 7 through April 28, 8-11 a.m.
Learn to creatively use light in your photography. Improve your results by considering the quantity, color, and quality of light found during the course of the day and throughout the seasons. Discuss the various qualities of light that photographers encounter in shooting the natural landscape. Through practice in the field and classroom reviews, learn to use different natural lighting creatively and effectively, what filters to use, and how to get correct exposures in each light quality.


Woodland Stewardship Program
The Woodland Stewardship Program is an in-depth training and certification program in natural areas restoration. Classes are easy to fit into a busy lifestyle, and include online, classroom, and field components. The Woodland Stewardship Program is open to anyone involved or interested in the stewardship of our natural heritage, regardless of prior experience.

Chicago Wilderness Burn Crew Training
Thursday, March 1 and Friday, March 2 or Thursday, March 15, and Friday, March 16, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Chicago Wilderness will offer winter sessions of the Midwest Ecological Prescription Burn Crew Member Training class. Based on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s S-130 and S-190 courses, this training covers the basics of such topics as fire behavior, controlled burn techniques, and smoke management. The objective is to provide participants with the background necessary to safely participate on the crew of a controlled burn.

Tools for Management (Blended learning format)
Online begins: Tuesday, March 6,
In-person: Tuesday, March 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Learn to effectively and efficiently use the tools of the trade to tackle different restoration jobs. Get to know your tools, pick the right tools for the right tasks, and learn to use the different tools safely. We’ll discuss how to plan and run safe workdays, meet site safety guidelines, and how to care for equipment. The online and in-person sessions complement each other; please plan to complete the class materials online before coming to the in-person session. This class can be taken as a component of the Woodland Stewardship Program in natural areas management.

Applying Herbicides in Natural Areas
Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m.-noon
Learn how to safely use herbicides to benefit natural areas management. Careful herbicide applications can be an important tool for stewards managing and restoring natural areas. We will discuss the basic herbicide methods and results, including woody plant control, invasive grass control, broadleaf herb control, and other uses of herbicide which can help protect biodiversity in remnant plant communities as well as newly created prairie plantings and woodland restorations.

Woodland Ecology (Online Only)
Online component begins: Thursday, March 29
Learn the essentials of woodland ecology and the woodland management techniques necessary to maintain threatened woodland ecosystems. Woodlands and savannas once covered vast stretches of the Great Lakes region. Today, these ecosystems are threatened by encroaching development, invasive species, and pollution. Discuss the principles of woodland ecology underlying restoration practice, learn about sites that represent different stages of restoration, and explore the controversies surrounding management of these systems. This class is held entirely online and can be taken as a component of the Woodland Stewardship Program in natural areas management.

Basic Plant ID
Saturday, March 31, 1-3:30 p.m.
Get the botany basics you need to identify plants. Whether you are a gardener, naturalist, artist, or natural resources specialist or volunteer, this class provides the fundamentals you need to get started. This class is open to all. Participants do not need to be enrolled in the Woodland Stewardship Program to participate.