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September Events, Programs, and Classes at The Morton Arboretum

Two woman and a man dressed in green costumes dancing. The woman's costumes also include a white apron
Traditional dancing at Passport Europe
July 31, 2018

When summer turns to fall, the Arboretum will be ready to celebrate its signature season with new events and returning favorites. 

Visitors can catch the award-winning exhibition Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® bricks by Sean Kenney before it closes on September 15. September will also feature a reading and discussion with Richard Powers, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Overstory, as part of the Summer Literary Series

September also offers wellness programs such as the Aerial Tree Yoga series and single classes. The Arboretum  has events and programming geared toward children and families, including Garden Story Time  and the popular Troll Hunt exhibit, as well as adult programming ranging from Home Composting to Botany Board Game Night. September is also a great time to check out returning favorites such as the Passport Europe Festival and the dog-friendly  Tails on the Trails

A complete list of September events is below. For more information, visit mortonarb.org/events. Prices listed are for the general public and information is accurate as of the date of this release. We encourage media to check the website prior to publication as times and dates may change.

September Highlights 

Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® bricks by Sean Kenney
Daily through September 15
Free with Arboretum admission
Visitors of all ages will enjoy the craftsmanship of 15 displays created entirely from LEGO bricks.  Sculptures include an eight-foot-long dragonfly and a hummingbird drinking nectar from an orange trumpet flower.

Troll Hunt
Free with Arboretum admission
Marvel at these 15- to 30-foot-tall colossal trolls crafted from reclaimed wood by Danish artist Thomas Dambo. Don’t miss the opportunity to seek out these mysterious creatures in the changing seasons. 

Midwest Tree and Shrub Conference
Thursday, September 5, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Led by top designers and plant experts, this third-annual conference showcases the best new information on the selection and care of hardy, versatile trees and shrubs.  From avid home gardeners and landowners to green-industry professionals, anyone with an interest in horticulture will find valuable information and networking opportunities during this full-day program at the Thornhill Education Center.

Tails on the Trails
Saturday, September 7, 7:00 a.m. to sunset (dog-centered programming from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
$5 per dog, plus Arboretum admission
Enjoy a day out with your pup, meandering along  the Arboretum's 16 miles of hiking trails. You can also shop from local businesses and organizations in the pet expo, watch special demonstrations, meet dogs available for adoption and inquire about volunteering with local pet shelters. This event also features doggy games, including the crowd-favorite peanut butter licking contest.

Full Moon Tram Tour
Friday, September 13, or Saturday, September 14, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
With the moon shining through the trees, this nighttime tram ride reveals the magic of nature at night-- a captivating symphony of sounds, mysterious spaces, and wildlife on the move. 

Passport Europe Festival
Saturday, September 21, and Sunday, September 22, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Treat your senses to live music ranging from Spanish flamenco to Polish polkas and Italian jazz. Marvel at dances from Ireland, Germany, and Greece. Try your hand at the Irish sport of hurling. Enjoy authentic European cuisine and  explore the Arboretum's collections of trees and plants native to central and northern Europe during this sixth annual festival. 
Kick off the Passport Europe weekend with a tasting event. Enjoy samples of beer, wine, and spirits from a variety of locations in Europe on Thursday, September 19, 6:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m. for adults 21 and over. (Additional fee applies.) 

Summer Literary Series: Talking Trees with Author Richard Powers
Thursday, September 26, 7:00 to  8:30 p.m. 
Join Richard Powers, critically acclaimed author of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, The Overstory, for a compelling talk on the powerful connections that exist between people and trees. Powers will provide insight into his writing process for a book that includes detailed scientific and historical context and a rich web of characters followed across decades and states, including the community of Wheaton, Illinois. After reading a favorite passage, Powers will talk with an Arboretum scientist about trees, their power to transform, and what compels people to take action to protect them.

The Arboretum Store

Annual Bulb Sale
Friday, September 20, through Saturday, September 22, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (while supplies last)
Free with Arboretum admission
Shop dozens of varieties of Dutch bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, iris, alliums, crocus and fritillaria. Also, find a great selection of pre-mixed bulb sets for the perfect combination of color, size and shape for a beautiful spring display. Shop early for the best selection. 

Children’s Garden Programs 

LEGO® Brick Play 
Daily in September, 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. (weather permitting)
Free with Arboretum admission
Play and create LEGO® brick masterpieces in this self-guided hands-on discovery activity.  

Garden Story Time
Fridays in September, 11:00 a.m.(weather permitting)
Free with Arboretum admission
Gather for story time and fun in the Children’s Garden amphitheater. 

Sensational Seeds  
Weekends in September, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (weather permitting)
Free with Arboretum admission
Examine seeds up close and learn about where they come from. Make your own sensational seed art to take home at this self-guided hands-on discovery activity.  

Bird Is the Word
Sunday, September 8, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (weather permitting)
Free with Arboretum admission
Join us for a day all about the winged creatures that call trees home. 

Youth and Family Programs

Family Explorers Backpack
Daily, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Enhance your visit by renting a self-guided family backpack, which includes science tools, guides and fun props to explore nature as a family.

Acorn Express Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays in September, 11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Tuesdays, 1:00 to 1:45 p.m.
Seek out fun destinations to hike, make a craft, and explore new topics each week on this family-friendly tram ride adventure through the Arboretum.

Forest Explorers: Forest Friends (18–35 months)  
Tuesdays, September 3 through September 24, 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.
Forest Explorers: Forest Friends (3–5 years)
Thursdays, September 5 through September 26, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Hike, read stories, and play in this four-week sensory-based outdoor adventure. Adults will also receive tips to continue exploration at home.

Family Twilight Adventures
Friday, September 6, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. or Saturday, September 14, 6:00  to 8:00 p.m.
Join us for a fun-filled, after-hours adventure, where we will explore the night's theme with a tram ride, activities and a hike, then relax and roast marshmallows at the end of the evening. 

Drop-In Sensory-Friendly Sundays
Sunday, September 8, 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. 
Included in Arboretum admission; registration required.
Sensory-Friendly Sundays offer the opportunity for families with sensory needs to experience a less- crowded Children’s Garden with minimal noise. Participants are welcome to stay once the Children’s Garden opens to the public at 9:30 a.m.

Cub Scout Campout in the Children's Garden
Friday, September 13, through Saturday, September 14,  6:30 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Designed especially for scouts, this campout features hands–on activity stations related to different badge requirements; enjoy snacks, night hikes and camp songs. When you get sleepy, retire to your cozy tent and snooze the night away. In the morning, wake to the sound of birds singing; then enjoy a light breakfast and a chance to explore the Children’s Garden before it opens to the public.

Adult Classes and Programs

Birds and Wildlife

Night Passages: Perils of Migration
Tuesdays, September 17 and September 24,  6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
This course will begin with a classroom discussion on migrational instincts, benefits and hazards.  We will examine the effects of urban development, human-made obstacles and the strain that is put on vulnerable animal populations.  When we move outdoors we will visit and encounter various habitats of bats, birds and insects, as well as other lesser-known migrants within the Arboretum grounds.
Bird Walks
Saturday, September 21, 8:00 to 10:30 a.m.
This walk, held entirely outdoors, is led by an expert guide, who will help you locate and identify species spotted in the woods, fields and edges of the Arboretum. See how things change each month and season--no walk is the same! No prior experience is necessary.

Snakes of Northern Illinois
Saturday, September 21,  8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Learn to identify the common species that live in the Arboretum, DuPage County and across northern Illinois; where and how snakes live; why they are an important part of our environment; and how scientists and volunteers  monitor snakes and collect data that helps us protect their habitats.     

Sparrows of DuPage County 
Wednesday, September 25, 7:00  to 9:00 p.m., and Fridays, September 27 and October  4, 8:00 a.m. to noon. (three days)
Learn how to identify the sparrows found along woodland edges, wetlands and grasslands. Learn about species that are more difficult to find, such as Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow, LeConte's sparrow and Harris' sparrow. You will learn about habitat preferences and timing of migration. Wednesday’s class will take place at the Arboretum, laying the groundwork for two nearby field sessions in DuPage County. Driving directions will be provided during the first class.

Learn about Nature

Basic Tree ID 
Saturday, September 7,  8:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Walk the grounds of the Arboretum with an expert who will point out key identifiers of common trees such as leaves, bark, branches, flowers and fruit. Learn to use keys and field guides. See and understand your natural surroundings in a new way.

Natural History Bike Tour
Sunday, September 8, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. 
Discover the natural history of northeast Illinois as we cycle the roads of the Arboretum. The Arboretum contains wonderful examples of the region’s wetland, prairie and woodland ecosystems. Learn about the characteristics of these natural areas that define northeast Illinois. Find out about the fascinating geology that characterizes the landscape, including the glacial moraines that are responsible for the hilly terrain at the Arboretum. This program coincides with vehicle-free hours at the Arboretum so participants can peddle the peaceful roads without concern of car traffic.

Botany Board Game Night
Thursday, September 12, 6:30  to 9:00 p.m.
Take your plant exploration indoors with a night of nature-themed board games such as “Photosynthesis,” the green strategy game;  “Herbaceous,” the quick and easy container building card game; or the strategy card game “Arboretum.” Bring a friend, pick up a drink and let the board game experts from Chicagoland Games show you and your crew how games are done.

Leafing through the Pages Member Book Discussion 
Thursday, September 12, 10:00 a.m. to noon
Free with Arboretum admission
Discuss Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World (2017) by Laura Spinney. 

Prairie Habitats and their Wildlife
Saturday, September 14, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Explore the colorful landscape of the fall prairie and discover the complex interactions between the plants and animals that call it home. Find out how the plants and animals of the prairie prepare for the shorter, cold days ahead. Immerse yourself in the colors and scents of tall grasses and the sounds of birds and insects that populate this fascinating habitat. 

Beginning Beekeeping
Tuesdays, September 17 to October 8,  6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Join our experienced beekeeper and explore the history of beekeeping, bee anatomy, how to start a colony and manage it through the year, equipment basics, honey bee pests and diseases, harvesting honey and more.

Fire-Building Workshop
Saturday, September 21, 9:30  to 11:30 a.m.
Get the skills you need to build a “sure-fire” campfire in this hands-on workshop. In addition to instruction on proper materials and construction techniques, it will also cover a number of ways to start a fire using tools ranging in skill level from a primitive bow-drill to a flint and steel to an automatic lighter.

Autumn Equinox Twilight Hike
Monday, September 23,  6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Celebrate the first day of fall with a guided sunset walk on this special day. Hear equinox lore and learn how the shorter days trigger certain activities in animals, and  how the flora and fauna prepare for the winter season that lies ahead.

Nature Art and Photography

Begin to Draw Nature
Saturdays, September 7 through September 28, 9:00 a.m. to  noon
In this course designed for true beginners, we will discuss the basics of drawing nature, from how to hold your pencil to what kind of paper to use. Students will hone their skills in a no-pressure setting. 

Capturing Autumn Textures in Watercolor
Saturday, September 28, and Sunday, September 29, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
In this two-day watercolor workshop, learn color mixing, paint the varied textures and surfaces found in late summer and fall plants, watch instructor demos, and get one-on-one guidance from your instructor as you practice techniques.

Nature Photography: Intro to Light and Exposure
Four days: three Thursdays, September 5, 12, and 19, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and Saturday, September  7, 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Learn to creatively use light in your photography by considering the quantity, color, and quality of light encountered when 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.

Woodblock Printing
Wednesdays, September 11, 18, 25, and October 2,  7:00 to 9:30 p.m.
In woodblock printing, an image is carved in reverse on a piece of wood, leaving the image's outline on the wood, which is then inked and printed on paper. This introductory class will cover the history, tools, inks, paper, plate/blocks, and printing process. Students will work with the instructor to carve a wood block and create prints while gaining skills and confidence to produce images by hand printing. All supplies included. Great for all levels.

Beginning Smartphone Photography
Saturday, September 14, noon to  3:00 p.m.
Whether you are new to photography or new to smartphones, 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. 

Creative Effects Nature Photography Workshop
Saturday, September 28, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to try a variety of creative effects lenses to produce artistic shots of landscapes and up-close nature photography. Learn to use specialty lenses to precisely create effects such as blur, bokeh, vignetting, compression, color, miniaturizing, swirl, vintage looks, and more. Participants must provide their camera make and model to the instructor by September 12.

Wellness Programs

Forest Therapy Programs
Experience the healing and wellness-promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest.  Whether you choose to take a mindful walk with a certified Forest Therapy guide, create art inspired by the natural surroundings, or participate in a four-day immersion workshop from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Training (ANFT), we have a multitude of options for anyone interested in forest therapy including:

Forest Therapy Walks  (3 hour)
Saturday, September 7, or Monday, September 23, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Forest Therapy Walks  (1 hour 45 minutes)
Saturday, September 7, or Monday, September 16, 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. $20

Aerial Tree Yoga Series
Sundays, September 8 through September 29, 10 to11:15 a.m. or Mondays, September 9 through September 30, 6:00 to 7:15 p.m.
Stretch, strengthen, and release stress while having fun, cocooned in a hammock suspended from the trees. Aerial yoga offers wonderful benefits to the mind, body, and soul, and is suitable for beginners as well as experienced yogis.

Meditation with Essential Oils  
Thursday, September 12, and Thursday, September 26,  6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
$20 per class
Explore meditative and self-nurturing yoga poses with the use of plant-based essential oils to restore and rebalance the mind and body.   

Arboretum Yoga
Mondays, September 16  through October 14, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., or Wednesdays, September 11  through October 9, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
$18 per class, $80 for a series

Beginning Home Composting
Wednesday, September 11, 7:00  to 9:00 p.m.
Learn how to turn yard waste and kitchen scraps into wonderfully rich, free compost—black gold for your garden. Discover the basics of backyard composting and composting with worms. Learn how composting improves the structure and texture of the soil, enabling it to better retain nutrients, moisture, and air around plant roots.

Natural Areas Conservation Training

The Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) 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 program is open to anyone involved or interested in the stewardship of our natural heritage, regardless of prior experience. 

Identifying Uncommon Woodland Trees
Friday, September 13, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Due to our geographic location, a great variety of species occur in Illinois at the edge of their range.  Others occupy specialty habitats, such as rocky woodlands, swamps, and savannas. Expand your knowledge of woody species and improve your ID skills by learning 25 to 30 of these lesser-known species and where you’re likely to encounter them.

Tallgrass Prairie Ecology (Online Only)
Registration closes: Tuesday, September 17, 11:59 p.m.
Online component available Wednesday, September 18. 
Take a look at the history of this unique type of grassland from the descent of glaciers over the Midwest millions of years ago, to the introduction of John Deere’s famous plow, to where we are today. We will examine different types of prairie, explore their plant and animal communities, and discuss restoration strategies in this engaging online course. 

Woodland Ecology (Online Only)
Registration closes: Wednesday, September 25, 11:59 p.m. 
Online component available  Thursday, September 26.
Learn the essentials of woodland ecology and the woodland management techniques necessary to maintain threatened woodland ecosystems. 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 such as encroaching development, invasive species, and pollution. In this online class, the self-guided material can be completed at your own pace.

Tool Use for Natural Areas Management  (Online and In-Person)
Online component available Tuesday, September 10
In-person component: Tuesday, September 17, 6:30  to 8:30 p.m.
Learn to effectively, efficiently and safely use the tools of the trade to tackle different restoration jobs. We’ll discuss how to plan and run safe workdays, meet site safety guidelines, and 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.

Invasive Species  (Online and In-Person)
Registration closes: Tuesday, September 10, 11:59 p.m.
Online component available Wednesday, September 11
In-person component: Saturday, September 21, 8:30 a.m. to  12:30 p.m.
Learn to identify the characteristics of common invasive plants in the Great Lakes region and describe their impacts on the landscape; discuss invasive plant ecology, and learn which control methods are best suited to each plant. In this online class, the self-guided material can be completed at your own pace. 

Woodland Trees  (Online and In-Person)
Registration closes: Thursday, September 5, 11:59 p.m.
Online component available Friday, September 26
In-person component: Saturday, September 14, 10:00 a.m. to  4:00 p.m.
Learn to identify the trees you see every day in the woodlands and neighborhoods of the Chicago region as you enjoy their brilliant fall colors. Explore the ecology of the various tree species and find out why they grow in each habitat.

Chicago Wilderness Burn Crew Training
Saturday, September 21, and Sunday, September 22, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Based on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s courses, this training covers the basics of fire behavior, controlled burn techniques, and smoke management. Participants will gain the background necessary to safely participate on the crew of a controlled burn.

Basic Plant ID (In Person)
Saturday, September 21, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Whether you are a gardener, naturalist, artist, natural resources specialist, or volunteer, this class provides the fundamentals you need to get started. Attend a two-hour session at the Arboretum to learn botanical vocabulary and plant ID skills with the guidance of an Arboretum plant expert.