At Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, every day is Earth Day.
It’s not uncommon for the volunteers and staff who operate the 252-acre ecosystem to be caught up to their elbows in dirt, up to their knees in swamp or even with their hands in a beehive. So, as you can imagine, they know how to throw an Earth Day bash for the rest of us.
On Saturday, April 16, Shangri La will host Eco-Fest — an environmental extravaganza to kick off Earth Week at the park. Beginning at 9 a.m., guests are invited to partake in an array of family activities that will bring you back to the basics, and perhaps get your hands a little dirty, too. Those activities include face painting, planting in the Children’s Garden, acting as a human sundial to tell time, building mobiles and terrariums from sticks and stones, and even planting some hair on a potted plant friend you can make and take home.
Scavenger hunts and an egret ring toss will have kiddos competing for earth-friendly prizes, and children from local school choirs will also be in attendance singing earth-friendly songs in honor of the day’s theme of environmental awareness.
For adults (and kiddos, as well), information booths set up by “green” organizations and companies will provide information on earth-friendly products, services and opportunities — with demonstrations and samples showcasing everything from solar products and installations, organic fertilizers and organic coffee samples to bikes, as representatives from the Texas Hike and Bike Coalition will have a variety of bikes on display and local biking path information. Several other green team vendors will on site, as well.
The Eco-Fest celebration launches Earth Week at Shangri La, which will see various eco-activities scheduled throughout the week including a nature-art class featuring stained glass, bonsai bending for beginners, evening nature hikes, cooking lessons from the garden and even some inside scoop on edible landscaping. The events all lead up to a butterfly release on Earth Day — Friday, April 22, at 2 p.m. About 800 butterflies native to the Southeast Texas area will be released into the gardens of Shangri La. The public is invited to meet at the courtyard for the release, but be punctual — they flutter fast.
All events scheduled during Earth Week are free, and park attractions including boat tours and garden hikes will be open for those who choose to purchase tickets. A complete listing of Shangri La attraction prices can be found at www.shangrilagardens.org  and guests are encouraged to contact Shangri La and RSVP in advance for by calling (409) 670-9799, as space for certain activities is limited.
"Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better." --Albert Einstein