The Trailside Nature and Science Museum is a great place to take the kids today! Learn about the geology and biology of Union County.
The Trailside Nature and Science Museum is Union County’s Environmental Education Center and is located in the Watchung Reservation. There are 4500 square feet of interactive exhibits including an incredible 34 foot American beech tree that is home to dozens (hundreds?) of fascinating smaller exhibits such as this hawk’s nest. We were fascinated by the tree and spent a lot of time going up and down the stairs that surround the tree to make sure we had seen every little gem.
At the base of the tree you’ll find these shelled treasures.
You’ll also love the small room, hidden behind a black curtain, that houses rather boring looking rocks. But, push the button and the lights go out and a fluorescent light shows you why these rocks are so incredible!
Another of our favorite exhibits was this one, dedicated to the Hadrosaur, New Jersey’s State dinosaur.
Whatever you do, don’t miss the night room, hidden in another corner of the museum. Sit on the small steps and watch and listen as the sounds and sights of the night come alive in one of the most magical 5 minutes you’ll ever find in a museum.
Be sure to sit on the bench facing the garden for a while and watch the birds come and visit!
‘Tis the Season!
Trailside Nature and Science Center is hosting a Nature and Craft Show on Sunday, December 8th. Take a chip out of your holiday shopping, or pick up something nice for yourself – crafts are all made of natural materials or made with a nature theme and will include eco-friendly art, ornaments, signs, beads, bird houses, jewelry, wreaths, centerpieces, knitted and quilted items, dried flowers, candles, pottery, and soap.
Admission is free and includes a Menorah and Tree Lighting, free children’s face painting, holiday singers, and a Charity Tree Decorating Contest. From noon to 4:30, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and then, at 4:30, participate in the Menorah and Tree Lighting.
Every spring, my thoughts turn to the garden. This is the year my flowers beds will be immaculate and my vegetables will be abundant! Here’s what to do in NJ:
- This week, I divided up all of my hostas. Hostas can be split right down the middle with a spade and then half can be removed and planted somewhere else. They’re so hardy, and fantastic in shady areas. Just keep the newly planted half well watered for at least the first few weeks.
- It’s also time to divide the tubers of irises. Before the stems get too big and leafy, dig in with the spade and bring up a few tubers. They start to get crowded after a few years, and this is the second time I’ve divided them since planting about a half dozen seven years ago.
- It’s rose pruning time. Before new growth gets a chance to sprout, take away leggy stems and shape the plant the way you want them. The cuttings can be rooted in soil – water frequently – some people even cover them with a clear glass jar to keep evaporation low if the weather is warm.
- Peas, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes can all be sown directly into the ground now.
- Tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers can be sown in pots indoors.
Cleanup and Miscellaneous
- Sharpen your tools.
- If you need to build raised beds or put borders around new beds, now’s a good time.
- It’s too soon to put down mulch because it will trap cold and moistness next to roots and seeds and kill them. But it’s not too soon to clean up leaves and debris that got left behind over the winter.
- If you haven’t started a compost pile yet, what are you waiting for? Take a $5 plastic storage bin, drill a few holes in it, and then place it in a corner of the yard. Add fruit and vegetable peels, as well as coffee grinds and loose tea (no meat or dairy products, please!) whenever you have them. By the summer you’ll have nutrient rich soil to place around plants.
This is my favorite time of year to plan the garden. What do you want to plant this year?
How Big Is A Snowflake? Most snowflakes are less than one-half inch across. The largest snowflake recorded was fifteen inches in diameter. The Guinness Book of World Records states that the world’s largest snowflake appeared at Fort Keogh, Montana, on Jan. 28, 1887. The snowflake was about 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick.
How Many Snowflake Shapes Are There? All snowflakes have six sides and no two snowflakes are alike. Scientists think that there are five different shapes of snow crystals. 1. long needle shape 2. hollow column that is shaped like a six-sided prism 3. thin and flat six-sided plates 4. six-pointed stars 5. intricate dendrites
What Makes The Different Shapes? The shape that a snow crystal will take depends on the temperature at which it was formed.
- When the temperature is around 32°F to 25°F thin six-sides plates are formed.
- At 25°F to 21°F long needle shapes are formed.
- At 21°F to 14°F hollow columns are formed.
- At 14°F to 10°F six-point stars are formed.
- At 10°F to 3°F dendrites are formed.
- The colder it is outside, the smaller the snowflakes that fall.
- The fluffiest snow falls at temperatures around 15°F.
What was the tallest snowman? It took 14 days for the residents of Bethel, Maine, to make the tallest snowman ever. Completed Feb. 17, 1999, the snowman, Angus, was about 114 feet tall, and had car tires for a mouth and trees for arms.