Monthly Archives: June 2018

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Relax, Unwind with Yoga in the Garden this Summer

Relax, Unwind with Yoga in the Garden this Summer

Carly Kwiecien

Summertime is here, folks, which means it’s the season to relish in moments of relaxation and serenity. Come stretch away the worries of the day and welcome nature’s energy into your body, mind, and spirit.

Yoga instructors April Fallon and Page Rumer are hosting Yoga in the Garden this summer on the grounds of Friendship Botanic Gardens. Don’t worry – there’s still time to find your yoga mat – no need to practice beforehand! Students can unroll mats in the grass or on a platform in an area of the Gardens that overlooks a small lake, flora and fauna.  

Fallon has been practicing yoga for over 15 years and began teaching two years ago after completing a 200-hour teacher training immersion at Asheville Yoga Center in North Carolina. “It was a 3-week intensive in which studies and practices filled every day! It was an amazing experience,” she said.   

Yoga, an ascetic and spiritual discipline, includes elements of breath control, meditation and postures, and is a practice that connects both a state of mind and body. It is a process of self-discovery and leads to realization of oneself; it combines the essentials of balance, breathing techniques and flexibility.

“My favorite aspect of yoga is the way that I feel after practicing or teaching yoga! [I love the] vital energy and yet the sweet peace surrounding me. [When I do yoga], my body is alive, awake, mindful, and healthy. My spirit is lifted, and I see the good in folks – even challenging days are brighter,” Fallon said.

Yoga techniques allow for self-awareness, encourages self-care and can lead to the fostering of positive energy. This practice teaches us how important it is to allot even a mere 20 minutes each day just to bettering ourselves and takes us away from the presence of technology and the chaos one might face from day to day.

These classes are available to individuals at all levels in their spiritual and physical journey. “I've recently witnessed students who had never taken a class, and over several months of attending an all levels class they become remarkably stronger, and more importantly, confident in their strength,” Fallon said. “Personally, yoga has helped me navigate some very rough times. It has also given me clear vision during the best of times.”

It is an effective way to destress and focus on the disorganization one’s brain might be encountering; yoga’s long-term effects will improve both the mind and body in more than one way.

“Yoga teaches balance and conscious awareness throughout the best and worst life can dish out,” Fallon explained. “Balance and peace are critical to life in the 21st century.”

Yoga in the Garden classes with April are available Thursday mornings from June 7 to July 26 from 9-10 a.m. Classes with Page are on Sundays from June 3 to July 29 from 10-11 a.m. Each class offered is available for all levels. Enjoy a class surrounded by forest green shrubbery, plants and grass, as well as beautiful hues of flowers. Each class costs $10 (cash only). Instructors are paid directly. There is no entrance fee to the Gardens. Be sure to bring your own mat!

To begin, meet at the entrance cabin in the parking lot ten minutes before to be taken to the class’ designated location. After class, feel free to take a hike in one of the Garden’s many walking or hiking trails that wind throughout the entire Garden’s landscape.   

Friendship Botanic Gardens: Your Summer Destination is only Minutes Away

Friendship Botanic Gardens: Your Summer Destination is only Minutes Away

Carly Kwiecien

Tis the season of endless days and nights for making memories with friends and family! Summer is now in full swing, which means it’s time to bring out the sunglasses, bug spray, and sun tan lotion and head outdoors!  

Friendship Gardens is the place to be this summer. No matter your hobbies, we have activities for both children and adults alike. Here, one can hike, take all-levels yoga classes, attend education events and learn about bugs, butterflies, and more, as well as attend some of our bigger events such as the Gatsby in the Gardens, Opera in the Gardens and Bacchus & Beer Fest.

If interested in taking the children out for a day of educational and entertaining activities, head out to the Gardens on Sunday, June 24, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. for a Bug Safari! This will be the perfect afternoon to explore several diverse creepy crawlies and their lives in the natural habitats of the 105 acres of the Gardens. Families can discover a hidden world of marvelous creatures living among us. Feel free to bring nets and magnifying glasses to get a better view of the tiny insects that play crucial roles in our day-to-day lives. There will be hands-on crafts and other science-related activities available.

Each Sunday morning from 10:00-11:00 a.m. and Thursday mornings from 9:00-10:00 a.m., all levels-yoga courses will be taught in the Gardens by certified yoga instructors, April Fallon and Page Rumer. Yoga combines breathing techniques with physical flexibility and includes other elements such as meditation and postures. Find your peace and balance by unplugging for an hour each week for only $10 per class (cash only). The entrance fee to the Gardens is included in that price. An 8-class pass is available for April’s classes at the small price of $72. These classes will be available from June 3 – July 29.

Interested in learning more about Indigenous Peoples’ traditions and lifestyles? Come celebrate the cultures of the Native Peoples of the region on National American Heritage Day on Sunday, July 8, from 12:00-4:00 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about their gardening, trapping, cooking and crafting techniques. There will be demonstrations, exhibits, crafts and open-fire cooking. Learn about the rich legacy of Native American Heritage and come see the river banks and valleys where the Potawatomi hunted and fished hundreds of years ago. This event is free admission.

For a different change of pace, Friendship Gardens offer an evening of musical entertainment featuring local artist JohnnyV at the Taste and Tribute Concert on Friday, July 13, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. He is a singer/songwriter that offers music from genres such as blues, folk and Americana that is sure to keep the audience’s attention! He has been singing all across the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana region for over four decades. JohnnyV tributes Neil Young and the Classics, covering their greatest range of hits. Join us for an evening of music, beer, food and wine. Food will be offered from Taste of Michigan City’s Up N Smoke Food Truck. Tickets will be on sale at the door during the day of the event. Gates open at 6:00 and music starts at 7:00!

One of our biggest events of the summer is our annual Gatsby in the Gardens, which takes place on Saturday, July 28, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Here, visitors have the option to dress in 1920’s apparel and enjoy cocktails, dance or play lawn games while listening to live jazz music. Sample drinks such as BA to Barcelona, which includes sloe gin, tonic water, lemon and Miro extra ecco or Lashed to Mast, which includes rum, falernum and a hint of lime. Tickets are on sale via Eventbrite, our Facebook event page and may be available for purchase the day of the event. Individuals 21+ welcome.

At our Butterfly Bonanza event on Sunday, July 29 from 2:00-4:00 p.m., visitors can take advantage of free admission to the Gardens and learn more about these wonderful creatures in all stages of life. Monarch butterflies will be released, and participants will be able to construct their own butterfly feeders!

In August two of the Gardens’ biggest events of the summer take place and bring the season to a close as it winds down. On Sunday, August 5, from 3:00-6:00 p.m., join us for an afternoon of a captivating performance at our annual Opera in the Gardens event! Saunter around the gardens with friends and enjoy beverages from 3:00-4:00 right before the concert begins. Tickets are on sale on our website but are also available at the door day of the event.

Spend a few hours of your Saturday, August 18, at the Gardens for our annual Bacchus & Beer Fest! From 5:00-9:00 p.m. Enjoy sampling beverages from 15 local breweries and wineries. Up ‘N Smoke will be serving their famous barbecue, too. Live entertainment throughout the evening will feature Matt Gabriel and John Vermilye. Join us for an evening of beer, wine, food and music among the natural beauty of the Gardens. Tickets are on sale via Eventbrite, our Facebook page or at the door on the day of the event. This is a 21+ event.

We have events (that are not listed here) but are still available all the way through December. To keep up to date on our year-round events, check out our “Upcoming Events” page on our website. Stop by the Gardens Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00-6:00 p.m. for three miles of hiking trails, benches for relaxation, fishing along Trail Creek and more.


Grounded in the Roots of NWI

Grounded in the Roots of NWI

Carly Kwiecien

Friendship Botanic Gardens is a hidden gem among the valleys of Trail Creek, tucked away off of U.S. Highway 12 in Michigan City. Beyond the gates lie 105 acres of colorful palettes of flowers, plants and trees that contribute to its several gardens that are cultivated primarily by a team of volunteers.

The Polish Garden, The ArcelorMittal’s Children’s Garden and Juvenile Diabetes Garden – just to name a few. Each brings their own energy to the newly renovated grounds, bringing a diverse experience for the Gardens’ various guests. Each Garden grows with its own purpose, representative of something important and beautiful in its own way. Some might find peace and tranquility while taking a stroll through the Cancer Survivors’ Garden of Love and Hope, while others might enjoy spending more time strolling past the Rose Garden. There is something here for everyone.

About 3 miles of natural hiking trails are available for those who wish to rejuvenate for a bit in between moments of chaos of everyday life. Due to its remote location, Friendship Gardens is difficult to stumble upon, if one does not know about it.   

However, if one drives down the highway and sees the bright green sign at its entranceway, pulls-in and stops to visit May 1 through October 31, Wednesday through Sunday 10 - 6 p.m., and on weekends April through November from 10 - 4 p.m., one may purchase a one-day pass Thursday through Sunday for $8. Wednesdays are half-price admission ($4) and children under 12 and active duty military are free every day.

The Gardens host various events throughout the year, both entertaining and educational, that can appeal to people of all ages. Upcoming events include Bug Safari (June 24 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.), Gatsby in the Gardens (July 28 from 6:00-9:00 p.m.), Opera in the Gardens (August 5 from 3:00-6:00 p.m.) and the Bacchus & Beer Fest (August 18 from 5:00-9:00 p.m.) More events can be found here.

I was born and raised in La Porte, Indiana, and grew up a tomboy, which meant that I was more interested with the bugs and animals outdoors than I was interested with the dolls and playhouses indoors.

Each season I spent as much of my time outside as possible.  In the summer I enjoyed getting dirt stuck under my fingernails, playing in the summer sun and building sand castles at the lakefront.  In the winter snowmen were my personal sculpture in my grandparents’ backyard. Autumn called me to rake enormous amounts of piles of leaves and the thrill to jump into the center releasing a confetti of leaves.   In the spring, I would hike in the woods in to see what new arrivals and blooms I would encounter along the trails.

Although I spent most of my time outdoors in the comfort of my family members’ property, it wasn’t until I was about eight-years-old that I first experienced the beauty and peace of Friendship Botanic Gardens.

My grandmother was a member of the Michigan City Art League, a local group of talented artists, and when I was about 8 years old (I am now 21), they held their art festival at the Gardens.

This was my first time venturing in the Gardens. The day of the art festival, I helped the artists set up their work under the tents and walked around to not only view the artwork of those around me, but also to view the beauty and peace of the Gardens.

With paintings on display, coupled with the picturesque views of the Gardens around me, that day remains a vivid and radiant memory in my mind.

Since my first visit years ago, I have decided to dig up the roots and return to Friendship Botanic Gardens, but this time, as a summer intern.

This season, I will be wearing many hats, taking on multiple roles and assisting in several Garden operations. I am excited to kick off this summer by helping out at events, weddings and more.

There are big things happening at the Gardens: new garden areas to explore, new events breaking ground and much more.  

My eight-year-old-self regarded the Gardens as just another place to enjoy the outdoors, bask in the sun, and smell the sweet perfumes of flowers and plants I had never heard of up until that moment. I saw it as just another location to relish in the Earth’s beauty. I now see it as that, too, but also as something more.

I look back at the true meaning of the words in its name “Friendship” Botanic Gardens and see it as a place of community, unity and harmony -- a place for gatherings, for growth and for gratitude.