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Trail Mix: nature activities in our area

Pollinator Gardens: The Beautiful Buzz

ATHOL— For food and flowers, the world needs pollinators, primarily bees, and on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Millers River Environmental Center, 100 Main St., the North Quabbin Garden Club will present “Pollinator Gardens: The Beautiful Buzz” an introduction to bee gardening.

Garden choices, both of plants and practices, can significantly encourage these pollinators to get to work and make gardens bloom and produce beautifully say organizers, who add that another benefit is that pollinator gardens also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

The presenter is Christine Beckert Long, club president and a graduate of the New Wild Flower Society’s Native Plants Studies program. Free, but nonmembers will be asked for a donation.

Affiliated with the Millers River Environmental Center, the North Quabbin Garden Club was created “to encourage interest in all phases of home gardening, to promote better horticultural practices, and to foster civic beauty, all with an emphasis on native plants, organic gardening, and the conservation of natural resources.” New members are welcome. For more information, visit www.atholbirdclub.org or write to gardens@millersriver.net.

Great Falls Discovery Center

2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, 413-863-3676, www.greatfallsdiscoverycenter.org. Open to the public Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All programs are free to the public unless otherwise noted. Facilities are accessible.

∎ Thursday, Feb. 20, 7 to 9 p.m. Greenfield Garden Club Presents: The Smith College Botanic Garden: Past, Present and Future. This evening will feature two guest speakers. First, Cynthia Boettner of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge will present an update on new invasive species to the Franklin County area and the things that can be done to prevent their spread. Following her, Michael Marcotrigiano, professor of biological sciences and director of the Botanic Garden at Smith College in Northampton, will give a talk highlighting the past, present and future of the Smith College Botanic Garden. Smith College contains over 8,000 taxa of plants that are housed within its outdoor gardens, glass houses, and Arboretum.

∎ Saturday, Feb. 22, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Winter and Spring Pre-school Series: Where Are All the Animals Hiding? Winter is a time for staying snug and warm for animals, too. Join Janel Nockleby to investigate the secret hidden animal homes of the season through stories, crafts, and activities. For ages 3 to 6 with a parent or guardian. Siblings and friends welcome.

Northfield Mountain

99 Millers Falls Road (Route 63), Northfield. 413-659-3714 or 800-859-2960. Owned and operated by FirstLight Power Resources. www.firstlightpower.com/

∎ Tracking Fairies (and Other Things), Saturday, March 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. An afternoon of books, woods adventuring and cocoa Fairy lovers will begin in the Yurt with Ammi-Joan Paquette’s “The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies” and then head to the woods to discover special places that sprites might enjoy. Participants will also learn what other creatures are out and about by investigating animal tracks and sign found along the way. Building fairy houses and returning to the Yurt for a warming cup of cocoa will round out this afternoon for young families. If Northfield Mountain is open for skiing, participants will wear snowshoes. This event is free, $16 per family for snowshoe rentals and is appropriate for ages 4 and older. Please register by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 1-800-859-2960.

∎ Last Blast of Winter Family Fun Hike, Saturday, March 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. Explore wooded wetlands, rocky outcrops and streams swollen with snowmelt. Families may find tracks of porcupines, snowshoe hare and coyote. Participants learn how to build a small fire, boil water for cocoa, build snow creatures, balance on logs, throw snowballs and more. If the snow has melted, then muddy fun will be in store. Dress in warm layers that can be shed and bring a water bottle. Cocoa and granola bar snacks will be provided. Directions to the meeting place will be shared with registered participants. For ages 6 and older. The event is free, $16 per family for snowshoe rentals. Pleaseregister by calling Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center at 1-800-859-2960.

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