Duke Gardens is always a beautiful place to spend an afternoon with the family, but this weekend offers special incentives.
On Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 3 p.m., Duke Gardens will celebrate the opening of its Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden, a sort of miniature organic farm including vegetable beds, a fruit orchard, a reconstructed tobacco barn, a chicken coop, a rain garden and outdoor classrooms.
On both days, the new garden will be peppered with special activities for kids. They can learn about beekeeping, raising chickens, composting and organic gardening. They can make seed bombs or vegetable prints.
There will be storytelling, live music and samples of farm-fresh foods. And there will be guided tours every half hour beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The Discovery Garden is on the far north side of the Doris Duke Center Gardens; signs and greeters will direct you from the garden entrance.
In the past, Duke Gardens was a place to enjoy ornamental plants and trees. Now, Duke University officials say they hope it will be a place where children and adults can learn about raising food in sustainable, environmentally friendly ways.
The garden will hold year-round hands-on workshops for adults, children and families. They even have child-sized wheelbarrows and garden tools.
“Now every kid who comes to Duke, every kid from Durham, every kid from North Carolina and every kid whose family comes to Duke Gardens has a chance to come here for discovery — discovery of the beauty of the natural world,” Duke University President Richard Brodhead said at the garden’s dedication in May.
For more information about the events, go to http://www.hr.duke.edu/dukegardens
• Another fun option for this weekend is a behind-the-scenes tour at the 172-year-old State Capitol building in downtown Raleigh. On Saturday from 10 to 11:30 a.m., you can tour areas of the building that are not usually open to the public, including the attic and a special room inside the rotunda dome.
The tour is restricted to children 10 or older, because it goes into areas not safe for young children.
Tickets are $15. You can buy them on the day of the tour, or email email@example.com to reserve a spot.
• And tonight at 6, teens are invited to the first Teen Science Cafe at the new Nature Research Center. This free event, which is the first of a monthly series, will focus on trees and the environmental threats to them.
Participants will hear a presentation from Center Director Meg Lowman about rainforest exploration and conservation. They will also learn about the biodiversity of the forest canopy and visit a lab for an up-close look at bugs that destroy trees.
The club meets in the Center’s Daily Planet Cafe. For more information, go to http://naturalsciences.org/teenscience.