Saturday, April 22 marks the annual observance of Earth Day, and with our not-so-gently-used home planet in need of more TLC than at any time in its history, the Monmouth County Park System is offering several ways to raise awareness of local earth-friendly programs at its sites in Middletown Township.
In addition, Saturday marks the annual return of two popular events at neighboring facilities on Middletown’s Red Hill Road — both of them enhancing the Earth Day experience, and all of it designed to better acquaint local residents with several genuine public jewels of the Greater Red Bank Green.
• Beautiful blooms and native plants are back in full flower at the ever-lovely Deep Cut Gardens, where Saturday’s Great Spring Perennial Plant Swap offers serious landscapers and green-thumb weekenders the opportunity to bring a labeled, non-invasive plant or plants (in one-quart, one-gallon or two-gallon containers), and trade for the same size and number of plants with another local gardener.
There’s no charge. Herb and vegetable seedlings may also be exchanged, and plant intake will be from 8:30 to 10 a.m. to allow for inspection (as per New Jersey Department of Agriculture regulations), with attendees able to select and take home plants from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (no plants accepted after 10).
• Directly across Red Hill Road from Deep Cut Gardens, the Spring Craft Show happens this Saturday in the Holland Activity Center at Tatum Park. Going on from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., it’s a display of wares by local artisans that offers a chance to “find a unique, hand-crafted gift for yourself or a special person in your life,” and as always there’s no charge for admission or parking.
The parking area at the Activity Center is also the meet-up spot for a free, guided Roving Naturalist Walk over the wooded trails of Tatum. Beginning at 9 a.m., it’s a hike of approximately 90 minutes to two hours, during which participants can learn about “seasonal points of interest, search for signs of wildlife, and identify a bird or two” (walkers are free to join in the group or drop out at any point). Attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather, as any light precip is no deterrent.
• At the Park System’s flagship Thompson Park facility in Lincroft, kids are invited to stop into the Visitors Center between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., for free hands-on crafting sessions that “celebrate endangered wildlife and Mother Earth” as they “teach your child about our beautiful planet and make cool art.”
• The Huber Woods Environmental Center in Locust invites all ages to “see snakes and reptiles during a family-oriented show that gives you the chance to see live and exciting animals and nature artifacts found in the state.” There will also be freshwater pond creatures on view and an opportunity to see kid-friendly interactive exhibits inside the Environmental Center, all of it on display from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Over at Bayshore Waterfront Park Activity Center in Port Monmouth, all ages are invited to “celebrate the shore as we discover cool coastal animals and artifacts like whales, sea turtles, fish, crabs and even tiny plankton during this interactive touch and tell program.” The 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Earth Day observance also includes tours of the park’s 18th-century Seabrook-Wilson House — one of the oldest on the Jersey Shore, and a survivor that’s weathered epic storms and the tides of history.