Monday, August 17

Plants Go To War; A Botanical History of World War II (ZOOM)

by Judith Sumner

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Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War II by Judith Sumner (August 2019)

As the first botanical history of World War II, Plants Go to War examines military history from the perspective of plant science. From victory gardens to drugs, timber, rubber, and fibers, plants supplied materials with key roles in victory. Vegetables provided the wartime diet both in North America and Europe, where vitamin-rich carrots, cabbages, and potatoes nourished millions. Chicle and cacao provided the chewing gum and chocolate bars in military rations. In England and Germany, herbs replaced pharmaceutical drugs; feverbark was in demand to treat malaria, and penicillin culture used a growth medium made from corn. Rubber was needed for gas masks and barrage balloons, while cotton and hemp provided clothing, canvas, and rope. Timber was used to manufacture Mosquito bombers, and wood gasification and coal replaced petroleum in European vehicles. Lebensraum, the Nazi desire for agricultural land, drove Germans eastward; troops weaponized conifers with shell bursts that caused splintering. Ironically, the Nazis condemned non-native plants, but adopted useful Asian soybeans and Mediterranean herbs. Jungle warfare and camouflage required botanical knowledge, and survival manuals detailed edible plants on Pacific islands. Botanical gardens relocated valuable specimens to safe areas, and while remote locations provided opportunities for field botany, Trees surviving in Hiroshima and Nagasaki live as a symbol of rebirth after vast destruction.

"In this impressively researched exploration, esteemed ethnobotanist Sumner takes a scholarly yet totally accessible approach to the myriad ways plant materials were critical to both Allied and Axis war efforts. With balanced attention to domestic sacrifices and ingenuity, Sumner's astonishing discoveries make this a fascinating read for botany buffs and those steeped in military history." --Booklist

"A unique blend of botanical and military history... Plants Go to War is an original and meticulous study that is as informed and informative as it is accessibly organized and reader friendly in presentation...recommended" --Midwest Book Review

"[Sumner's] research is exhaustive...authoritative and informative...destined to be a classic source on this topic"==The Herb Society of America

"The comprehensive volume takes the story far beyond the victory gardens that perhaps immediately come to mind when discussing WWII and plants. Although this topic is addressed, the book spans across the European and Pacific theaters, touching Allies and Axis civilians and combatants."--The Times of Israel

"The first botanical history of World War II"--Southern Naturalist

"In all our years of experience with books about Wold War II, never have we seen one quite like this...a big, serious study of the subject" --Stone & Stone

Saturday, September 5

Super Soil Biology

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The key to growing nutrient dense food and happy plants is having healthy, functioning soil in your garden. The organisms living in soil are crucial to soil health and in this two-class, online workshop, class participants will learn how microscopes can identify the different types of organisms that live in the soil and learn how to manage them for optimal soil health. You will take away an understanding of how to use soil biology in your organic gardening to grow tasty, healthy, nutritious food.

Instructors: Kim Martin and Laurie Bostic, owners of Barking Cat Farm, focus on growing high quality crops in an organic and sustainable manner. Brix testing is done regularly to monitor the nutritional quality of the produce and compost, and compost teas are applied to the soil to ensure that the soil biology is constantly improving. Both Laurie & Kim have their Permaculture Design Certificate from Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Design Course. Both have studied under Dr. Elaine Ingham and are working towards becoming Certified Soil Life Consultants. They offer permaculture design and soil biology consulting services to other growers and gardeners.

Saturday, September 5 & 12, 2020 (10 am – 12:30 pm)

Registration Deadline: September 3       

$85/$75 member

Location: This is an online class; you will receive an email the day prior to class with the Zoom class code and password. 

Mindfulness Meditation

Online via Zoom

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Meeting the first Saturday of each month, our Mindfulness Meditation classes invite you to slow down, release the stresses of everyday life, and tune in to the serenity of the natural world. With plants all around, explore the grounds of BRIT and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden as you learn mindfulness practices and techniques from meditation instructor Lisa November, M.A. Ed. Lisa leads her students in unique, hour-long mindfulness meditations, always attuned to the surrounding natural world. Classes often take place outdoors, weather permitting.   

Instructor: Lisa November is a meditation teacher based in Fort Worth. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history and communication from the University of Northern Iowa in 1982 and her Master of Arts in Special Education-Moderate Needs from the University of Northern Colorado in 1992. She is a life-long teacher and learner and has been practicing mindfulness based meditation since 1996. Most recently, she has received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings in the Order of Interbeing, Tiep Hien, Ordained Students of Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh in August of 2019. She is also a student of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a proven heath and wellness program from the Oasis Center at the University of Massachusetts.

Saturday, September 5, 2020 (2 pm – 3 pm)

Registration Deadline: September 3         

$10/$8 member

Location: This is an online class; you will receive an email the day prior to class with the Zoom class code and password. 

Friday, September 11

Members Sneak Peek - DETAILS COMING SOON

Gallery Night at BRIT

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Stay tuned for more details. Click here to check out details from the 2019 Members Sneak Peek.

Not a member? Click here to become a member today.

Saturday, September 12

Drawing from Nature

New Work from Carol Benson

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Fall Gallery Night is scheduled for Saturday, September 12, contingent upon the abatement of the pandemic. 

Stay tuned for an online interview with the artist, as well as an online gallery tour. 

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas is proud to host an exhibition of paintings by Fort Worth-based artist Carol Benson. Titled Drawing from Nature, this exhibition is a meditation on the many ways one can draw from nature. From the fuzzy, brilliantly-colored, and highly sculptural folds of the Celosia plant (Cock's comb) to the varied leaves of the trees surrounding her home, Benson uses the geometry and beauty of plants to give viewers new ways of connecting with the natural world. While the subject matter of Benson's paintings is pulled from direct and keen observation of various plants and their flowers, her work also invites us to see the ways in which nature can sustain us. As we collectively and individually navigate this challenging moment in history, the paintings in this exhibition invite us to find new ways to incorporate the natural world into our lives, providing us with beauty, strength, and renewal. 

Carol Benson, Organic Shapes (Celosia), 2020, oil on wood, 56 x 44"
Saturday, September 19

Prickly Wonders: Drawing and Painting the Cactus Collection

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If you’ve always wanted to spend time studying the fascinating shapes and colors of cacti, and create art in the garden, this experience is for you! Join artist-educator Avery Kelly to learn drawing and watercolor techniques in this unique outdoor class. We will explore various methods of approaching what we see and translating that to drawings and watercolor paintings. Class will take place outdoors in the Cactus Garden and Greenhouse. Beginners are welcome. 

Instructors: Avery Kelly is a native of Fort Worth, where she currently lives and makes art. She teaches at local colleges and enjoys outdoor pursuits. Avery earned her MA and MFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Tyler, a BFA in Painting from Texas Christian University, and a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Redlands, California. In her work, Avery brings together her love of creating images with her love for the outdoors, focusing especially on animals, their perceptions, and relationships within the landscape. She has taught art for ages kindergarten through college level and enjoys outdoor pursuits.

Saturday, September 19, 2020 (10 am – 12 pm)

Registration Deadline: September 17      

$35/$30 member

Location: FWBG Cactus Garden and Greenhouse (in the case of inclement weather, class will take place with potted cacti indoors)

Materials: A full list of necessary materials will be emailed upon registration and should be brought to class by the student; the basic materials include a pencil, eraser, simple watercolor set, synthetic watercolor brushes, and watercolor paper. Class size will remain small to accommodate proper social distancing, and masks and hand sanitizer will be available. 

Gut Health and Fermentation Workshop, Part 1

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Join Culinary Dietitian Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD, LD for this virtual & interactive workshop focused on gut health and how it impacts overall health and well-being. The class will focus on improving gut microflora using an ancient preservation technique, fermentation. Dixya will share how to incorporate various probiotic and prebiotic-rich food into your diet. This class is a mix of brief lecture and hands-on activity where each participant will learn how to make both kimchi and lacto-fermented hummus. 

Instructor: Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD, LD

Saturday, September 19 (1 – 2:30 pm)

Registration Deadline: September 17

$28/$25 member 

Location: This is an online class; you will receive an email the day prior to class with the Zoom class code and password. 

Materials: Participants will receive a workshop packet, including recipes and a grocery shopping list for the class, upon registration. Groceries will average $15 - $20 and many ingredients will last for multiple batches. 

Monday, September 21

Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers (ZOOM)

by Amy Stewart

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“Engaging and scrupulously reported”  Constance Casey for The New York Times

Award-winning author Amy Stewart takes readers on an around-the-world, behind-the-scenes look at the flower industry and how it has sought—for better or worse—to achieve perfection.  Stewart traveled the world for a year to research the $40 billion dollar cut-flower industry. She tracks down the hybridizers, geneticists, farmers, and florists working to invent, manufacture, and sell flowers that are bigger, brighter, and sturdier than anything nature can provide.  At every turn she discovers the startling intersection of nature and technology, of sentiment and commerce. The author also raises environmental issues related to the trade, as well as the concerns of florists. 

Saturday, October 3

Members Only Fall Plant Sale - DETAILS COMING SOON

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Members only hours coming soon...

Saturday, October 10

Flower Power

Girls Nature Workshops

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A groovy partnership between the Fort Worth Garden Club, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas provides an opportunity for girls to complete badge work and enjoy nature-based activities together. Join us for some educational fun this year! 

  • Time: 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM
  • Audience: 2nd - 12th grade
  • Price per session: $10/participant


  • October 10th: Groovy Plants
  • December 5th: Zen Power
  • January 23rd: Heading to the Beach
  • February 27th: Neato, Flower!
  • March 27th: Havin' a Blast with Butterflies
  • April 10th: Far Out, Wellness

Click here to register! 

Monday, October 19

Remarkable Creatures (ZOOM)

by Tracy Chevalier

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“Chevalier admirably weaves historical figures and actual events into a compelling narrative.”
—San Francisco Chronicle 

Remarkable Creatures is a beautifully written book about two remarkable women, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. A fictional account based on real-life characters and events, Remarkable Creatures is set in the early 1800's in the coastal town of Lyme Regis, England.  Mary Anning, born in a poor family, was from an early age fascinated by the fossils that could then be picked up on the beaches.  Her discoveries of fossils leads to conflict with the religious authorities in town and friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, a woman of higher social class who is also fascinated by the fossils. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy. Ultimately, in the struggle to be recognized in the wider world, Mary and Elizabeth discover that friendship is their greatest ally.

Thursday, October 22

2020 International Award of Excellence in Conservation

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The Botanical Research Institute of Texas is proud to announce the recipients of our 2020 International Award of Excellence in Conservation: Cristina Mittermeier, international photographer, conservationist, and founder of the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers; and Russell Mittermeier, Global Wildlife Conservation’s Chief Conservation Officer and a world leader in the field of biodiversity and tropical forest conservation.

Both Mittermeiers have devoted their lives to protecting Earth’s natural habitat and informing and influencing people as to the delicate balance between nature and traditional cultures and both have made significant impacts on preserving the variety of plant and animal life on Earth and protecting its ecosystems.

Join us at our annual gala on October 22, 2020 at the Palmwood Event & Conference, Frost Tower Fort Worth for an inspiring evening of conversation with two of the world's greatest conservation adventurers as we recognize their impactful achievements.

Banner photo by Cristina Mittermeier.

Friday, November 13

The Loom Botanical

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The Loom Botanical is a special showing of new handwoven pieces by members of the Fort Worth Weavers Guild. Guild members' handwoven pieces that are not only inspired by nature, but also include many botanic elements incorporated directly into the woven textiles. The works included in the exhibition utilize plant weaving materials and the use of plant-derived dyes.

The Fort Worth Weavers Guild was organized in 1955 and promotes the interest of weaving and encourages the highest standards of craftsmanship. All facets of weaving are explored, including different weave structures on the loom, dye processes, using varied equipment, and studying contemporary and historic weavers. Woven pieces created by members are widely varied and express many functions – from practical textiles to wall art.

A Best in Show award and two additional awards will be announced upon the opening of the exhibition. Given the realities of the pandemic, it is undetermined if an opening reception will be held.

Saturday, November 14

Sketching in the Japanese Garden

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In this class you will learn different techniques for drawing foliage, texture, and value, all while sketching the elegant beauty of the Japanese Garden. Artist Erika Duque Scully will demonstrate how to achieve these techniques and will share examples of other artists’ works for further inspiration. You will be encouraged to draw loosely, sketching balanced and interesting compositions of trees and other plants with confidence. Supplies are not provided (see below for a supply list).

Instructor: Erika Duque Scully is a landscape and nature-based painter who lives and works in Fort Worth, TX. Scully received her BFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA in painting at Texas Christian University. She has been featured in over thirty solo and group shows throughout the Metroplex. In 2017, Scully was nominated by Ro2 Gallery for Rising Star Fundraiser at the Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts. She is currently represented by Fort Works Art Gallery in Fort Worth.

Saturday, November 14, 2020 (11 am – 1 pm)

Registration Deadline: November 12        

$35/$30 member

Location: Japanese Garden

Supplies: Click here for the supply list. Class size will remain small to accommodate proper social distancing, and masks and hand sanitizer will be available. 

Monday, November 16

The Lochsa Story: Land Ethics in the Bitterroot Mountains (ZOOM)

By Bud Moore

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"Bud Moore's The Lochsa Story is epic. It's an autobiography, a history, and a manifesto; a massive work of nonfiction incorporating folklore and ecology." --Zach Dundas, Missoula Independent

This story chronicles the history of the Bitterroot Mountains, the preservation of forest landscapes, early Native Americans, the Lewis and Clark Trail, and Bud Moore's life as the last of the mountain men to live there and join the U.S. Forest Service. He became Head Ranger of Powell Ranger District, Chief of the Forest Service Region in Missoula, Montana, the leading authority on fire management and smoke-jumpers of the northwestern forests and the system of fire lookouts and fire suppression.   Moore is profoundly dedicated to the forest and all of the natural elements, including people, that make it whole. He believes anyone who works with the land must have a feel for it. "When in doubt, go slow," he advises. "Be humble. Learn from your mistakes."