Here's what I don't want this Mother's Day weekend: Things. No bouquet. No perfume. No blender or other kitchen stuff.
Here's what I do want: A day with no whining. Maybe a little something sweet. Some happy memories made ... maybe at ones of these breathtakingly beautiful (and free!) places around the Triangle ...
1. Duke Gardens
This Triangle favorite in Durham is dotted with brilliant blooms - from the white foxgloves, which should be at their peak this weekend in the Page-Rollins White Garden, to the rhododendron and flame azalea in the Blomquist Garden to the Chinese roses and sweetshrub in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum. This weekend, the garden has several activities for families - an Exploration Station from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday; an Instrument Zoo, where kids can check out a variety of instruments, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sunday; and Terrific Tangos, a family concert from the Mallarme Chamber Players at 2 p.m., Sunday.
Here's what you'll see in bloom at this Raleigh arboretum, part of N.C. State: Peony, roses, verbena, jack in the pulpit, viburnum and iris, among others. Guided tours of the gardens are offered at 2 p.m., every Sunday, from March to October. But, if you're bringing kids, feel free to explore on your own, sit down with a picnic and take in all of the gorgeousness.
The rose garden, which sits next to Raleigh Little Theatre, has been here for decades, but I'm still surprised how many people know nothing about it. This week, it's fairly bursting with reds, pinks, yellows, creams and orange. It's a beautiful place to meander or, for kids, to play a game of tag among the paths and outdoor structures. You'll find tables and a lawn for picnics, along with an outdoor amphitheater.
The park at the N.C. Museum of Art covers more than 160 acres, featuring trails, scenic paths, big lawns and lots of art. Right now, the lilies in the Rodin Garden are in full bloom and beautiful. The museum also offers free family tours at 10:30 a.m., every Saturday and Sunday. They're best for ages 5 to 11 with their adults. Little ones - ages 4 to 6 - and their adults will enjoy a storytime from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday.
Part of UNC-Chapel Hill, the garden covers more than 1,000 acres and includes 10 acres of display gardens, along with natural areas and trails. Start at the visitor center on Old Mason Farm Road to orient yourself before you begin a tour of the gardens and nature trails. You'll also find a "wonder garden" there for the kids to play in. I'm told that just about everything is in bloom right now - from columbine, wild indigo, phlox and water lilies to pitcher plants, sundrops and Barbara's buttons. A favorite trail for families is the habitat gardens. You can walk from the mountains to the coast in less than half an hour, enjoying plants from throughout North Carolina along the way. You might see some resident turtles who live along this trail, too, along with many skinks, frogs and dragonflies.
Happy Mother's Day!