Wednesdays are a little more exciting with Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center’s Wild Wednesdays program, a series of classes presented by Shangri La’s summer scholars to educate the public about the natural world. Topics include invasive plants, spiders, snakes, and Shangri La history. The hour-long classes are offered at Shangri La at 9 a.m. each Wednesday from now through August 13, 2008. Admission to each class is free for members and is included in a day’s general admission charge to the Gardens for non-members.

The Wild Wednesdays schedule is as follows:

July 16: Web World: Spiders – Guests learn why spiders are important and which ones are poisonous. They will also learn fun facts about spiders and observe the geometry of webs.

July 23: LEEDing to a Green Future – Guests learn about the techniques Shangri La used to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s prestigious platinum certification in LEED®-NC, which verifies the design and construction of Shangri La reached the highest green building and performance measures. Participants will also learn tips for living a greener life.

July 30: Friend or Foe: Snake ID – Guests learn to identify snakes and distinguish between those that are threatening and non-threatening.

August 6: History of Shangri La and Garden Walk – Guests enjoy a guided tour of Shangri La’s gardens while learning about the facility’s rich history, including how today’s gardens relate to the original Shangri La created by H.J. Lutcher Stark more than 60 years ago.

August 13: Sensory Walk – This silent walk encourages visitors to use each of their senses to experience the world around them. At the end of the walk, participants will discuss their experience and how the silence impacted it.

Each class will begin at 9 a.m. at the Shangri La admissions window.

Anyone wishing to attend a Wild Wednesdays class should reserve a spot by calling 409.670.0803. Spaces are limited and are first come, first served for those who lack reservations. Participants in each class must be over four years of age, with the exception of the Sensory Walk, which requires participants ages ten and older. Comfortable shoes and water are recommended for classes that require walking.

Shangri La is located at 2111 West Park Avenue, Orange, Texas. Visitors should park at the Lutcher Theater at 707 Main in downtown Orange and take the free shuttle from there to the entrance of Shangri La. For more information, please visit or call 409.670.9113.

About Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center
Nestled within 252 acres in the heart of Orange, Texas, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is a program of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, a private foundation whose mission is to improve and enrich the quality of life in Southeast Texas and encourage and assist education. The unique ecosystem of Shangri La presents an ideal opportunity to further that mission as well as carry on the vision of H.J Lutcher Stark, the man who originally developed the gardens more than 60 years ago.

The formal Botanical Gardens contain more than 300 plant species in five formal “rooms” as well as four sculpture “rooms.” The Nature Center includes Adams Bayou boat excursions to educational outposts, a 15-acre Beaver Pond, a state-of-the-art bird blind, a bat house, thousands of nesting birds in Ruby Lake, and more up-close encounters with nature.

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is the first project in Texas and the 50th project in the world to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Platinum Certification for LEED®-NC, which verifies that the design and construction of Shangri La reached the highest green building and performance measures. Shangri La offers a glimpse of how people can live in harmony with nature, as it strives in its mission to Mentor Children of All Ages to Be Kind to Their World.