Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is excited to announce the program for its upcoming “Exploration and Discovery” Lecture Series. Three premier lectures are scheduled during October and November that highlight the excitement and allure of exploration and discovery.

Presented in collaboration with the Stark Museum of Art’s current exhibition Tales and Travels, this lecture series will take participants on a journey around the world and back to the Southern U.S. in a series of virtual tours that offer unique perspectives on the natural world.

The upcoming Exploration and Discovery Lecture Series includes:

Monday, Oct. 21,  at 6:30 p.m.

The China Connection… the Plants, People and Plans of an Emerging Horticultural Giant

Presented by Dr. David Creech, Director Stephen F. Austin Mast Arboretum and Pineywoods Native Plant Center

China is the ancestral home of many ornamental plants and fruits that grace Southern U.S. landscapes. Join Dr. Creech with a behind the scenes look at the plants, people and plans of an emerging horticultural giant. Journey on a visual excursion through China’s nursery and landscape industry to the wild mountains, forests and interesting cultures of Yunnan, the majestic Yangtze river, and the incredible coastal dike windbreak forests on the South China Sea. Every year, billions of dollars – as well as that many trees — find their way into planting projects, focused on the greening of China.

Monday, Nov. 4, at 6:30 p.m.

Charles Darwin and His Revolutionary Idea

Presented by Bryan “Fox” Ellis, Fox Tales International
Join us for an evening of dramatic storytelling, stand-up comedy and show and tell! Internationally-renowned storyteller, author and naturalist Brian “Fox” Ellis will be in the character of Charles Darwin. Visitors will find themselves transported to the meeting of the Geological Society of London as young Darwin talks about sailing around the world on HMS Beagle and the scientific evidence that led him to his revolutionary idea.

Monday, Nov. 18,  at 6:30 p.m.

Exploring for Native Plants: Lessons from Nature for the Garden

Presented by Rick J. Lewandowski, Director, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center

Immerse yourself in a virtual expedition to hunt for and observe native plants in their habitats throughout the Southern U.S. Become part of this journey to rediscover the beauty of our native flora and learn a few of the lessons these plants offer for gardening and conservation. Together, we will gain insights into the value of observing, documenting and conserving plants for all to enjoy, as well as a deeper appreciation of nature’s diversity and adaptability.

All lectures in the Exploration and Discovery Lecture Series will be held in the Discovery Theater on the grounds of Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. Space is limited and an RSVP with advance payment is required. Pre-payment will serve as the RSVP for these lectures and can be made at the Shangri La admission window during regular business hours or or pay by phone with a credit card by calling 670-9113.

Admission fees for the Exploration and Discovery Lecture Series are waived for named members at all levels of membership of STARK Cultural Venues.

For nonmembers, admission for each lecture is $5  for nonmembers, with a discounted price of $10  for nonmembers who purchase a three-lecture package price. Call 670-9799  for more details.

Shangri La Director Rick Lewandowski notes, “These lectures not only provide a window into the thrill of discovery, but help each of us understand the hard work and dedication it takes to broaden our understanding of the natural world. Even if travel and discovery aren’t your cup of tea, you’ll be mesmerized as you are transported to the exotic places experienced by our speakers.”

Located at 2111 West Park Avenue in Orange, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.  For more information, visit

Pictured is Shangri La Director Rick Lewandowski, who will discuss the many native plants of the Southern states.