Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival – October 2014

OHC Blog Carnival

October is a month of changes and far fewer chances for me to get outdoors..usually. This month we had ample opportunity to spend long days hiking and soaking in sunshine. My usual autumn blues have been kept at bay with activity to fill me up on the inside, gently easing into November and all its autumn-ness.

Thanks for sharing all your entries with the blog carnival this month since it is always fun to glimpse into your world too!

Our family’s October entries from this month’s study (in case you missed one):


Photo Credit: Shirley from Under an English Sky

Ash Tree, Witch Hazel, and Sumac Studies

Barbara from Schoolhouse on the Prairie has submitted their entry: October Challenges. They had some hawk observations, sumac study, and more.

Shirley from Under an English Sky also would love for you to pop over and see their OHC Sumac Shrub entry. They were able to find and identify this subject because of the OHC! Check out their lovely journals too.


Nature Journal from Michelle

Photo Credit: Michelle from Following Footprints


Kerry from Keeping Up With The Kordishes has submitted their Hemlock Nature Study entry for you to enjoy. Lovely images! They also have another tree entry for you to look at: Elm Tree.  You will enjoy seeing their Fall Color Walk images.

Michelle from Following Footprints shares their Walking Among The Autumn Trees entry (their Fall Tree Grid) to this edition of the carnival.

Teasel Journal from Angie

Photo Credit: Angie from Petra School

Angie from Petra School shares their OHC Teasel Study this month. They completed their study with observations and journals…two different styles. Take a look!

Janet from Pursuing Joy in the Journey would love for you to hop over and read their two entries this month: Chillis and Nature Journals and also Wildflowers in the Park. So many pretty flowers and some elderberries too!

Carol from Journey and Destination shares a beautiful and interesting entry with the carnival: Outdoor Hour-Nature Study at the Beach. What a wonderful glimpse into their world.

Anne from Harvest Moon By Hand would love for you to view their nature study entries from October: Poison Ivy, Burdock, and Thistle. My favorite? The Burdock entry!

Janet from Pursuing Joy in the Journey has submitted their interesting entry: Recording Local Wildlife.

Angie from Petra School has submitted the entry First Heavy Rain – Mushroom Hunt for you to view and enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing entry with all its great fungi! Wishing I had been along with them.


Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

OHC Blog Carnival

Don’t forget to share your blog entries with the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. All entries done in November are eligible for the next edition. The deadline for entries is 11/29/14 and you can send them directly to me: harmonyfinearts@yahoo.com.

Autumn Tree Study – California Style

Here in California we do not have a witch hazel to study up close. We decided to do a more general tree study and take a trip to the U.C. Davis Arboretum since it is just an hour drive from our home.  For those that are not familiar with arboretums, they are botanical gardens devoted to trees. This particular arboretum has a three and half mile loop you can walk adjacent to Putah Creek.

Just a note: In doing some researching even after I wrote the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook, I discovered that the sweetgum tree is in the same family as the witch hazel (Hamamelidaceae). Although it isn’t a late fall bloomer like witch hazel, we do enjoy our sweetgum trees and their autumn color. I will be creating a page in my nature journal for this tree instead of the witch hazel.

Back to our arboretum visit…

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (2)

In several sections there are walkways on both sides of the creek with picturesque bridges connecting the two sides. On the afternoon we visited, there were few people and it was calming to stroll along taking in the beautiful surroundings.

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (8)

Each section of the arboretum has a theme, a collection of trees from various parts of the world like Australia or South America. My favorite area was the Redwood Grove where there were many coast redwoods and sequoia trees planted like a small forest. There were benches and picnic tables at which there were people sitting and enjoying a quiet afternoon. I wish I could share with you the delightful aroma of the warm redwoods in the sun.

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (9)

Many of the trees had small signs that gave you their name, family, and native habitat. I always like to know what I am looking at so this added to my enjoyment of the walk. The valley oaks are plentiful in this area and there were some majestic specimens to enjoy with their large sometimes colorful leaves and acorns scattered all around the trunks.

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (10)

This made a perfect habitat for lots and lots of squirrels. Watch out for squirrels darting across the trail or sitting in trees above and chattering at you as you walk.


Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (11)

Here’s an image looking up at the valley oak…we wondered how old these trees were.

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (18)

We truly enjoyed this afternoon at the arboretum. Not only the trees, but the ducks and turtles in the water. From the bridges you could get a clear view of the many Western pond turtles that were swimming and basking on this particular day.

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (34)

I always find it interesting to take a few close ups of the ground in different places. Here are two of my images from our walk.

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (35)

Can you tell it is autumn?  Look at all those acorns!

Davis Arboretum Oct 2014 (45)

Finally, I collected a few leaves to sketch into my nature journal….love the colors all together!

We continue to have warm sunny weather and we are trying to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy walks to note the autumn trees.

Have you taken an autumn tree walk yet?

Chinese Pistache – Sumac Family Study

Chinese Pistache Tree Sumac Family @handbookofnaturestudy
I was excited to learn that our Chinese Pistache tree is related to the Staghorn sumac tree, giving us a tree to observe and learn about as part of the Sumac Nature Study from last week.
Chinese Pistache tree (3)
This is a gorgeous tree in the autumn with its blazing red-orange leaves and bright red pea-sized fruits. We learned that only the female trees have fruit. Many of the resources we read about this tree said that it is not attractive to wildlife but we have found that we have birds visiting from autumn and on through winter that come and eat the fruit of this tree. Even in the winter when the limbs are bare and only the fruits are left, we see robins, starlings, and cedar waxwings visiting and feasting.

Chinese Pistache tree (4)

This is not a native tree to California but is a tree from China. We see them growing all over our part of California so they are a popular nursery tree that is commonly used for its autumn color. The red fruit is pretty this time of year and any left over the winter will turn a dark blue in color.

In comparing our Chinese pistache to the staghorn sumac, I see a similarity in the leaves and arrangement of leaves. Also, the color of the leaves is very similar.

Chinese Pistache nature journal sumac

We are always learning about the creation around us and this study helped us to take a deeper look at a tree we enjoy right in our own yard!

Have you found a sumac to study?