California Poppies – Using the Handbook of Nature Study and a Nature Journal Tutorial

CA Poppies - bloom

The California poppies are late this year but right on time for our May Outdoor Hour Challenge for wildflowers. (See the May Newsletter for all the May topics to choose from.) We have both wild and cultivated poppies in our yard, hoping that the ones we planted with seed will self-seed for next year’s crop.

As the state flower of California, you could expect that there would be lots to see in the spring and this year there are many.

California Popppies

There is a section of our walking trail that has a large garden of poppies in various stages of development. One of the interesting things that we have noticed about poppies are the way the petals unfold when it is ready to bloom. The “cap” comes off and reveals the flower underneath. After the flower blooms the petals fall and a pod is revealed that looks sort of like a bean pod. Here is look at it close up.

CA Poppies - pod

We took the idea from Lesson 155 in the Handbook of Nature Study (#7) and looked closer at the pod. We cut the seed pod open lengthwise to examine the seeds with a lens. We observed the ribs and how the seeds were attached inside.

CA Poppy pod dissection

Here is a close-up through the magnifying lens of the seeds inside the pod….amazing! All of us were fascinated with the way the seeds are in the pod like you see in a pea pod. We are going to continue watching the pods as they dry up to see exactly when they become black because we know the seeds we planted were not green but black.

CA Poppy - pod dissection

Here is Mr. B’s sketch of the dissected poppy pod.

CA Poppies Notebook Pages
Mr. B and I worked on notebook pages for our nature journals using the California Poppy pages from I highly recommend the Wildflower, Weeds, and Garden Flowers set because it has every flower listed in the Handbook of Nature Study…perfect companion to your nature study. If you own the Treasury Membership it is included so take a look for it in your files.

Fill In The Circle Tutorial

Many of you asked to have me give you more step-by-step tutorials on how I put my nature journal pages together. Here is one for the Fill In The Circle idea that is found in the May Newsletter. (All supplies are shown in the Amazon widget at the bottom of this blog entry – you may need to click over to the blog to see them.)

CA Poppies - Nature Journal 1

I started off with a large pencil circle for my poppy sketch. I also used pencil lines for the poem stanza that I wanted to include in this journal entry. I don’t always draw lines so it is up to you whether you need them or not.

CA Poppies Nature Journal 2

I added watercolor pencil to the poppy and then made a larger box with pen around the two pages I am working on. I like the “window frame” look to tie two pages together. I copied the poem onto the page using a black pen. I used Prang Semi-Moist watercolors to paint the yellow background….sort of a wash technique using just a little color. I decided I wanted some funky bubble letters so I added those next.

CA Poppy - Nature Journal 3

I printed one poppy photo to include on the left page and used watercolors to paint the bubble letters. I added the date to the bottom corner. You can use this idea with any topic you want to include in your nature journal. I would love to see your results so post them in your entry and then submit it to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival.


  1. This was a very helpful and encouraging post. Makes me want to open our journals right away. Your son’s sketches are quite impressive!

  2. Just wondering if you use the poisonous designation to keep your child from eating it. My understanding is that californian poppy is a very useful soporific medicinal herb which can be taken by both adults and children – you may wish to check this with your local herblady.

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