Wildflower Walk-Purple Chinese Houses, White Globe Lily, Indian Pink, and More

Trail with poppies-it is a steep hike but very rewarding

It was a family hike day down our near-by trail. We just discovered this trail over the winter and have now been hiking it for the last few months regularly. We are finding that every time we venture down it, we find something new and exciting waiting for us.

This afternoon we found lots of new wildflowers blooming, some familiar and some new to us. We also saw at least three different kinds of butterflies and heard a new bird but never discovered who it was…..shy bird with a lovely call. We need to come back with binoculars and spend some time quietly sitting and waiting with a field guide.

“Everyone should have the privilege of enjoying the natural beauty of the countryside. Such enjoyment is impossible if a relatively small number of people insist on picking and destroying native plants for their own selfish interests.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 460-461

Here are some of the beauties we saw on this particular hike.

Some kind of pea flowering on a vine.

California Indian Pink….showy color and you couldn’t miss it!

Purple Chinese Houses
These are some of my favorite wildflowers. Not only are they purple but they are really big. On this trail they line both sides as you walk the upper part.

White Globe Lily or as we call them Fairy Lanterns. They are also know as Snowdrops, Indian Bells and Satin Bells. Whatever you call them, so pretty.

This is a new flower to us. I love the little purple dot on each petal and the yellow center. The interesting stems and leaves make this unusual shape. They were all over the trail…in the center as well as the edge. I have not identified this wildflower yet….any ideas?

This was so sweet smelling as we hiked along…deer bush, California lilac, or wild lilac. The bees loved it.

This was a wonderful way to spend our Outdoor Hour this weekend. So many families have thanked me for starting the Outdoor Hour Challenges but the reality is that this whole process has blessed me more than you can imagine. I have renewed zeal for finding ways of weaving nature study into our life too. It has been a mutually beneficial experience. :) So thank you to all you families who are participating.

Our Green Hour #11 Year-Long Tree Study

For this challenge we were to choose a tree to study for a year, observing it in each season to notice the changes. My son and I used the Tree Study sheet to prompt our observations but in the Handbook of Nature Study on page 625 there is a section on “Spring Work” to use with your own tree.

My son has suddenly taken an interest in basketball and is bouncing a ball in every spare moment. I tore him away yesterday afternoon to have him to pick his tree and do a quick observation. He picked one of the sweet gum trees that we have growing just off our back deck. We have four of these trees planted as a shade break for the hot summer afternoons. They are perfect for shading us for the late summer sun and then they loose all their leaves in the winter and allow the sun to hit our house in the winter to make it light and cheery. They also turn the most magnificent colors in the autumn and make the view out our back windows very colorful and enjoyable to look at….I can see them as I wash dishes at the kitchen sink. they are not native to our area but they are very popular as tree plantings in neighborhoods and in yards for shade and their beauty.

So here is a copy of his notebook page for his journal. I am going to slip it into a sheet protector and hopefully the leaf will survive for the year that we have ahead. At least we will have the scan of the page so we can compare on the computer if we need to.

You can print the notebook page here: 
Seasonal Tree Study Notebook Page. 

Here is a little sampling of photos from his tree taken on May 3, 2008.

(note the bouncing basketball….I don’t always get rapt attention for nature study)

(click this photo and you will see an ant on the bark)

You can join the Outdoor Hour Challenges at any time.


Outdoor Hour Challenge #12 Focus on Garden Flowers

Many of you have expressed the desire to have a group focus for the Outdoor Hour Challenges. I hesitated at first because among the participants there are such a variety of habitats involved in the Outdoor Hour Challenges. We have those participants that live in the rainy Northwest, some live in the hot Southwest, many live in urban areas, and then there are families that are just getting their feet wet with nature study all around the world.

garden bounty 10 12 09

After much thought and consideration, I managed to convince myself that we could all share in a focus area to some extent and if you choose not to participate in the group focus, you are certainly welcome to pick your own focus area and share with everyone week by week as well. I want the Outdoor Hour Challenges to be positive and encouraging and I will strive to maintain that goal.

seeds in yogurt cups
If you are new to gardening and need some tips, I will give you some easy instructions. Growing plants from seeds is easy. We use yogurt cups filled with a little potting soil to start our seeds. Follow the directions on the seed packet for seed planting depth, watering, and transplanting. Good first choices are sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds, and petunias. In general you can grow just about anything in a little cup or pot as long as it gets some sun and a little water each day. If it is still cold at night where you live, you may want to sprout your seeds indoors. Our weather has warmed up so we are growing ours on our back deck. As an experiment you could keep some cups outdoors and some indoors just to see the difference in their growth. (That’s extra credit.)

Outdoor Hour Challenge #12
Start Your Engines…I Mean Seeds

1. Begin an eight week focus on garden flowers. Follow along with us as we adventure into the garden, whether it is your own flower pot with seeds in it, a square foot garden, a park with some flowers to observe, or anything in between. Read pages 453-456 in the Handbook of Nature Study-How to Begin The Study of Plants and Their Flowers.

“The only right way to begin plant study with young children is through awakening their interest in and love for flowers.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 453

This would be a great week to take a field trip to a garden nursery to observe the variety of colors and textures in garden flowers that are available in your local area. While you are there, let your child pick out a flower to add to your home garden. You can pick out seeds to grow, a plant already growing in a pot, or both. If you haven’t started a garden yet, pick a flower that you can grow in a container either on your back porch or in a window. (Please note that in week 16 we will all be starting sunflowers and you may wish to pick those seeds up while you are at the nursery.) If you are starting some garden flowers from seed, make sure to water them according to the directions on the package. In general you will want to keep them moist during the germination period (until you see the plant popping out of the ground).

2. Take your 10-15 minute outdoor time to look for some garden flowers in your own area. If you already have some of your own garden flowers blooming, pick one to identify and see if it is listed in the Handbook of Nature Study.

3. Start a new list in your nature journal of garden flowers that you have planted or that you have seen while on your field trip or during your outdoor time. Make sure as you start this study of garden flowers that you turn to the Handbook of Nature Study’s table of contents to the “Garden Flowers” section and mark or highlight those garden flowers listed that you think you will encounter during your nature study time. Each week pick one flower to read about before you have your OHC time and this will help you have some interesting information to share with your children. If you found a new flower during your nature time, be sure to follow up with a reading in the Handbook of Nature Study if it is listed in the book.

4. Give an opportunity for a nature journal entry. Drawing flowers is a very enjoyable experience for most children.

5. If you are going to make field guide cards for your garden flowers, start those this week. Try to make one card per week and at the end of this focus period you will have eight cards completed. 


This challenge is part of my Garden Flowers ebook. This ebook has ten garden related challenges that will walk you through a study of garden flowers using the Handbook of Nature Study. In addition to the challenges already written, there will be more photos, nature journal examples, book lists, and totally new notebook pages designed to go with each of the Garden Flower Challenges.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy