Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Bachelor Buttons

This week we’re starting to work through the Nature Study Continues – Summer! I invite you to join us for a fantastic series of nature study plans with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Now that it’s spring, it is so exciting to be starting off the series with a colorful garden flower.

“We call it bachelor’s button; but in Europe it is called the cornflower, and under this name it found its way into literature….Their tubes flare open like trumpets, and they are indeed color trumpets heralding to the insect world that there is nectar for the probing and pollen for exchange.”

Handbook of Nature Study

bachelor buttons

Use the suggestions in the Handbook of Nature Study linked below to take a look at some garden flowers this week. If you have access to the bachelor’s button, learn more in depth about the composite flower using Lesson 131 in the Handbook of Nature Study.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Bachelors Buttons @handbookofnaturestudy

Link to the Archive Challenge: Bachelor Buttons


Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Nature Study continues cover

If you want to purchase the Summer Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels.

The rest of the topics in this summer series are:

  • Water lily
  • Lacewing
  • Willow
  • Larkspur
  • Fish: Common shiner, Johnny darter, sunfish
  • Pearly everlasting
  • Asters
  • Baltimore oriole
  • Caddisfly and water strider

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

See the Join Us page for complete information.

Use this discount code to receive $5 off your Ultimate Membership:



Nature Observer – May 2019

We had a tease of spring before the cold temperatures crept back in and the rains came pouring down. My friend keeps track of the rainfall numbers and we’re on track for a record breaking year as far as inches of rain. Here in Central Oregon we have a fairly dry climate, some call it the High Desert because of the low rainfall and dry air. You wouldn’t think so right now with the water standing in our yard and the rivers running very high. I’m dreaming of the long, warm summer days.

In the meantime, we jump outside when the sun is out and work on the garden and get out to observe all the amazing things we have in our area.

Here are some nature highlights from our month.

tree swallow nesting box may 2019 (2)

We have two pairs of tree swallows nesting in our yard again this year. We’ve observed them going in and out of the boxes early in the morning and then later they take off to swoop and dive out over the river. They sometimes come back to sit on the fence in the sunshine. They are such graceful and pretty birds and I’m so pleased they are nesting here again.

nest may 2019

There’s also a nest up on the back of our bbq house. I noted some dried grasses on the ground behind the shed and wondered where they came from. On investigating it further, I looked up to see a big nest up on the top of the wall. The kind of bird has yet to be determined.

western tanager may 2019

What a fantastic surprise to look outside the other day and see the colorful Western tanager at our bird feeder! There ended up being five males and two females that were enjoying the suet feeder.

smith rock hike oregon may 2019

We braved the weather to get in a hike at Smith Rock State Park on a weekday afternoon. It’s a very popular place on the weekends, so my aim was to get there on a day and time when we wouldn’t have so many other people on the trail. Success!

arrowleaf balsamroot

There were so many wildflowers to see along the trail and there were lots of birds too! My favorite flower of the day was most definitely the arrowleaf balsamroot that was growing along the ridge of the canyon. There was quite a display of color!

Now for a couple of pages from my nature journal.

Lake Clementine nature journal

I attempted to draw a scene from the hike. The water coming over the dam from the lake and the resulting rainbow in the spray was one of my favorite moments to capture as a reminder of this day with my daughter on the American River in California.

porcupine nature journal

My son was out hiking behind our house in the evening and he spotted a slow moving animal in the distance. As he got closer, he first thought it was a beaver but when it climbed a tree he realized it was in fact a porcupine! I still haven’t seen it, even though I’ve been trying to keep my eyes open for it when we’re out in the evenings. This page is the result of my research in the hope that I will soon spy my very own porcupine.

I’m still playing catch up in my nature journal so hopefully I’ll have a few more pages next month to share. In the meantime, if you want to look at the page on my website with hundreds of nature journal ideas, please feel free to use them as inspiration.

Getting Started with Nature Journals


There are many, many nature journal ideas included in the archives of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletters. If you have any level of membership, make sure to download the newsletter index to make finding a topic easy.

Newsletter Index download

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Garden Flowers #10 Sunflower Study and Art Too!


“All this flower has to do is to hold its banner aloft as a sign to the world, especially the insect world, that here is to be found pollen in plenty, and nectar for the probing.”

Handbook of Nature Study, page 576

Growing and then studying your own sunflowers is a great way to learn the growing cycle of a garden flower…from planting seed to harvesting seeds.

Last week, the challenge was to plant some sunflowers. This week our challenge is to make some observations once your sunflowers are blooming. If you have access to sunflowers now, either in your own garden or from a farmers market, take the opportunity to use the lesson’s suggestions to go deeper into a composite flower study.

Sunflower Renees Garden

Read the Handbook of Nature Study pages on sunflowers (pages 574-578). I can’t think of a better way to study sunflowers than to follow Anna Comstock’s lesson in this section of her book. Read the narrative and then go over the observation suggestions.

If you would like to see our family’s sunflower nature study entries, you can read it here: Outdoor Hour Challenge #16 and Outdoor Hour Challenge #29

Don’t miss seeing our images and nature journal pages!


If you have access to the Garden ebook, make sure to pull out the sunflower art activity using a painting by Van Gogh.


Gardens ebook Outdoor Hour challenge

With this challenge, we’ll be finishing our official work in the Garden Flower and Plants ebook. If you’ve been working in this book along with us for the past eight weeks, you’ll want to make sure to check if there are any nature journal pages you need to add to or finish up. See page 37 in the ebook for a list of wrap-up activities. Of course, you can continue working on your garden flower challenges and notebook pages as long as you have an interest.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Nature Study Continues ebook

If you want to join us for the summer series of nature study challenges, we’re going to be starting with the Summer Nature Study Continues ebook on May 31, 2019. If you have an Ultimate or Journey level Membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you have access to this ebook and the detailed plan for the summer in your account.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

If you would like to purchase a membership so you have all of the challenges at your fingertips and the custom notebooking pages too, click over to read all the details and download a sample: Summer Nature Study Continues ebook sample.

Use this discount code to receive $5 off your Ultimate Membership: