Wild Mustard

Spring=Mustard=Allergies
Or at least it is in my world. Mustard is a wildflower that we see in great numbers in our area starting about this time of year. I spotted this patch of mustard growing in an abandoned orchard near my house.
The Handbook of Nature Study, page 460:
“Because of their beauty and scientific value, special need exists for the protection of our native wild flowers and shrubs. It is understandable that these uncultivated plants should attract the visitor, but in too many instances he is not satisfied to enjoy their beauty as they exist in their natural habitats. All too frequently he picks flowers in large numbers, only to discard them faded and wilted a few hours later.”
(note this was written in 1911)
Look at those beautiful flowers.
“Some flowers are so abundant that they can be picked in moderation if the roots are not disturbed, if plenty of flowers are left for seed, and if the plant itself is not taken with the flower.”
Another beautiful spring day.

Picking our Focus for Outdoor Hour Challenge #4

As part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge, our family will be focusing on garden plants for the next eight weeks. This does not mean that we won’t be looking at anything else interesting that comes up during our nature study but rather we will keep our minds set on learning more about the garden plants that we have in our backyard. I am sure we will also take in a field trip or two to the local nursery and to our favorite place at this time of year, the Amador Flower Farm.

We got out the Handbook of Nature Study and skimmed down the garden flower selections and my son decided that he wanted to learn about pansies since we have a pot of them on the back deck. We read the introductory information together. He really enjoyed hearing how the flowers looked like human faces so that is what we decided to observe this week.

pot of pansies
My son took this one for his nature journal.
taking photos

pansy centers
I took this one of the center of the flower using my macro setting.

For our 10-15 minutes outside we took some time to really look deeply at the pansy. He saw the face and then we looked deeper for the little man that the book talked about. Found it! We brought one flower inside for pressing and eventually to add to his nature notebook. He had taken some photos of the pansies and those will go in too. Later this week he will put it all together into a page in his notebook.

I read the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study that talk about using scientific names and about the field notebook. We have kept nature notebooks for many years and have found them to be something we enjoy reading over many times. We use spiral notebooks with heavy paper and they have held up very well over the years, even with little hands.
forsythia

Pretty yellow forsythia.

We were overwhelmed with all the garden flowers already blooming in our yard once we started looking closely.

heart flowers

This is our favorite and soon it will fill in a whole flower bed on the side of the house.

violets
Violets, mmmm. Can you smell them?

Oh, and there was a little tree climbing during our nature time.

climbing a tree

Another successful Outdoor Hour Challenge…..done in 30 minutes.

California Poppies and John Muir

Time for poppies. I love it when I see these golden orange flowers along the road and on the hillsides because I know that spring has arrived in our part of the world.

Isn’t this a happy flower? No wonder it is our state wildflower.

From the Handbook of Nature Study, page 565:
“The California poppy is native of California; there it blossoms during the months of February, March, and April in greatest abundance. It is found in the desert as well as among the foothills.”

Pages 563 to 565 in the Handbook of Nature Study are devoted exclusively to the California poppy. The HNS also has a lesson on poppies in general starting on page 560.

Now this little beauty was starting to bloom on the same hillside but I don’t know what it is.

This I do know and it is purple vetch….anything purple is okay in my book.

Quote from Muir Among the Animals:
“When California was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden throughout its entire length, north and south, and all the way across from the snowy sierra to the ocean…..Descending the eastern slopes of the coast range, through beds of gilias and lupines, and around many a breezy hillock and bush-crowned headland, I at length waded out into the midst of the glorious field of gold. All the ground was covered, not with grass and green leaves, but with radiant corollas, about ankle-deep next the foothills, knee-deep or more five or six miles out….Sauntering in any direction, hundreds of these happy sun-plants brushed against my feet at every step, and closed over them as if I were wading in liquid gold.”

I can close my eyes and imagine how beautiful a place John Muir found in the early days of California’s history. If you are a fan of John Muir’s, this is a must read book.

Spring Wildflower Study Button