Picking New Garden Flowers-Green Hour Challenge #12

I thought I would share a little of our family’s gardening history in our Outdoor Hour post this week. We have always been a gardening sort of family and the kids have grown up with their hands in the dirt. Each child has had their own garden box and when spring rolls around they get busy planting.

This is my youngest son working in his garden in 2001….that would have made him five years old. I think the look on his face says it all.

This year he has planted a zuchinni, some spinach, and is now going to add some dill and some violoas to his box. He has herbs from last year growing…chives, oregano, and basil I think.

We went to Home Depot to look for some new things and he wanted something colorful and he wanted seeds so we found some on this really big rack of seed packets. He also picked out a pepper called “garden salsa” and this one he wanted as a seedling. I picked up some morning glories after being inspired by Jenn and I also picked out some coleus seeds for my pot on my back deck.

Our nature study this week has been filled with observing each morning the signs of a skunk in our backyard. Here is what it looks like. They make swirly holes looking for grubs and other tasty treats. I am so glad they are doing this in the unlandscaped side of our yard and not in the grass….yet.

Can you believe how busy these guys are looking for things to eat? Here is my son’s drawing for his nature journal of a striped skunk.

We had another relaxed Outdoor Hour week with a little time each day in the garden and observing birds and reptiles in our backyard. We did have one really sad incident. The baby blue jays that we had in a nest near our window were taken by some bird and then the nest was damaged so there are no longer any babies for us to observe. It has been hard on everyone to watch the “circle of life” drama this week.

I hope that everyone else has an enjoyable week for their Outdoor Hour. Remember, you do not have to focus on garden flowers if you are into another focus or you have something else in mind for your family.


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.