Friday, May 12, 2006

Nature Study in the Garden

Considering that DS had finished his mathbook this week, I decided to take lessons outside today. Or at least take the kids outside!
So out we go... no it was not as easy as that... I had to have my notebook and field guides and my camera... the kids needed pencils and paper and hats... you get the idea.
After about 10 minutes, we did however, manage to get out.
It was beautiful enough for a nature study day... I know the birds are out in force... I watched as a Cardinal and his mate were chased by another Cardinal... I saw butterflies flitting this way and that...
And I heard a tapping coming from above... I looked up and saw this:
OK... it looks like a tree. It *is* a tree...
But there on the trunk, there is a downy woodpecker, pecking away at the tree trunk.
Unfortunately for me, they are a little small for the camera to catch so high up there!
There was obviously something good there though... he would peck a little, fly away and then he'd come back for more.

I traipsed around the garden, searching for photographic ideals... I wanted some NATURE photos!

I did manage to swing a honeybee:
he was busy working on one of our roses...
he flitted from rose to rose, barely stopping long enough for me to capture his picture. I had to wonder if I was making him nervous, but he seemed to be ignoring me. Perhaps the flowers were just no good!
He was also fascinated with an unopened bud... but no luck for him there!
and a bumblebee...

This one was flying around my comfrey... again, so fast I had a time trying to capture him on film. You can really see the pollen 'sacks' on his hind legs well.
I had intended to use him as a good 'nature study' example or the kids... they were too busy looking around them!

I wasn't too thrilled to find this guy in my roses:
I have heard too many stories about earwigs.
I mean... just look at the pincers on that thing!
This is apparently the European Earwig which you can read more about right here.
This site: what's that bug, is a fascinating site... with lots of earwig information!

and the flowers were more than willing to stand still for me.

This beauty is an eglantine rose... like in the Shakespearian poem I quote in my header :)
They have a very faint scent, but are famed for their foliage, which is slightly apple scented when moist or crushed. And yes, I did try ;)

This is the Indian Strawberry a non edible relative of that delightful summer fruit :D
Not that it stops DD from trying to eat it or picking the whole bunch.
By the time it was 'naptime' she had probably harvested the whole area of fruits... I know there was a sizeable pile on the table anway!

And my herbs are looking great:
This one is Borage... the flowers are tiny blue stars... and they are edible. They taste a little like cucumber, and are a great way to jazz up a salad!
Borage is related to the comfrey... and you can see this in the hairs that are all over the leaves. Believe it or not, the leaves are apparently edible too... not that I have tried them (although I did eat the flowers).
I am a terrible person when it comes to my edible plants... I can't bare to take the blooms off of them because of their stunning beauty... just look at it! ;)
Speaking of edible...
The catmint shown here among the spearmint, is blooming and looking good! Both catmint and spearmint can be used to make herbal teas... and my friend at Making Footprints has told me how she makes a sun tea, using spearmint and lemon balm.
It's not my only flowering herb though... I have more.

One of my favourites is the CHIVES... you can also eat the blossoms from this culinary favourite... or even use them to make a pink vinegar or oil, with a chive like flavour. I am thinking of trying it this year! My favourite chive recipe, however, is when you get some small, new potatoes, and boil them until they are tender. (Yes you can steam them if you prefer). Toss them in butter and sprinkle with chives! Great served hot or cold. You can even add chives to your potato salad!


Jill said...

The name "earwig" itself sounds scary! I love your garden photos.

Amy said...

Stunning pictures!