Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nature Boxes

I said Barb's suggestion had inspired me... so here it is: our very own "Nature Box".

Instructions for making one are on my main blog, but this shows the box in action on the nature table.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Green Hour Assignments 5 and 6

Somewhere along the line, between the cold weather and the wind and rain, my little band got left behind at Green Assignment number 5.

Not to worry though, we decided to combine them, because on a sunny spring day, why not let the kids out into the back garden and roam.

This was an easy pair of assignments to combine…

The kids ran around hunting flowers, while I wrote down their names, locations and other things of interest.

Then I let Rebel collect a sample of each, for us to press.

I had hope to build a flower press in the next few days, but that was not really soon enough for us, so we… pressed a dictionary into use! :)

I have an idea in the back of my head, to follow a suggestion of Barb’s… a nature box.

This would indeed be a useful place to put our pinecones, the bone Rebel found at the park, and a selection of shells and rocks gathered.

Later I hope to include either a series of cards with our pressed flowers, or maybe a book :) I already have on of my own from YEARS ago ;)

In a few days, I hope to add the Henbits we pressed a few weeks ago, to our newly started Herbarium, ready for their fellow pressed comrades ;)

In the meantime. I am going to encourage the kids to use the tiny little booklets I made, to make some observations about the chosen flowers we studied today… the Daffodil and the Violet.

I'll come by and update the post with what we find!

ETA: Some Journal Pages

I made Rebel and M'Lady a tiny notebook each, with a few sheets of paper, trimmed in half, then folded in half to make a quarter sized notebook.

The daffodil page...

And the Violet page :) Both drawn on site, in our back garden!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Springtime Happenings...

at our house. These are springtime views from our garden and just across the road!
First... seeds. They are sprouting!!

Lettuce seedlings...

and pea seedlings.
Our flowers look good too! M'Lady investigates the Veronica sp.

We saw our first butterfly of the year today.

It was investigating these beautiful, but stinky Bradford Pear blossoms.

This Magnolia virginiana is infinitely more appealing in it's scent.

The Irises are sprouting too... reminding us of the 'green spikes' Mary finds in the Secret Garden.

While the peach blossoms are out, and enlivening the garden with their beauty.

Wild flowers, like this Henbit, abound.

It, and it's cousin the Purple Deadnettle are loved by our kids. They call them Gobbaloon flowers. A name Rebel gave them many years ago!

and where you find Purple Deadnettle, you find Pennsylvania Bittercress. It has a rosette of leaves at the base.

This inedible Indian Strawberry is a native to our garden. It hides away in shady spots.

Dandelions are propagated by our children playing with the Dandelion clocks! This one sports the first bee we saw this year. Rebel later spotted a bumblebee... also the first of the year.

But not all nature study is about flowers! Rebel is digging a 'mine'. A hole at the bottom of our hill, where he tells me he is being a 'geologist'. :)

Inside the house, an experiment lingers. Three days ago, we spread cress seeds across a damp napkin. Already today we have LEAVES. We hope to eat an egg and cress sandwich in a week ;)

I hope you have enjoyed this round of spring at our house... until next time... from Sunny central Virginia!

Green Hour Assignment IV

Once more, we are embarked upon our latest Challenge from Barb at The Heart of Harmony.

The weather being rather nice, we have once again been spending time outside, including a daily walk with Jacobite in the evening :) The kids love taking a walk with Daddy :)

We decided (or rather I did), that flowers would be our focus area for nature study. With the arrival of spring, we can hardly avoid the subject, and with the new books that I have acquired, we have set to with a will. The kids seek out the flowers on our walk, and are able to identify them well.

I introduced them to the lost art of the ‘Violet Duel’, which involves hooking the two violets around each other and pulling until one of the blooms is removed :)

I mentioned the other day, that we pressed some of our flowers… we will be using them in some kind of activity.

Perhaps we will start our own herbarium!

As ever, the children did indeed produce a nice nature journal entry, apiece.

Rebel (8) painted some more daffodils, both yellow and white varieties and a dandelion.

M’Lady (4) tells me that this is “a picture of moss… the green parts are moss!”

And my own playing around… A picture of the flowering trees! I realized afterwards that I could have improved the background on it, but the aim was to inspire the kids :)

We'll be outside again later today, and perhaps we will press or paint more flowers :)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bring Back the Nature Table!

Country Living British Edition has issued a challenge to Bring Back the Nature Table... you can read all about it in my sidebar... which is complete with links :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Planning and Planting My Garden

Gardening in Hardiness Zone 7a, Heat Zone 7, Sunset Zone 32.

I promised you a progress report on my garden this year. So far… so good!
The springtime weather pattern has started here. That is to say that the weather is fluctuating between warm and COLD.
I have noticed that March is nearly always like this… and who knows where the “In like a lion, out like a lamb” idea came from? It never seems to work here in Central Va!

But on to the garden stuff.

A few weeks back, I started with the first warm weekend, and joined each of the 2, 4’ x 4’ beds into one long bed. So now they are approximately 4’ x 9.5’!

You can see what it used to look like below!

I carefully added some peat moss and some bagged manure/compost mix, and forked over the bed.
Unfortunately, the builder who built the house added some clay-like topsoil to our normally sandy yard, and I noticed clumps of the clay appearing in my beds. Not to worry, the weather should take care of that, right? Sure… if you have the right weather! Yesterday’s storms were our very first instance of the right weather :o

I let the beds sit a couple of weeks (oh and I transplanted the two Swiss Chards next to each other. They survive the winter here).
Last Sunday, I planted a packet of seeds and about a dozen lettuce seeds right into the bed. I know it is early enough because I keep finding volunteer lettuces around the garden! I also planted about 8 spinach plants and a similar number of cilantro seeds. I hope they all come up!

I also added a fig tree (in a pot) and repotted my Chrysanthemum (which is coming to life too).

Inside, I have planted (about 2 weeks ago) 4 Brandywine Tomatoes, 4 Sungold Tomatoes, 4 Big Jim Chili Peppers and 4 California Wonder Sweet Bell Peppers. I also planted 2 Parsley and 2 Sensitive plants.
This weekend I added 4 Citrus basil and 6 Giant Leaved Basil. I love basil and never get enough of it ;)

The indoor seeds have been spending quite some time outside with the nice weather, and already most of my tomatoes have sprouted (they were up in a couple of days), and today I spotted basil, parsley and pepper plants!

Already blooming in the garden, are the Lobelia (Veronica sp.) and one of my phlox plants. My daffodil and several tulips are showing, and a few iris shoots are up too. All the maple trees are blooming, the neighbour’s Bradford pears, the neighbour across the street’s Magnolia virginiana and the weeds: speedwell, Pennsylvania bittercress, Henbit, Purple Deadnettle and Dandelions. The Chickweed is almost in bloom…

And that, is my garden for the first week of March 2008 :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Green Hour Assignment III

Spring has Sprung! And Barb from over at the Heart of Harmony, has another Green Hour Assignment for us! This time it is journalling the walk we took. Not something the kids had much trouble with... in fact I did not even need to prompt Rebel, who grabbed up the pencils and set too with a will! (click on pictures for a larger one to see ;))

Two days in a row of wonderful weather… yesterday we sat outside for a few hours. Well I sat. The kids played ;) They worked together on an Easter garden for this year.

The kids build an Easter garden

And the finished monument, without the decoration (that will come a little later!).

The Easter Tomb completed, but undecorated.

They examined the daffodils in our flower beds (not yet in bloom)…

Daffodils in the garden

And the lobelia (a cultivated speedwell, a lot darker than it’s wild cousin that grows abundantly in our yard!)…

Lobelia, a Veronica spp.

And generally just played!

Taking advantage of the fact that our weather is nice and warm today, we headed outside at the first opportunity, and repeated the walk we had done last week in the rain!

Getting the kids to be silent was hard… well impossible in fact, but they did learn that when you are quiet you hear things that you would not otherwise ;)

Daffodils on the walk

Spring has sprung in our neck of the woods, the happily chirping birds and the blooming flowers paid testament to that fact!

Blooming Forsythia

Once home, Rebel worked very hard on a wonderful page inspired by the daffodils we saw (and also partly inspired by the Wordsworth poem I recited for them ;)) ...

Rebel's "Golden Daffodils" (note one is REAL gold ;)) Notice also the hats rolling at the tops of the picture :)

...while M’Lady drew a plan of our trip!

A plan or map of the walk, including the "cutter cutting limbs on a tree", the kids running back to the house and a "colourful" M'Lady!

The trip ended in hilarity as the wind blew M’Lady’s hat off, then as we chased it rolling down the road, it blew mine off and Rebel caught it!

An, as yet, unidentified flowering tree.

Back at the house, I suggested we pick some Henbit, which we are now pressing between the pages of a rather large dictionary :) In a few weeks, we might use those for another nature themed treat ;)