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Wednesday Flower Study #10: Queen Anne’s Lace


6 09 queen annes lace (1)
Daucus carota

I have been on the look out for the first of the Queen Anne’s lace of the season and yesterday I saw it alongside our walking trail.

My local field guide says this:
“Wild carrot, or Queen Anne’s lace, is a biennial and its large root distinguishes it from the more common rattlesnake weed. Also, Queen Anne’s lace is a common name used for many species of plants with delicate white flowers.”

Here is a section of the Handbook of Nature Study, page 542:
“…this medallion flower attributed to Queen Anne is well worth studying. It belongs to the family Umbelliferae, which one of my small pupils always called ‘umbrelliferae’because, he averred, they have umbrella blossoms. In the case of Queen Anne’s lace the flower-cluster, or umbel, is made up of many smaller umbels, each a most perfect flower-cluster in itself.”

6 09 queen annes lace (4)
“The wild carrot is known in some localities as the ‘bird’s-nest weed, ‘ because the maturing fruit-clusters, their edges curving inward look like little birds’ nests.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 544

I know that spring is well along now that the Queen Anne’s Lace is in bloom. It will be here all summer to enjoy.

Here are a few of the websites I have used in my study of wildflowers this term: -specific to California and free to join.
Northwest Common Wildflowers -National Park service coloring book
California Wildflowers -California Academy of Sciences, index by color.

This completes our families focus work on flowers, both in our garden and with a few wildflowers. We are going to be choosing a new focus for the summer… probably butterflies! Get ready to see what we learn and how we get started.

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Wednesday Flower Study #9: Sweet Peas

We have some sweet pea vines in our front yard but they are not blooming yet. There is a spot where they are growing wild alongside the roadway nearby so we were able to get a small piece of a vine with blossoms and buds to observe and then draw into our nature journals.

“The sweet pea has some of its leaflets changed to tendrils which hold it to the trellis. Its flower is like that of the clover, the upper petal forming the banner, the two side petals the wings, and the two united lower petals the keel which protects the stamens and the pistil.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 589

Want to see a demonstration? Here is a very short video we made showing the different parts of the sweet pea flower.

“In nature study the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 5

The above sweet pea sketch is from Amanda’s nature study from many, many years ago. She is a flower girl and her journals have always been filled with colorful blooms of all kinds.

I love the delicate colors of this flower as it matures and blossoms.

Can you see the flower parts there between the wing petals?

The sweet pea is now safely recorded in our nature journals. This was a perfect study for this morning in the cool air in the shade. The afternoons are getting hot so our nature study is going to be limited to early morning and the evening hours from now on.

I copied the poem about sweet peas from the Handbook of Nature Study section on sweet peas. I think it describes this flower perfectly.

In other garden news…….

The garden is growing in this hot weather.

Our sunflowers are growing at an incredible rate right now.

The sweet smell and taste of ripe strawberries are a daily occurrence. Lovely, just lovely.

So a little late today for my entry but we have been busy with finishing up term exams and deciding on unit celebration plans. Please feel free to study any flower you have on hand and share your results on Mr. Linky so I can pop over and check it out. You can also just leave me a comment if you wish.

If you want to see our original list of flowers with links to all the entries, here you go:
Wednesday Flower Study

Our family has one more Wednesday Flower Study to complete next week and then we will be focusing on something else…not sure what yet but something close at hand. 🙂

Vine Nature Study Sweet Peas @handbookofnaturestudy

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Wednesday Flower Study #8: Dianthus/Carnations/Bachelor’s Buttons/Cornflowers

Wednesday Flower Study Dianthus Carnations Bachelors Buttons @handbookofnaturestudy
We have two varieties of dianthus in our garden…one red and one white.

I have been thinking all along that they were the same thing as bachelor’s buttons but apparently not. See, I learned something this week. The dianthus in our garden are actually varieties of carnations. Bachelor’s buttons are composite flowers and carnations are not.

They smell like spicy vanilla…my favorite.

“Each bachelor’s buttons is made up of many little flowers…”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 579

Apparently I have no actual bachelor’s buttons in my garden.

I am thoroughly confused about the different names of these two flowers…..bachelor’s buttons and cornflowers.

as well as dianthus and sweet williams and then………..

there are carnations.

We are going to do some more research. 🙂 I am going to list some links below for my reference and you are welcome to read them if you are interested.

Bachelor’s Buttons/Cornflower
Sweet Williams/Dianthus or Carnations


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Wednesday Flower Study #7: Mullein

Wednesday Flower Study Mullein
Mullein-Handbook of Nature Study page 537-539

“This felt on the mullein is beautiful when looked at through the microscope; it consists of a fretwork of little, white, sharp spikes…..I soon discovered another means by which the mullein resists drought, when I tried to dig up the plant with a stick; I followed its taproot down far enough to understand that it was a subsoiler and reached below most other plants for moisture and food.”
HNS, page 537

This is the first time I have left the mullein in the flower bed. I am curious to see just how large it will get and I am anxious for the boys to study the flower stalk once it starts to blossom.

I think I am beginning to see the value of learning about a plant *before* it blooms so we will be vigilantly watching its progress. We read through the information in the Handbook of Nature Study. We had already experienced the long tap root when we were pulling it out of the pathway a few days ago. I would say that the root was about two feet long and at the top it looked like the shape of a carrot. The plants we left in the bed are growing like crazy!

That was our flower this week, now you can pick your flower and see if you can be prepared for your next flower study. 🙂 We have three more flowers we want to study before we finish with Wednesday Flower Study day. You can join us any time you want to, with any flower you want to. You do not need to study the same flower we are if you don’t want to.

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Buttercups: Wednesday Flower Study

The Common or Field Buttercup-Handbook of Nature Study, pages 516-518

“The buttercups, bright-eyed and bold,
Held up their chalices of gold
To catch the sunshine and the dew.”

“Common buttercups and daisies are always associated in the minds of the children, because they grow in the same fields’ yet the two are so widely different in structure that they may reveal to the child something of the marvelous differences between common flowers; the buttercup is a single flower, while the single daisy is a large group of tiny flowers.”

This sounds like a great way to learn about some common flowers in the garden.

We have a spot that we hike to that has a whole hillside of buttercups.

We didn’t complete an in depth study this week but we did complete our observations and then a journal entry. I know you all must think that we spend oodles of time each week in nature study but in all honesty, some weeks we just *enjoy* getting outdoors without much preparation or follow-up.

I would rather we aim for making our outdoor time as regular as possible, have some focus to start off with, and leave things open and flexible if something happens to catch our attention.

Here is something we found on the trail that caught our eye this week. Butterflies!

I know this one is dead but it did give us an excellent opportunity to examine this creature up close.

The blue is iridescent in this swallowtail…so pretty.

This painted lady let me come very close and get a good photo. She was very busy sipping nectar from the wildflowers in this sunny spot alongside the trail.

We were watching these swallowtails for a very long time. I love to watch them flutter around in the sunshine as they gather their meal. Click to see this one better. 🙂

Our garden is coming alive with colors. I am not sure what we will study for next week yet.

Now is your chance to go outside and pick a flower to study from your yard. It does not have to be a buttercup but something that you can observe from your neighborhood. Pick your flower and then look it up in the Handbook of Nature Study.

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Wednesday Flower Study #5-Pink Petunias

Confession: My petunias are from the garden nursery. I don’t really much like petunias but they are a happy spring flower that has brightened up our front and back decks with their cheerful blooms. My eldest son helped me pick the color and I am surprised that he picked pink because he usually picks much richer primary colors in flowers.

I don’t blog much about my oldest son because he is a very busy twenty-one year old young man who has a full-time job as a computer programmer and goes to college in the evenings. When he isn’t working or at school, he is sequestered away working on complicated homework or his various artistic ventures. Usually on the weekends, he spends his Sundays with us and for our family that means worshiping together and then spending some family time at home in the yard or outside hiking or walking the dog. My oldest is always up for a little time on the trail. He lives and works in a very technological world but he is still connected to the outdoors and feels the need to be refreshed by the sky, trees, and birds. We have some of our best talks as we share our outdoor time.

Anyway, back to our weekly flower study.

As always, we found something interesting in the Handbook of Nature Study about our subject. The story of our modern petunias is interesting and we talked about colors of petunias that we have seen in our area. We also learned that petunias are in the nightshade family. The petunia gives off its perfume at nightfall, perhaps to attract the hummingbird moths to feast on its nectar.

“With their long feeding tubes the hummingbird moths have little difficulty in securing the nectar, but bees also will work industriously in the petunias. They will scramble into the blossoms and, apparently complaining with high-pitched buzzing because of the tight fit, rifle the nectar-wells, that seem to be better adapted to insects of quite different build.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 583

The lesson suggests that each child have their own flower for observation and that they have access to a petunia bed to observe the habits of the plant. We will be adding a few more petunias to our flower garden so we can observe all the interesting tidbits contained in the Handbook of Nature Study.

There are lots of suggestions for sketches in this lesson. We will be adding to our journals as the spring and summer go by. I found a coloring page for petunias if you would like one for your nature journal.

So now it is your turn to pick a garden flower and pull out the Handbook of Nature Study and see what you can learn this week. We will be moving on to buttercups this week. We have been observing them on our hikes for a few weeks now and it is high time that we take a few minutes to really study them. You can pick any flower you have in your yard or that you have access to and can observe up close. Even if you don’t do a formal study…take a few minutes this week to share a flower with your child. After all, it is spring now!

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Wednesday Flower Study #4 Pretty Pink Hearts

“The flowers of the bleeding heart are beautiful jewel-like pendants arranged along the stem according to their age; the mature flower, ready to shed its petals, is near the main stem, while the tiny unopened bud is hung at the very tip where new buds are constantly being formed during a long season of bloom.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 559

We chose the bleeding heart this week to take a closer look at during our afternoon outdoor time. We have one side of our house that is pretty much left in a wild state and it is full of bleeding hearts that bloom in the spring time. The mower comes close to this area but I have given strict orders that this particular stretch of the yard be left alone to do as it wishes.

We brought inside a vase full of flowers to examine up close just as the book suggested. Do you know what? We have never cut any of these flowers to bring indoors before this study. The other amazing thing is that we didn’t even know that they had a fragrance until we had the vase on the table and we were observing the flowers parts.

Once we pulled the petals back to look inside, the fragrance was almost overwhelmingly sweet….too sweet. My daughter thought they smelled like honey and I think that is a pretty accurate comparison.

The Handbook of Nature Study has a great explanation of the way this flower works and how the bees pollinate it by pushing apart the spoon-bowl shaped outer petals, pushing against the hinge works, then probing the nectar pitcher inside.

Here is the flower with the outer petals removed, exposing the inner petals and the heart shaped base of the stamen.

We would love to watch a bee gathering nectar so the next warm day we will be out and trying to catch that process happening.

Now you can pick your flower and join the Wednesday Flower Study. Choose a flower from your garden and look it up in the Handbook of Nature Study. Here is more information on how to get started. Join in during any week you have time. Wednesday Flower Study
Here is my original list and the flowers we are going to cover in our study.

Flowers Blooming Already or That We Can Study Right Now
Violet (page 476) Finished 3/18/09. Here is a LINK.
Buttercup (page 516)
Tulip (page 552) Finished 4/1/09. Here is a LINK.
California Poppy (page 531) Finished 4/8/09. Here is a LINK.
Petunias (page 581)
Mullein (page 537)
Dandelion (page 531) Finished 3/25/09. Here is a LINK.

Flowers that Will Study in Addition to Those Above
Bleeding Heart (page 558) Finished 4/15/09.
Bachelor’s Buttons (page 578)
Sweet Peas (page 588)
Queen Anne’s Lace (page 542)

We will be moving on to petunias next week. We have some really nice white and pink ones to study up close and to record in our nature journals.

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Wednesday Flower Study #3 Another Successful Week

I found it surprising that the California poppy is covered in the Handbook of Naure Study since it is usually thought to be a book for the East Coast and not the West. I thought the information was really well done and the black line drawing of the poppy on page 564 was really perfect for helping us draw a poppy in our nature journal.

My earliest memories of poppies are when I was quite young and my aunt taught me that you could “tip their hats”.

“One of the most interesting performances to watch that I know is the way this poppy takes off its cap before it bows to the world. Like magic the cap loosens around the base; it is then pushed off by the welling, expanding petals until completely loosened, and finally it drops.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 563

These are really small poppies…the ones I remember as a child were much bigger but you get the idea.

This is such a silly little video but please envision me perched precariously on the side of the hill trying to hold the camera and to tip the cap at the same time. 🙂

I wish I could share with you how lovely these flowers are because my photos just do not do them justice. The hillsides and banks alongside our hiking trail are a blaze with poppies right now.

“….we can never understand its beauty until we see it glowing in masses on the California foothills.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 563

The orange glow of California Poppies really cheers me up and it reminds me that it really *is spring*!

“This is not nearly so pretty or so descriptive as the name given to this poppy by the Spanish settlers on the Pacific Coast, for they called it Copa-de-oro, cups of gold.”

“In California it should be studied in the spring, when the hills are covered with it. But the plant may be brought into the schoolroom, root and all, and placed in a jar, under which conditions it will continue to blossom.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 565

“The insects in California take advantage of the closing petals and often get a night’s lodging within them, where they are cozily housed with plenty of pollen for supper and breakfast; and they pay their bill in a strange way by carrying off as much of the golden meal as adheres to them, just as the man who weighs gold dust gets his pay from what adheres to the pan of his scales.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 565

I think I would like to sleep inside a poppy blossom…..all surrounded by soft orange petals.

One last very cool thing to share with you. Last week we took a different fork in our usual trail. The trail wound around a long ways and gave us hints of a view of the river below. We kept saying that we would go one more bend and one more turn before we decided to stop. Well, we did that for a good twenty-five minutes until we reached a dead-end. Guess what was there?

What is it?

It is an abandoned gold mine, pretty much filled up with water……I will save more photos for another entry. 🙂

We will be studying our Bleeding Hearts this week. Although the most striking flowers in our garden right now are the pear blossoms. They are so pretty and delicate.

Now it is your turn. Pick a flower from the Handbook of Nature Study or from your garden and make your own flower study. You do not need to pick poppies….pick something you have in your area. Here is the first entry in this series to explain more about Wednesday Flower Study day.

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Tulips in the Garden: Wednesday Flower Study #3=Fresh Faces

Do you remember last fall when I was busy planting bulbs and sharing the process? I am now reaping the benefits of our labor….in the form of gorgeous tulips.

Breathtaking flowers that are amazing in color and shape. It makes me want to plant more!

We took the opportunity to do a little nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study.

“There are a great many varieties of tulips, and their brilliant colors make our gardens gorgeous in early spring….Water-coloring drawings may be used as helps in studying the tulip. The red varieties are best for beginning the study, and then follow with the other colors; note differences.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 553 and 555

We looked at all the parts of the tulip and here is a good shot of the pollen on the inside of the petals. We also looked at tulips just opening and noted the shapes. We looked at the sepals and petals, the buds, and the open flower. We are going to wait until the petals fall off and then observe the seed pod. The HNS suggests dissecting the seed pod and making observations then.

We sketched and painted in our nature journals to remember our first bloom of tulips in this part of the garden. Previously, someone asked me about painting directly into the journal and it has never been a problem for us. We just leave the page open for a little while and it dries very nicely. I do not paint on back to back sides though.

So my best advice is to paint only on one side and let it sit long enough to dry.

One last tulip photo….

Creamy, dreamy white tulip.

Lurking in our garden at all times is the fearless Cocoa. This is her “Ferdinand the Bull” imitation….resting among the chickweed and the alyssum. Photo taken by my middle son….thanks Mr. A.

So that concludes our tulip study for this week. We now have three flowers completed and are on track to study poppies next week.

Now it is your turn. Pick a flower from the Handbook of Nature Study or from your garden and make your own flower study. You do not need to pick tulips….pick something you have in your area. Here is the first entry in this series to explain more about Wednesday Flower Study day.

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Wednesday Flower Study #2-What Are You Going to Study This Week?

This week we studied the dandelion. This cheerful flower/weed is found all over our yard and our neighbor has a whole crop of dandelions for us to study.

Here are some interesting facts we found out about the dandelion.

*In the sunflower family-No wonder I think they are happy little flowers.
*Grows from 2″ to 20″ tall.
*It has a hollow stalk.
*Common name comes from “dent de lion” which is French for “lion’s tooth”, referring to the teeth on the leaves.
*The flowers open and close.

You must read the introductory pages to the dandelion study starting on page 531 of the Handbook of Nature Study. Anna Botsford Comstock writes in such a narrative style that you will enjoy reading the information and I am sure you will remember much of it to share with your children.

“Professor Baily once said that dandelions in his lawn were a great trouble to him until he learned to love them, and then the sight of them gave him keenest pleasure.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 531

I couldn’t agree more. I always hate it when my neighbors use the weed eater to remove the thousands of dandelions from their property. I would much rather look at the cheerful yellow flowers than a bare piece of ground.

The Handbook of Nature Study has a great list of activities in the lesson for the dandelion.

Here are a few that we complete:
3. Sketch or describe a dandelion leaf.
4. Take a blossom not yet open. Note the bracts that cover the unopened flower head.
7. Note what hour the dandelions on the lawn close and at what hour they open on pleasant days.

We were able to work on all three of these ideas in our study today.

Here are the bracts covering the petals before the bloom opens.

Really short dandelion that practically is blooming flat on the ground…interesting how some are tall and some are not.

You can really see the “lion’s teeth” in this photo. 🙂

Another garden flower/weed is now recorded in our nature journals.

I think next week we will work on the tulips in our yard that are just starting to really bloom.

If you would like to join us, see the instructions in this entry: Wednesday Flower Study.