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Nature Journal Pages – April Examples

Note: I found this entry in my drafts! I have been so busy over the past six weeks as we sold our house in California, purchased a house in Oregon, moved all our belongings, and tried to keep from getting to stressed out. It isn’t surprising then that a few things slipped through the cracks.

Here is my April nature journal entry for your enjoyment.


Weekly Nature Journal Project

April 2017

This month my nature journal is full of flowers. My world has been filled with flowers so it only makes sense that this is what made its way into my heart and then onto my journal pages. The first part of the month we were in Oregon, then back to California, then back to Oregon again. This pattern will be happening for the next few months while we transition our life to our new home.

Spring in Oregon nature journal @handbookofnaturestudy

Central Oregon is just starting to move from winter into spring, so it was fun to create a second spring page noting my observations in contrast to my previous California spring page.  I featured the crocus we saw and used a bright springy background of yellow for my journaling.

Mustard entry @handbookofnaturestudy

The first wildflower we studied from the new Wildflower Set #1 is the subject of the next page in my journal. We saw mustard all up and down the state of California.

April dogwood entry @handbookofnaturestudy

This is the second page in my year-long study of the dogwood tree. I think this is my favorite page of the month! I so enjoyed making careful and up close observations of this pretty flower…or rather flowers and bracts. The creamy color and delicate pink tinge may just make this my favorite flowering tree.

Purple chinese houses nature journal @handbookofnaturestudy

I think this is my first two page spread of the year. I wanted to sketch this flower and include a photo so it made sense to make it two pages facing each other. I included a list of the other flowers we found on this particular hike. It’s always nice to have a record to compare from year to year.

As we get ready to make our move to Oregon, I’m getting very sentimental about my home and garden here in California. Each day I try to make more mental notes of the sights and sounds. It’s comforting to know that many of those memories are tucked safely away in my journals. I packed my older nature journals into a box yesterday and was grateful for the time I have spent digging deeper into learning about my neighborhood’s flora and fauna. I also packed my children’s nature journals alongside mine in the box. I inherited those journals from them as they left home. You can be sure they will be treasured keepsakes of the 30 years we have lived here on Hilltop Drive.

From a hilltop to a riverbank….maybe next month you will see my new habitat make an appearance in my nature journal!


Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge
Don’t forget that I am sharing a nature journal page each week on my Instagram account if you want to see the pages as they unfold. Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. And, if you want to create a page and share it on your Instagram for me to see, use the hashtag #OHCnaturejournal


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Garden Delights and a Living Habitat – Tuesday Garden Party

Dogwood blossom

It feels like spring now that the dogwood is blooming! Our front garden is such a source of joy right now with it colors and textures. I spend far too much time gazing out the window at the beauty and sitting out on the steps just breathing it all in deeply. The birds and insects are visiting daily as they find different things to enjoy too…the bird bath, the blossoms with pollen to collect, or the seeds in the feeders.

Whether you enjoy the fragrance or the color of lavender… would be happy sitting in this part of the garden. The bees are buzzing again, stopping by many of the purple flowers many times before flying off again. I am anticipating the summer harvest of my lavender and creating many more sachets to give away to friends and family.

So this is the view from the top of the garden looking down from the top terrace. The yarrow is huge this year and already covered in flower buds. We weren’t sure about our pruning that was done last fall because we were worried we had trimmed it too far to the ground but now look at those mounds of yarrow! The lavender is filling in after being trimmed almost all the way back as well. I love using the internet and as a reference for my gardening tasks…there is a lot of practical advice out there. The butterfly bushes are going to be amazing this year and the poppies are showing their color (middle right of the photo).

Since the front yard is so low maintenance, we can focus our thoughts and energy on our vegetable garden now that the weather is warming up.

My husband and I are so very happy with our no-mow yard and enjoy having the neighbors stop by and tell us they love driving by and seeing all the different flowers. If you are interested in removing your lawn and switching over to drought tolerant plants and natives, I highly recommend a book I am reading from Timber Press: Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Evelyn J. Hadden. It claims to have fifty lawn alternatives…most of them are spectacular but yet not too complicated.

One thing I have learned about my own no-mow yard is that there is going to be a lot of color if you plan it right. No-mow yards are much more interesting and enjoyable to all the senses. You can see how our project started here: Frontyard Remodel.

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Our Beloved Dogwood Tree – Blooming Right on Schedule for Our Nature Study

Dogwood Nature Study 1
Our Dogwood Study with the Handbook of Nature Study
(It is not too late to join us if you still have a dogwood blooming in your neighborhood.)

Funny how we all have had our favorite spring Outdoor Hour Challenges. For me? This dogwood study has been about two years in the making. I have always wanted to have a dogwood tree in our front yard but it wasn’t until we did our massive front yard remodel that I was able to find a dedicated spot for the dogwood tree. We choose one with white blossoms…my favorite.

You can see our front yard transformation here in this post: Removing the Lawn.

Dogwood Nature Study
We waited last year for it to flower but we only had leaves. This year….ta da! A dozen or so creamy white blossoms to enjoy and now study.

Dogwood Nature Study - bracts
We read in the Handbook of Nature Study about how the flowers have been waiting inside the bracts all winter long, protected and sheltered until conditions were right. I have spent the last month or so going out almost daily to check the branches for any signs of opening. What a gift once we saw the bracts changing!

See the notched bract? This is another thing discussed in the Handbook of Nature Study that I would have never noticed if it wasn’t pointed out to me.

Dogwood Study - flowers and bracts
I had to convince Mr. B that the true flowers are the ones at the center and not the big white bracts. We counted the flowers and found there were 25+, some open and some closed.

Dogwood Nature Study Notebook Page
Notebook Page for More Nature Study Book #3

The Handbook of Nature Study said that this was a perfect lesson to use a hand lens for so we brought ours out and took a deeper look. Amazing! If you haven’t yet done your dogwood study, I highly recommend this activity. You might note it in your ebook to do for next year as well if your dogwoods are no longer blooming.

Dogwood Study - Leaves
How fun is this? Don’t the leaves look like a bird? I was busy standing on top of my retaining wall to take photos of the dogwood and looking down on the leaves….it truly looked like a bird!

Spring Yard - Color 1
Now for a few fun images from our evening study. Here is a colorful view of our front yard right now….hubby brought me home a new garden flag for the front stairs. I love it! We did have a swallowtail in the yard a few days ago so it won’t be long now until butterfly time! The Kona dog is taking a rest from helping us weed and water.

Rock Garden
I don’t think I shared my new addition to the rock garden. We took a new hike up into the mountains and into an area where you can collect rocks, a true rockhounds paradise. We brought home this big piece of serpentine which is the California State Rock. Isn’t an amazing shade of green? Our rock garden has become its own little micro-habitat with insects and critters living around and under the rocks. In the evenings there is a very loud cricket chorus in our yard. It is a comforting sound and I stand on the deck and listen in the dark and imagine where they all are as they sing.

Red Bud
What a wonderful study! It all started back when we decided to remodel the front yard a few years ago and we put on paper our list of plants and trees we hoped to include. The dogwood came two years ago and this past week we added a California redbud. I am looking forward to seeing it grow and mature…maybe next year it will bloom for us.

I invite you to take a closer look at your dogwood using the Handbook of Nature Study!

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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Spring Was Here and Now It’s Snowing

Snow - Spring Shower
My blog entries over the last few weeks have shown what wonderful spring weather we have been enjoying. This week we had snow, heavy rain, and high winds. In between storms we would rush outdoors to drink in the sunshine and get some fresh air. The daffodils are still blooming, several vases full at a time which contributes to my good mood.

Our signs of spring have been popping up all around us and I made a personal list of things to study in the next few weeks, some with the Handbook of Nature Study and some with my field guide.

1. Dogwood (Handbook of Nature Study page 680)
2. Spotted Towhees-Where do they nest?
3. Red Shouldered Hawk
4. Iris (Handbook of Nature Study page 571)
5. Hair Cap Moss (Handbook of Nature Study page 709)

Dogwood bud 3 16 11

Our new dogwood tree (planted last fall) is beginning to show signs of life. We purchased it when it had lost its leaves already so we are anxious to see it leaf out and blossom too.

Forsythia yellow

Our forsythia continues to spread its own yellowy sunshine in our yard, providing shelter to the sparrows and towhees that sit on its boughs.

Tree Buds

The buds on this tree are ready to burst open and seem to be waiting for just the right moment.

3 17 11 Tulips

Mr. A’s tulip bed shows signs of life this week and on careful examination you can actually see the flower buds forming. Now that says spring!

3 17 11 Laurustinus

Last year I featured this flower in my signs of spring post and I didn’t know what it was called. I have since done my homework to discover its name because I wanted to plant some more in a different area of the yard since it is such a great bloomer. It is Laurustinus – Spring Beauty. I actually found some to purchase at our Home Depot last week and four new plants are happily placed by Mr. A over on the other end of the yard now.

How quickly our weather changes this time of year! We went from sunshine to rain and then to two inches of snow in a matter of hours. Now today it is back to rain again with periods of snow showers that wash away with the next wave of rain.

Daffodils in a Spring Snow

The daffodils still add color to our yard even with the snow coming down. I picked quite a few and brought them inside so it feels like spring at least on the inside of the house.

Birdfeeders in the Snow with Forsythia

The birds were not deterred by the snow and they gathered at the bird feeding station.  We all sat and watched the birds flying in and out as the snowflakes came down all around. They sheltered under the nearby lavender and would pop out to flutter up and take a few nibbles.

So there you go…a wide range of spring weather and lots of promises for a future summer of color and goodness.

Looking forward to seeing your signs of spring this week!