This week’s challenge is one that we originally had a hard time completing. But, because we prepared ahead of time and were patient, when the opportunity arose to see evening primrose during a hike, we could identify it and enjoy seeing it in person. It really is a very pretty flower!
Do some research and see if you have evening primrose in your area. If not, use the information in the archived challenge to learn about another night blooming flower like moonflower or Four-O-Clocks.
I wrote an entry about planting seeds in my garden to have some of my very own night blooming flowers: Night Blooming Flowers.
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On an absolutely beautiful autumn day, we hiked out to the river to enjoy the sunshine and fall colors. We were on the lookout for some fall seeds and we discovered a new flower!
I have no idea what this plant is but it was about four feet tall and was swaying in the breeze…waving us over to take a closer look. Aren’t these the prettiest little flowers?
Each branch ended with these delicate flowers and the stem of the plant was purplish red.
We also discovered a patch of evening primrose dispersed among the big boulders lining the river’s edge.
We also spied this massive mullein plant with its soft rosettes of leaves.
We were so distracted by the plants and flowers that we didn’t collect any seeds for our nature journal entry. I am thinking that it will take a change in the weather before I am inspired to collect seeds and sit down long enough to make a page for our fall seeds. Can you blame me?
This week’s challenge is to find some Evening Primrose to observe. When you click over to read this challenge, I invite you to view the images as well. Those images were taken on a hike along a familiar beach that was filled with Evening Primrose!
But, if you can’t find an this particular flower to study, make sure to pick another wildflower or night blooming flower that you have to observe and enjoy up close. This challenge includes quite a few suggestions that would apply to any flower you have on hand.
Special Activity: Pressing Flowers Collect a few flowers during your outdoor time to press for your nature journal or other crafts. Here is the link to YouTube: Flower Press.
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #2. You can help your children find words to describe their outdoor time hunting for flowers. Use the prompts in the challenge to create a simple nature journal entry that they can illustrate with markers or colored pencils.
Up until last year I would not have know what this flower was called but we focused on it during the Summer Series of challenges last year. There is something wonderful about being able to name a flower or tree or bird, making it a part of your world. You can own it.
We took two hikes in Yosemite while camping this week, one new and one familiar. We drove up Tioga Road towards Tuolumne Meadows and stopped at Yosemite Creek. We hiked down the creek about two miles, enjoying the sound of water running over the rocks. This creek eventually filters down to fill Yosemite Falls…the iconic waterfall that so many come to see from all over the world. This time of year it is not much more than a small stream coming over the top but come next spring it will be a torrent.
Here is another view of Yosemite Creek which right now is lined with wildflowers. We stopped and took a break sitting on rocks as we took in the sights and sounds of the wilderness. We only saw two other people hiking on this trail the whole afternoon we were out there. It is an amazing experience to have this spot of the wild all to yourself.
Well, unless you count the insects. These Ranger’s buttons had a variety of insects enjoying the summer sunshine. We couldn’t name these critters but it was interesting to watch them do their work.
This trail was also home to quite a few trees that showed signs of bear scratchings. The bark on this cedar tree was roughed up by bear’s claws.
I started calling these “bear curls” since they were where the bear had pulled the tree bark down making it twist into curls. Interesting? I think so.
We also spotted this HUGE fungus on the side of another tree…really high up. Can you believe the size of it? Amazing to see!
The second hike we took was to Taft Point which is off Glacier Point Road. It is a favorite hike for the boys since there are lots of boulders to climb and the view once you get to the point is incredible….and high.
Here is a shot of the boys at the railing which is right at the edge of the cliffs….sorry no photos of the view to the valley or over across the valley to Yosemite Falls since my camera batteries were both dead. I broke my camera when we were at the Grand Tetons and I now have it duct taped shut but the battery door opens up and somehow the battery drains down very fast. I am in the market for a snew point and shoot.
The hike was highlighted by a slithering Rubber boa crossing the trail right in front of us. He was about 24-30 inches long and not in a very big hurry. We were able to get a really good look at him. Funny thing is we were just talking about how we never see snakes while in Yosemite and then we saw this one….weird.
Okay, so if you are not into snakes, how about a pretty wildflower? This is Monkshoodand I have only seen in two places at Yosemite so I was happy to catch it in bloom. The yellow in the background is Arrowleaf groundsel.
We spent some time in the Valley walking the paths under the trees and I was on the look out for some thistles in preparation for the up-coming thistle challenge. I was pleased to find both milkweed and thistles growing right together along the trail. The thistles are in a variety of stages of life…some blooming, some going to seeds, and some getting very dry.
Guess who came along for us to observe? Mr. Dragonfly was enjoying the Bull thistles right along with us. So very pretty to look at!
Here is another insect coming to feast on the thistles…this one was very buzzy and I took a quick photo and then got out of his way.
The Showy milkweed is all producing large seed pods and we found this milkweed beetle crawling on one of the pods. These pods are amazing to see and touch…just like velvet.
So this is my new wildflower for the trip. We identified this lovely lavender flower as Sierra lessingia. We read in our field guide that Mary Curry (of Curry Village) called it Summer Lavender and I would agree with her that because it grows in such large patches in the flat spots along roads and in the valley, it looks like clouds of lavender. I love learning something new and now I can name that pretty flower that grows so profusely this time of year in the Valley.
So there you have our hikes and wildflowers, bears and beetles, dragonflies and snakes. So many things to enjoy and learn about when you get the opportunity to get to know a place….
This challenge was truly a challenge as we pushed ourselves to find a subject to study in our local area. We could not get our Four O’Clocks or Moonflowers to grow this year in our garden. We are going to try a different spot next year to see if it makes a difference.
In the meantime, we did the reading in the Handbook of Nature Study and went out in our yard in the evenings looking for flowers that attract moths. We didn’t observe much except maybe that the star jasmine has a more intense fragrance at night and it really stands out in the garden because of its white flowers.
We also noticed that the Dusty Millers were sort of glowing in the evenings too with their silvery soft hairs on the stems and leaves.
Sometimes the subject just appears and because you are prepared you can take advantage of the opportunity. This situation happened to us on a recent hike. We were hiking at our favorite spot and came down to the beach at the lake’s edge.
Wow! We couldn’t believe our eyes. We were greeted with a beach covered in wildflowers. The two most predominant flowers were the lupine and what we identified using our field guide….Hooker’s Evening Primrose! Can you believe it? We had never seen this beach covered with these flowers before and we had never seen evening primroses in the wild. The field guide says that these flowers are nocturnal and are fragrant at night.
Here are some photos….courtesy of my oldest son. He has become such a wonderful photographer and being able to share a passion with a child is such a gift.
The beach was a blaze with color, more awesome than even the photo shows.
Isn’t this the most lovely flower? The mix of the purple lupines and the yellow of this flower was stunning. It was a moment to be remembered forever.
This has been another great Outdoor Hour Challenge…thanks to the Handbook of Nature Study and Anna Botsford Comstock’s desire for us to learn about the things we have all around us.
Summer Series #9
Evening Primrose or Other Night Blooming Plant
Train Your Senses
Sight: Observe an evening primrose opening. Look for night flying insects on the primrose. Observe the difference between the leaves at the base and those at the top of the plant. Look for other night blooming plants.
Smell: In the evening, see if you can smell the sweet fragrance of a blooming evening primrose.
Taste: See this LINK for more information. See #6 of Lesson 127 in the Handbook of Nature Study (tasting the nectar).
Inside Preparation Work:
“Then some warm evening, usually about sunset, but varying from four o’clock in the afternoon to nine or ten in the evening, the petals begin to unfurl…..Three or four of these flowers may open on a plant the same evening and they, with their fellows on the neighboring plants, form constellations of starry bloom that invite attention, and night flying insects are often seen on them.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 488
Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 488-491 (Lesson 127). There are garden species of this plant available and many areas of the United States have the evening primrose as a wildflower. Other night blooming plants include 4 o’clocks, Moonflowers, and Night Blooming Cereus. Here is a link that has a list of night blooming flowers.
Outdoor Hour Time:
Spend fifteen minutes outdoors in the evening to observe an evening primrose. If you do not have an evening primrose, try to see if you can find any other night blooming flowers in your area. Use the suggestions from the Handbook of Nature Study to closely examine the parts of this flower, perhaps watching long enough to see the petals unfold. The Handbook of Nature Study also recommends observing a flower blossom indoors so you many wish to collect a specimen to have on hand for your follow-up activity.
Make sure to discuss the reason for night blooming flowers during your follow-up activity. Have the child guess what sort of tongue the insect would need in order to gather nectar from the evening primrose. Make time for a nature journal entry using the notebook page from the Summer Series ebook or in your own blank nature journal.
Suggested Nature Journal Activities:
Wildflowers are wonderful subjects for a watercolor drawing. Try using watercolor colored pencils to sketch an evening primrose or any wildflower into your nature journal.
Using the notebook page and/or the coloring page included in the Summer Series ebook, record any observations your child has from their outdoor time.
Press a blossom for your nature journal. Simple instructions can be found HERE.
If you would like all the Summer Series Challenges in one place, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. Here is a link to a complete description: Summer Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges
New purple wildflower. I am still working on identifying this one.
Large Tiger lily.
No kidding, it is as large as my palm.
Osprey nest on the top of this dead tree…see it up there made out of sticks?
Here is a link to the sound that was coming from this nest: All About Birds: Osprey
As we were standing there, the mama or daddy osprey flew in and dropped a fish from the lake into the nest and then it flew away. All was quiet again.
Just a few photos to keep track of some of the things we have experienced while outdoors this month.
Hubby surprised me with this new field guide. I haven’t had a chance to really look into it deeply but it looks very, very good. I will post a review soon.
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