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Goldenrod Nature Study – Summer Wildflower

Goldenrod was the topic from last week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge. Who knew that such a common yellow flower could not only be prettier up close, but also fascinating as a wildflower? Using Lesson 132 in the Handbook of Nature Study, I gleaned a few new interesting facts that helped me appreciate our local goldenrod so much more.

goldenrod sept 2018 (2)

In the Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Botsford Comstock says not to worry about identifying a particular goldenrod if you do observe some in your neighborhood because there are just so many different varieties. I attempted to nail down our goldenrod and decided it’s probably Western goldenrod or Euthamia occidentalis.

The problem here in my local area is that the rabbitbrush is blooming at the same time and it’s also a very yellow low growing plant that you could easily mistake for goldenrod. (See this entry from a few years ago where I made the same mistake: Goldenrod Afternoon.)

But now I know to look for the different leaves and flower shapes, but I do have to look carefully when I’m driving by a field to decide which flower it is that’s blooming.

goldenrod sept 2018 (1)

I’m lucky enough right now to have a goldenrod plant growing in my front rock garden. I almost weeded it out earlier in the summer but now I’m glad I left it to grow! I enjoy seeing it from the window and I hope that it spreads a little to add some yellow flashes of color to my landscape.

The Handbook of Nature Study encourages us in our nature study to look for insects that can be found on the goldenrod. So far, I’ve only seen a few stray bees.

If you missed the Outdoor Hour Challenge last week and would like to give it a try, here’s the link: Goldenrod Nature Study – Autumn Walk and Observations.

Look for the free notebooking page for this nature study linked in that entry!

I used these field guides in addition to the Handbook of Nature Study to learn more about my goldenrod.

Wildflower Set 1 Cover ImageWildflower Nature Study Set 2

I’ve written two wildflower nature study ebooks that you may be interested in using with your family. They are both in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

OHC Plan 18 to 19 Join Us

Join us each Friday for a different nature study idea!

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Goldenrod Nature Study – Autumn Walk and Observations



Goldenrod Nature Study – Autumn Walk and Observations

Goldenrod Nature Study – Handbook of Nature Study Lesson #132

Archive Outdoor Hour Challenge – Click the link above to take you to the original challenge.

Goldenrod is a showy yellow wildflower that is included in the Handbook of Nature Study. There are many varieties of goldenrod all over North America, so you may have some in your local area. This is the perfect beginner’s nature study that starts with a pretty flower and a super interesting lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study.


Anna Botsford Comstock encourages us to engage our child’s imagination as we hunt for “golden cities” in our neighborhoods and to look for insects. This makes it a subject that appeals to a wide range of children as they take a look to see if they can discover this flower and possibly some creatures to observe. Make sure to read the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study that will help you build an interest for this week’s topic.

Make sure to click the link below to read the entire Outdoor Hour Challenge with links, ideas, free notebooking pages, and suggested follow-up activities.

Goldenrod Nature Study – Handbook of Nature Study Lesson #132

OHC Plan 18 to 19 Join Us

This Outdoor Hour Challenge is part of the 2018-2019 Plan here on the Handbook of Nature Study. We will be using the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock to discover new things about the world around us. Join us each Friday for a different nature study topic. Make sure to subscribe to this blog to receive the weekly challenge right in your email box.


Note this is an Amazon affiliate link to a product that I have used and loved for many,many years.



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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Autumn Goldenrod Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Goldenrod Study

From the Archives and the Autumn 2009 series of challenges (no ebook but printable notebook pages are available)

I am super excited for our autumn flower study, either the goldenrod flower or one of the alternatives listed in the challenge. I love looking at wildflowers in this transitional time of the year. After the abundance of summertime wildflowers, autumn flowers are more subdued but still pretty and very interesting. This is certainly the case with the goldenrod. I think the narrative section in the Handbook of Nature Study about the goldenrod is one of my favorites.

Please join us for an autumn flower study!


1 Outdoor Hour Challenge Oct 17 to Aug 18 Plans

Remember we start the Autumn 2010 series of Outdoor Hour Challenges next week. You can see the plan in this entry: Autumn 2017 Nature Schedule.


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Autumn Flower Study – Asters of All Kinds

White Daisy (aster)

“The asters, like the goldenrods, begin to bloom at the tip of the branches, the flower-heads nearest the central stem blooming last. All of the asters are very sensitive, and the flower-heads usually close as soon as they are gathered.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 507

I love a good flower study! Reading in the Handbook of Nature Study I learned that the aster has both a disc flower and a ray flower…like a sunflower. Aha! I can see it now that I have slowed down to really look at this pretty flower from the aster family, a Shasta Daisy or an Ox-Eye Daisy…not sure which

We happened to be at the beautiful summer garden found at Tallac Historic Site and I was excited to find a whole range of asters to observe.  We had been on a quest to find some goldenrod but settled for any flowers in the aster family we could find. (We did find some goldenrod…see last flower photo.)

Can you see the disc and ray flowers?

I think you can really see the disc flowers once the ray flowers wilt back. This daisy helps show the way the different kinds of flowers grow in this daisy flower head. Point that out to your kids the next time you see an aster.

Purple Coneflower

How about this flower in the aster family? The Purple Coneflower is one of my favorites and I grow it in my garden every year….well actually it just comes back to life in the spring so I don’t have to do too much to it.

So now come a bunch of images that show the variety that this flower family can produce. Starting with this really large yellow aster with the long ray flowers.

These were some of my favorites! I love the multi-colored flowers and the Black-eyed Susans all mixed together. I am going to make sure to plant an area of my garden with seeds like these so I can enjoy their beauty all summer long.

Drooping ray flowers really show this flower off at its best! I am going to put this one in my nature journal…watercolors or markers? Not sure yet.

Edit to add my journal—I ended up with colored pencils.

This aster was not in the garden at Tallac but was on the trail around over by Taylor Creek. There was a whole section of them blooming. I love the classic lavender and yellow color combination. This may need to go in my nature journal too.

Eureka! We finally saw some goldenrod in bloom. We had seen lots of dried up goldenrod during our hike but this was the first blooming plant we spied. The goldenrod completed our hunt for all kinds of flowers in the aster family.

NOTE: If you haven’t read the narrative section in the Handbook of Nature Study on the goldenrod plant, you are missing out. Make sure to read the Teacher’s Story for Lesson 132 before you study your goldenrod flowers.

Here we are…the intrepid aster hunters. My oldest and youngest went with me this time and it was great to have them along. They are both a lot of fun.

Mr. B took a break from flower hunting to stack some rocks and strike a pose. Like I said, always a lot of fun with these nature-loving kids.

Don’t miss out on the chance to do your own goldenrod, aster, or chrysanthemum study this month. Pop over to the challenge and print out the free Autumn Garden Nursery Mini-Book printable if you need to make this a quick and easy nature study week.

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Summer Trip to Yosemite – Hiking, Wildflowers, Rocks, and More

Yosemite National Park in the summertime is an outdoor adventureland. There is so much to do! This trip was very different from our usual summer trips because it ended up only being my husband and I that were able to go. It is a far different experience to have just the two of us as opposed to having all six of us hiking around the Sierra. Both of us love this place so spending time together here is a pleasure and a delight.

There was a large wildfire further south from Yosemite but the smoke laid thick all three days of our trip. It was worse in the mornings but afternoon breezes swept some of it away. Yosemite Falls was dry! The park rangers were calling it “Yosemite Wall” instead. I am so glad that we had visited last May and enjoyed the cooling mists of the waterfalls then and for this trip it changed the focus from the valley to the surrounding areas of Tioga Road and Glacier Point.

We came into the park from the Tioga Pass side (east) and stopped just inside the gates to hike up to Gaylor Lake. This new to us hike (part of my nature study goals for 2013) was at a high elevation which always adds an element of breathlessness as you climb the trail. This is the view back down the trail…we listened to thunder and watched the clouds closely to make sure we would not be caught in a thunderstorm.

The landscape was green and there were quite a few wildflowers to enjoy from my resting spot along the trail. There were few other hikers on the trail which makes it seem as if you own the place as you hike along. We did see a man hiking back from the lake with a sack full of fish he had caught.

The trail crests and you look down over a beautiful basin where Gaylor Lakes have formed. I was still a little nervous about the thunderstorm but it seemed to be moving off in another direction.

Here at the top of the trail the trees are growing slanted and I can imagine how the wind must howl over the top of the mountain in the winter.

This is the Middle Gaylor Lake and on this day we didn’t go any farther. We sat for a long time enjoying the view before heading back to the car and on down Tioga Road.

We stopped along the way and took a quick hike over to Lukens Lake to see if there were any wildflowers but the conditions are much like you would find in mid-September and there were no wildflowers at all. It was still a nice hike and we did see lots of Bluet dragonflies along the edge of the lake.

The next day we decided to hike up at Glacier Point, taking the Panorama Trail as far as Illilouette Falls and then back. What were we thinking? We have done this hike before and it is a killer! The sign at the trailhead says two miles one way but both of us registered 3.5 miles on our Fitbits. That wouldn’t be bad but it is a steep, steep hike back up that 3.5 miles and in the hot sun exposed for most of the way. Guess what? It was worth the effort!

Along the trail we saw this wasp nest in a decaying tree. The insects were flying in and out but I got just close enough to take a good photo.

Here is a view of the whole tree and nest. The nest is quite beautiful and amazing to see…we were wondering how long it took to build this work of art.

Here is my victory shot after making it to the top of Illilouette Falls. The bridge behind me is just back from where the falls spill over the edge and down a 340 foot drop. We stayed on the upside of the falls for a long time just enjoying the beauty with our eyes and ears.

I sat on the top of a rock where the water was running down and swirling into the pool below. I was a little sad that my kids weren’t there this time to jump in or dangle bare feet in the cold water. My boys have even slid down the rocks here like a big slide into a deep pool where there are fish swimming in the crystal clear water. Great memories.

That evening we walked through the meadows in Yosemite Valley which is my favorite time of day to view the granite walls. The golden sunlight makes them come alive and the cooling air is filled with the sounds of the twilight creatures like crickets. Later that night we sat and watched the bats dart overhead. There is just so much to take in…

Here is another sunset visitor to Cook’s Meadow.

Early in the morning the smoke was filtering the sunlight and obscuring an otherwise glorious view of Half Dome from Tunnel View Turn Out.

Our last day we rented bikes from Curry Village and took off to explore the bike trails. The path is nearly flat or at least a gentle up and down so going is easy. This is such a wonderful way to explore Yosemite Valley away from the crowds and hustle of the popular areas. We had a nice pedal around the whole loop which includes several bridges over the Merced River where you can stop to take a break.

I of course stop to take a few photos of wildflowers. The goldenrod was so brilliantly yellow pretty.

This was something new to me…yet to be identified so if you have any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated.

So there ends another glorious trip to Yosemite, the second in my goal to visit every season. We have a camping trip planned for late September and I am already looking forward to that time in a season of changes.

These topics I will be adding to my nature journal and hopefully sharing here on the blog as part of my nature study goals:
1. Mountain chickadee
2. Rhyolite
3. Obsidian
4. Chinquapin (shrub)
5. Unidentified shrub with berries the squirrels were eating

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Fall Wildlfowers – Alternate to the Milkweed Study


Many areas do not have milkweed to observe right now and I have had requests for alternate flowers to study. So here are some ideas for an alternative to your More Nature Study #1 Milkweed Study.


I mentioned in the challenge that you can find several alternate flowers in the Handbook of Nature Study. Anna Botsford Comstock gives us some ideas and I suggested “check for other fall blossoming wildflowers to observe like: Jewel Weed (Lesson 134), Late blooming Goldenrod (Lesson 132), or Asters (Lesson 133). ”


I have been doing additional research and you can also look for mullein (Lesson 146), dandelions (Lesson 144), sunflowers (Lesson 159), and several flowers not found in the Handbook of Nature Study– gentians, yarrow, or chrysanthemum. Hope that helps your family to complete the #1Milkweed Study (alternate study-any fall blooming flower).

Dandelion up close
Mullein September
Mullein in my backyard right now…not very pretty.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Series-Goldenrod or Other Autumn Flowers

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Autumn Series – Goldenrod

This series of challenges has greatly encouraged so many of us to look at the changing season with new eyes.

Goldenrod is a showy yellow flower that is included in the Handbook of Nature Study. Anna Botsford Comstock encourages us to engage our child’s imagination as we hunt for “golden cities” in our neighborhoods. If you do not find any goldenrod, an alternative autumn flower study could be the aster. You will find information in the Handbook of Nature Study on the aster starting on page 506. You could also study the chrysanthemum using Lesson 131 in the Handbook of Nature Study. Chrysanthemums are available in abundance right now at your local garden nursery in a wide variety of colors.


Inside Preparation Work
Read Lesson 132 (pages 503-506) in the Handbook of Nature Study. These few pages will give you some great ideas for sparking your child’s interest in goldenrod. It is suggested to also read through Lesson 131 on Composite Flowers since the goldenrod is a perfect example of a composite flower to study. Use the illustrations on page 505 to help your children understand a little better what you are looking for as far as disc and ray flowers. (If you still have a sunflower blooming, you can also use it to demonstrate a composite flower.)

Outdoor Activity
Take a “field excursion” to look for goldenrod. In my research I discovered that there are over a hundred species of goldenrod in North America and they can be found in meadows, pastures, and alongside roads and in ditches. Their brilliant yellow color will alert you to their little “golden cities”.

  • The Handbook of Nature Study suggests on page 506 to notice where you found the goldenrod growing. Did you find more than one kind of goldenrod? How many insects did you find visiting the goldenrod’s flowers? Did you find any galls growing on the goldenrod?
  • Anna Botsford Comstock says to not worry so much about identifying a particular species since they are difficult to distinguish.
  • If it is appropriate, choose one sample to take home for further study during your follow-up time. I made a simple nature notebook page for you to use if you wish.
  • If you are studying an aster or a chrysanthemum for this challenge, I urge you to still read about the goldenrod and take the outdoor time with your children to enjoy the season. There is an Aster Nature Study here on my blog for more ideas.

Follow-Up Activity
Allow time for discussion and a nature journal entry. If you were able to bring home a sample of goldenrod, take the time now to really look for the parts that are discussed in the Handbook of Nature Study. Use Lesson 132 on page 505 to guide your detailed observations of the flower heads. There are suggestions for sketches within the lesson.

Autumn Photo Project

If you have a membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you can use the Autumn Photo Project activity in the printables section of your membership along with your autumn goldenrod study. Print the page out and take a camera along with you to snap a few of the suggested nature photos. This will keep your whole family involved as you take a walk together.

This is the version of the Handbook of Nature Study that I recommend using along with the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Please note this is an affiliate link to Amazon for a book that my family owns and has used for over a decade.

Autumn 2009 cover graphic

You can find the notebooking pages that go along with this series of challenges here: Autumn 2009 Free Nature Notebook Pages.