Posted on 2 Comments

Renee’s Garden Seeds Update – End of Summer 2020

Renee’s Garden Seeds Update – End of Summer 2020

Our spring was spent building a new section of garden that would be attractive to birds, bees, and butterflies. Renee’s Garden seeds played a big part in filling our new garden beds with color, variety, and beautiful flowers. (See our start to the garden in this entry: Renee’s Garden 2020.)

Renees garden seeds update 2020

Because of our harsh climate zone, we’ve struggled with finding garden plants that will survive through the cold, long winter we have in Central Oregon. Our solution is to plant both a mix of annual and perennial flowers, as well as native wildflowers and shrubs. This strategy has worked in our front yard and now we’re continuing that mix in our back garden.

renees garden seeds 2020 (2)

Earlier this year, we rototilled and cleared about 1,200 square feet of scruffy grass and then proceeded to build two long, narrow garden boxes. Our aim was to make it not only more beautiful, but to have a more attractive garden space for bees, birds, and butterflies. A bonus side benefit is that we now have a peaceful spot to sit in the garden to enjoy all of the creatures that visit.  The birds love the bird bath for drinking and bathing and they will often come even with us sitting close by.

Here are some of the Renee’s Garden seeds we chose:

Rainbow of California Poppies: This variety of poppies is now my absolute favorite! I love the pastel colors that are in this mix and I go out every day to see which ones are blooming. They are thriving in our climate which is surprising but very much appreciated. I will be planting more of these in years to come.

renees garden seeds 2020 (4)

Early Blooming Beekeeper’s Mix: We enjoyed this mix so much last year that we added it to the list again this year. The sweetly colored flowers are hardy enough to last through our very cool summer nights.

renees garden seeds 2020 (8)

Seeds for a Butterfly Garden: I think I planted too many seeds in our box but the sunflowers and cosmos don’t seem to mind. The zinnias are growing up under the cosmos and need to lean way out to reach for the sun. If I did this combination again, I would plant far fewer cosmos. Still, I’m anxious to see how the sunflowers do once they start blooming.

renees garden seeds 2020 (7)

Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers: LOVE this sunflower! It’s an all time favorite of ours that we grew in California and it thrives here in Central Oregon as well.

renees garden seeds 2020 (5)

Van Gogh Sunflowers: This sunflower with the quintessential shape and color is attracting bees and various other insects to the new garden. The finches are stopping by to nibble on the leaves too!

renees garden seeds 2020 (7)

Heirloom Blue Delphiniums: These seeds have sprouted and are growing….slowly. I’m not sure what to think and I will have to update you later in the season as to whether they actually bloom or not.

renees garden poppy sunflower 2020 (2)

Heirloom Pepperbox Poppies:  This is our second year growing these magnificent poppies in our back yard. There are a variety of colors and shapes in the packet, producing gorgeous blooms that the bees buzz around all summer long. I highly recommend these poppies.

Renees garden seeds update 2020

Please note that I receive some of the seeds as a promotional thank you from Renee’s Garden. I’ve purchased and used her seeds for many years now and I’m never disappointed.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy

Click over to my garden resources and see if you find some inspiration to get you going.


Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

I post lots of images of the garden on my Instagram account. Click over and follow if you’re on Instagram. Also, if you tag your photos with #outdoorhourchallenge, I’ll stop by and see what you are up to in your nature study.




Posted on Leave a comment

What is Nyctinasty?

Why do Flowers Close at Night?

Why do flowers close at night nyctinasty


Simple definition:  The movement of leaves or petals in response to light; the closing of flowers at night. This may help to protect the pollen from dew.

I love learning about amazing things that happen right under my nose. Many of us have observed the way our dandelions are closed up tight in the morning and then the bloom opens up in the sunshine each day. But, have we taken the time to really understand how that happens and why it happens? Just recently I did a little research to find the answer to that question.  Now when I take note of my sleepy little flowers, I can appreciate the mechanism for this phenomenon: nyctinasty.

Poppy nyctinasty

Examples of flowers that open and close:

  • Tulip
  • Crocus
  • Dandelion
  • Poppy
  • Daisy

Fun fact – The leaves of some plants, like those of certain legumes, open and close as well.

 dandelion nyctinasty

Try This! Something to Observe

Find a patch of daisies or dandelions in your yard. Observe the flower at different times of the day. When are they opened up? When are they closed?

Advanced study: For an additional experiment, try covering a dandelion with a box to shut out the light. What do you think you will find when you take the box off the next day?

Taking time to notice these changes will help your child make a more intimate connection with the world around them. I guarantee you will look at dandelions differently after observing them up close!

Nyctinasty notebook page

If you’re an Ultimate or Journey level member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you have a custom notebook page for creating a nature journal entry for nyctinasty in your download library.

tulip nyctinasty

Additional Links:

Why do plants close their leaves at night? – Audio explanation of nyctinasty.

Flowers on the Move – Super simple explanation of nyctinasty.

List of Flowers That Close at Night – Here’s a list to get you started.


Outdoor Hour Challenges for Flowers That Close At Night


If you would like to purchase a membership to have access to all 21 of the ebooks here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you can click the button below to view the titles. In addition, members receive access to all 76 archived issues of the monthly nature study newsletter, and new monthly printables.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy




Posted on Leave a comment

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Poppy and Buttercup Wildflower Study

Poppies and Buttercups @handbookofnaturestudyOutdoor Hour Challenge

Poppy and Buttercup Wildflower Study

From the Archives and in the More Nature Study – Spring ebook

We are going to go on a search for poppies and buttercups this week! In my world, this is prime time for both of these wildflowers. In fact, I have some blooming right in my front yard!

Join me using the ideas from the archive post linked above or you can download the More Nature Study –Spring ebook if you are an Ultimate Naturalist Library member.

You may with to create a poppy nature journal entry using the idea I shared in this post from the past: Nature Journal Tutorial.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 Ebook

How do you get the new Wildflower Nature Study ebook?

Members of the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey levels have access to the new ebook in their library. You need to click the “Members Area” button at the top of the website, sign into your account, and the ebook is there to download and save for your family to use when desired. If you don’t have a membership yet, I am offering a $5 off discount code that will be good towards your Ultimate Naturalist membership.

Discount Code: Wildflower5


Posted on 1 Comment

Poppies: Garden Beauties

Poppy Bud

“I know of nothing so deceptive as the appearance of the poppy buds, which, rough and hairy, droop so naturally that it seems as if their weight must compel the stem to bend; and yet, if we test it, we find the stem is as stiff as if made of steel wire.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 560

Poppy in a Pot
“The poppies shed their sepals when the flowers expand; they offer quantities of pollen to the bees, which are very fond of it. The seed capsule develops holes around the top, through which the seeds are shaken, a few at a time.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 562

Observations suggested in the Handbook of Nature Study:
Look at the bud of the poppy. How is it covered? How many sepals? Can you see where they unite? Is the stem bent because the bud is heavy? What happens to this crook in the stem when the flower opens? Does the crook always straighten out completely?

Poppy close up
We used these suggestions to really look at our poppies that are planted in a pot on our back deck. I put the pot near our hummingbird feeder and I quite often see a bee or a hummer stop by for a little something as they go by.

I really do need to plant some more of these beautiful flowers in my garden next year.

If you are interested in using your garden as a nature study focus this summer, please consider using the Outdoor Hour Challenge Gardens and Flowering Plants Ebook. Here is a link for more information.
Garden Flowers Cover