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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Sweet Pea Flower Study

Sweet Pea Hedge Bindeweed Dodder nature study @handbookofnaturestudy


Outdoor Hour Challenge

Sweet Pea, Dodder, and Hedge Bindweed Wildflower Study

From the Archives and the More Nature Study – Spring ebook

This week we are going to look at some flowers that are featured in the Handbook of Nature Study that are actually vines. Vines are an interesting study to most of us…be sure to watch the YouTube videos to get your curiosity going!

Use the ideas in this Outdoor Hour Challenge to make careful observations of whichever flower you have access to and then follow up with a nature journal entry.

Hedge Bindweed nature journal example @handbookofnaturestudy

If you would like some inspiration from our family, here is a post from the archives: Wednesday Flower Study – Sweet Peas or this one Hedge Bindweed – Handbook of Nature Study.

More Nature Study Book 3 Cover image

If you have an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, you have access to the More Nature Study – Spring ebook. The challenge in the ebook has custom notebooking pages for you to use with your vine and flower studies.

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Wildflower Nature Study – Getting Out and Enjoying the Weather

My lovely hedge bindweed is really spreading out in the area I am allowing it to grow. I know in my heart that it is a weed but when a plant grows all on its own, with no need for lots of water, and has a pretty flower, I am willing to let it have its way. There is a whole lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 139) on hedge bindweed and it is also included in last year’s Vine Nature Study.

These are usually an early spring wildflower but I found a shady spot on our walking trail that had some blooming just this past week. We call them Fairy Lanterns but they are also known as White Globe Lilies. We see this one each year but I don’t think I have it in my nature journal…making a note to add it this week.

Now to the yellow multi-petal flower. I have such a hard time with identifying these sorts of flowers even using a local field guide. I will just enjoy it while it lasts along the trail.

It is the time of year that the Fireweed is blooming in our area…so pretty in its pinkish purple color.

There are two plants that run wild in our area and they are so common that you almost forget to stop and take a look. This is the Purple Vetch that grows like crazy along the roadsides and empty spaces. The second plant is the Sierra Nevada Pea….in shades of pink and purple.

We are enjoying our wildfower and weed grid study and will continue with it all month.

Have you found any wildflowers yet?

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California Spring Wildflowers – First Wave is Here

Spring wildflowers cheer my very soul. They seem to sing out to all of us that warmer days are coming and we don’t need to stay so much indoors anymore. We took a walk near the river yesterday and found so many pretty little flowers to enjoy. Above there are Baby Blue Eyes and Fivespot…there were whole patches of them on a sunny little hillside.

Round every corner there were more blue flowers….how many blue flowers do you know?

Okay, I have to admit that this is by far the best image I have ever taken of this particular flower….and it was with my iPhone! I love that you can even see a little ant enjoying the golden yellow color in the sunshine. These meadow buttercups are everywhere right now and they make the day seem brighter.

Here is going to be my first shrub for my Nature Study Goals for 2013. I will do my research and identify the shrub and add it to my nature journal…watch the blog for more information on this one.

This is our local Miner’s Lettuce in bloom – Claytonia perfoliata. Read more about it here: Claytonia perfoliata.

Nothing so pretty as Sierra Nevada Pea…..just now starting to shoot up and twine itself among the other wildflowers and weeds. Love this pink one the best!

So hopefully my wildflowers have cheered you up if you are having cold weather….and inspired you to go look for your own wildflowers if you have the opportunity.

Have you seen any wildflowers in your area yet?

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Learning about Vines With Nature Study

Vine Sulphur Pea
Vine Study with the Outdoor Hour Challenge

Our world is full of vines…I never noticed how many vines there are in our neighborhood until we focused on vines for the past few weeks during our outdoor time. The vine above is a Common sulphur pea that grows wild in our area and is a native plant. I always just call them sweet peas. These are growing on our hiking trail and they don’t bloom very long since they are on the sunny dry side of the trail. They are a delight while they last.

Vine Blackberry
Blackberry vines – This tangle is right alongside our walking trail. They don’t get a lot of water here on the dry side of the hill so they aren’t very sweet and plump. The wild critters benefit from these patches of blackberries.

I think these are Himalayan blackberries and are an invasive species in our part of the world. I have them in my yard…creeping in wherever I don’t whack them back or chomp them down. I keep a very small manageable patch in my front yard for the birds and for my own early morning picking pleasure in the summer. Nothing like a freshly picked, sun-warmed blackberry for your breakfast.

Vine Sweet Pea
Sweet peas – These are the purple-pink sweet peas that grow wild alongside the walking trail. They come back year after year. I am cultivating a nice patch of them in my backyard, hoping they will fill in a spot with their brightly colored flowers. We read in the Handbook of Nature Study that studying the sweet pea should be a garden lesson so we will save it for the summer. (We did a previous sweet pea study and you can read it here along with my little video.)

Vine Ivy
English ivy – This is a vine that grows over and through our fence from our neighbor’s yard. We spend quite a bit of time cutting it back since we really don’t want ivy taking over our yard. It is pretty and green but that is about all I can say nice about it.

Vine Hedge Bind Weed

Hedge bind weed – We have this growing under our birdfeeder. We are watching it grow and then in a few weeks after it has bloomed we will pull it all out. (I am keeping just a few of the hedge bindweed plants on the advice of a fellow gardener who told me it could quickly take over.) We did a previous study of this plant here: Hedge Bindweed if you want to take a look.
Vetch – This was the plant that led to a complete afternoon of study. We actually have two varieties of vetch along our hiking trail. The one above is Hairy vetch and then we also have Spring vetch.

Vetch 1
The spring vetch almost looks like a small sweet pea (same family, different genus). It took some time to find information on these two vetches because neither plant was in our wildflowers field guide. I presume this is because they are non-native plants. We found this interesting because these two plants are seen everywhere in our area. I have started keeping track in my nature journal of native vs. non-native plants…interesting exercise.

We decided we needed to keep this as an on-going nature study and we will be watching as the hedge bindweed and sweet peas in our garden as they mature over the next few weeks. We have had fun noticing if plants twine in clockwise or counter clockwise directions. It becomes sort of an obsession. Keeping a focus always adds an enjoyable layer to our outdoor time and nature study.

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Don’t forget to share your Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entries with the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. All entries done in May are eligible for the next edition. The deadline for entries is 5/30/12 and you can send them directly to me:

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OHC More Nature Study Book 3 – Vine Study

Vine Study Button
More Nature Study Book 3
Vine Study – Sweet peas, Hedge bindweed, and Dodder

Vines: Plants that have the habit of climbing upon other plants or upon sides of houses. Stems of vines are not strong enough to stand alone, seeking support to help get their leaves up into the life-giving sunlight. Some vines climb by twisting their stems around the support plant while others have special “holders” which are called tendrils. 

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read these pages in the Handbook of Nature Study to prepare you for this week’s challenge. 1. Sweet Pea: 588-590 (Lesson 164) *vines with tendrils. 2. Hedge Bindweed: 518-520 (Lesson 137) *twining vines. 3. The Dodder or Love Vine: 520-522 (Lesson 138) *tendrils with sucker.
  • If you would like to start your sweet peas from seed, follow the instructions in Lesson 164. This study could then continue into the summer months and end in a study of the sweet pea flower using Lesson 164.
  • Read this page and view the images: How Vines Climb. You can watch these videos on YouTube: Twining Motion of Vines, Morning Glory Stop Motion, Time Lapse of Cucumber Tendril (Beware: 1812 Overture plays loudly.)
  • You can see some of our sweet peas in this entry: Sweet Peas and Blackberries.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Use your outdoor time for this challenge to explore your yard and neighborhood looking for vines of any kind. Don’t worry if you can’t find a sweet pea, dodder, or hedge bindweed but apply your knowledge and vocabulary to any vines you do find.
  • Make sure to observe closely how the vine climbs. If the vine is a twining vine, note which direction the vine wraps itself around the support plant. If the vine has tendrils, note their color, size, and direction.
  • Optional: Plant sweet pea or morning glory seeds for your own vines to observe over the next few months.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Follow up your outdoor time with the opportunity to record an entry in your nature journal with your vine observations. Ebook Users: You can use the vocabulary found on the chart in the ebook.
  • Advanced study: Research more vines and how they climb (How Plants Climb). Summarize your information in your nature journal.
  • Advanced study: Make your own time lapse video of a vine twining or using its tendrils.
  • If you planted sweet pea or morning glory seeds, continue to record their growth over the next few months in your nature journal.

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Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Summer Cattails – Revisted Using the Handbook of Nature Study

“They usually occur in marshy zones along lakes or streams; and such a zone is always sharply defined by dry land on one side and water on the other.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 502

We did a little research about cattails in California and were interested to find out that it is considered an “invasive weed”. I can see where it might be trouble in irrigation ditches but it is hard for us to put the cattail into the invasive weed category. They are so green and pretty in the summer and they provide such a great habitat for the red-wing blackbirds and other animals as well.

If you remember from the spring we were a little worried that our cattail patch, wondering if it would recover from some pruning that the neighbor did to clear out their ditch. Well, we returned in July to check things out.

6 29 11 Cattail study (2)

Our patch has grown back! The ground was nice and damp which was perfect for getting those cattails going again and the green leaves were sprouting up everywhere. We were so encouraged.

6 29 11 Cattail study (1)

Here is the actual cattail part that is usually brown but it is still green in July. The shape is there but it is not the brown cigar-shaped flower head that we are accustomed to.

As part of the August Newsletter challenge, we returned again to our cattail patch and took a look at what had changed since spring and since last month. We were in for a surprise!

Cattail study  at our creek
The county has dug up the creek just above our patch of cattails and has rerouted the water into a pipe. Now it appears that unless there is a spring for our cattails that they might be doomed without water.

Cattail study - Brown
We walked down the trail to our patch and it was still there but the ground is not as damp as it was last month. The cattails have turned brown and are covered in pollen.

Cattail study - Pollen
I could just brush the flower head and the pollen would puff out like smoke.

“These flowers may be studied in the schoolroom with suggestions for field observations. A lens is almost necessary for the study of most of these flowers.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 503.

Cattail study  - up close
We were able to examine the different parts of the cattail, wishing we had our hand lens. We will try to remember to throw in the hand lens for our next trip to the cattails.

Here are some other interesting things we saw on our walk.

Weed with Wonderful Seeds
I have no idea what this plant is but it was right in among our cattails. The tiny seeds and the way it grows make this an interesting plant to observe.

Queen Anne's Lace
Our Queen Anne’s Lace is so small this year…the plants are small and the flower heads are small. It is amazing to see the difference in how this plant looks from last year’s crop.

Sweet peas
The wild sweet peas are just about finished blooming and all the surrounding areas are brown. The pink really stands out as you walk the trail….the bees love it!

I look forward to seeing some of your pond studies or any other nature studies you have completed this month. Make sure to submit your entries to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. You can submit your entries by following this LINK.

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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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Sweet Peas and Blackberries

This morning I was out in the yard for morning rounds and I noticed how many blackberries we are going to have on the vines. There are so many blossoms and when you examine the plant closely, there are tiny little berries forming already. I am in a constant battle with the blackberry vines in both my front and back yards. If left to grow, they would soon take over all the corners. We have worked for years to manage these creeping vines and I have come to accept that we will have few here and there and I will just be at peace with their beauty and their fruit. I love picking a handful of sweet berries as I roam around the yard.

There is no information on blackberries in the Handbook of Nature Study so I will need to pull out another gardening book that I have to learn more about them.

Do you see the little green berries starting there? So delicate and beautiful….and it holds the promise of a sweet treat in a few months.

Along the base of our foundation we always have sweet peas plant themselves and grow up among the bushes that border our house. This year they are pink.
“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 pistil.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 589

You can clearly see all the parts of the sweet pea as described in the Handbook of Nature Study. I think we will use this flower for our Green Hour Challenge this week and try to draw it in our nature journals.

Can you believe how pretty these are? Such a pretty shade of pink.

If you have sweet peas in your neighborhood, you can use pages 588-590 to learn more about the sweet pea so you can share a few interesting facts with your children. There are also wonderful observation suggestions that you can use in your nature study.

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