Saturday, July 12, 2008

Garden Walk - Teaching nature study the natural way

It's been a bit since I've posted. We've been outside every morning and evening planting away. Our latest little project was a flower bed on the side of my husband's shed. As a landscaper - he's always been "in charge" of our landscaping but since we moved in January - I've convinced him to let me have a bit of creative garden freedom of my own :). It's so peaceful and relaxing.

The joyous feeling I have after the children and I complete a new flower bed is such a blessing. I have found myself thanking the Lord for his blessings each evening as I sit - buried in topsoil and mulch, sweat dripping, sunburned shoulders, and watching my children chase each other around the yard. I've never enjoyed being dirty so much or felt so incredibly overwhelmed with the Lord's love and amazing creation. Nothing but intelligent design here!

- Luke 12:27
"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."

Hybrid Lilly - lirio bibrido

We are playing catch up on our outdoor hour challenges because of the flower beds. I was stressing myself about not keeping up when I realized all of this time outdoors with my children - as a family- is just what 'natural' nature study is and should be. Instead of being hurried to finish up so I could 'catch up' on our outdoor challenges - I realized I should be slowing down. Taking our time and enjoying the entire process of creating our new flower gardens. The Outdoor Hour Challenges are something that we love but they will still be there next week - and often times, we completed some of the challenges without realizing it. Isn't this somewhat of how the studies are intended to be? Teaching the children about God's world around them by ACTUALLY being outside with them? Deep in nature together?

Part of our newest flower garden. Not fully completed but on it's way.

As we continued through building this little area of flower garden, so much was learned. Since it is my first year handling my own flower beds - its been a learning experience for me as well. The children are quickly learning the names of our plants and flowers. We've talked about the needs of flowers - which need sun, which need shade, which are drought tolerant, and most important to me lately- which will attract wildlife to our yard.

(one of MY favorites - Purple Coneflower)

This, of course, led right into discussions of conservation and our family's LOVE of nature. I am proud to be able to say that my children are TRUE nature lovers. We took a trip to a local nursery trying to glean some good information on the plants and flowers we wanted to use. The sales lady was so delighted when my 5 year old twins and 6 year old son correctly identified birds that were flitting around the nursery.

One of our backyard feathered friends - a black and white warbler- hanging around and eating suet DIRECTLY over me as I garden.

These are the moments that are only obtained by actually being out of doors and just enjoying.
Briana - having WAY too much fun with seed sprout weeds! :)

The sprouts (who had taken over my containers under our 'bird tree' - were making me crazy until my Briana came out and made me laugh acting silly like this :)

Sometimes enjoying too much ha ha! The "boys" Kilroy (our male pomeranian) and Chance (my 6 yo ds) are taking a "break" :)

As we are walking around the nursery - trying to "mesh" my husband's more "formal" garden ideas with my wildlife friendly DREAM cottage garden style - we (along with our children) have spent time just discussing what we love about certain plants and thier characteristics. I am delighted when my children come in early in the morning to tell me that "Chance's lilly has a new bloom."

(Cleome 'Sparkler Blush' - Cleome hassleriana Sparkler Blush Hybrid )

So - on a whim- (keeping in mind I live with a landscaper lol who is 'giving' me, "my way" with the flower beds lol - HUGE for him ha ha! As I'm picking up our plants from the nursery - I tell each of my kids to pick out their favorite and we'll get them for the flower bed. This is a small flower bed - and although tentative - I decided that allowing my children to be a larger part of our project was more important than a "perfect" flower bed. It worked out GREAT :). They chose wonderful plants - gleaning from the natural conversations we'd had and they'd listened to between my husband and I.

Alyssa chose pink guara-

Briana chose a
Daylilly 'Paper Butterfly' - Hemerocallis 'Paper Butterfly'

Chance chose a
Daylilly 'America's Most Wanted'

The remainder of plants and flowers we put into this particular bed are:
Echinacea "Sundown" - the picture here doesn't do it justice - as a natural ecinacea lover I was hooked already but the colors are much more vibrant. Ours truly looks like a sunset! (at least according to my kiddos ) :)

Ground cover - I used
Goldilocks Creeping Jenny - lysimachia nummuldria

Fragrant Blue Hostas - not the most attractive to my bird friends but I LOVE hostas :) so easy and hardy!

Variegated Liriope - Liriope muscari variegata - a middle of the road decision with my husband - a little green for the fall for him ;)

Butterfly Weed - Asclepias tuberosa (Asclepiadaceae)- The flowers produce a large quantity of nectar which attracts butterflies throughout the growing season.

Hydrangea - Cityline Vienna- Hydrangea macrophylla Cityline™ Vienna - A 'must have' for me - this is my very first hydrangea (of my own care) and I'm so excited about it. The beauty that I bring inside with me every morning is amazing :). And they last SO long in a vase on my dining room table. It brings God's wonder in with me!

Dwarf Pampas Grass- Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’

Lavender -
Lavandula angustifolia - a website for anyone who loves lavender - I have not read through the entire website so check it out before putting children on it. ttp://

Briana - my hard little worker - doing her BEST to help daddy clean up at the end of the day :).
Aaahh - what a wonderfully blessed life we lead!
I must say for a little flower garden it is beautiful to me. When I go outside to weed it; water it; or just sit and look at it - I can't help but smile at our little bit of God's beauty...... I wonder what we'll start on next ?????? :) :)

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