Here’s a Colorful Project

by Sue Ann Kendall

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I wrote up a version of this for my personal blog, but thought I’d share it here, in case it inspired any of you to do something similar while you are sheltering in place (or any other time).

This fun project I did yesterday didn’t require any human contact nor leaving the property where our office is. I decided to see how many different yellow flowers I could find in the weed/wildflower collection known as our empty lot.

I simply ambled outside with my phone and tried to get good pictures. Yellows are difficult in bright sunlight, so it was good practice for me to try to get photos with a lot of detail and not just glare. As you can see, I managed to fill a whole screen in iNaturalist!

Most of the field actually LOOKS purple, because there is so much common storks-bill (Erodium cicutarium) growing in it, but when you look closer and closer, the yellows dominate (purple is in second place, with field madder and a little patch of grape hyacinth that must be left over from when there was a house here – I plan to replant them in the “flower bed” I’m making).

What have we got? Let’s take a look. Many of these flowers look really similar, but are different sizes or have other subtle differences. Note that I may have gotten something wrong in my identification, so if anyone corrects me on iNaturalist, I’ll correct it here, too.

Common Dandelion. Taraxacum officinale. Delicious and nutritious. Bees love them.

False Dandelion. Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. Plus a tiny wasp and tinier beetle.

Prickly Sowthistle Sonchus asper. It’s everywhere. And very prickly. Note that there are aphids or something on it.

Smooth Cat’s Ear. Hypochaeris glabra. Looks like a teeny dandelion on a very long stem. Compare to the first dandelion and you’ll see how small it is.

Cutleaf Evening Primrose. Oenothera laciniata. Smaller than most evening primrose, but a beautiful buttery yellow.

Crete Weed. Hedypnois cretica. I thought it was a dandelion, but look at the leaf and the cool petal shape.

Woodsorrels. Genus Oxalis. I’m not sure which one it is, but it’s certainly oxalis. Sour tasty leaves!

Bur Clover. Medicago polymorpha. It’s about finished blooming and starting to make burs. Yellow is a hard color for my camera, and I couldn’t get a good shot of these.


Straggler Daisy
. Calyptocarpus vialis. Lots of leaves, tiny flowers. They are pretty up close, though.

I got a lot of bugs and other things, but I’m just going to leave this parade of yellow-ness alone, in all their glory. I’ll see what other themes I can come up with over the next few weeks as all the flowers bloom away.

Do you have any suggestions? Share with the group!

Home Habitat Ideas

by Sue Ann Kendall and Catherine Johnson

Hi friends. Sorry about the lack of blog posts! I’ve been out of town a lot. But the next few days I’ll catch you up on what we’ve received. Remember, the blog can’t blog without YOUR input!

Here are some photos sent in by Catherine Johnson of her home’s habitat. You’ll find a lot of creative ideas that you might be able to re-create in your own yard, garden, or woodland.

For bathing in the moonlight
An old air conditioner tray being re-used as a bird bath. Note the places for birds to sit.
An old spreader being used as a mobile planter.
Cactus planter and old cast-iron sink.
Wildflowers left unmown to form a border.

Thanks so much for all the ideas for re-use in the garden, Cathy! Readers, do you have any creative ideas to share? Contact Sue Ann Kendall and send some words and pictures! (If you can’t find my email address, comment below and I’ll get it to you.)

Suet Bird Block Recipe

At the March 2019 Chapter Meeting, Cindy Travis shared her recipe for home-made suet blocks for bird feeders. These attract warblers, woodpeckers, chickadees, wrens, and more. She’s agreed to share it with readers of our blog!

This red-bellied woodpecker likes the inexpensive feeder from Lowe’s. Photo from Lowe’s

Cindy says you can easily double or triple the recipe, so you’ll have plenty. The blocks freeze well.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lard
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup raisins, seeds, or crumbled eggshells (optional)
  • (Cindy recommends currants as fruit, because they are small)

Instructions

Dump all ingredients in a pot and heat over medium heat until the lard and peanut butter melt. Stir thoroughly.

Pour into a square pan, bread pan (you can slice the blocks), or into a Ziploc-type plastic storage container the size of your bird feeder.

Cool until solid, then hang in your block feeder.

This flicker likes the feeder with tail rest from Amazon. Photo from Amazon.

PS: You can easily find suet feeders in home improvement stores (Lowe’s Home Depot) or big box stores with garden departments (Target, Wal-Mart, etc.). Specialty wild bird feeding stores will have a larger selection, and of course you can find them online (here is a sampling from Wild Birds Unlimited). You can attach them to trees, hang them on poles, etc.

Reuse Empty Bottles

by Joyce Conner

The following idea was entirely conceived and designed by Joyce Conner, member of the Texas Master Naturalist program. She has given these “crystals” away at nature events and classes since 2013.

Learn to make one of these lovely “crystal” ornaments.

Every winter when my brother and his wife come to Texas to escape the cold and snow in Wisconsin, we women typically do several craft projects. When there is a large enough supply of empty aromatic scent bottles (typically Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works), we make “crystal” hangers to give away.

My sister-in-law Suzy Coose is the talented person. She is in charge of painting dragonflies, birds, flowers, and butterflies on the empty bottles. My grandkids and I usually are her helpers for everything else. This winter Phyllis Shuffield had collected many, many bottles for us, so we got to work getting them ready for 2019 Earth Day give-aways.

The following are instructions, in case you would like to make your own hanging “crystals.” (Since I can’t find my pictures I took this year, I have included some from past years.)

Continue reading “Reuse Empty Bottles”