Plants

A bee pays a visit to a penstemon palmeri at the Los Alamos Nature Center. (Photo by Larry Deaven)

This week on Take It Outside, visit a community garden in Abiquiú on our blog, and then check out the plants growing in your neighborhood.

Summer Nature Challenge:

Participate in our Summer Nature Challenge! Every week, participants who complete the challenge can earn a sticker. If you finish all nine weeks, you’ll earn a bonus sticker! Find our archive containing all of our past Take It Outside activities here.

Download the challenge sheet here to print out and complete at home. At the end of the challenge, you can either bring it to the nature center or mail it to us at 2600 Canyon Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544.

If you don’t have a printer or prefer to work online, you can tell us about your experiences in the Google Form below or email your stories and pictures to takeitoutside@peecnature.org.

Blog Post:

In this week’s blog post, PEEC’s Education Programs Director Siobhan Niklasson recounts her recent visit to the Northern Youth Project Garden in Abiquiú. Read her blog post here.

Outdoor Challenges:

We’re posting three outdoor challenges today that you can enjoy throughout the week!

Tell us about your experiences with one, two, or all three of them! You can do this in the Google Form below, by writing or drawing about them on our summer challenge sheet, or by sending an email to takeitoutside@peecnature.org.

 

Challenge #1 – Sensory Exploration:

Visit a garden or wild area with plants. Use your senses to explore the plants. Can you find something:

  • Fuzzy
  • Waxy
  • Cool
  • Smooth
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Buzzing
  • Sweet-smelling
  • Herby-smelling

If you like, choose some of the colors and textures you noticed and use those inspirations to make art!

 

Challenge #2 – Eat Locally:

Pilar and friends make popsicles from Yerba Buena in this video from Tewa Women United.

Pick up something in season from a farmers’ market, a CSA, or another source for local produce. Or, harvest something for your own garden or forage for berries, fruits, and herbs locally (make sure you know what you are picking before eating anything you find in the wild). 

Here’s an idea for a cool, local treat: In this video from Tewa Women United, watch as Pilar and her nephews make popsicles from Yerba Buena, or spearmint, and lavender from their garden. The video is part of a series called Plant Adventures that explores New Mexico plants and their traditional culinary and medicinal uses.

Let us know what you tasted! Or share your favorite recipe from your garden or from locally-grown, seasonal produce.

Challenge #3 – Plants & the Food Web:

A male Rufous Hummingbird gets ready to visit a flower in White Rock. These hummingbirds have recently started to make their annual stops in Los Alamos County! (Photo by Bob Walker)

In a process called photosynthesis, plants use energy from the sun to combine carbon dioxide and water to make sugar. This process changes some of the sun’s energy into a form that animals and other organisms can use when they eat the plants. Go outside and look for evidence of animals and fungi getting energy from plants:

  • Hummingbirds and insects gathering nectar from flowers
  • Birds eating seeds and fruits
  • Caterpillars, ants, and other invertebrates eating leaves
  • Herbivores, such as deer and rabbits, munching on green plants
  • Decomposers, like worms, roly polies, and fungi, breaking down decaying plants and trees

 

Want to Learn More?

Share Your Experience:

Tell us about your outdoor experiences! We’d love to see your photos, too. Please send them to takeitoutside@peecnature.org or share them on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #peectakeitoutside. If you’d like this to count for the Summer Nature Challenge, be sure to include your name and email address.

The Amazing Microscopic World of Plants by Terry Foxx

Why do plants have hairs?

As we walk along a trail, we can observe the diverse world around us: trees, flowers, birds, reptiles, rocks, clouds. What an amazing world it is: colors, sounds, textures, smells. But there is another amazing world not easily seen by the human eye, a microscopic world. A glimpse at that world is seen through the microscope or magnifying glass. A weed in your garden, which you gleefully pull up and put under the microscope, may turn out to be quite beautiful and unique.

Read more The Amazing Microscopic World of Plants by Terry Foxx

The Amazing Microscopic World of Flowers by Terry Foxx

Our goal at the Nature Center is to get people out-of-doors to see the diversity around them, to become connected to nature. Our cell phone, computers, TVs and other electronic devices have taken a hold upon us and our children to the point we remain inside and ignore the out-side world.

However, there is one piece of technology at the Nature Center that holds the fascination of everyone, child and adult. It is the digital microscope. Every time I walk into the Center, I see a child or adult slipping a rock, piece of wood, snake skin or other item onto the base to magnify. For me, that microscope and my digital hand lens have been the window into the microscopic world of flowers and an opening to the diversity and busyness of that world not visible to the human eye.

Read more The Amazing Microscopic World of Flowers by Terry Foxx