Parking Lot Pick Up Service continues. All you need to know is here.
Why February? This is traditionally the hardest month for wild birds to find food sources as well as water and shelter.
Add bird seed and mix well.
Spray the inside of a cookie cutter with cooking spray (we found a 2-4″ size worked best)
Fill the cookie cutter with the bird seed mixture and press down firmly (the firmer it is, the better it will stay together)
Make a hole near the top (but not too close)
Carefully remove cookie cutter
Let dry for 6-8 hours
Loop a 10″ length of jute through the hole and hang outside for birds to enjoy!
As I look at the calendar and think about the upcoming holidays, I’m also starting to think of snow. It’ll be here soon. But I still want to hold on to the beauty that the fall season has to offer. I’m not quite ready to slip into winter.
If you are feeling the same, here are some wonderful nature crafts that would put all those pressed leaves, collected acorns and pinecones, and miscellaneous treasures from nature to creative use:
Be sure to also check out the fall leaf and seed activities in the children’s area during your next visit to the library.
Autumn is such a beautiful season here in New England and a great time to enjoy nature’s wonders.
Upon first glance, our gardens may already seem to be starting their winter slumber. There just doesn’t seem to be much going on. But, take a closer look…
Plants are hoping to send off their seeds before their long rest. Explore the library garden and you’ll find all sorts of interesting seeds: parachutes, exploders, hitchhikers, and winged-seeds. There are even seed pods that sound like a rattle!
Here are some great books about seeds that you and your child can read together:
A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston
Seeds, by Ken Robbins
Flip, float, fly : seeds on the move, by JoAnn Early Macken
And The Field Studies Council has a simple and informative page with a helpful graphic.
If you would like to do a study of seeds with your children, here are some activity printables:
animals & seeds
types of seeds
Now get outside and explore!
We’d love to hear about your experience exploring our garden and learning about fall’s seeds.
If you weren’t able to join us for the Nature Journaling workshop for adults or if you are interested in learning more about nature journaling, check out the slide presentation from the workshop. And you’ll definitely want to also check out these great resources:
Nature Journaling Resources
- Keeping a Nature Journal, Clare Walker Leslie
- The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook …, Clare Walker Leslie
- Nature Journaling: Learning to Observe and Connect With the World Around You, Charles E. Roth
- Hands-On Nature, Jenepher Lingelbach
- Simple Home Made: Nature Journaling
- Handbook of Nature Study
- Donna Long: Nature Journal
- Blue Yonder Ranch
- Illustrating Nature: Right-Brain Art in a Left-Brain World, Irene Brady
- (The New) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards
- The Zen of Seeing, Frederick Franck
If you enjoy being outside, if you appreciate the beauty of nature, if you would like to gain a deeper understanding of the natural world, then please join us at the Topsham Public Library for our very first Nature Journaling workshop for adults.
If you would like to make time to slow down; if you want to enjoy the present moment; if you would like to explore an outlet to fulfill your creative energies, you will want to come to the library Saturday the 29th at 1:00pm.
There are no prerequisites for attending. There are no special talents or skills needed. You are only asked to come with an open mind and the desire to see the wonder.
I just read an article called “What Makes a Successful Place” on the Project for Public Spaces website. You can find the article here: http://www.pps.org/reference/grplacefeat/. Their PlaceMaking blog is listed on our blog list.
The article has a good graphic that can be used to evaluate public spaces.
What makes a place a “children’s garden?” Colorful flowers and features to engage all the senses are certainly high on the list. It might have a theme that appeals to children, or it might include whimsical plants with unusual shapes. It should certainly attract little creatures, such as birds, bees and butterflies, that delight little people.
The plants should be suited to their location and not require large inputs of water or chemicals to maintain. Nor should they require the use of herbicides or pesticides. Overuse of resources and toxins today leaves a debt of damage that will be paid by the very people the garden is for.
The Topsham Public Library Children’s Garden was designed with all of these features in mind. It is a rainbow garden, roughly mimicking the sequence of colors in the rainbow. It starts with reds and pinks, moves through the warmer colors of yellow and orange, continues into the green section (with many white-flowering plants), and ends with cool blues and purples. My children think I should put the purple coneflowers in the pink section. They may be right, but the plants are called PURPLE coneflowers, so purple.
The plants you see in the garden, with very few exceptions, are highly drought tolerant and tough – necessary features for this hot, dry, windy site with poor, sandy soil. During the summer the garden gets watered about once per month. While this is more than enough for most of the plants here, some of the less drought-tolerant species will not look as spectacular as they otherwise might. We think this is a reasonable trade-off for a garden that uses fewer precious resources.
Plants of different textures, smells, and shapes populate the garden. The flowering panicles of the prairie dropseed grass smell like vanilla. Leaf forms range from the soft and fuzzy leaves of lamb’s ear to the spiky yellow and green leaves of the yucca plant. Bright blue spheres of globe thistle dot the top of the garden in mid summer. Gayfeather sends out long shoots of flowers resembling fireworks.
You would be hard-pressed to visit the garden without seeing butterflies and bees busy at work. One plant, commonly known as butterfly weed, is among the only food sources used by monarch butterfly caterpillars. In fall, goldfinches visit the dried seed-heads of coneflowers and black-eyed susans.
In its short lifetime, this garden has battled a variety of pests. Most noteworthy was a fearsome attack of Asiatic Garden Beetles in 2011 which severely damaged nearly one third of the plants. Faced with the ruin of the garden it was tempting to spray a pesticide. Instead, we replaced a number of plants with ones the beetles were less attracted to and we left some in that had less severe damage to see what the next year would hold.
As with every interaction with the natural world, the garden is a work in progress and continually evolving.
Thistlegaard Perennial Gardens
Have you taken the opportunity to visit and enjoy the gardens behind our wonderful library? It’s a beautiful space to stroll, sit, contemplate, meet with friends, and read. Did you also know that it is a terrific place to bring your nature journal? That’s exactly what a group of young library-goers did this past June during our Nature Journaling Workshop for children (you can read more about that here). This fall, we will be offering another nature journaling workshop, this time for adults. We are very excited!
So, what exactly is nature journaling? To quote Claire Walker Leslie in Keeping a Nature Journal, “Simply put, nature journaling is the regular recording of your observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world around you”. There are no limits. Along with written descriptions, nature journals can include sketches, photos, magazine/newspaper clippings, poems, pressed leaves, or pounded flowers. The options are endless and can be suited to anyone’s interests. Through nature journaling, one will:
- increase appreciation for the natural world
- deepen understanding of nature’s cycles, patterns, and interconnectedness
- strengthen connections with all living things
- encourage curiosity and investigative learning
- improve skills of observation
- improves communication skills
- create a calming, peaceful, grounding experience
If you take the time to make close observations, you will be amazed. Nature never fails to impress. So are you ready to get started? Watch for the sign-up sheet and more information coming late summer…
In the meantime, here are some helpful links:
and, of course, some books to get you started:
Keeping a Nature Journal, Clare Walker Leslie and Charles Roth
The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook, Clare Walker Leslie
Illustrating Nature: Right-Brain Art in a Left-Brain World, Irene Brady
Nature Journaling: Learning to Observe and Connect With the World Around You, Charles E. Roth
Hands-On Nature, Jenepher Lingelbach
Please continue to visit for more information about our on-going nature journaling activities.