Learning to Draw in Winter’s Colors

I have a book about nature journaling, full of enticing examples of hand-written notes, illustrated by simple, charming line drawings delicately accented with watercolors. The idea of keeping a nature journal appeals to me as a gardener of both cultivated and feral plants; in my mind I can see a garden jjournal of my endeavors magically appearing on the dining room table (which usually functions more as a desk than a table). But there is no such journal, the reason being that drawing is a mystery to me, an intimidating Read More …

All in the Family: Propagating a unique variety of Colorado Blue Spruce from cuttings

My father-in-law is a long time wholesale nursery owner in Oregon.   He learned the trade from his nurseryman uncle, who also inspired the Waconda Blue, a variety  of the Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) that is now living in my family’s backyard in Alaska.   The original was selected in 1977 for its very blue hue.   Cuttings were taken and the Waconda Blue was established.   A child of the tree was given to my husband in the mid-80s.   He transplanted it in 1992 in Wasilla and Read More …

Hunting the Hawk(weed)

Upon purchasing our land, our terra-knowledgeable neighbor informed us that he has Hieracium aurantiacum, aka Orange Hawkweed, growing on his property so it’s likely we do as well.   Not knowing what Hieracium aurantiacum was, I wasn’t sure if I should be excited, relieved, or worried.   I promptly went home, searched the internet, and found a deep orange flower that I thought would add color to our landscape.   I opted for excited. After further reading, I learned that Orange Hawkweed has secured a spot on Alaska’s Invasive Species Read More …

One Species, Many Vegetables – An Introduction to Artificial Selection

Brassica oleracea — An introduction to artificial selection Subject area: Biological Science — 6-8th grade Season: Best in early fall when Brussels sprouts attached to stem would be available and whole plants could be brought into classroom. Could be taught any time of year using vegetables from the grocery store. Time: This lesson is a one class period introduction to the concept of artificial selection. Suggested Materials: Samples of vegetables. Ideally these would include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi and romanesco.   If possible it would Read More …

How are Seeds Dispersed in Alaska?

A Lesson Plant for Gardening in the Classrooms of Alaska, By Mylinda A. Klein, an Alaskan Master Gardener  Snap Beans. Photo by Heidi Rader.   Subject Area: Science Grade Level: 2nd grade Ideal season for lesson: Fall Materials Required: Various seeds either collected by teacher or by students including an acorn and seeds that have a spine, hooks or a gooey coating. Chipmunk stuffed animal “Seeds: Pop-Stick-Glide’ by Patricia Lauber  Chatty Chipmunk’s Nutty Day bySuzanne Gruber   Goals and Outcomes Students will be able to identify at least three methods Read More …

“Handy” Parts of a Plant

A Lesson Plan for Gardening in Classrooms in Alaska, by Cheryl Illg, an Alaskan Master Gardener   Subject Area: Writing/Reading/Science Appropriate Grade Level: Grade 2 Ideal season for lesson: Spring Time to complete lesson: 2-3 hours, in four activities that can be divided over several days, if desired. An Asiatic Lily. Photo by Heidi Rader. Materials Required:  From Seed to Plant (Rookie Read About Science) by Allan Fowler From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle Construction paper scissors pencils yarn glue lily or other Read More …