Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Nature Hunts

Whether I'm searching for a few lingering blooms in the garden, traipsing through the woods for berries and branches, or hitting up my local stand for pumpkins and mums, I LOVE hunting for fall's natural treasures. I'm instilling this love of a good nature hunt in my kids as well.

There really is not much color left in my garden these days. A single morning glory still blooms. A few marigold heads are still orange. A few tall stalks of light purple asters reach up outside my dining room window. That's about it. I was able to harvest just a couple things worth clipping and bringing indoors:

A few heads of red mystery flower (if you know the name please let me know) and two skeletons left from this spring's globe head allium sit in a set of three adorable handmade vases my mom gave me.  I must have forgotten to cut these last two allium stalks down with the rest of them post-bloom in mid summer. Next year I'll purposely leave all the dead allium heads or clip and save them earlier. The big dry spiked globes that remain are fun for fall decorating!

Since our yard was coming up short, the kids and I took a walk to the park to see what other goodies we could find. We each had a basket in hand and I also had my clippers and gloves to protect me from thorns. We immediately started filling our baskets. These are some of the berries and mini-apples I passed up because, from previous experience, they need water to stay alive and even when the berries stay looking okay the leaves still shrivel up and die, looking terrible.

A sudden burst of rain cut our expedition short (thank God no one else was there to see me trying to run at this stage in the game) but not before we had gathered this bounty:

My basket of bittersweet and rosehips
The girls' basket of colorful leaves.
 Half the fun is in the gathering. The other half is in doing something fun with what we've collected.

I took the dead brown hydrangeas out of the vase in my entry and filled it with my berries. Here they are just waiting for the bittersweet to pop open. Come December I'll keep the rosehips but exchange the bittersweet for greenery.
The girls and I made stained glass/sun catchers by placing their favorite leaves and crayon shavings between two pieces of wax paper ironed together and framed with construction paper.

I have to admit I was far more excited about making those than the girls were. I had them interested up through choosing and placing their leaves and watching me grate crayons but they couldn't be bothered to watch me iron them. I barely got a "wow" out of them as I hung them up to the light. What the heck??? Aren't they beautiful???   :)

This year, I really wanted to get some funky shaped and colored pumpkins as well as a big white pumpkin but none of the farm stands I first stopped at this year had what I was looking for. So I settled for a few of the regular varieties, mums, and one little cabbage for our stoop and porch. I was able to find a small white pumpkin at Foppema's Farm which sufficed for my 2nd annual letter "V" monogram, free-handed with a Sharpie. I couldn't find my black marker so I resorted to purple. And just the other day a spur-of-the-moment swing by Pete's Oasis revealed a large selection of all sorts of funky pumpkins and big fun gourds. I couldn't resist a squatty greenish gray pumpkin.

Front stoop. The growers that thought to plant three colors of mums in one pot are brilliant.

On the porch by the front door in a little folding chair that was my dad's growing up: pumpkins my kids colored with crayons and a basket with fake mums that I toss in every fall. Ooops, guess I lied in this post when I said that forsythia sprays are the only fake flowers I decorate with.
My next nature hunting expedition will most likely be around the beginning of December on my annual gathering of greenery for winter decorating. And the harvest will be much easier this year thanks to some handy new tools I scored at the one yard sale I stopped at this past Saturday morning:

My new bargain trimmer and clippers will come in very handy for collecting greenery this winter. The seller threw in a few other smaller tools as well.
I've got no more than seven days left to enjoy the great fall outdoors before being cooped up inside for quite a while. I'm praying that the treasure I'm about to receive will be well worth it.

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