Activities: Ferns and Wildflowers
Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Knights Hill Fern and Wildflower Scavenger Hunt
ages 5 - adult (with adult help)
Knights Hill contains a wide diversity of ferns and wildflowers. Each of them on this list can be found at the park at this time of year. How many can you find?
Note: You can also try this scavenger hunt at home! Let me know how many you can find in your backyard!
Print off this sheet and start searching! It may be helpful to watch yesterday's videos or grab a field guild to help with identification.
Nature's Color Palette
ages 5 - 12
Can you find a flower, plant, or natural object to match every color of the rainbow?
Print out an image of a color wheel or pick up some paint chips at the hardware store and glue them to a piece of paper.
Head outside and see if you can find flowers or plants to match every color!
Build an Insect Hotel
ages 15 - adult
40% of insect species are in decline. Now you may be thinking 'great! less mosquitoes' but a decline in insects could cause catastrophic damage to our planet. Insects pollinate our food, support biodiversity, and are an essential component to the food chain. Just like how the bird houses we built in the first week to help some birds find a place to live, some insects could use human help as well. As a 'thank-you' they will help to pollinate the plants in your yard and garden! Some insects are solitary, meaning that they don't live in a hive or a nest. These are typically cavity-dwelling insects and are the species that will find a place to live in an insect hotel. These include leaf-cutter bees, mason bees, and wood-boring beetles.
You can make your insect hotel as fancy or simple as you like. Either way, the hotel will include a structure for protection and bundles of materials on the inside for the insects to nest in. To see examples of two different types of insect hotels, visit the large but simple insect hotel at the Colby-Sawyer permaculture garden (right) and the small, attached insect hotel at the Knights Hill Field House (left).
Structure. For a simple design, use a stack wooden pallets, a plastic tote crate turned on it's side, cinder blocks, or a milk carton. Be creative! For a fancier design, build a wooden frame in the shape of a house.
Natural materials for the insects to burrow into. Below are some examples.
String to tie bundles of materials.
Pruning sheers to cut some materials to size.
Based on the examples, decide what type of design you'd like to build.
For wood nest blocks, cut the log or (untreated) board to size and use a drill to drill holes of different sizes into the wood. The holes should be between 3/32 and 3/8 inches in diameter and 3 to 6 inches deep. The length should increase with the width. Do not drill completely through the block.
Collect hollow stems. Plants with hollow stems include sunflower, joe-pye weed, Japanese knotweed, honeysuckle, common reed, bee balm, lovage, raspberry, and blackberry.
Cut stems to equal lengths and tie together in bundles.
Put these bundles and/or wood nest blocks into a structure (milk carton, wooden pallets, plastic tote, cinder blocks, etc). Include an overhang to protect from rain.
Create a Native Pollinator-Friendly Landscape
15 - adult
You can help support native pollinator populations by planting certain native plants. As a bonus, you will likely have many beautiful butterfly and bird visitors to your back yard and you may have better success in your vegetable garden. Native pollinators have evolved alongside native plants and, therefore, native plants are typically the most pollinator-friendly landscape choices.
Consider adding some plants from this document to your backyard to attract native pollinators. You can purchase many of these plants from Spring Ledge Farm in New London!