Monday, March 11, 2019


I lose them sometimes. Not literally but figuratively speaking I sometimes lose my nature club kids. For example: Recently I saw their eyes glaze over then one by one pick up a stick and fiddle with it. When they started whacking their fellow classmate on the next stump, I knew that my excitement couldn’t change the fact they weren’t all that jazzed about tree buds.

Yup, I am hoping to excite the kids for Springs awakening by pointing at the minuscule buds on the ends of a branch. The buds on the Cottonwood are visible a bit from below, but at 80 feet above, it is still hard to appreciate their beauty. We simply can not see them from where we stand on the ground.  

I tried to explain that when Spring finally arrives, they will be amazed by the buds bursting open and the forest coloring up – spring greens, yellows and reds will brighten the woods entirely like fireworks!

Nope. They still didn’t see it.

Me: AHA. THERE! You see? It is the nasty bush honeysuckle. Its tiny leaves are already breaking bud and soon it will shade the forest floor so that our beautiful native spring flowers cannot grow.  


I didn’t say that. The kid with the stick did.  And now their eyes are no longer glazing but lit with fury to eradicate Fernwood Forest of the dread bush honeysuckle and save the forest flowers.

A few days after introducing the bud and stem arrangement of woody plants, Eric and I returned to cut back invasive vines strangling some of the trees. When we finished clearing the Cottonwood of a euonymus vine, I swear the tree gave me a thank you gift. It was a branch with buds I could use for my next lesson.

Since Fall, my nature club kids have been learning and identifying the following species: American  Elm, White Oak, Black Oak, Mulberry, Black Walnut, Cottonwood,  Green Ash, Spicebush and Bush Honeysuckle. We colored coded each tree with ribbons, collected and pressed their leaves and now we will watch the trees spring into action.

During our first lesson about bud/stem arrangement, I sent the kids on a scavenger hunt to look for buds and quickly learned that this lesson is a little over their heads. The next week we played a matching game. I gave everyone an illustrated card and asked each person to compare it to the branch being passed around. The last kid in the circle identified the twig as belonging to the Cottonwood. (Of course, I planted the answer.)

When the kids and I left Fernwood Forest that day, the woods gave me another gift to share: this time it was a White Oak branch.