Sunday, March 20, 2011

Captivating Carnivorous Plants

During our spring seed shopping outing, we stumbled upon a Venus flytrap at the local nursery. Our son was immediately captivated and we began a new adventure in gardening.

Venus Flytrap
Plants that prey on animals are called carnivorous (meat-eating) plants. They are not only nature's great oddity, they are unique in their nutrient-gathering abilities for survival. Learning about them and keeping them in our home is becoming a great science project for the whole family.

Cobra Lilly
 There are fifteen groups of these fascinating plants in existence with 500 species of plants within these groups. The plants we are learning about include Venus flytraps, bladderworts, sundews, butterworts, pitcher plants and the cobra lilly  My son is most fascinated with the different ways in which each plant traps its pray. The Cobra Lily is of particular interest to him because of its clear cells on top of its pitcher-like trap. These cells work like little skylights. When its prey sees the spots it thinks there is a way out, when it tries to escape by flying to the light it crashes into the plants wall, falls into the water-filled trap.

Pitcher plant included in
container arrangement.

The Croatan National Forest in North Carolina has the widest selection of Carnivorous plants in one area. Once you learn about these exotic plants you will start to see them in many different places. We just attended the Boston Flower and Garden Show and saw pitcher plants in a beautiful container arrangement.  

There are many resources available to help in learning about theses captivating plants.
When involving children in the care of carnivorous plants we found useful information on the New England Carnivorous Plant Society Website under Youngsters Guide to Carnivorous Plants.
We took books out of the library and enjoyed:
  • Venus Flytraps, Kathleen V. Kudlinski
  • Carnivorous Plants, Nancy J. Nielsen
  • My son's favorite book on the subject is Hungry Plants, Mary Batten
Growing these wonderful plants is a fun hobby as there are so many varied species. They are a beautiful addition inside and outside the home. Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

U.S. Destinations that will take your breath away!

Exploring a canyon, visiting a desert with awe inspiring rock formations or taking in the summit at the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, will inspire the nature seeker in anyone. If you are looking for taking in the natural wonders that the U.S. has to offer, consider visiting these three destinations.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The U.S. is home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona. I will never forget the moment I took in the canyon. It seemed like everything around me grew silent as I marveled at this natural wonder. To truly experience the canyon, it is best to spend a couple of days either hiking to the bottom or staying at the rim and doing day hikes. We chose the day hike option due to different fitness levels. Staying in the park is the best option as you can take your time and enjoy the beauty of the canyon during different times of the day. There are several lodging options, the El Tovar is beautiful, its location right at the south rim and its location can not be beat. Reservations must be made at least one year in advance. There are six other accommodations which offer different amenities and experiences, all worth staying to enjoy the canyon. Canyon Reservations

There are many activities to enjoy while at the Canyon from guided tours to mule trips. Doing research and deciding in advance is recommended especially if traveling with children. Canyon Activities

Sedona Arizona: Red Rock Country
Approaching Sedona,  you can't help but take a gasp, it is a true nature playground, offering captivating red-rock monoliths named Coffeepot, Cathedral and Thunder Mountain. In addition to the awesome rock formations, Oak Creek Canyon is a must see.
One of the wonderful things about Sedona is that it serves as a four season playground and many visitors take advantage of the abundant sunshine and clean air. The annual average high and low temperatures are 74.7 and 45.7 degrees.

While it is easy to spend days in Sedona exploring its many red rock trails, sacred sites and vortexes, it is not so easy to to fit all you may want to do in the time of your visit. The hiking is amazing, our family enjoyed the mountain biking, you can camp, fish, horseback ride, take a jeep tour, ride in a hot air balloon, gaze at the stars, if there is an activity you can think of, Sedona offers it.

The White Mountains, New Hampshire
Home to the Northeast's highest peak, Mount Washington, the White Mountains in New Hampshire offers one exciting experience after another. The White Mountains offer year round opportunities to engage with nature. From beautiful foliage in the fall, fantastic skiing in the winter, refreshing hikes in the spring and all kinds of outdoor fun in the summer, a traveler can never run out of things to do.
While visiting the mountains, there are a few must see attractions.
  • The Flume George is a must. As you enjoy your nature walk, you will discover amazing waterfalls, covered bridges, caves, pools and gorgeous mountain views.
  • The summit at Mount Washington. To get to the top is an adventure. You can either take the Mt. Washington Auto Road, or the Cog Railway.
  • Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves, offer many scenic wonders and adventures. Exploring boulder caves and panning for fossils are among the nature activities that await visitors.
  • Ski Mountains. Both Loon and Wildcat Mountain both offer unique ways to explore the mountains. From the adventurous zip-line to amazing views of Tukermans Ravine (a glacial cirque), visiting these two ski mountains offer a variety of options!