Learning Local Flora

Learning local flora is a good way to focus on what is happening in your area and it really helps when watching the changes that come with the seasons. It can be overwhelming trying to learn all the names of the plants in your area - we live in the tropics and there are lots of beautiful plants around! I figured that instead of trying to attack the elephant as a whole, if we just learnt one or two names a week of plants that caught our attention, then after a few months, we would be well on our way, in "bite size" steps!

Another great tool that helped with this endeavour was a good local plant guide, we prefer ones with actual photographs as opposed to drawings and sketches, but that is entirely up to you. Each week on our nature walk, we looked for a plant or tree that caught our eye- usually ones with really distinctive characteristics, then collected a sample of a leaf or flower or pod. When we got home we popped our samples into jars of water on our kitchen bench and tried to identify each plant.

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We then made pencil sketches of our finds and if we had managed to identify them, wrote the names of the specimens next to it and any interesting things we learnt about the plant or tree. After a few weeks, we had built up quite a collection, and I have noticed that as the seasons change, and different plants flower or lose leaves, the children have been very aware of the change!

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Just one tip- don't let it get to the point of frustration if you cannot identify a specimen! We ended up with much frustration one week after there were four plants that we could not place! It then occured to me to go down to the local nursery- within minutes the kind lady there had identified all four and told us a little about each plant.

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