Saturday, 6 July 2013

Celebrate Flower Power at a Pollinator Picnic!

Celebrate Flower Power at a Pollinator Picnic

The Spark:
Flowers and their relationship with insects and animals are truly amazing!  They not only release lovely and sometimes pungent scents, but they exist for the purpose of plant reproduction.  In order for a plant to be pollinated, it may need an insect or animal to take pollen from one plant to another.  The flower is formed to create nectar and attract native pollinators to the plant in order to transfer it's pollen to that pollinator.  Seeing this process happening all around you in nature is truly wondrous!  Wild pollinators are critical to keeping our picnic baskets full so attracting them to our gardens by planting flowers is essential.

Are you interested in planting some flowers in your garden and foraging (with an adult) for wildflowers in order to observe and celebrate the amazing relationship between flowers and their pollinators?  Calling all Super Natural Superheroes to ACTIVATE!  Find an adult to help you with this quest as you treat yourself and native pollinators by planting flowers and foraging for wildflowers.  Let's celebrate at a pollinator picnic.  Make a salad using flowers and eat some crops that are pollinated by insects and animals.  As always, start your quest by asking why.

Start Your Quest:
Why: To observe, appreciate, and identify flowers and their relationship with pollinating insects and animals.  To provide a treat for ourselves as well as pollinators and to learn what crops are pollinated.
What:  Our goal is to plant flowers in our own gardens in order to recognize and become aware of the relationship between flowers and their native pollinators.  To forage for wildflowers in order to become aware of what edible flowers exist in nature.  To celebrate at a pollinator picnic by creating a salad that contains flowers and eating food that is pollinated by insects and animals.
Where: In you backyard and in nearby patches of nature.
When: As soon as you can get yourself organized.
Who: You, your family, and friends.  (you will need an adult to help you with this quest)
How:  Find out below.  It's a S.N.CH., or is it?

Take Action:

1.  Forage for wildflowers:
Warning! Don't pick or eat any flower that you have not checked first with an adult.  Some plants are highly poisonous!  Don't pick flowers from the roadside or from gardens that have been sprayed with chemicals.  If there is a water source located nearby make sure it is not polluted.  Do not forage for flowers were there are large birds and low growth flowers.  Make sure to wash all wildflowers throughly before consuming.

2.  Look for pollinators:
While you are out foraging for wildflowers you may want to take a closer look at them to see if you can spot their pollinators.  If you can get a snapshot with your camera, try and catch them in a photograph.  Take this pollinators list with you to see how many you can find.

Pollinators List:
- Solitary Bees
- Bumblebees
- Moths
- Butterflies
- Beetles
- Flies
- Hummingbirds
- Bats

3.  Plant your own flowers:

4.  Take one sample of each flower you find for microscopic observation:
Use a microscope to focus in on all parts of the flower.  Life on a microscopic level is a whole new world and you will be fascinated by what you will see.  You will never look at flowers the same way again.

5. Sketch or paint:
Use your sketching book and a graphite pencil or some watercolour paints to draw or paint images of your flowers.  Don't forget to note their names for future reference.

6.  Make a picnic salad using flowers:
What you will need:
- a colander to wash your salad beforehand
- a range of edible flowers
- mixed salad leaves
- a large bowl
- a fork and spoon for stirring
- some salad dressing

7.  Eat some of the food crops that are pollinated:
Even though the main focus of this quest are flowers, include some of the food crops that are pollinated in your picnic basket for your flower power picnic.

Crops Pollinated by Native Bees:
- alfalfa seeds
- apples
- blueberries
- cherries
- cranberries
- grapefruit
- pears
- soybean
- squash
- tomatoes
- watermelons
- almonds
- avocados
- canola
- chokecherries
- cucumbers
- macadamia nuts
- plums
- pumpkins
- sunflower seeds
- vegetable seeds

Don't Stop Here:
Keep on researching and finding out more about the fascinating relationship between flowers, insects and animals.  Who knows, it may turn out to be one of your great passions in life!  And to think it would have all started right here on this quest.  If you have a hunch about something just email us and we'll give your hunch a whirl and get back to you.

Quest Check: 
We are very interested in keeping you interested on your quest to find out more about nature.  Follow us to see if you interests match our quest.

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