Bugs at the Rose Garden

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

We found a lovely new place to go and enjoy nature. Oddly, it’s in our own town and we had no idea it existed…shame on us! Rose Haven Heritage Garden is a public garden and home to over 1600 roses of varying kinds. They are interspersed among other flowering plants, succulents and even a small vegetable garden.  It is all maintained by volunteers of the local rose society. 

We attended the March program which focused on garden bugs. The kids got to hear a short talk on beneficial versus pest insects that can be found in the garden or yard. There was also a table of various insects to examine and a knowledgeable volunteer to give the kids info on what they were looking at. My daughter’s favorite was the compost worms box. The children were invited to dig around and search for worms and grubs.

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

They also received a checklist of nine different bugs and had the opportunity to walk the garden and try and spot as many as they could. The kids were encouraged to pick up any nature bits lying around the grounds to use in a following art project.

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Our kids were having too much fun exploring so we didn’t make it to the sit-down-and-craft part of the program. However, we took home our nature finds and J had a great time creating a ladybug picture on her own. 

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Many thanks to the sweet and patient volunteers for hosting this event. We are looking forward to our next visit…maybe bring a picnic lunch and our nature journal. 🙂

 

All About Bugs Week: Nature Walk & Bug House

Even though it’s summer, we are prepping my five year old nephew for homeschool kindergarten for the Fall. My daughter is 3, but she is going right along with the lessons and thriving on it! I can’t begin to say how happy that makes my heart!

My mom and I have put together a morning school at her house and have found great success with theme weeks. We decided to focus on bugs for one week and it was a hit!

One of the activities we did was build a bug house and have a nature walk. My mom came up with this very cute idea. A re-purposed little wooden box serves as a new model bug abode. My dad generously donated one of his guitar accessory boxes. Of course, any kind of box will work provided it’s able to withstand the elements outside for a while. You then fill it will all kinds of natural material that a bug would be attracted to for making it his home.

This is where the nature walk part come in.

We took my daughter to a shady green belt area in the neighborhood to collect items to fill the bug house. We picked up leaves, sticks, plant material and pine cones. The pine cones were definitely her favorite and we ended up bringing home way more than we needed!

Build A Bug House

Prize Pine Cone

Bug House-1-2

Grandma let her fill up the box with her found treasures and we placed it in the garden by a nice shady tree. The idea is to let it sit for a few days/weeks and then look inside to see what kind of bugs have taken up residence. I’m hopeful no spiders will decide to move in, although the kids would probably love that!

Build A Bug House

Bug House Before Renovation

My parents weren’t happy with the curb appeal for the bug house and fancied it up a bit. 🙂

Build A Bug House

Bug House After HGTV Yard Crashers

I think this is such a cute idea and a great way to get children interested in observing nature. My daughter was very excited to take part in each step  of this activity. It was also a wonderful way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the day together!

Build A Bug House

Inspecting the Bug House with a Magnifying Glass

San Diego Safari Park 3-10-13

Our visit to the Safari Park this week was pretty exciting! We weren’t even sure we were going until the evening before, which is kind of unusual for us…you know spontaneity and all! I usually like to prep for a couple of days, because I pack the three of us a lunch that is pretty much all from scratch and  I had that darned daylight savings  time change to deal with. I woke up at 9 am, thinking I had already overslept…until Hubby reminded me it was really 10!  Not the greatest start, but I used my supermom powers and somehow got us all fed, dressed, packed and out the door at a reasonable time. I even managed a homemade lunch and it was one of the best chicken salads I’ve ever made. I will try to remember the recipe to share here sometime. I believe that was my lesson that spontaneity vs over planning can be a good thing!

Back to the Safari Park…

What We Saw

Our first exciting encounter was the Elephant Keeper talk at the Tembo Stadium. We just happened to walk up as it was starting, and I’m glad we we did. This was a chance to see several of the elephants up close, including the newest baby elephant, Qinisa. I couldn’t believe how cute this baby was and my little girl, J was ecstatic watching her run around the enclosure. Heck, so was I! We also got to see the mother elephant, Swazi and another younger elephant.

Baby Qinisa

Baby Qinisa

Mother Swazi

Mother Swazi

We learned that the adult elephants are all from Swaziland. The trainers use a whistle to alert them to do particular tasks. Swazi showed off her skills by ignoring a  glove tossed by her and then retrieving it on command. Keepers also believe Swazi may have weak eyesight, as she doesn’t always notice scuffles among the other elephants. We also learned that there is a definite hierarchy among the Herd, with Swazi being the dominate female. This gives little Qinisa a bit of an advantage, as her daughter, and apparently she knows it!

To see more of these beautiful and majestic elephants, you can watch them on the Elephant Cam courtesy of the Safari Park’s website.

We were also were excited to make it down to the African Outpost area for an Animal Encounter with Kusikia, the Bat Eared Fox. She is only around 9 months old and is in training for the encounters. She’s a little skittish during the presentation, but once she relaxes a bit she puts on quite a show, chasing her toys and cuddling with her keepers. Kusikia is adorable and we loved watching her up close.

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We learned that Kusikia, as mentioned already, is still just a baby. She loves stuffed pandas and always has one in her enclosure to play with. The keepers mentioned that they are hopeful that Kusikia will become comfortable enough with people to one day be touched and pet during her Animal Encounters outings.

We are excited about our next visit to the park, since it is the opening weekend of Butterfly Jungle! It is a thrilling opportunity to walk among hundreds of live butterflies as they float and possibly land for a moment on you! The photo ops are overwhelming, so I hope to get a few interesting ones to share! The Safari Park is also holding several contests to celebrate Butterfly Jungle, so head over to their website for a chance to win a great prize and read more about this exciting event!