Multi-jointed Rhizome of Variegated Solomon's Seal ( Polygonatum odoratum )

Multi-jointed Rhizome of Variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum)

The child should never be required to learn the name of anything in the nature-study work; but the name should be used so often and so naturally in his presence that he will learn it without being conscious of the process.
— Anna Botsford Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study (1911)

Benjamin's education has always been primarily self-directed. Immersed chiefly in nature-study and history (my inspiration for the moniker, Cattails & Cobwebs) we spent much of his childhood exploring Penn's Woods and visiting historical sites and living history museums. As he got older his interest in fine woodworking emerged and now he combines his love of nature (trees, wood patterns) and history (woodworking throughout time) with his handwork.

He is also a self-taught rosarian; his interest was piqued by the gardening catalogs strewn about the house when he was eleven or twelve-years-old. He cares for a total of six Rosa cultivars plus one native species. This spring he added the Downton Abbey-inspired lavender-colored rose, Violet's Pride, to his collection.

While his learning is basically self-led, that doesn't mean I don't think about and introduce subject matter that might be beneficial to him as he pursues his interests. A few weeks ago I suggested I would like to share my current botany studies with him - and so, we began reading together.

The text we are using for our studies is a simplified introduction to botany, focused primarily on flowering plants. This week we read about the basic functions of stems and their modifications. While Benjamin's affection toward learning should no longer astound me, I'll admit I am surprised by how often throughout the week he or I would remark about a plant and relate it to our studies. Our newly acquired knowledge allowed us to discuss a wide variety of plants - and our dialogue conjured more questions. None of this was very scientific, utilizing little more than the information gleaned from what we had read...synthesized and made practical. ♥

Jessica Allen explores the fields and forests of Pennsylvania with her artist-husband, Michael Allen, and their son, Benjamin. She shares her observations through words and pictures of everyday magic and beauty she sees in her world.