Art Class: Simple Pencil Drawings

Sharing some photos of my nature pencil drawings done through an online course.

My grown daughter lives in New Hampshire and I live in Florida. She had an idea of how we could share some time together. She signed us up for an online drawing class! The class was offered through a local nature conservancy called The Harris Center. (Link at bottom of page.)

We had four weeks of lessons and drew something different each week. Our homework was to find the item to draw.

Each lesson was an hour long and we did Zoom meetings. This was a bit of a learning curve for me, as I had never done a Zoom meeting! But it was fun.

Our first lesson was practicing shadows and gradient color using a pencil. Also, we had to draw a rock.

Florida is not known for having rocks, but I did have a coquina rock, which I chose to draw. Class was at 7:00pm so lighting was not good in my house.

For each lesson we would begin drawing along with the teacher. This took about half the class time. The rock on the left above was done with her, and then I had about 30 minutes to draw my coquina.

Lesson #2: Drawing a Stick

We were drawing from nature, so our second lesson was about drawing a simple stick and showing the shadow. Both sticks, in image 1 were done with the teacher in the first part of the class. The second photo is my stick drawing which is pretty awful….!!

At the start of the lessons we were told to have a good eraser, and I didn’t have one. She used the eraser to create white spaces on the image. I couldn’t do that, so my stick was just dark. And the end looks like a dog head…. haha…!

Lesson #3 Draw a Leaf

The class was full of New Hampshire residents. I was the only outsider. While they were bundled up in sweaters, I was sitting on my porch in a sleeveless shirt with the fan blowing.

It also meant that my gathering of subject materials would be different from theirs.

When it came to drawing a leaf, since it was February and the dead of winter in the north, they had to either draw a dead leaf, or a Beech leaf (I think). They tend to hang onto the trees longer.

Being in Florida, I had loads of leaves to choose from, but I figured I’d draw a dried leaf also. I’m not sure what kind of leaf I collected, but it ended up being my favorite finished drawing of the class.

Lesson #4, and Last Lesson: Draw an Animal

When the teacher mentioned that our last lesson would be drawing an animal, I was not too happy. I’ve never been good at drawing wildlife, and I really don’t enjoy it.

But she had us draw a little hummingbird for starters, and I think mine ended up looking okay.

For my own animal I chose the Sandhill Crane because I had a good photo of one that had come into our yard. It really needed a lot of detail, and I ran out of time.

After each lesson we could share our drawing if we chose. I shared the Crane drawing and explained I was not in New Hampshire and this is why I chose this for my animal.

Once the Zoom meeting was over my daughter and I would share our drawings with each other. We had a lot of fun and it was a good way to do something together while living so far apart.

Read more about the Harris Center for Conservation Education based in Hancock, NH.

Cold Weather in Florida

Florida does get cold weather and since plants are usually in the midst of growing, they must be covered or brought indoors to survive.

Fresh Dinosaur Kale Chips

Kale grew in the garden over our very short Florida winter. Now the heat is already here, so I am using the leaves and hoping for seed pods.

Propagating Milkweed to Fill the Yard

It is easy to create more milkweed for the yard by propagating with cuttings. Feed the Monarch butterfly caterpillars with local types of milkweed.


Yellow Flowering Weed: Walter’s Groundcherry

Putting a name to this yellow flowering weed in my landscape. Walter’s ground cherry is an interesting little plant.

While clearing out some weeds that are encroaching into the backyard, I kept coming across this little plant with fuzzy leaves and yellow flowers.

I’ve identified it as Walter’s Groundcherry.

Walter’s ground cherry plant

The little yellow flowers hang downward, as do the pods that form that will hold the fruit. I’m still learning about this plant that apparently has been growing next to the lawn since I moved in.

Recently, with the addition of more raised garden beds, I’ve been in the yard tending to the plants. Also we are tilling up a place for an in-ground garden. That will make the yard considerably smaller, which is fine. The yard is mostly weeds anyway.

Walter’s ground cherry flower

According to this article at Wild South Florida, The little ripe fruit is edible – the key is that it must be ripe. I’m not into eating wild things, but I always think it’s good to know, just in case.

I’ll continue to clear out the weeds, but will leave some of the ground-cherry. It’s good to know what is growing and what to pull out and what might be kept.

The photo below shows a couple of the little pods forming where the “cherry” will grow.

Walter’s ground cherry Florida yard

Keep reading the blog….

Saving Seeds: Lettuce and Arugula

How to go about saving seeds from lettuce and arugula plants.

Gardening in Florida is still a new thing for me. Even though I have lived here in Florida for many years, I never had a vegetable garden until recently. Typical tropical plants and flowers I understand, but I never had time to try to grow crops like lettuce and arugula.

Finally, I think I am beginning to get the hang of it. I realize I can’t grow what I used to grow in New Hampshire’s short summers. I’ve tried to grow cucumbers and squash without luck. Maybe the seeds were bad, I don’t know. This is such a different climate. Everything is backwards as far as planting seasons.

Lettuce and arugula (and kale) like cooler temps. I planted those seeds in Fall. They have done well over the winter months, even with Christmas temperatures in the 20’s.

Now it’s time to save the seeds. My plants began from a company called Seeds of Change. I bought the seeds at my local Home Depot. The seeds are certified organic, and nearly everything I planted has done very well. I absolutely recommend this brand of seeds.

kale seeds organic

Collecting Seeds From Lettuce

The lettuce was planted in with some peppers so I didn’t have much space. I wasn’t too hopeful for it to do well. But it did! I never ate any because it was bitter, but I have collected the seeds to try again next season. I’ll have to save space for a lettuce garden.

Now that it is March, the hot weather is on the way, so I want to let my greens go to seed so I can collect those seeds. I’ll save them inside the house to plant in the Fall.

I’ve never had luck growing lettuce so this was a complete surprise. My lettuce was a mix, so I am not sure which types these were. But one of the plants sent off this long shoot which ended up hanging over the side of the garden bed.

The green leaves ended up dying back and the stems became full of seed pods!

The spiky, thin stems each held dried pods holding little black seeds! I have collected a bunch of them.

I’ve also collected seeds from a flowering lettuce stem that produced dandelion type heads. Once the weather gets cool again, I will plant them and see what happens.

Collecting Arugula Seeds

I’m sorry to say that I am unfamiliar with arugula. I tried some of the leaves, which are peppery and really good, but without something to mix them with, I rarely ate them.

Now I am letting the flowers grow to get the seeds. I didn’t realize that the stems hold the pods that will dry out and give me seeds, until I noticed them!

I’ve noticed honey bees and many other insects on the arugula flowers. Even if you don’t use your greens or other herbs and vegetables, let them grow and create flowers to help the insects.

How to Save Seeds

In general, plants will “go to seed” once the growing season is done. Also called “bolting” it means the energy of the plant goes into making seeds to continue the vegetable / herb.

Left alone, the seeds will dry, fall to the ground, and self-seed next time. But we can let the seeds dry and then collect them to plant.

The only trouble is, that plants may create seeds in different ways. Some seeds come from the “fruit”, like tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. Others “go to seed” and create seeds from flowers or pods. It is quite interesting.

Here is a photo of the dill plant that produced beautiful flowers that turned into hundreds of seeds.

Dill flower heads turned to seeds

I ended up with too many dill plants. I dug them up and put them all around the edge of the yard. They are very hardy and don’t need much attention. I love dill and fennel (they are very similar looking) because their flowers attract beneficial insects. I do collect the leafy parts to chop and use when cooking.

Cold Weather in Florida

Florida does get cold weather and since plants are usually in the midst of growing, they must be covered or brought indoors to survive.

One of the things I dislike about living in Florida is the freezing temperatures in winter. If plants are growing outside in your yard, and in pots, they may need to be covered to survive the cold night.

I had tomatoes, squash and peppers growing. Also one large eggplant plant and some small ones. I was not as worried about the peas and parsley as those things like cool weather.

My vegetables are in raised beds.

My basil is pretty dead, even though I covered it along with everything else.

The good news is that I still have some basil seeds and have planted those for this new growing season.

Christmas was the long stretch of cold weather. Since then we’ve had heat and some coolness, but nothing too bad. As I am posting this, it is March and there should not be any more freezing temps.

Transplanting Cherry Tomato Plants, Container Gardening

I am growing cherry tomato plants from seeds. The seedlings began growing in March and were started in eggshells. (See my post on eggshell gardening.) This post contains affiliate links to products I’ve bought and recommend. I could earn a small amount if a purchase is made through my link – with no extra cost…

Cutworms in the Garden

Cutworms can quickly defoliate a plant and ruin garden crops. How do you know if it’s cutworms chewing on the leaves and stems?

Planting Potatoes in a Container Garden

My son had collected a couple of big white barrels to use for rainwater catching from the roof. He cut one in half crosswise and built stands for both halves to create raised garden beds for growing potatoes. I’ve grown potatoes a few times, and fresh dug potatoes are delicious. Now, I have no yard…

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