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Most inspirations come us in two ways:  1) through our conversations with others and 2) through reading.  Thus it is my theory that the more time we spend talking with others and reading, the more creative we will be.  Of course, from time to time we should test our inspired ideas and theories carrying them out as experiments in the real world or writing about them and sharing with others so they can test them out and then report back to us (a concept Bill Gates brought to us).

Here are my two inspired ideas for today.  The first one came from a site that my dear friend Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green, sent to me.  The Bees Waggle.   

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#1  HAVE FUN WITH YOUR CHILDREN THIS SUMMER

Few activities are more rewarding than teaching a child something about nature and seeing their faces light up with the amazement of discovery that comes with attaining knowledge.

 

Nasturtium at the Garland Community Garden –June 28, 2017

TEACH THEM HOW FLOWERS ATTRACT POLLINATORS

Flowers are the messengers for plants that help attract help pollinators. Flowers are critical to our food supply.  Unless a plant is pollinated, the flower will just drop off and not produce its fruit or vegetable.  [Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anthers of a flower to the stigma of the same flower or of another flower.] Without pollination and pollinators, we would eventually starve.

Flowers contain nectar, a sweet sugar watery treat, and pollen, a yellow powdery protein. Most pollinators seek the nectar, and others will take both the nectar and pollen.  Bees use pollen to feed their young and nectar is used as a food for the adult population.  Nectar is the food that Monarchs are seeking in the fall when they pass through here on their way to the Mexican highlands.  Nectar is the food that gives them the energy to fly thousands of miles to their wintering ground.

Flowers Attract Pollinators with color and fragrance.

Flowers are very visible because of their color.  Pollinators see colors even better than we do as they can see in the Ultraviolet (UV) range.  The brightness of the color of the flower tells the pollinators how much nectar the flower has.  When the flower color is bright, the pollinator knows the flower has plenty of nectar.  When the flower color is dull, the pollinator knows there is not much pollen available.  Someone has been there before them gathering it.  Unless they are desperate for nectar, they won't even bother to visit that blossom.

Flowers also attract pollinators with their fragrance, which is different at different times of the day.  We have pollinators who are active at night.  Flowers that are pollinated by nocturnal or night time pollinators release more fragrance in the evening as compared to the plants pollinated by daytime pollinators that release more fragrance during the day.  Except for the bat that detects smell with its nose, most pollinators detect fragrance with their antennae.

How do flowers know how much fragrance to release?

Flowers don’t have brains so they rely on an automatic response to sunlight.  The ones who want to attract pollinators in the daytime will have a stronger fragrance during the day.  The ones who want to attract pollinators at night will have a stronger fragrance at night.  

 

Two wildflowers from the Garland Community Garden picked July 2,2017 and placed in separate jars on Charlie’s patio table.

CITIZEN SCIENTIST FRAGRANCE EXPERIMENT

Needed Materials:

1. Two glass jars with lids

2. Four petals from two different flowers.  If you like, you can put an entire flower in the jar.

Instructions:

1. Put the petals or entire flowers inside the jars (petals from the same flower in same jar—don’t mix petals and flowers in same jar).

2. Put jars in sunlight for about half an hour to an hour.

3. Remove the lid and take a sniff.

4. Put the lid on and then put the jars in a dark place or cover with a black cloth.

5. About three hours later, remove the lid and sniff.

Notice any difference?  If the fragrance is fainter, then most likely this is a flower that attracts daytime pollinators and loves the sun.  If the fragrance is stronger, then it is likely this flower is attractive to nocturnal pollinators such as moths and bats.

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Note:  Gardens should have a good mix of flowers for pollinators with some for the daytime pollinators and some for the nocturnal pollinators.  Many of our nighttime pollinators belong to the moth family.  They like native night bloomers such as evening primroses, yuccas, phlox, datura and evening snow.

Inspiration for my own adaptation of this lesson came from thebeeswaggle.com – a wonderful place to go for more ideas on how to interact with your children or grandchildren and pollinators.

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#1[A] ADDED FUN TO FLOWER EXPERIMENT: 
SHOW CHILDREN HOW FLOWERS APPEAR TO POLLINATORS

We can’t see things in the UV spectrum, but pollinators can.  See color through the eyes of a pollinator.

Maybe you already have UV lens on your cameras?  I don't know.

If not, Here is how to create a UV attachment for your regular lens

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1041090/how_to_take_uv_pictures

Basically, you take a piece of cardboard paint one side of it black with a magic marker.  Then roll the cardboard into a cylinder with the black part on the inside.  Fit around your lens and tape in place.  Cut the tube just to the end of the lens.  Stick a black light bulb in the end and tape it in place.

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#2  POSITIVE SIGNAGE IS PROBABLY MORE EFFECTIVE THAN NEGATIVE SIGNAGE
At the least, it is more attractive!

 

A sign I designed that I plan to create and give to Pam at Good Sams before the end of July.  It might be that Loving Garland Green could sell these signs for a fundraiser.  Who knows?  Perhaps we might partner with another nonprofit or even a local print shop in these efforts.

A few weeks ago when I stopped by Garland Good Samaritans to drop off some produce from the Garland Community Garden, Pam Swendig, the director, mentioned to me that she didn’t like the No smoking signs they have posted in a picnic area of their grounds.  However, she felt that folks still needed to be reminded to not smoke.  The problem statement became:  “How can you remind people to not do something without being negative?”

On my way home the vision shown in my illustration above came to me.  Being the busy squirrel that I am, the inspiration got shoveled not to my back burner, but entirely out of my busy kitchen.  Then today when Charlie and I were watering the plants at Good Samaritans, I saw the sign again and was reminded of my idea for a replacement sign.

 

No Smoking sign currently posted at the Garland Good Samaritans in their picnic area.

That’s another thing about ideas.  Good ideas tend to be persistent and return to your mind again and again.  When this happens, act on them—or at least initiate a proof of concept test.

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