Nurturing the Forest, Nurturing Ourselves

After the long drive to our forested land, we had an appointment which ended up lasting the entire morning with a representative from the the Missouri Conservation Department.

I was grateful for the need to move around that much after sitting and driving for so long the previous day.

As we walked and learned more about our land than we even knew to ask, I became more and more aware of just how good it felt to be back in Nature.

This was Nature we had not seen before since the trees were bare of leaves, a season which we usually spent in various public and private school teaching assignments.

We saw ridges and valleys and several kinds of oaks, sassafras, dogwood, black locust, young and old trees, and beginning vegetation on the floor of the forest.

We even saw the pink flagging tape we had put up during the time of extreme leafiness, last summer, to mark a 150 foot perimeter out from our current covered deck.

At that time, we could not even see where we had flagged once we walked back to our deck, the leaves were so thick.

During this season, we will be able to walk it and add more flagging tape so we can begin to create a contoured path farther out in the woods.

We have more information about the soil types on different facing slopes, and what will grow there, how to conserve it and how to develop it.

There is a lot of work, but all of it will be rewarding.

Step-by-step, we will keep learning more.

We will be part of a natural area that nurtures us as we nurture it.

© 2015 Kathryn Hardage


Farm Arts Nature Camp

I am setting up sessions and schedules for summer camp.

It’s called Farm Arts Nature Camp, F.A.N.Camp.

It will be at Windwalker Camp in Southwest Missouri, in the foothills of the Ozarks, near Neosho, MO, south of Joplin.  Our land is almost 45 acres which is very forested with a two-acre area which has been cleared for tent camping, private composting toilets, and a covered deck, cooking on a propane grill, starry nights, hiking in the woods, keeping a Naturalist Journal, and many more activities.  Take a look at the list of possibilities at   You can also check out the session dates.
I am combining all my favorite things to do, learning about animals, gardening, drawing and painting, and learning about Nature, into weekly activities while I am here in town.

I am starting to write the activity booklets for a weekly Farm Arts Nature Club.

This will help me, and you, too, if you participate, to get ready for summer camp.

You can find out about it at  Click on FAN Camp.

Neighborhood Botanical Garden

I am replacing my lawn with a Neighborhood Botanical Garden.

Up until now, I have just been saying that I am planting Native Plants.

However, during our trip aross the Southwest US, I visited the Las Angeles Botanical Garden, the Flagstaff Botanical Garden, and the Lubbock Botanical Garden.  All those climates feature Native Plants.  (The LA Garden has Australian and Madagascaren plants because their climate supports those plants as well.)

Those gardens have more natural settings for their plant collections.

As I am educating myself about what will grow in North Texas, I now consider that I am involved in a research project.  Therefore, I have some repetition in my plantings, I keep adding variety, and I accept and welcome what Nature, herself, is planting.

I have been advised to keep the natural trees that keep showing up as “canopy”, and to encourage their height.  Then, I will have room to add fruit trees as the next layer of “understory”.  Shrubs are the next layer, then legumenous plants, green manure, i.e. plants which are nitrogen rich and which will die to become compost.

I also have many flowering plants for color and variety, perennials.

© 2011 Kathryn Hardage

Traveling Across the Southwest

Back and forth to Los Angeles, California for a week of training for my husband.  It was so interesting seeing the landscape change in big ways as we drove.  On the way back, I took photographs every thirty minutes or so.  Visiting the Los Angeles Botanical Garden (Australia and Madagascar areas), Flagstaff Arboretum, and Lubbock Arboretum has given me a new perspective on drought tolerant plants and more celebration of natural settings.  The Dallas Arboretum is a show garden year round.  I feel I can accomplish a different kind of setting in my own yard as I fill it with native and drought tolerant plants.  I purchased seed packets for flowering plants that are typical of the Southwest.  I will see if they will grow in my Texas Neighborhood Botanical Garden.

Afterschool Clubs

A tour of the Music Room includes keyboards, violins, and guitars, as well as percussion instruments, all with their own Music Reading Readiness Kits, a published series from

Art projects include drawing, painting, sculpting and crafts.

Objects from Nature in my Texas Wildscape invite children to explore them.

Seed growing and planting lets us participate in growing our own food.

An evolving curriculum based on individual learning styles for confidence and independence supports the child weekly.