Myakka River State Park – Sarasota FL

In in May we celebrated 9 years of marriage with a kid-free camping trip to Myakka River State Park!  My husband, who just started his own blog, wrote about our trip here!  But I wanted to share this unique state park with you too.

One of the oldest state parks in the state, Myakka River State Park is located in the Sarasota area.  I grew up on the East Coast, so Florida’s west coast ecosystem is a new, exciting place to explore.  My favorite part about the park was the 76′ observation tower, as well as the park’s delicious Pink Gator Cafe!  We have been to a lot of state parks, and I never seen such a nice park cafe.  Florida craft beers, alligator stew, and many other healthy choices were on its awesome menu.

We are looking forward to bring the kids back to this beautiful park in the fall!

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Black Elderberry Magic

As we gear up for the winter holiday season, we should also be preparing for the cold and flu season.  I’m not writing to you about any Black Friday deals this week, I’m talking about Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), one of the most underestimated berries out there!!!

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Black elderberry has been used in medicine for hundreds of years, and many published studies are demonstrating it may effectively treat the flu, alleviate allergies, and boost overall respiratory healthy (among other things). A quick Google search and you will find lots of information!  Two years ago we decided to grow our own elderberry (Sambucus nigra subspecies Canadensis). The flowers smell lovely and we use them in our summertime teas!

Here are some ways you can incorporate this amazing herb into your diet! Since I started my elderberry hunt, I have come across the following:

Fresh elderberries (summer time)

Elderberry juice

Elderberry teas

Elderberry liquid extract

Elderberry gummy vitamins

Black Elderberry extract spray

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry jam

I have also found elderberry wine, although I have not tried it yet. 😉   Elderberry is being incorporated into more and more products each year. Check with your local specialty food or whole foods store to find all of the products listed above.  Or grow your own! It is very easy to grow in Florida, although it can get up to 13 ft in height so make sure you have the space.  Here is an article on growing Elderberry in Florida.

I would like to note here, I am not advocating any company or product, just the berry itself.  Personally we use an alcohol-free extract spray and my little gardeners really like Dino Elderberry Yummy Gummy vitamins. Our western culture needs to re-discover this native plant! It has so many uses, and is a wonderful attraction for birds, butterflies, and pollinators in any garden!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!

~Bee

Florida Nature App for Kids: mom reviewed

Nature Viewing Along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail,

by Natural Guides, LLC  439MB

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This is a great family app we discovered for the backyard.  Designed with non-experts in mind, this is great for my little gardeners. They can search for and identify flowering plants, butterflies, and birds found in sunny Florida. There is also a nice section on Florida’s unique habitats and state parks.

The app uses child friendly icons and images to identify flowers, butterflies and birds by color, size and appearance.  You can even select the seasons to narrow your searches.  My seven year old says her favorite thing she has identified is a male Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Mom’s favorite thing is how independently they can use the app and still come up with proper identifications.

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Nature Viewing App is supported by:
Florida Museum of Natural History
Florida Wildflower Foundation
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
to name a few.

Hope you are enjoying your own backyard this summer!

~Bee

Spring Break Camping Trip

We took a break from gardening (and the cyber world) and went camping for a week in St. Mary’s, GA. We went by ferryboat to the beautiful Cumberland Island National Seashore, where we saw wild horses and mansion ruins.  We camped at Crooked River State Park in St. Mary’s and the family enjoyed hiking, birding, food on the open fire, and a trip to a local nature center where the little gardeners were able to see a lot of creatures, including a cute little flying squirrel.

We feel blessed to have spent a week together in the nature.  This month we are back digging in the garden and working on a new butterfly project! More pictures soon! 🙂

Happy Spring!

A Mountain Farm Visit

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While on our camping trip to the Smoky Mountains, we took the little gardeners to a cool mountain farm museum.  Historic log buildings gathered throughout the Smokies are preserved on a single site. The museum included a farmhouse, barn, applehouse, springhouse, blacksmith shop, and smokehouse.  It was really neat to show the children how families lived 100 years ago.

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And the moss in the mountains was beautiful! I would definitely have to have a moss garden if I lived there!!!

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Happy Gardening! This week we are planning for spring and starting seeds indoors!

Hello 2013!

Hello and Happy New Year Gardening Friends!

I am excited to report that we are official! Our gardening blog web address has gone from flgardening.wordpress.com

to

BackyardFLgardening.com

 

This straight forward URL will allow more to share in our gardening fun!

Gardening has been on hold through the holidays. We just got back from a two week camping trip to the Smoky Mountains! It was our first time to the park and it was amazing!

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Don’t worry. We have lots of exciting gardening adventures planned for 2013! Stay tuned…