To Know them By Name

by Stefani on 2-June-2009

We’ve been working on this little project that I thought I’d share with you here.

It began as an effort to help me remember the names of the wildflowers that we see along the trails and roadsides, but it has become a way of passing them onto my boys.

Purple Coneflower

You know the way your heart fills up when you are in a full congregation singing the Doxology because you realize that those words are heavy with the hopes and prayers of generations before you?

You know that feeling of one-ness and spirit that makes your skin go all goosebumpy when you sing the national anthem with a stadium full of fans?

No? Well maybe it’s just me…


Anyhow, I get a little bit of that same feeling when I see a flower in the wild and can call it by name – the sense that I’m communing with all the folks that have trod this soil before me and loved the wild things that live in it.

Doll's Daisy and Yellow Groundsel

And I want very much to know that those names are stored up in the hearts of my men too, because a flower is just a flower, but when you can say its name, Rain Lily or a Primrose, it blossoms into a memory of the hot sun on your neck, mosquitos and lemonade and sunsets.

Mexican Hat

So when we come home from our walks, I upload my photos. Then we seek out the names of any flowers that I don’t know and label them using Picnik.

All these photos get printed and slipped into a little photo album that we carry with us.

Clasping Coneflower

Later, in the fall, when all the flowers have gone, we’ll put these photos into a Blurb Book so that we can linger over them through the winter and carry them with us next spring because, as Lady Bird Johnson so perfectly said, “they’re the stuff of our hearts.”

Horse Mint


For a few more wildflower resources and a peek into our trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, visit the Ranch!

Basket Flower

grace June 2, 2009 at 8:50 am

What a nice idea. I think I’ll copy that – but for trees. We are always needing the name of all the trees.
LOVE this blog with all your wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing.

our little love nest June 2, 2009 at 8:54 am

That is going to be one gorgeous blurb book!! I love the photos and the names printed on them…what a great idea! You are the coolest!

Sarah June 2, 2009 at 9:08 am

I love this idea. We have been gathering names for the wildflowers, too, but I was struggling to come up with a pretty way to organize it all. Thanks for sharing your idea!

Sarah @ June 2, 2009 at 9:16 am

What a great idea, and also, what beautiful images!

Elaine June 2, 2009 at 9:20 am

Wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing!

Mary June 2, 2009 at 9:25 am

Gorgeous pictures and a great idea! I, too, love to know the names of flowers. We don’t get out to hike much in the country, but I’m proud to say that my girls know the names of most if not all of the flowers in our yard. Early on, we had the rule that they were only allowed to pick a flower if they could tell me the name. It was great motivation for us all to learn. 🙂

Sarah M. June 2, 2009 at 11:00 am

actually…I know exactly what you mean about the Doxology…brings me to tears everytime!! What a great project fo ryou!
Sarah M

heather jane June 2, 2009 at 11:04 am

Beautiful, Stefani.

I’m looking forward to using the Book of Days to keep us occupied this summer. Maybe this would be a nice addition as well.

Kelly June 2, 2009 at 11:11 am


Kobey June 2, 2009 at 11:23 am

Not just you!

I am a Doxology/ Apostle’s Creed kind of a gal too. The meaning along with the history seem to resonate with my soul. Amazing Grace might pass the test too. Am I the only one who used it as a lullaby?

My grandmother taught me the local wildflowers. I think of her and our trip to Natural Bridge every time I see Jack in the Pulpit or Dutchmens’ britches. Even more precious than her knowledge was her love of flowers coupled with her love for us – powerful memories. So in addition to the mosquitos, don’t be surprised if wildflowers trigger memories of you and time spent with their brothers.

J.T. June 2, 2009 at 11:46 am

Thanks for the sharing the cool photo editing site! I’m going to have lots of fun playing with that!!!

Louise June 2, 2009 at 11:47 am

What a great idea!

melissa June 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I like this project. It’s funny- what you called firewheel I grew up calling basket flower. Are you doing botanical names as well as common names?
I love that you’re teaching your boys these things.

Carolyn June 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm

That sure is a great idea! Your pictures are beautiful. You’re very talented. 🙂

Elissa June 2, 2009 at 12:50 pm

just another reason why i think you are so darn cool.

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm

THAT is a great idea! I think we might join you! We have gobs of field guides, some of them, particularly the Golden Guides, are very helpful, but it’s been so nice just to have a little small book of things we see frequently and know just where to find!

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Aw shucks 🙂 Thanks, girl!

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Oh I love that! Great plan!

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

You know what? I’m counting on it. I really hope that they’ll thing of me whenever they see flowers, or can name a butterfly, or when they get their hands on a slice of pie 🙂 That would be the best kind of legacy I think!

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Oh It’s crazy good fun.
I really like the 60s filter, the polaroid frame, and the fancy focus. Have fun!

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm

You know what? It would be really great to include the botanical names. I’m thinking when we make the book we should also include something about the plant…. any lore, uses, how it got it’s name, etc. That will be a good research project for when we are cooped up in the colder months!

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Oh well, I don’t know about all that.
I happen to just have a pretty great camera.
Truth be told though, I just shoot in auto and save for some lightening or darkening and adding text, I don’t know much about editing photos after the fact either. That’s not talent, it’s dumb luck 🙂

Stefani June 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

It takes a cool mama to know one you know 🙂

mommycoddle June 2, 2009 at 1:33 pm

great idea! the coreopsis doesn’t even look real! what a beautiful photo.

patricia June 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Oh, that is just fantabulous. Something so simple as putting the names on the photos–brilliant.

I also love that this is *your* project for the boys. Not something you’re trying to coerce them into doing–but of course they’ll end up going along for the ride.

Oh you’ll love Blurb–have you made a book with them before? I just finished a homeschooling yearbook with several of the older kids in our support group, and it’s just gorgeous. And they printed them crazy fast!

Lisa Clarke June 2, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Fabulous! I love the coneflowers, in particular. I need to find me a wildflower patch, stat! 🙂

joy June 2, 2009 at 2:05 pm

fabulous story and idea! thanks for sharing all the cool ways you are working on the nature guide. a perfect project!

Kaye June 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

LOVE the pictures! Super idea.

Birgitte June 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm

We do this with birds. We see a bird, try to remember all the details about what it looked like and then go to and look it up.

It is so cool to know what you have around you. My mom taught me back in Norway, and now I get to teach my boys about the birds and plants in the New Mexican desert.

laurel Sauls June 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm

I know just what you mean about singing the doxology. My heart feels the same way.

Lee June 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm

You may also be interested in trying to identify some of your wildflowers with a true Flora (plant taxonomy identification guide), a great one for your area is the Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas by Diggs, Lipscomb and O’Kennon. It has an illustrated glossary and is fairly user friendly. Start with flowers you already know, so you can be sure you are using the terminology correctly.
I believe it is still online for free, but much easier to use in paper.
The latin names can be fun learning tools as well.

tara June 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Gorgeous wild flowers and a pretty nifty idea to boot!!

Jennifer June 2, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I love this idea, and it’s not just you! I get all those same feelings.

We’re working on a similar project here, but for younger men. My oldest is going to be three soon, so we are taking photos of letters we see in out urban environment. I’ve got big plans for the pictures; all kinds of projects and manipulatives we can use for learning! I’ll be posting about it all soon, I hope…

Jennifer June 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Oooooo, and I forgot to tell you that I happened to wear my Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center tee yesterday!

BOATBABY June 2, 2009 at 8:06 pm

I LOVE love LOVE this idea! But now I have a problem. Now that you have shown me Picnik, I may go from my meager 6 hours of sleep a night to none. I will be here, like a zombie, messing about with my photos.

Jennifer June 2, 2009 at 10:56 pm

I agree with the others that this is a great idea. I think my kids would enjoy that kind of project.

darlene June 2, 2009 at 10:59 pm

oh my what great shots! i love them! they look great!

Carri Lambert June 3, 2009 at 4:04 am

I really love this idea. Thanks for sharing.

urban organica June 3, 2009 at 6:08 am

what a great idea! gosh, you could go so may ways with this. once again, we’ll be copying you on this one. xoxo ps, sorry no pics lately, we’re still doing projects from april!! a bit behind…

Andrea June 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Hi Stefani: I am from Mexico and i like a lot the projects that you share, i also love to go outdoors with mi son and i am kind of a naturalist also.
I wanted to share with you a book that i found that maybe you would like because it teaches children to learn to identify the flowers patterns and to what family they belong, it is really interesting because in that way you can know the plants deeper because many of the families share qualities, like to be edible,etc. The title of the book for childrens is Shanleya

Treemama June 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm

oh what a great idea! and thanks for the introduction to picnik, I am sure we will become very fast friends

molly June 3, 2009 at 6:52 pm

i love this stefani! so perfect. i’ve decided to learn the names of our local wildflowers this year, starting with photos and following up with identification (which might take me a while).

marjorie June 4, 2009 at 8:48 am

This is a great idea! And I just ran to check, and it’s nice to know I have ‘Fire Wheel’ planted on my front porch planter. The boys will love that one 😉

Ansley June 7, 2009 at 5:30 am

I think that is a wonderful idea and the flower shots you took are really beautiful!
YOU are fantabulous!

april June 7, 2009 at 8:35 pm

I’m a native Texan and some of my earliest memories are of walking the Hill Country meadows with my mother looking at wildflowers. I get so nostalgic to see Indian Paintbrush or Bluebonnets or those beautifully simple magenta flowers we always called winecups (do you know which ones I”m talking about?) I just love this post so much and you’re right: walking amongst the flowers and knowing their names is like singing the Doxology, recognizing that connection we have with those who have gone before us. Thank you for this.

jessica June 8, 2009 at 9:05 pm

We’ve just begun reading Swallows and Amazons now per your suggestion. Have ya’ll read Miracles on Maple Hill? You might appreciate all the attention the wildflowers receive.

philippine flowers June 29, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Oh! thanks for those information about those beautiful flowers. I really enjoyed staring those flowers specially the Mexican Hat and the Coreopsis. Glad I saw this post. Thanks for sharing.


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