Nature puzzles

Nature puzzles are a good way to keep nature alive in the house when it's cold outside.

Darla Horner Menking | Herald

Brrr. It’s been so cold, it has been difficult to make myself go outside.

Looking through my big window has kept me in touch with nature, despite being confined indoors during winter. And, there are other things that can help us keep nature in our focus, especially during these cooler temperatures.

One of my favorite pastimes is puzzles. It’s almost addicting and, at times, difficult to pull myself away from the challenge.

Some of my favorite types of puzzles are the ones depicting nature. There are some really beautiful puzzle pictures of birds, flowers and landscapes.

Not only do I love the process of putting them together, but most of the time I will make them permanent, by coating and sealing the pieces and framing or dry mounting them.

Doing nature puzzles is a great way of bringing the outside indoors.

Other simple indoor activities using nature include planting seeds in indoor pots and monitoring their growth until they can be transplanted outside in the spring.

Try craft items out of pieces of nature, such as wreaths out of nuts or pinecones. Sticks and small limbs can be used to line picture frames, make wall art or be put in a floor vase or arrangement.

Another indoor activity in which you can involve nature is to study the techniques of creating a bonsai tree.

This is definitely a long-term project that takes time, patience and insight.

These potted trees can be created from almost any ordinary type of small or stunted tree or shrub, or even from a seed. The key is in the process of dwarfing them by deliberate pruning and shaping skills.

Selecting a particular plant is important based on where you live and what you envision in its appearance.

Most bonsai trees fall in the range from a couple of inches to three feet in height.

Common plants used in bonsai are boxwoods, ficus, junipers or many other small-leafed species. Again, this is a project that develops over time, but a great indoor nature activity, none the less.

I’m sure hoping these freezing temperatures will be past us soon so we can get back outside, to our yards and plants, without bundling up and shivering. But in the meantime, find a nature project and keep looking outside your window.

Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com

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