WPC: New Horizon

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Krista challenges, in this week’s Photo Challenge, to look ahead to new horizons.  What will the new year hold?

These trees, which grow beside the Colonial Parkway, always enchant me.  They bring to mind a Greek myth, which I once taught to my English students,  about life long love and friendship.

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A devoted couple,  Baucis and Philemon , showed hospitality to strangers; sharing freely from the little that they had.  Eventually they realized that the strangers in their home were in reality,  Zeus and Hermes, who had come down to Earth in disguise.

Hospitality was the rule in those days, and because of their kindness to strangers, the couple was saved when their town was destroyed.  Their home was transformed into a temple, and they were granted their wish live out their lives as priest and priestess serving in the temple.   Granted a final blessing from their visitors, Baucis and Philemon asked that upon their death they might be transformed into intertwining trees, to spend eternity together.

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Mistletoe lives anchored to the branches of the trees. The trees and mistletoe form a symbiotic community.

Mistletoe lives anchored to the branches of the trees. The trees and mistletoe form a living, ever growing community.

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This story reminds us not only of the importance of hospitality and kindness to strangers, but also of the beauty of community with those we love.

Friends, neighbors, and family grow together over the years, reaching out to one another again and again as lives weave together in the fabric of community.  And this is what I hope for in the year ahead, as my relationships with friends and loved ones deepen and grow richer through the experiences we share.

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You see not only these two trees, and the mistletoe growing from their branches; but also a bit of woods along the horizon.  We all are surrounded by a rich community.  It is up to us to reach out to others, explore the landscape, and find our own place within it.

My partner and I were taking some time together enjoying a beautiful December afternoon when we stopped to photograph these special trees.  There is no official parking place nearby, and so he had pulled over on the shoulder, waiting patiently for me to get these photos with one eye in the mirror watching for traffic.

It was a quiet afternoon, and the few cars took no offense at us stopped by the roadway.  But I appreciate him taking this chance on my behalf, and we both admired the color along the horizon touched by golden sunshine here in the banks of the James River.

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These beautiful and graceful trees remind us to reach beyond our current limits.  To reach out to those we love, and to continue reaching higher and higher towards the limitless, infinite universe which pulses all around us.

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  New Horizon

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Our A Forest Garden 2017 gardening calendar is filled with photos taken in our garden over the past year. 

To order a copy, write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com.

Hardy Amaryllis Flowers for the Holidays

Hippeastrum SA 'Graffiti'

Hippeastrum SA ‘Graffiti’

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Have you heard of  ‘Sonatini Hippeastrum‘  dwarf Amaryllis bulbs? This is a new discovery for us.

The Sonatini bulb is a fairly recent innovation in traditional Amaryllis plants  grown indoors at the holidays.  First, these beautiful bulbs produce smaller plants overall.  That is good news if you wrestle with your Amaryllis plants, as I wrestle with ours, to prevent their tall, heavy stems from falling over as the blooms open.  I devise all sorts of supports, but still often end up letting the flowering stem finish in a tall vase while still managing the 2’+ leaves for several months after the blooms fade.

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The Sonatini Hippeastrum, developed over the last 15 years or so in the Netherlands, grows to only 13″-18″.  This is good news for those of us growing the bulbs in table arrangements during the holidays.  But even better, these bulbs have proven hardy in Zone 7, and even in Zone 6 with some protection.  Which means that I can plant our bulbs out into a permanent place in a perennial bed this spring, and leave it there indefinitely to grow like any other perennial bulb.

We visited the Bulb Shop at Brent and Becky Heath’s gardens in late November to finish off our fall bulb purchases.  I had planned to purchase at least one Amaryllis bulb for our dining table to grow and bloom through the new year.  Imagine my delight to discover these beautiful little H. ‘Graffiti’ bulbs already in bud, and marked down by half.

I knew they were a smaller variety of Amaryllis, but since have done a little research to learn more about them. The two blooming bulbs in this arrangement are both H. ‘Graffiti’.  We also purchased the last H. ‘Trentino’ in the shop that day, also a Sonatini type Amaryllis; which has budded, but has not yet bloomed, in this arrangement.  It should also have a white flower, with a blush border around each blossom.

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I love Amaryllis for their elegant flowers.  This is the sweet reward for growing them each winter.

I love Amaryllis for their elegant flowers. This is the sweet reward for growing them each winter.

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Not only are the Sonatini Amaryllis varieties bred to be smaller and hardier than earlier cultivars; they also produce lots of blooms.  Each bulb is advertised to produce multiple bloom stalks and multiple blooms per stalk over a fairly long period of time.  They also last well when cut and kept in a vase.

These bulbs came to me already under stress.  The whole crate of bulbs in the shop had already sprouted, and a few had flower buds already opening with absolutely no fresh root structure at all.  The bulbs were in growth with only the reserves in their bulb to power them.

These have probably begun rooting now, but have been in their pot for just a little more than a week.  I will be happy for whatever flowers they produce this year.  But I expect them to be even better next winter after spending the summer out in the garden.

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Potted Hippeastrum bulbs should have about the top third of the bulb showing above the soil line. But  planted outside in the garden, these Sonatini bulbs should be planted fully under the soil to remain hardy over our winter, and perhaps even mulched a bit in Zone 6.

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The bulbs are growing around a ‘Frosty Fern’ Selaginella krausiana variegatus, which isn’t really a fern at all.  This clubmoss, or spikemoss,  shows up at our local Trader Joe’s each December and makes a great winter houseplant.  It likes cool shade and moist soil, and will eventually grow quite a bit.  Growing it in this large bowl helps it, as it needs humidity and even moisture to thrive.

Under optimal conditions, Selaginella krausiana can grow to a foot tall and  creep to a foot or more wide.  It can be grown outdoors as a ground cover in cool, moist shade.  Sadly, it won’t overwinter outdoors in our Zone 7 climate, and so I haven’t kept one going for a full year, yet.  I’ll often move the overwintered plant outside into a pot come spring, but often our climate grows too hot for them by mid-summer.   Or perhaps I haven’ t found a shady enough spot for them yet outdoors?

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That isn’t to say that we don’t thoroughly enjoy watching this lovely little plant grow indoors all winter!  This combination will look great for several weeks, and I’ll have another potted Amaryllis, with another ‘Frosty Fern,’ ready to take center stage after this one finishes blooming.  Both the Selaginella and Hippeastrum are native to South Africa.

You may remember that I’ve grown and photographed Amaryllis bulbs indoors every winter for the last several.  A few of the traditional ‘florist’ varieties do prove hardy here and can survive a mild winter out of doors, re-blooming the following summer.

But not taking any chances with our collection, I dug them all up about three weeks ago, before our first frost.  They have been growing all summer in sunny perennial beds, growing great huge strapping leaves, but not showing a single flower bud.  Not to worry….

I have them all resting in the garage, bare root, and will begin potting them up again, one by one, shortly.  Online sources indicate they prefer a couple of months of dormant rest before starting their cycle of bloom and growth once again.

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I’m frankly amazed that the leaves have remained green and healthy looking this long!

If you are curious about the new, smaller Amaryllis varieties, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs will continue shipping for about another week.  They still have a few of the Sonatini (designated as ‘Hippeastrum SA’ in their catalog) varieties in stock.

Whether you order these for your own enjoyment, or as gifts, this looks like a promising improvement in  Amaryllis culture.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Our A Forest Garden 2017 gardening calendar is filled with photos taken in our garden over the past year. 

To order a copy, write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com.

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Wednesday Vignettes:

Forsythia

Forsythia

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“Inspiration is what keeps us well.”

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James Redfield

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“Once you learn what life is about,

there is no way to erase that knowledge.

If you try to do something else with your life,

you will always sense that you are missing something”

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James Redfield

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

In Bloom

Camellias bloom on November 30 after a rainy day in our garden

Camellias bloom on November 30 in our garden

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Flowers still open in our garden as another year melts into December’s grip.  The gardening year has already come to a frosty close over much of the country.  And although today brought cold rain, yesterday was a perfect day for planting bulbs and re-doing pots for the coming months.

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This beautiful double Camellia opened its first blossoms last week, and will bloom off and on through early spring. Golden Forsythia leaves linger nearby.

This beautiful double Camellia opened its first blossoms last week, and will bloom off and on through early spring. Golden Forsythia leaves linger nearby.

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Camellias and roses bloom high above newly planted Violas.  A few stubborn Rudbeckia still open their golden petals despite the cold.  Summer’s beauty lingers even during this relentless march towards winter.

Most of our trees have been swept clean of their dying leaves, while woody shrubs stand naked now against a chilling wind.  And yet, the relative warmth of our front patio harbors olive, pomegranate and fig trees; potted Violas and a few lavender plants.  It stays a few degrees warmer there, nurturing the willing through long winter nights.

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Most of these late bloomers will continue blessing us with flowers until hit by ice and snow.   When?  It could be any time now.  The first hard freeze will hit on Friday night.

But even as we enjoy these last few blossoms of the season, so trees and shrubs around town are sprouting bright Christmas lights.

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As we enter this darkest part of the year, dusk falls earlier each day.  It was nearly dark tonight well before 5 PM; well before our beloved mail carrier found us through the fog and rain.

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Roses linger despite a few early frosts. These bloom on November 30, but there are still roses this lovely today in the front garden.

Roses linger despite a few early frosts. These bloom on November 30, but there are still roses this lovely today in the front garden.

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If you are looking for a great winter time read, please take a look at Noel Kingsbury’s newest work, Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden.

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This encyclopedic work comes at plants from an historical perspective, describing how various genus came into cultivation and trade.  Its fascinating illustrations are mostly historical reproductions of various drawings, advertisements, paintings and scientific illustrations of various plants.

This newest treasure from Timber Press, published this past October, describes 133 different plant groups over nearly 400 pages.  There is something interesting to learn on every page.  It is organized to allow ‘dipping in’ as time and curiosity allows. Noel’s chatty but authoritative voice rings true as he describes our wonderful palette of garden plants as though they were his personal friends.

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We found this hawk hunting in our garden as we returned home on Sunday afternoon.

We found this hawk hunting in our garden as we returned home on Sunday afternoon.

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If you want to grow your gardening expertise this winter while snuggling inside with a cup of something warm and the company of something warm and furry; this book is your ticket so you might end the winter a bit more clever than you began it.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Seashell Topiary

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Do you enjoy making Christmas gifts and holiday decor ?  Crafting has remained a part of my December preparations since I was little.  And quite often I find myself turning to beautiful seashells for my projects.

When I was young, we came home from beach vacations with bags full of beautiful shells picked up along the islands off of North Carolina.  I worked those into wreathes and Christmas tree ornaments, and lit tabletop trees.  I remember one year hundreds of beautiful moon shells washed up along the northern end of Virginia Beach after a late summer storm.

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I lived in Virginia Beach for many years, before moving to Williamsburg, and sea themed Christmas decor became a way of life there.  I still love seeing shells worked into wreathes and garlands.

Now, finding shells on the beach has become a rare treat, and I end up buying bags of shells for my projects or relying on friends to share shells leftover from shellfish meals.  But there are many shell ‘beads’ wherever beading materials are sold, pearl tipped floral pins, and of course freshwater pearls to add a bit of elegance.

Back in the 70s and 80s many crafters finished their shell projects with a heavy coat of shellac or polyurethane.  I find this look dated and heavy.  I begin by wiping each shell with a light coating of mineral oil, which seeps into the shell’s structure and gives a more natural luster.  This brings out the beautiful colors, as though the shell were still seen through the surf.  The mineral oil lasts, but can be renewed easily should the shells ever begin to look dull.

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I made three shell topiary trees last December.  We enjoyed them so much that they never quite got given away or even put away.  They are still there on the mantle in the den waiting for the Santas to come out of storage.

I’ve made a new one this year; a taller one.  And I took lessons learned from earlier projects to make this one even better.  You see it here with little folk art Santas we picked up at a local crafts fair yesterday.

Shell topiary trees can be crafted in many different ways.  You might find these beautiful, or hopelessly tacky.  But on the chance that you feel a little inspired to make one for yourself, know that this is a fairly easy project to accomplish in  just a few hours.

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I’ll offer just a few tips to ease your efforts should you want to make your own shell tree.  I begin with a Styrofoam base, and cover the base with fabric.  A good low temperature glue gun is the essential tool for this project.  The actual Styrofoam cone may be anchored in a flower pot, on a wooden base, or even on shell ‘feet’ depending on your style.

After sorting and polishing the shells, begin by hot gluing the larger shells on to the fabric.  Anchor one shell to its neighbor where they touch with a touch of hot glue.  It is important to work slowly and cautiously at this stage to avoid burning oneself on the glue gun’s tip or on freshly squeezed hot glue.  Remember to carefully consider each shell to use it to best advantage.  Most shells have more than one beautiful side, and can be glued in several different ways to showcase different parts of the shell.

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Keep turning the tree as you work and work from bottom to top, building up your design layer by layer.  One can  overlap shells slightly to cover any broken edges or flaws.  Some crafters keep gluing here, and build up a second glued layer of shells to completely cover the base.  But I prefer a different approach.

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Once the tree is mostly covered, and a ‘top’ glued into place, it is time to fill in the spaces to cover every tiny bit of fabric possible.  I’ve used a combination of small shells sold as beads, bits of shell sold as beads, and freshwater pearls.  Each of these smaller pieces came pre-drilled with a hole just the right size to accept a straight pin.  Depending on your taste and purpose, you might even incorporate some glass or metal beads at this point in the design to embellish the tree.

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Again, I work around the entire tree, turning it frequently.  I usually complete the top first and then work down to fill in the spaces with small shell ‘beads’  and pearls.  At some point, all of the spaces are filled and you know your tree is finished.  And other than letting the tree sit undisturbed for a few hours while the glue hardens, that is all there is to it.  Your tree is now ready to display.

This tree will serve as decoration for a holiday gathering next week before heading out to a loved one’s home for the remainder of the holidays.   But I’m keeping these cute Santas, and will bring their brothers out to join them one day soon!

Happy Holidays!

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Woodland Gnome 2016

 

WPC: Relax

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“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life,

live in the moment, live in the breath.”

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Amit Ray

This week’s photo challenge invites us to share photos of what helps us to relax.

What a wonderful gift!  and what a marvelous way to stop and catch our breath after this first week of the ‘Christmas season.’

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“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon

against your challenges. So relax.”

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Bryant McGill

This December presents many of us with gnarly challenges.  As if  we weren’t already stressed enough this year with global politics; that still plays in the background as we scramble with holiday  plans; Cyber week sales; finishing projects at work or at school; and still the ongoing dramas of our daily lives.  Whew! 

Let’s relax a little, already!

My stress was multiplied this week by a demented phone.  I can’t quite remember what year I got it… it’s that old.  But its dementia began the day before Thanksgiving.  Suddenly it dropped calls, or made them on its own without my touch.  Sometimes the voice activation program turned itself on… and I couldn’t disable it or turn it off.  I kept getting messages from friends and family about my phone calling theirs, unbidden, and had to leave it mostly off.

When I took it to my carrier’s store on Monday they offered no help at all, except to shame me for my old phone.  Wouldn’t I like to consider payment plans for a new one?

I overheard one of the other agents calmly explaining to her I Pad customer that while the new phones were only designed to last a year or two, she might get as much as five years of service were she to buy a new I Pad.  Really?  With the new phones costing over $600.00?  Really?

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“I wish you water.”

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Wallace J. Nichols

After an hour of negotiation and resolve, one of the nice young agents hearing my conversation with the store’s manager suggested a great little LG basic phone which would do only what I need it to do.  It is a sleeker nicer model of the one I’ve had.  And yes, they had to special order it.  It’s too obsolete to keep in stock….

And best of all, it didn’t require me to take out a payment plan.  I could actually afford to just pay for it.

I finally picked up my new phone on Thursday afternoon.  It is something in between a Wal Mart ‘burner’ and a handheld computer, and I am glad to have it.  A little stress finally resolved…

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And that is when my partner and I both took a few deep breaths, and headed to the Colonial Parkway.  We headed to that special place where we can relax and just ‘be’ for a little while.  Sunset’s golden light lit the scene, quiet now in early December.  Only a few of us locals head out this way so late in the year, keeping company with the shore birds and park rangers.

We watched sun and water, admired the fall color still clinging here and there on the trees, and took a moment to celebrate our success.

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This is a long and tiring month, December.  We have lots we want to do, and lots we need to do before Christmas comes and a new year dawns next month.

And I’m sure you have a lot on your mind, too.  And so let us take just a moment to breathe; to let a bit of peace seep into out souls.

We have only to pause, to let ourselves relax,  and appreciate the beauties of the world around us.

And then we get back to work…..

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“The Warrior knows that no man is an island.
He cannot fight alone; whatever his plan,

he depends on other people.

He needs to discuss his strategy, to ask for help,

and, in moments of relaxation, to have someone

with whom he can sit by the fire,

someone he can regale with tales of battle.”

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Paulo Coelho

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Relax

Wednesday Vignettes: Resilience

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“Step into the center of the center of the center –

right into your Now – and see:

how elegant and honest this moment is.

Just being yourself, a world to hold your feet,

a universe to lift your gaze, a heart beating –

constant, in the center of it all.”

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Laurie Perez

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Mahonia, Oregon Grape Holly

Mahonia, Oregon Grape Holly

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“I did not tell you that it would be okay,

because I have never believed it would be okay.

What I told you is what your grandparents

tried to tell me: that this is your country,

that this is your world, that this is your body,

and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Arum itallicum

Arum itallicum

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“In life you find pleasure.

In life you find pain.

Pain and pleasure is an example

of the duality in life. Enjoy them both,

they are part of the ride.

The key is to not turn the pain

into something else – regret.”

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J.R. Rim

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“If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.”

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Shane Koyczan

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Camellia

Camellia

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“For many years a tree might wage a slow and silent

warfare against an encumbering wall,

without making any visible progress.

One day the wall would topple-

-not because the tree had suddenly

laid hold upon some supernormal energy,

but because its patient work of self-defense

and self release had reached fulfillment.

The long-imprisoned tree had freed itself.

Nature had had her way.”

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Lloyd C. Douglas

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A Forest Garden 2017 garden calendar is now available.

Plan Now For Winter’s Flowers

Muscari

Muscari, Grape Hyacinth

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Color drains from the garden as frost works its wintery magic.  Leaves turn brilliant orange, scarlet and gold before tumbling from their trees on autumn winds, soon to turn soggy and brown underfoot.  Newly bare branches stretch high against the sky, sometimes blue but often grey and sodden.

Shiny green remains only on our evergreen shrubs and trees, now brilliant against an otherwise drab and barren landscape.  We admire red berries against prickly holly and soft Nandina leaves and purplish blue ones now noticeable on the Wax Myrtle and Ligustrum.

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Yet some of us crave flowers, even during the restful months between frosts.  It would be altogether too depressing to me, a Virginia girl, to face long months ahead of a dormant garden without anything in bloom.

In Zone 7 and south, we can enjoy flowering shrubs, annuals, perennials and bulbs during the winter.  Even through periods of freezing weather, snow, ice storms temperatures down into the teens; these plants soldier on.  When they thaw, they just keep growing.  Some of these plants still grow and flower through the winter in zones well to our north.

If you need winter flowers, consider some of these beautiful choices: (Follow the links for more detail about growing each plant)

Shrubs

 

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Camellia Sasanqua

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Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia

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Forsythia

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Japanese Magnolia

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Magnolia stellata
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Mahonia aquifolium

 

Hamamelis (Witchhazel)

 

Perennials

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Helleborus

 

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Primula

 

Annuals

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Viola

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Bulbs

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Crocus

 

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Daffodils

 

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Muscari

 

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Galanthus nivalis ( Snowdrops )

 

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Iris reticulata

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Vines, ground cover

Perwinkle flowers bloom on the Vinca minor vine in early spring.

Vinca Minor, Periwinkle

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This is the time to plan for winter flowers.  Find a good selection of Violas, Hellebores, shrubs and bulbs at garden centers now.  Plant through the end of December, at least; and enjoy these beautiful plants for many years to come.

Winter flowers are brighten our gardens and bring a touch of joy to frosty winter days.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’

Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius “Snow Fever’ still in its nursery pot.

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Here is a tasty treat for Helleborus lovers: H. ‘Snow Fever.’ 

Known as a Corsican Lenten Rose, this beauty isn’t as cold hardy as some Lenten Rose varieties.  Its parents are native to the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica, and it is rated for USDA zones 6-9.

The Helleborus argutifolius varieties may also be termed Corsican Hellebore or even holly leaf Hellebore.  They are large, bold plants with evergreen leaves which persist year round.  These leaves are thick, with toothed edges; but may grow tattered in severe winter winds and weather.  This beautiful H. ‘Snow Fever’ has variegated foliage with a touch of dark red on its stems and the edges of the leaves.  It is a lovely plant, even right out of the pot, and I was delighted to find it last week at our local Homestead Garden Center.

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Hellebores have found their way into my gardener’s heart because they not only look good year round, but they give a good long season of bloom when little else is actively growing, let alone blooming in our garden!  We already have flower buds on a few of our Helleborus plants, believe it or not.

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Helleborus already in bud this autumn in our garden.

Helleborus already in bud this autumn in our garden.

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Though most come into bloom sometime in February or March here, some bloom right through from late autumn until spring.  Our last Hellebores stop pumping out flowers sometime in late April or May.

Corsican Helleborus is known for its abundant clusters of  green flowers.  But this hybrid promises white flowers, with a shadow of green and lovely pink edges to each petal.  It will grow to around 12″ tall, a bit short for the species, but will expand to a wide clump of around 15″.

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Mid-March 2015

Mid-March 2015

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I’ve come to love growing Hellebores in pots surrounded with bulbs and Violas.  Sometimes I’ll tuck in an evergreen vine.  But these pots look good and remain in dynamic growth all through winter.  The plants still look good through the summer months long after the bulbs have died back and the Violas have finished.  Last summer I simply moved my best pot into the shade and planted some Caladium tubers around the Hellebore, and had a nice display through most of the summer.

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July 2016

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Alternatively,  if I want the pot for something else in late spring;  I’ll move a Helleborus out of its pot and into the ground where it can sink its roots into a permanent home.

These are close to ‘care-free’ perennials.  First, deer and rabbits won’t bother them.  Their leaves are not only tough, they are poisonous.  Every part of a Helleborus is poisonous, so they make a nice underground ‘fence’ of roots if you want to protect an area from voles or moles.

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But Hellebores also prove drought tolerant, tolerate mediocre soil, have few disease issues, need only annual pruning of older leaves, and tend to keep going year after year.  Although common advice dictates they grow best in shade, I’ve had a few keep going strong through the summer in nearly full sun.  That was a pleasant surprise!

The main drawback, for most Helleborus cultivars, is that their leaves aren’t that spectacular.  We grow them for their flowers and as a dependable ground cover plant.  As much as we gardeners love the flowers, pollinators depend on them as an important food source.  These flowers are ready to greet the first of the bees and other insects each year.

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Hellebores

Hellebores given to us as seedlings by a gardening friend.

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But just look at this beauty!  What unusual and eye-catching leaves!

My first one went into a favorite white pot which held geraniums all summer.  The geranium held out through the first frost, and so I rewarded it by re-potting it and bringing it into the garage for the winter.  I like spunky, tough plants!

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I’ve not finished dressing this pot yet, because I want to pick up a few Muscari bulbs to sink into the soil around the Helleborus’s roots before I finish it off with either moss or gravel.  At the moment, there is a bit of Creeping Jenny and  a few Viola starts taking root, which will soon begin to fill the pot with flowers.

I bought a second H. ‘Snow Fever’  on Saturday, and have now planted it in the huge pot where C. ‘Tea Cups’ grew all summer in the front garden.  The Colocasia’s roots will overwinter in a smaller pot indoors, waiting for their chance to head back outdoors next April.

I’ll find a permanent spot for both H. ‘Snow Fever’ in the garden in the spring;  but for now, I want to really enjoy them, up close and featured in  pots.

I’ve surrounded the second one with some starts of Ajuga ‘Black Scallop,’ some Creeping Jenny vines, and the Daffodil bulbs I left in the pot  last spring.  The Ajuga will keep growing all winter, give blue flowers in early spring, and end up transplanted into a garden bed in early summer.

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February 2016

February 2016

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I expect these two pots to give us a great deal of joy over these next few months.  You’ll probably see lots of photos of these special Hellebores as they grow and eventually bloom.

If you love Hellebores,  or are curious to know more about them, I recommend the excellent and beautifully illustrated article in the December Gardens Illustrated on new Helleborus cultivars.  Gardens Illustrated is an UK magazine, but is absolutely the best source for information on plants and horticulture I’ve found.  It doesn’t matter that it is UK based, as much of the information translates just fine to our East coast USA garden!  I like it even better than Fine Gardening, which also offers solid information and advice on garden design, and is based here in the United States.

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February 2016 Hellebores grow here with Autumn 'Brilliance' fern, which also remain evergreen through our winters.

February 2016 Hellebores grow here with Autumn ‘Brilliance’ fern, which also remain evergreen through our winters. Some of the Helleborus foliage shows wind and cold burn, and these older leaves should be removed in early spring to make room for new growth. 

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This is the time of year to shop for Hellebores.  You may not find any blooming, but you will definitely find them available in many garden centers in December.  They are pricey, and named cultivars generally have been grown on in greenhouses for at least a couple of years from tissue culture.  Variegated cultivars, like H. ‘Snow Fever’ may not be easy to find in all parts of the country.  But if you live in Zone 6 or warmer, you might want to try ordering from an online source to give this beautiful plant a try.

To simply get started with Hellebores, though, find a friend or  neighbor who has a patch growing in their garden, and ask whether they might like your help in thinning them.  Hellebores seed their offspring generously, and many gardeners are happy to share seedlings.  You may have to wait a season to see them bloom, but the wait is well worth the reward.

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Hellebores

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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A Forest Garden 2017 gardening calendars are available now

Sunday Dinner: Anticipation

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“And I will never again underestimate

the power of anticipation.

There is no better boost in the present

than an invitation into the future.”


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Caroline Kepnes

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Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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