Love Offering

July 3, 2016 wet garden 026


The day I began this ‘Forest Garden Blog‘ we were still a bit in shock.  Our front garden was filled with three fallen oak trees.

Chainsaws whined hour after hour, cutting them apart into smaller bits, drowned out only by the grinder pulverizing piece after piece of our beloved trees.  Heavy orange earth movers made trip after trip into the yard, completely obliterating the little sapling Mountain Laurel shrubs we’d planted the year before.  But who could possibly see them under the tons of branches and leaves fallen in an instant during a summer thunderstorm?


July 8, 2016 sky 009


It was late afternoon when it happened.  A sudden thunderstorm had blown up off the James River and it was raining hard.  Bright white lightening flashed, thunder clapped and the wind blew sheets of rain across the yard.

I stood at the window, trying to understand the changed landscape before me.  It took some time for me to make sense of the towering walls of wet red clay and mangled roots risen in front of us, blocking our view of the upper garden.


June 13 storm damaged trees 001


While we counted ourselves blessed that the trees went down away from our home and cars, we were not quite sure what to do about our trees now filling, and blocking, the street in front of us; lying neatly in the opening of our neighbors’ driveway.

The storm was still thundering around us as we inspected the damage.  Neighbors showed up with chainsaws, rakes and offers of help.  An arborist, checking on a nearby customer, saw our distress and pitched in to help clear the street.  Help was there that evening when we needed it most, and each day following, until the clean up was handled.


June 13 storm damaged trees 004


But the garden left behind was shockingly different.  The hot summer sun beat down where once we enjoyed deep shade.  Deer happily explored the new breaches in the fence, discovering full access to the garden we’d worked so hard to cultivate.  In all, five trees were completely gone and many more left severely damaged.  Shrubs were shattered, our light post crushed, the drive caked in mud, and everywhere lay browning leaves, small branches, and pulverized bits of our beloved trees.


June 16, 2013 tree clearing 014


This was the second time oaks had fallen in our garden in our four years in this home, leaving some portions forever changed.  I was feeling very edgy the day “Forest Garden” was born; at loose ends to do something constructive inside, away from the mess; away from the crews of strangers wielding chainsaws in my garden.

And so I sat before the computer and began this blog.


June 16, 2013 tree clearing 018


My purpose was mainly to reach out.  I wanted to connect with other gardeners, and hopefully share a little of what I had learned with others who felt as frustrated gardening in a forest, filled with unplanned surprises, as I was feeling.


June 16, 2013 tree clearing 017


I had this list of plants I’d been compiling for a few years already, and I wanted  to publish it for others whose yards are grazed by ever-hungry deer.  Friends and I had been keeping records of what the deer didn’t eat, and I hoped someone else might find that useful.

And I wrote about what it means to me to garden in this historic place near Jamestown Virginia, in woods once belonging to the great chiefs of the Algonquian nation.


July 20, 2016 sky 005


I used this blog as a ladder to help myself climb back up from sadness and self-pity over what we had lost, and were losing, that June of 2013; towards something brighter and stronger and more useful than I was feeling in that moment.  And eventually I used ‘Forest Garden’ to help define my own philosophy and style of gardening.


July 20, 2014 hummingbird 006


And never once did I entertain any thought of trying to turn a profit from it. 

Now please understand, I’m a child of the 60’s, coming into this world along with the early Peace Corps and Beatle Mania. I was born in the era of man’s first flights into outer space.  Maybe if I’d been born in the age of Reagan or the Bushes I’d have a different outlook on things.

But the work I do on this blog I do for myself, primarily.  And I’m happy if what I write is helpful to others; but I do it in a spirit of sharing, not of seeking profit.  You may think I’m hopelessly naive.


July 8, 2016 sky 010


‘Real’ artists and writers expect to profit from their work.  Photos sell for hundreds of dollars.  Maybe I need to wise up, and publish an e-book rather than publishing each day, freely, on the world-wide-web.   But I get the greatest feeling of warmth and connection when I see comments left by fellow gardeners and seekers. 

I love to respond to others facing similar challenges and thinking similar thoughts in England or Australia, Brussels or Massachusetts,  Oregon or Florida, Indonesia or on an island in the Mediterranean Sea.  I take great pleasure in watching others’ gardens grow through the photos they publish, and finding new ideas in their experiences.  That is priceless experience to me, and I would never risk alienating my fellow bloggers by suggesting they should donate to support this joyful work I do.


August 13, 2016 morning garden 070


Do you see this differently?  If you have a blog of your own, have you considered asking for financial support?  How do you feel when you see a ‘donate’ button on someone’s blog?


August 13, 2016 morning garden 071


Perhaps if I truly needed to ask for financial support I’d see this question through a different lens.  But I am blessed, and have achieved a stage in life more focused on giving to others than on ‘earning my keep.’  And every photo that I take and prepare for publication is an act of love, a meditation on the beauty of the world around us.


August 13, 2016 morning garden 076


I am deeply grateful for our garden, for the creatures who share it with us, for the changing seasons and the endless opportunities to learn.

I am deeply grateful to the staff of WordPress for this online platform, and for the technology which makes it possible to share thoughts and photos with the world each day.  And I am grateful to have the time, the energy, and the ability to make a little contribution to the online conversation.


August 13, 2016 morning garden 027


I hope that everyone who visits ‘Forest Garden’ feels enriched in some way by that experience.   I am ‘enriched’ through the process, too.  And that is all I need to keep going with this blogging adventure.


August 13, 2016 morning garden 050


It has been a little more than three years now since the day our oak trees fell in a summer storm.  In that time, I’ve published well over a thousand posts, returning to the writing that was once such an important part of my life.  I’ve had motivation to read and study, to experiment and observe.

I’ve found great joy through photography, maybe gotten a little better at it; and I’ve discovered scores of ‘expert’ bloggers ready to help me learn about any subject I can think of.  All I need do is search them out and click freely through their many pages of instruction, insight and advice.


July 27, 2016 morning garden 006


That is the magic of this ‘blogosphere’ we love.  It is inspiring.  It is always fresh and new.  It offers endless opportunities to learn and to explore.  It harnesses human creativity in so many novel and uplifting ways.  And it is free.  It costs nothing but time, once we have the technology to access the world wide web.

I sincerely hope our blogging community remains a non-commercial exchange of ideas and a not-for-profit love offering to humanity.  If it can, then we have found a way to elevate human society; to evolve a more peaceful and interconnected community which benefits us all.


August 10, 2016 River at dusk 013


Woodland Gnome 2016


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

14 responses to “Love Offering

  1. farseems

    And I remember vividly that day when the trees fell, the gaping hole they left in the ground as well as your (and mine) heart! The felling, the filling up, the beginnings of a new beginning both on the ground and via your blog. The evolution of a beautiful forest garden indeed, with all that sunlight that was sent down to shine on to your heart, to warm and to heal, and to create new growth and new beginnings. I am blessed to have witnessed this evolution, it has helped me so much on my journey of discovery of the delight and joy of gardening. Thankyou my friend for what you do and the joy and Knowledge you being into lives, worldwide. Nothing can compensate it’s true value in monetary terms. Your giving of yourself is an invaluable reward that continues into posterity. That, my friend can never be priced.

    • Thank you , dear friend . We cried together that day , and you hugged me and promised me it would be OK. But it was your loving gift of Cannes that fall that helped me find a new direction . Thank you for that , for your love and encouragement , for your inspiration , and for sharing the journey every step of the way 😊We learn together . …

  2. A beautiful love offering, indeed! This is the first time I’ve read the story of your beginning. Oy, what an ‘act of God’ to experience!
    While I like being ad-free and don’t have a donate button, I realize that there are others who need to monetize their time to make a living and I don’t begrudge them that. I think there is a spectrum and wherever we fit on it is the right place for us to be!

    • You are always generous and kind , Eliza . Yes, there is a spectrum , and perhaps our spot on that spectrum shifts over time . I recently accepted an invitation to enter a relationship with a nursery whose work I admire , so I have accepted my first ad. But I will count myself fortunate if that covers some part of the tab for next year’s Caladiums! You offer such beauty and encouragement on your site , Eliza , and speak out for important causes , too . WordPress gives us a unique voice . Hope it’s cooler in your garden than here . Every bit of moisture just evaporates so quickly in this hot,clear weather .

  3. I must admit that “Donate” buttons on blogs do bother me. And my own father (now nearly 90 years old and still a businessman) frequently wonders aloud why I do not try to make money through my blogging effort. I, too, am a child of the 60s, and I blog for the sheer delight of it. I love taking photos and sharing them online. I say we just keep on doing what we do and enjoying it!

  4. Lita Sollisch

    Simply put. I second your thought. Bravo.!

  5. I was not here at the beginning of your blogging adventure so it’s something of a shock to see such huge and beautiful trees being taken apart after a storm.

    I blog for similar reasons — for myself and to share. It would be nice (and helpful) if I could earn some extra money via blogging, but I gave up on that idea many moons ago. I do have a link to my Redbubble shop but that’s because I had a few folks inquiring about buying prints or greeting cards, and that was the easiest way to handle it. I haven’t yet earned enough to generate a check which means I’m not really selling much. I’m fine with that. It’s there if people are interested, and frequently I just give stuff away because I love to share (which is why I ended up going with Creative Commons rather than try to enforce a copyright).

    As for how I feel when I see a “donate” button on someone’s blog, I often wish that I could donate, and when things are flush, sometimes I do. I assume (and maybe I’m wrong in this assumption) that they need the money. I also try to buy art and/or services through my fellow bloggers so I can support them in their endeavors. Very often it’s a great way to find gifts for Christmas and birthdays.

    I do feel enriched by your blog, and I’ve learned a lot about gardening, but mostly I’m just happy that we’ve met through this medium and had the opportunity to share with each other. I am grateful for WordPress, too, and that we are able to do this without cost if that’s what we desire. 🙂

    • Thank you, Robin for sharing your thoughts on this. We can never truly know where another person is coming from and it is wise to assume the best. I have followed the link and admired your cards 😉 They are lovely! Somehow offering prints of photos in the form of cards, and other merchandise, seems different to me than asking someone to donate just because they click in to visit your page. You may remember that I’ve offered my ‘Forest Garden’ calendars for sale the last 2 years through the blog and have sold a few. Mostly I give them as gifts to gardening friends! But I’ve made cards from some of my photos, too. And it is always a treat to see what others may offer for sale who want something more permanent than an online visit. And yes, they make wonderful gifts! I’m sad to hear that you haven’t sold many prints or cards because yours are truly lovely! You have a way with wildlife, especially, to catch wonderful photos. But mostly, I’m very appreciative to have met you, Robin, and a few others in our circle, through this blogging medium. And I’m finally glad to have a little more time to drop in and visit others’ blogs again. I’ve neglected you, and other blogging friends these last few months, and have some catching up to do! ❤ ❤ ❤

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