Sunday Dinner: What Light We Have

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“There are two ways to be fooled.

One is to believe what isn’t true;

the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

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Soren Kierkegaard

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“Just because you don’t understand it

doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”

.

Lemony Snicket

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~

“If you look for truth,

you may find comfort in the end;

if you look for comfort

you will not get neither comfort or truth

only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin,

and in the end, despair.”

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  C.S. Lewis

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“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts.

Facts can obscure truth.”

.

Maya Angelou

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“The truth is not always beautiful,

nor beautiful words the truth.”

.

  Lao Tzu

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“If someone is able to show me

that what I think or do is not right,

I will happily change, for I seek the truth,

by which no one was ever truly harmed.

It is the person who continues

in his self-deception and ignorance

who is harmed.”

.

  Marcus Aurelius

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~

“A thinker sees his own actions

as experiments and questions-

-as attempts to find out something.

Success and failure are for him

answers above all.”

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  Friedrich Nietzsche

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“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is

than to persist in delusion,

however satisfying and reassuring.”

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  Carl Sagan

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020

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“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.

I am not bound to succeed,

but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”

.

Abraham Lincoln


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

11 responses to “Sunday Dinner: What Light We Have

  1. Wonderful quotes and photos! Thank you.

  2. Monica MacAdams

    Hi,
    Exquisite photos as always…and the quotes you chose were especially appropriate to our current times.
    So sorry to bother you yet again (and again), but wondering if you’ve ever tried (1) “ghost fern;” and/or (2) digitalis? Was thinking of replacing ostrich fern in a very shady spot with the ghost fern to brighten it up…and the spot I’m eyeing for digitalis, where everything I’ve tried other than liriope fails, gets a little sun (mostly dappled shade).
    I know I’m SUCH a pain…wouldn’t blame you for canceling my subscription to your beautiful blog.
    Thx so much,
    Monica

    • Dear Monica, it is always so nice to hear from you. Talking about plants is one of my favorite things to do, so please don’t feel sensitive about asking questions. You will find a post on Japanese painted ferns here ( https://forestgardenblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/16/a-cool-fern-for-shady-spots-athyrium-niponicum-var-pictum-metallicum/) , which goes into more detail about both A. ‘Ghost’ and also a new hybrid, A. ‘Metallica.’ I like A. ‘Ghost,’ which is a sturdy and attractive fern that comes back better year after year. But if you can find or order A. ‘Metallica,’ I suggest you give that a try, too. If space allows, you might try planting either of them about 18″ in front of you Ostrich fern, which will brighten the spot but make the silvery fern show up so much better, with the Ostrich fern as backdrop. The silvery painted ferns are wonderful for catching and reflecting the light. Digitalis is also a lovely plant that I try to have every spring. Most species of it are either biennials or short lived perennials. If you come south as far as Mechanicsville, there is a wonderful wholesale/retail nursery called ‘Sandy’s Plants.’ (Rt. 360 E. exit from I 295) You get a golf cart and a map and have the run of the place to shop. It is many acres of grow space and when you go to choose your plant you might have 20 or more to choose from. That is where I found some beautiful perennial Digitalis (soft apricot flowers) that I bought for my colleague to use in her border at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. If you go to SandysPlants.com, you will find lots of varieties of Digitalis and can select the one that works for your situation. I buy little starts each spring at our local nursery and just plant whatever they have for my home garden, and the plants are nice the first year and better the second. They die back, but will show up again in late winter. But seriously, if you have a tough spot where only Liriope has been successful, I’d try ferns before planting Digitalis. A nice ground cover planting of Christmas ferns (evergreen) or any of the Japanese painted fern hybrids (deciduous), or every holly ferns (evergreen, bold texture) would probably do well in that spot. Alternatively, you might construct a minimal raised bed with some pavers and compost and plant into that, which might help solve whatever problem that spot has had in the past. Another nice choice might be Lamium, and there is a cultivar with beautiful silver markings on the leaves. The vine hangs around mostly all year, and you’ll have a Muscari like bloom of either pink or yellow in mid-spring. This is a vine that covers ground quickly and thoroughly and I’ve used in in several spots, especially if the ground is a bit damp. It is enthusiastic.

      Thank you for your kind words on the photos. I was determined to capture a few shots today even in the drizzle and cloudy weather. I’m just glad that a few came out at all.

      Take care Monica, stay well and please let me know if any of these suggestions work for you. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • Monica MacAdams

        Hi,
        I just read your July 2019 post featuring ghost ferns. Your suggestion that I plant them (if I can source them) in front of the ostrich ferns (rather than as a replacement for the ostriches) is absolutely BRILLIANT, and I shall do some editing to make room. (I planted goats beards near the ostrich ferns and they have become a bit overwhelming…this provides a good excuse to dig-up some or all of them). THANK YOU!
        BUT I was most distressed to read (in the July 2019 post) that you had contracted Lyme Disease…I live in terror of ticks, which is one of the reasons my garden gets out of control when the weather gets really hot (b/c I generally avoid “wading in” unless I’m wearing knee socks under long trousers). But sometimes I forget…so I’ll be weeding the perimeter (next to the patio/driveway/sidewalk) in shorts on a hot day, and get carried away and plunge into the interior with bare legs. Were you doing something like that when the tick bit you? So scary. I hope you’re ok now!
        Btw, not to bore you further @ my stupid garden…but it’s really like 7 gardens…not that my property is big (it isn’t), but one portion is between the sidewalk and the street…and then 6 distinct sections wrap-around my house. The portion where I have the liriope (inherited from the previous owner) is on the strip next to the street, and I’ve tried numerous things (annuals and perennials) to perk-it-up, but nothing thrives. This year’s failed experiment was Persian Shield, so I was musing @ digitalis which I’ve never planted in my life…NO CLUE, but I’d love something with “height” to rise above the liriope. (I wd also love something critters hate…and I understand digitalis is poisonous.) Caladiums wd work aesthetically, but I have them elsewhere in my garden, and sometimes they get munched; ditto coleus. (This year, the caladiums and coleus have so far remained intact, but something ate my potted Whitewater Acanthus…so, go figure.)
        Thx for listening to me natter on, and for all your good ideas….but most important, pls do let me know if your health is ok.
        Best wishes,
        Monica
        PS If you wouldn’t mind, pls tell me your first name…just saying “Hi” seems rude (like “Hey you” or something)…I’m a Boomer, not a gen-X-er!

        • Dear Monica,

          The area between sidewalk and street (aka ‘Hell Strip’) often has lots of challenges: compacted soil, salt and chemical residue from snow clearing, poor drainage/no irrigation, poor soil to begin with, and it gets ‘attention’ from passersby. You didn’t mention how much sun it gets, but now I”m wondering whether the previous gardener didn’t settle on Liriope because it was willing to grow there? You might learn to love Liriope, or, figure out what is going on with the soil (hardware store soil test will give you the PH, but you’d need to send a soil sample to Va Tech for more analysis. MGNV can help you with that. To just jazz up the Liriope a little, you might consider digging out pockets of the old soil and planting some spring flowering bulbs with a back-fill of compost. If you have shade from deciduous trees, then the bulbs will get light when they need it. Ditto for full sun. Other things you might plant there would be grasses, interspersed with the Liriope for a neat textured and subtle color effect. Choose short grasses like Carex and again dig out pockets of the Liriope, add compost (Leaf Grow from Maryland is great) and stagger in some spots of short grasses. Deer will eat Mondo grass, by the way. Digitalis wants to be in a shady spot. And, it is relatively fragile when blooming so those beautiful stalks will fall over or break in weather- or from curious passersby. If you have sun there, you might try planting Lantana (probably an annual around DC) in spring for some color. Remember that you can dig a hole the right size for a nursery pot and just sink the pot into the hole if you determine that the soil is a problem. I hope those ideas open up some new possibilities. I am mostly recovered from the tick bite and Lymes, thank you for asking. It took a long time to get my energy back, and maybe I’m still working on that to some degree. It jumped on my as I was unloading groceries on my driveway. I had showered after gardening and was tick free before the shopping trip. But yes, when I go out to garden it is with socks, jeans, high top boots, a short sleeve shirt covered with a long sleeve chambray shirt, hat, gloves and repellents. I have learned the hard way to cover up, even in summer heat, because we also have chiggers and mosquitoes, May flies, and various spiders. We get nasty bites every few weeks. I’m often back in the woods at the Botanical Garden, or around the meadows, and so the gardening get-up is non-negotiable until winter. It isn’t fashionable, but allows me to do the work I love to do. We are both Boomers, Monica 😉 and like our manners. You can call me ‘WG’.

          Enjoy the day! ❤ ❤ ❤

          • Monica MacAdams

            Dear WG,
            The tick jumped on you in your driveway??? Egad, I may never leave the house again for any reason, forget gardening. I’ve sustained several strange “little things” on my forearms this year (not mosquito bites which I can identify); not sure what they are/were…don’t look like tick bites (from what I’ve heard), but what do I know? I’ve also read that COVID-19 sometimes manifests in little skin eruptions, so I’ve considered planning my funeral instead of my garden (except no one cd attend my funeral these days, so it wd be a waste of time).
            Love the term “Hell Strip”! Back in Brooklyn, we called it the “Tree Line;” I’ve never figured out what it’s called in DC, but I shall henceforth adopt your term. Mine is long and mostly shady b/c the maniacal street-tree planters in DC have no idea what they’re doing. “More and Bigger” is not necessarily “Better,” and as it is, our little neck-of-the-woods is literally a “woods.” Back in Brooklyn, I was known as “the tree lady” b/c I led the effort to replace the dead street trees in my neighborhood…here I feel more like Paul Bunyon: I fantasize about going out in the dead of night and culling the herd. (The neighbors to the rear of me have a huge poplar growing right next to the fence separating our properties, which rains limbs down on my backyard every time the wind blows…I fully expect it to topple onto my house one of these days.) But people here LOVE their trees! I love trees too…but in an urban environment, they must be planted/husbanded responsibly.
            So back to my Hell Strip…yes it’s mostly shady. I don’t hate liriope (it’s boring and trite, but I’ve purposely installed some variegated elsewhere in my garden), and it’s performed well on the Hell Strip…so why fight it? I just want to perk-it-up. I planted plumbago in one section (and it’s mostly done well, but due to shade, doesn’t flower much or exhibit good fall color). I’ve also had good results with the squirrel-resistant crocuses (thomassinas or whatever they’re called) and tete-a-tete daffs in another section…so maybe I shd extend that planting? Doesn’t address the dull summer-scape, but your ideas are all good as always.
            BTW, thx so much for the heads-up @ deer eating Mondo Grass! I had no idea. I have a tiny patch of the dwarf variety in the planting in front of my front stoop, which the deer appear not to have noticed…but thx to you I will not press my luck by trying it elsewhere.
            Sorry to bother you all the time…but your blogs get “my head in the game” when I sometimes think I shd move to a condo, plant a few pots on the terrace and learn to cook.
            All best,
            Monica
            PS I actually have a cousin who lives in Mechanicsville! Unfortunately, I drive a VW Bug (which I hate to drive on I-95), so I always tell him/his wife to come to my house…but perhaps I shd re-think this so I cd visit your nursery? (Except I couldn’t haul many plants home in my Bug.)

            • Monica,

              Please look on the bright side that your urban trees are surviving the inundations of rain, hurricane force winds, record high temps and air pollution. We may be among the last generation to have to pick up limbs out of the yard if things keep going the way they are going. I love our trees, and surreptitiously plant new ones when I can get by with it. This is a constant point of ‘conversation’ with my partner, whose new hobby is extreme pruning. Trees have much to offer on hot summer days, after all. But it does take a bit more thought and consideration to garden in the shade- especially deep shade. In my imagination , I can see a Piet Oudolf style planting in your ‘Hell Strip’ where you jazz up your Liriope with a matrix planting of similar form plants with contrasting color- like Carex, which comes in some lovely variegated forms and is extremely tough and hardy. Just dig out a clump of Liriope and slip in a Carex. For more interest, you could add some Christmas ferns or holly ferns, which give you movement in the wind and the interest of new fronds in springtime. They require no care other than to keep them watered when it is particularly dry. All of these plants will compete with the tree roots for their share of water. Roots may be your other obstacle to any serious planting in that area, and you’ll have to plan to work around them. A few more Tete-a-Tetes or other clumps of daffies for some color and interest in the spring, and you can keep yourself and your neighbors entertained in that space. You might try the elegant and snow white ‘Thalia’ Narcissus which blooms in mid-spring. If you haven’t gotten to know Brent and Becky Heath and their beautiful catalogs, check out BrentandBeckysbulbs.com for the most delicious offering of daffodils and other spring bulbs. They are situated in Gloucester, VA, where you can visit their extensive display gardens. You can have the daffies shipped if your VW isn’t up to the drive, but a trip down the Northern Neck from outside Andrews on Rt. 5 and then Rt. 17 might be a breath of fresh air. In fact, you can get to Sandy’s that back way, too, hitting Rt. 360 from Rt. 17 and driving west. That is the scenic Rt. and Boomer friendly. Good luck! So glad to get inspired to keep your house and keep gardening. It is worth braving all the bites to stay in the game. ❤ ❤ ❤

              • Monica MacAdams

                Dear WG,
                You are amazing! Piet Odoulf! I think he may have been the inspiration for the “High Line” plantings in Manhattan, which I was lucky enough to visit in its earlier stages of development @ 10 years ago, before it got trendy and crowded.
                Haha, I’m not even remotely capable of creating a mini-version of that magical space…but wow, great inspiration (before I retreat inside and slit my wrists). My husband bought me a book about the High Line a couple years ago so I cd stare at the plants, so maybe I shall retrieve from bookshelf and stare again (btw, High Line has way more sun than my garden).
                Meanwhile, I think your partner and I wd get along: prune baby, prune!
                Thx again for cheering me on.
                Monica ox
                PS yes, I agree that Brent and Becky’s catalogue is great…have had happy results ordering from them (and WFF).

              • Monica MacAdams

                Dear WG,
                You are amazing! Piet Odoulf! I think he may have been the inspiration for the “High Line” plantings in Manhattan, which I was lucky enough to visit in its earlier stages of development @ 10 years ago, before it got trendy and crowded.
                Haha, I’m not even remotely capable of creating a mini-version of that magical space…but wow, great inspiration (before I retreat inside and slit my wrists). My husband bought me a book about the High Line a couple years ago so I cd stare at the plants, so maybe I shall retrieve from bookshelf and stare again (btw, High Line has way more sun than my garden).
                Meanwhile, I think your partner and I wd get along: prune baby, prune!
                Thx again for cheering me on.
                Monica ox
                PS yes, I agree that Brent and Becky’s catalogue is great…have had happy results ordering from them (and WFF).

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