Wordless Wednesday: The ‘Time Warp’

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

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“It’s being here now that’s important.

There’s no past and there’s no future.

Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now.

We can gain experience from the past,

but we can’t relive it;

and we can hope for the future,

but we don’t know if there is one.”

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George Harrison

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December 13, 2015 CW 096

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“I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can
begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.”

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Judith Minty

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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“A Forest Garden 2016” gardening calendar,  featuring some of our favorite photos from 2015, is  available now.  Write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com for details.

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A Colonial Winter Garden

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Those fierce souls who founded our nation knew the importance of taking care of business.  And their business always included raising food for their own family’s table.

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Our country was founded by serious gardeners.  Even  luminaries such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington maintained gardens, tended orchards, had fields of crops to use and sell, and raised those animals needed to keep meat on the table.  Although they, and others of their class kept slaves in those days; they still took a very active hands-on interest in their garden.

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Colonial Williamsburg maintains many gardens, but this remains my favorite.  It is a very well maintained colonial vegetable garden tended in the 18th Century style.

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It looks even more lush this December than usual.  But that is likely due to our fair weather these last few months.  It is a pleasing mix of herbs, flowers and vegetables.

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Fruit trees may be found around the edges.  There are vegetables growing from tiny seedling up to ready to harvest cabbages and collards.

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These vegetables are used in the CW kitchens.  They are lovingly tended up to the moment they are authentically prepared and gratefully consumed.

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We strolled down Duke of Gloucester Street on Sunday to enjoy the ingenious Christmas wreathes.  But as you might guess, I was distracted for quite a while by the garden.

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It was  a grey day, completely overcast and damp.  A few drops spritzled as we were leaving.  But it was warm and comfortable; a great day to enjoy the wreathes and seasonal decorations on every building.

I’ll share a few with you each day for the next few days.

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I’ve not yet made any wreathes myself,  this year. 

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But there is still time before Christmas Eve, and a dear friend gifted me with a bucket of Magnolia branches later Sunday afternoon.  We used some of the Magnolia while decorating for a community luncheon we’re hosting tomorrow.

And yes, there is a vase.  I just haven’t photographed it, yet!

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Evergreen Magnolia is one of my favorite native plants.  They grow wild here in Virginia, and my friend has a wild seedling grown large in her garden.

You’ll see lots of Magnolia used at Colonial Williamsburg in their holiday decorations.  It has wonderful color and holds up for the several weeks of our festivities.  One can’t eat it, but it decorates many holiday dinner tables and sideboards.  We spread it liberally around our buffet table and the beverage tables for tomorrow’s gathering.

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Which in a round about way brings us back to my neglect of wreathes this season.  Our  front doors are graced with old ones from ‘the wreath collection’ which hangs in our garage at the moment.  They are fine from a distance, with red silk roses and moss on a grapevine base.

And I just may recycle the Magnolia leaves off the buffet table into a stunning garland to hang round the front doors this year.  Southern Living Magazine has any number of fine projects featuring Magnolia leaves this December.

If you are a Virginia neighbor, you might have been admiring the December issue right along with me.

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It still all comes down to ‘taking care of business’ for our family and our community.

As modern as our lives might feel at times, our foundation remains in hearth and home;  friendship and family; good food and hands-on self sufficiency.    It is part of our heritage not just as Virginians or Americans;  it is part of our human heritage and a fundamental value around the world.

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May you take time for those things which bring you real joy this holiday season.  And may you take care of business such that you assure yourself and your loved ones of a very Happy New Year, too.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Photos from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

“A Forest Garden 2016” gardening calendar is now available, featuring some of our favorite photos from 2015.  Write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com for details.

Sunday Dinner: Meditation

December 4, 2015 Gloucester 062~

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope,

for hope would be hope for the wrong thing;

wait without love,

for love would be love of the wrong thing;

there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought,

for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light,

and the stillness the dancing.”

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T.S. Eliot

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“Looking at beauty in the world

is the first step of purifying the mind.”

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Amit Ray

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“So many leaves have fallen on my life.

Some settled nicely to rest,

but most fell, withered to bitter cold and drifted on.

But, after all that, I would brave all the coldness of humanity again

for the sight of a few more beautiful yellow leaves

falling on Aspen, and the birds….”

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E.S. Lehman

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“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth,

how much money you have gathered

or how much attention you have received.

It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters,”

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Amit Ray

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“Through my love for you,

I want to express my love for the whole cosmos,

the whole of humanity, and all beings.

By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species.

If I succeed in loving you,

I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth…

This is the real message of love.”

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Thích Nhất Hạnh

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“An awake heart is like a sky that pours light.”

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Hāfez

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“The mind can go in a thousand directions,

but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.

With each step, the wind blows.

With each step, a flower blooms.”

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Thích Nhất Hạnh

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December 4, 2015 Gloucester 014

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

All photos taken at Brent and Becky Heath’s display gardens in Gloucester, Virginia December 2015

A Forest Garden 2016 calendar is available now.

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“A Forest Garden 2016”

December 3, 2015 Calendar 004~

Our 2016 garden calendar is here, and we are thrilled with how very beautiful the finished calendars look.  The joy of actually holding it in our hands, and turning the pages one by one, is beyond words.

I work on our calendar for the entire year, always mindful that the photos we take each day might end up published in its pages.

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By early November I’m pondering what theme will guide the quotations we select and the photos we include.   This year, I spent the better part of a week on research and photo selection.

A calendar is a very special thing.  It helps us mark the passage of time, yes.  But it also helps us make sense of those cycles which repeat with the regularity of the rising sun.  It helps us anticipate the changes and the celebrations of our lives week to week, month to month, and year to year.

Our A Forest Garden 2016 calendar does all of those things, and more.  In addition to dates you might expect, like first and last frost dates in Zones 5-9, the moons, daylight savings time and major holidays;  there are also notes of special celebrations like ‘Husband Appreciation Day,” “The Great American Smoke-Out,” “World Kindness Week,” “The Great Backyard Bird Count,” and “Faerie Day.”  There are web references for some of the special events and observances listed.  Major saints days are noted along with other holidays special to many faiths, the solstices and equinoxes and the Native American designation for each full moon.

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December 3, 2015 Calendar 007

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There are gardening tips and reminders for each month of the year.  There is a reminder to set out feeders for hummingbirds on their annual spring migration.

And there is a quotation to ponder each month.  Our theme for 2016 is the power of gratitude to work miracles in our lives.  We hope this is a theme which speaks to you, as it speaks to us.  Each of us certainly needs a miracle or two, and we all grow stronger and wiser as we focus on what is good and beautiful in the world around us.

Each month’s page features those seasonal animals, trees, flowers, foliage and landscapes which bring us joy.  We’ve included some of our favorite photographs taken in December 2014 through early November of 2015.

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We compile these calendars each year as gifts  for our close family and our gardening friends.  But we have a few extras to share, should you want one to enjoy during the coming year.  Please write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com to request a calendar for yourself or a loved one.  I’ll put one in the post to you as soon as I receive your check for $15.00, which simply covers my costs for the calendar and the postage.

This is a labor of love, and we are happy to share the fruits of that labor with those who will enjoy it.

Younger folks say to me sometimes, “I have a smart phone.  Why would I need a calendar?” 

For those of us who still love real books, photos printed on shiny paper, and a lovely calendar hanging in the kitchen;  the answer to that question transcends any words we might offer in explanation.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

WPC: Transition

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Transition: N. The process of passing from one state, stage, place, or subject to another : change or movement.

The garden remains in a state of transition, week to week and season to season.  But some weeks are a bit more dramatic than others.

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This past week brought our first true frost.  A few more beautiful plants have faded from the garden.  In fact, we just finished cutting back the ginger lilies.   They were withered on Wednesday morning, after our first hard frost.   Last year they made quite a mess when we left them in place, draped across one of our perennial beds.   So we cut them today, before they had a chance to topple over.  That whole area is opened up again to light and air after the lily’s dense growth all summer.

Quite a few things are still ‘looking good’ in our garden this week.  ( Many thanks to Gillian at Country Gardens UK for hosting this theme each Friday, reminding us to appreciate what we have. )

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Autumn Brilliance fern, which will remain evergreen in our garden. New fronds in early spring open a rosy bronze before maturing to green.

Autumn Brilliance fern, which will remain evergreen in our garden. New fronds in early spring open a rosy bronze before maturing to green.

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Transition is not all good or all bad.  Some transitions may be a bit more pleasant than other ones; but all bring us to  new territory full of both challenges and joys.

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After winter sweeps away a season’s growth, we have the opportunity to begin again, making different choices.  It is a little like shaking an Etch-a-Sketch or wiping the chalkboard clean.

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Frost withers everything tender, cleaning up both flowers and those last pesky weeds.  We pull them, cut them back, watch them fall; rake, mulch and sweep away the remains of the summer season.

And then next spring, we begin anew.  As the Earth warms the whole unfolding begins again.

It is novel and a little bit surprising, to watch the shoots push up through the thawing soil  and buds explode from woody stems.  Fallen seeds sprout in unexpected places.  Bulbs have multiplied and perennials grow stronger than ever before.

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A late bloomer. It makes us happy to see new buds opening even as the season fades.

A late bloomer. It makes us happy to see new buds opening even as the season fades.

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I’ve just watched the whole, beautiful unfolding of 2015 once again through my thousands of photos.

It takes a very long time to look through them all, selecting just a few to represent each month of the year, as I build my annual garden calendar.  But what a deeply satisfying experience to revisit those photos and appreciate all of the magic and beauty each month offers.

The practice reminds me how quickly the garden grows and changes each year.  It shows me just how deeply ever-spiraling time changes every aspect of our lives.

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Our calendar is finally complete for this year; a labor of love which consumed me for several days. 

A calendar is a special thing, as it chronicles so many cycles of change.  I’ve never found one on offer that provides all of the information I want each year.  Which is what inspired me to construct our first A Forest Garden calendar back in 2014.

The normal holidays are all included, of course; but also the moons, the first and last frost dates in Zones 6-9, the many different cultural observances of  the ‘New Year,’ and selected holidays for Christians, Muslims, Native Americans, Jews and Wiccans.  Since we are all one human family, it is good to know when and what our neighbors are celebrating, too! Some saints days are noted, election day, American bank holidays and of course the major modern shopping days.

And yet there’s more!  There are notations about bird counts and environmental clean up days, the year’s solstices and equinoxes, special weeks, monthly commemorations and a whole year’s worth of gardening tips and reminders.  This is the most informative calendar you will find which isn’t offered as an ‘Almanac.’

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The A Forest Garden 2016 calendar is a tangible celebration of transition.  Our theme this year is the power of gratitude and appreciation in our lives.  And we are so excited that it is completed for another year, and will arrive from the publisher early next week!  I am very excited to finally hold it in my hands after working on it for so long.

We create these calendars each year  for ourselves and as a special gift for our family members and for our many gardening friends.  But I’ve ordered a few extra to share with visitors to Forest Garden, who might also enjoy the companionship of this calendar through the year ahead.

If you would like to order one for yourself or for a friend, please email me at  woodlandgnome@zoho.com  The calendars are $15.00 each, which covers my costs and includes postage within the United States.

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We’ve passed another milestone of the year this week.  Thanksgiving is cleaned up and the holiday season finally is upon us.  I won’t mind holiday music on the radio for the next few weeks.  It is time to hang the twinkle lights, mulch the leaves, hang the mistletoe and fill the kitchen with the fragrance of baking.

This is one transition I always enjoy….

Woodland Gnome 2015

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition

 

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