Slipping Into September

August 29, 2016 Parkway 022

~

For an area surrounded by rivers, marshes and creeks, you wouldn’t expect us to need rain so badly.  But we’ve not had even a sprinkle since August 9th, and less than 2″ of rain for the entire month of August.  Forgive me if I’m a little giddy that rain finally fills our weekend forecast, beginning sometime this evening!

~

August 29, 2016 Parkway 011

~

Never mind that it is a huge tropical system, which will soon cross Northern Florida before slipping up the East Coast, bringing with it all that a tropical system brings.  We watch the Weather Channel, wistfully waiting for those blobs of green on their radar to make their way to our garden.

Hermine is coming, and will bring us the gift of rain….

~

The bald Cypress trees are already turning brown and will drop their needles soon. It has been unusually hot this summer, with very little relief from cloudy days or rain.

The bald Cypress trees are already turning brown and will drop their needles soon. It has been unusually hot this summer, with very little relief from cloudy days or afternoon rain.  This is the Chickahominy River at the Southwestern edge of James City County

~

Waves of deja vu remind me of all the other Septembers which hold memories of approaching tropical systems.  Just as we’re all celebrating the last long weekend of summer and preparing for school to start the day after Labor Day; we’re also watching the storm clouds gather and making our storm preps.

~

August 29, 2016 Parkway 006

~

Early September finds us feeling a little anxious and expectant, a little off-balance maybe; as we know that our immediate future remains a bit uncertain.

Only survivors of storms past fully understand this feeling of mixed expectation and dread.  We’ve entered the heart of our Atlantic Hurricane season, school is about to start, and its election year to boot.... There’s enough heartburn for everyone!

~

August 29, 2016 Parkway 012

~

There were hurricanes and threats of hurricanes many years during the first month of school,  when I was still teaching  school in Tidewater.

Isabel hit on September 18, 2003, when we had been in school for less than 2 weeks.  I was still learning my new students’ names when we had an unplanned ‘vacation’ of more than a week while power was restored, flooding subsided, roads were cleared and repaired, and we slowly returned to our normal routines.

~

August 29, 2016 Parkway 014

~

It was a tough time on us all, but we managed.  And we grew a little savvier about what to expect from these tropical autumn storms.  Once you’ve experienced the storm and its aftermath once, you take care to stock water and batteries, to keep a little extra food on hand, and to watch the ever-changing forecast.  It’s smart to keep a charge on the cell phone and gas in the car, too!

I still flash back to Isabel whenever I eat a bagel.  I bought 2 dozen bagels early in the day when the storm hit, and we ate bagels and fresh oranges over the next several days while the power was out.

~

August 29, 2016 Parkway 004

~

But September, like April, brings dramatic and positive change to our garden.  Summer’s heat melts away into cool mornings and comfortable days, when one is happy to stay outside working well into the afternoon.

The sky turns a particular intense shade of blue.  Summer’s haze and humidity blow out to sea in the brisk September winds which bring us the first real hint of autumn.

There is rain.  The trees recover a bit of vitality.  Fall perennials and wildflowers blossom.  Huge pots of Chrysanthemums appear on neighbors’ porches.

~

Sweet Autumn Clematis has begun to bloom this week, here near the parking area by the river.

Sweet Autumn Clematis has begun to bloom this week, here near the parking area by the river.

~

And the best of summer lingers.  The ginger lilies bloom, filling the garden with their perfume.  More and more butterflies arrive.   We settle into a gentler, milder ‘Indian Summer’ which will linger, and ever so slowly transition into our bright, crisp autumn.

September reinvigorates us, too.  We bring fresh energy to the garden as we plant new shrubs, divide perennials, buy Daffodil bulbs and begin to plan ahead for winter.

~

Spider lilies, also called "Hurricane lily" by some, reward my faithful watering with their buds this week.

Spider lilies, also called “Hurricane lily” by some, reward my faithful watering with their buds this week.  These Lycoris radiata come back each year from bulbs in late August and early September.

~

Yes, it is September first; and we’re watching a potential hurricane, knowing it might start slipping up the coast, headed towards us and our loved ones within the next couple of days.  We trust that everyone will come through OK, once again.

And we’re also looking past the coming storms towards the rest of September stretching before us, full of beauty and promise.  We’re content to leave summer’s heat behind, and  slip into September once again.

~

August 26, 2016 spider 009

~

Photos 4, 5 and 6 for Cee’s Oddball Challenge

Woodland Gnome 2016

~

August 29, 2016 Spider + Lily 008

Advertisements

Sunday Dinner

August 2, 2015 garden 013

~

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

~

August 2, 2015 garden 037~

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order,

confusion to clarity.

~

August 2, 2015 garden 072

~

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

~

August 2, 2015 garden 085

~

Gratitude makes sense of our past,

brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

 

Melody Beattie  

~

August 2, 2015 garden 012

~

Inspired by The Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiration 

~

August 2, 2015 garden 021

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

~

August 2, 2015 garden 066

 

Feed Them, But Will They Come?

June 18, 2015 bees 026

~

As I wander around our garden, watching for pollinators to photograph, I notice the quiet.  Where is the hum and buzz I’ve grown accustomed to in other summers?

The feast is laid, but there are very few guests today.

~

June 18, 2015 bees 024

~

We began work on our “Butterfly Garden” during our first spring in this new garden.  We constructed a huge raised bed and populated it with butterfly bushes, roses, Zinnias, and various herbs.

We delighted in watching the constant activity of butterflies, hummingbird moths, hummingbirds, and varies sorts of bees, wasps, and flies.   This is great entertainment for the newly retired!

~

June 17, 2015 pollinators 007~

And every year since, we have expanded the offering of nectar rich flowers.  Our “Butterfly Garden” now extends from the street to the ravine.  We’ve developed areas to attract and sustain these flying creatures throughout our property.

~

Thyme

Thyme

~

We garden organically, without harmful pesticides; we provide habitat, sources of water, and host plants.

~

Asclepias, a host plant for Monarchs which also provides a long season of nectar, grows in our new bog garden.

Asclepias, a host plant for Monarchs which also provides a long season of nectar, grows in our new bog garden.

~

We plant a variety of nectar rich herbs to sustain the pollinators in all parts of our garden.  We also choose flowers, like Fuchsia, Zinnia, Lantana and Canna, to appeal to nectar loving insects and hummingbirds.  We allow nectar rich shrubs and trees, like the Mimosa, to grow on the edges of the garden.

~

June 11, 2015 garden 017

~

Still, we are thrilled to spot a single butterfly visiting our garden.

I realize it is yet early in the season.  I understand that there will be more activity as summer progresses.  Yet, we spotted our first butterfly in April this year.  Why are there still so few?  And where are the bees?

~

June 17, 2015 bees 025

~

This is a disturbing mystery for us.

We follow the news closely, and know it has been a difficult time for wildlife across the planet.  Rogue weather systems have disrupted normal migration patterns and habitat.  Chemical leaks, oil tankers bursting into fiery infernos, radiation in the Pacific, eruptions and climate change all make it that much harder for wild things to sustain themselves generation to generation.

This is a global challenge.  What can one family, gardening on a little suburban lot, do to make a positive difference?

~

Tiny new dragonflies hover around the Comphrey.

Tiny new dragonflies hover around the Comphrey.

~

I wrestle with this question a lot, actually.  Maybe this issue helps fuel my passion for photographing and writing about our garden.  I know it drives our decisions about how to manage the garden.

~

We leave these tree Hibiscus, 'Rose of Sharon' because so many pollinators visit them to feed.

We leave these tree Hibiscus, ‘Rose of Sharon’ because so many pollinators visit them to feed.  They self-seed prolifically.  A fairly weedy plant, their flowers are beautiful each summer.

~

I know the butterflies are free, and freely fly from our garden to another.  In the next yard, they may meet up with deadly chemicals sprayed by the lawn company our neighbors hire.

No matter how organically we manage our garden, the environment remains full of pesticides used by others, and barren of many of the native plants they seek to raise their young.  We don’t plan to string up netting and keep our beauties safely here.

~

July 2014, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoys the Echinacea.

July 2014, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoys the Echinacea.

~

At some point, most of us wise up and live with ‘The Serenity Prayer’ in mind.

And in accepting those things we can not change, we think carefully and courageously about the change we can instigate… both in ourselves, and in others.

And so here are the simple things we can do, and we have committed to do:

1.  Refrain from the use of pesticides and herbicides.  Find organic controls for problems of infestation.

Tiger Swallowtail on Joe Pye Weed, July 2014

Tiger Swallowtail on Joe Pye Weed, July 2014

2.  Leave parts of our property ‘wild’ to provide shelter and habitat for a variety of animals.

3. Allow many ‘native’ plants, which provide food and habitat for pollinators and birds, to grow on our property.

4.  Select most ‘new’ plants we bring to the garden for their value to feed and sustain wildlife.

5.  Provide sources of water.

A butterfly shares the Joe Pye Weed blossoms with the bee.  August 2014

A butterfly shares the Joe Pye Weed blossoms with the bee. August 2014

6. Leave end of season clean-up until spring, so wildlife may continue to use available resources through the winter.

7. Learn as much as we can about the wildlife who visit our garden in order to better care for them.

 

“Everything takes time.

Bees have to move very fast to stay still.”

David Foster Wallace

We hope that by offering a safe and supportive environment, pollinators and other wildlife will find safe haven in our garden.

~

Parsley offers nectar when it blooms, but many butterflies lay their eggs on parsley, also.  It is a good host plant to sustain caterpillars.

Parsley offers nectar when it blooms, but many butterflies lay their eggs on parsley, also. It is a good host plant to sustain caterpillars.

~

For every generation of butterfly and bird, bee, lizard, turtle and dragonfly that we can allow to grow here, we will contribute in some small way to their continued survival.

This is a tiny effort, but many of us all making this tiny effort can partner to preserve these beautiful and ecologically important creatures for another year; another generation.

~

These catmint plants attract many pollinators when they bloom.  By cutting them back, they can be kept blooming for several months.  Our cat believes we plant them just for him....

These catmint plants attract many pollinators when they bloom. By cutting them back, they can be kept blooming for several months. Our cat believes we plant them just for him….

~

We look forward to each spring and summer when our garden is filled with the buzzing of bees and the ballet of feeding butterflies once again.

And until then, we will continue to celebrate and appreciate each individual who finds their way to our Forest Garden.

~

June 18, 2015 bees 022

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

June 27, 2014 garden 005

For more information, please explore:

Pollinator Week June 15-21, 2015

‘June Gap’ in butterflies explained, by Butterfly Conservation

Our Pals, the Pollinators, by Tina Huckabee

Remembering Summer

Purple sage with onion.  This experiment in repelling deer from this bed was a total success.

Purple sage with geranium and  onion. This experiment in repelling deer from this bed was a total success.

~

The last day of January came clear, bright, windy and cold in our garden today.  The sun rose earlier than it has in months, heralded by birds calling to each other before its first rays poured in through the windows.

Today was the sort of day when I found myself standing near the sunniest of the windows looking out into the garden with longing, and pondering the tiniest bits of vibrant new growth on our many potted plants indoors.

~

Rose of SHaron in its first blush of blooms last summer.

Rose of Sharon in its first blush of blooms last summer.

~

Spring is definitely on its way.  I found two sprouted flower bulbs in a small sack on the kitchen counter.  They’ve been there for at least two months, waiting for action to break through procrastination to get them into a bit of soil.  Today was the day as I tucked them both into a 6″ pot and left it nestled among the hanging baskets growing through this very cold winter in the garage.

~

Canna

Canna

~

The stack of gardening catalogs grows on the living room table.  Our first order of seeds arrived in yesterday’s mail; a dozen packets of promise and hope.

I ventured out into the garden today, for the first time since gathering flowers on Monday, to walk the site where I’m dreaming of building a new raised bed.  This has been a bizarre cough syrup fueled week of recovery from a nasty bug picked up in early January.  Our efforts to stay warm, hydrated and medicated may or may not be paying off.

So I distract myself in those rare bursts of energy with reading gardening books and catalogs.  Today I sketched a first draft of a raised bed featuring herbs, flowers and a few perennial vegetables for our table.

~

June 30, 2014 butterfly 009

~

I was a little put-off by Amazon’s only listing for Egyptian Walking Onions.  Their one offering was listed at over $3000.00.  A misprint, I hope?  Let’s Not find out…. I found another site offering about eight varieties of Alium X Proliferum, the formal name for these self-replicating beauties, and a much better price.  Too bad all but one variety have already sold out for the season.  To order, or not?  That is tonight’s question.

~

Calla

Calla

~

And that is all given as a weak excuse for tonight’s post.  The best I’ve been able to muster today is a retrospective of photos taken in the garden at the end of last June, six months ago, today.  I hope you take as much pleasure in this brief remembrance of early summer as I have.

It reminds me that January is always balanced by June, and that our garden is already bursting with beauty whether that new dreamed of bed finds its way into back garden reality this spring, or not.

~

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

~

And the intense sunshine bathing our home in light today made us both a bit more energetic and optimistic.  It reminds us that although we still have a few months of winter ahead, we have definitely turned the corner towards spring and the promise of renewal and growth.

~

June 30, 2014 butterfly 015

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

WPC: Zig Zag

July 29, 2014 garden 016

*

Nature creates in curves and crossings;

Switchbacks, waves, ripples;

Dances of pure energy and vitality

Across the landscape of matter.

 

July 28, 2014 shade 037

*

The primal “OM” ripples through the

<Allness> we know as space and time,

Resonating still;

“The Word” which makes all flesh.

 

July 24, 2014 hummingbird 030

*

Light, both particle and wave,

Etching the pattern of its passage,

The zig zags of its journey,

Into the excited fabric of our world.

 

july 25, 2014 beach 066

*

Life moves and vibrates,

Swells and subsides,

Exhales and inhales,

Wakes and sleeps;

 

july 25, 2014 beach 031

*

Ever flowing

In the eternal pulse

of Now.

 

July 23, 2014 garden 010

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Zig Zag

Have You Met Lantana?

A Zebra Swallowtail enjoying Lantana, right outside our front door.  This Lantana is from the "Carolina" series, and tops 6' tall by September.

A Zebra Swallowtail enjoying Lantana, right outside our front door. This Lantana is from the “Bandana” series, and tops 6′ tall by September.

 

Have you met Lantana?

This is a tough, beautiful plant you will want to grow if you enjoy watching hummingbirds and butterflies.

Once it comes into bloom, generally in late May for us, it remains absolutely covered in flowers until it is killed by a heavy frost.

And each of those flowers is made up of dozens of little nectar filled cups.

 

july 25, 2014 beach 069

Beloved by hummingbirds and every species of butterfly which visits our garden, our clumps of Lantana offer us hours of entertainment, as we watch the traffic come and go from sunrise until dusk.

Even better, each little flower develops a little round fruit.  And songbirds love these little fruits.

Nothing is wasted!

july 25, 2014 beach 058

I gave my parents a potted yellow Lantana several weeks ago, which they placed on a patio table visible from their kitchen window.

I watched a beautiful green hummingbird ecstatically feed from their plant today, totally ignoring their “feeder” hanging 10 feet away.  Hummingbirds know the difference between birdie “Kool Aid” and the real deal.

Given the choice, would you have your lunch at Red Lobster or Dairy Queen?

 

july 25, 2014 beach 065

Here is a detailed post about growing Lantana, written about this time last year.  Please take a look if you haven’t had the fun of growing this amazing plant yet.

Lantana is drought tolerant, easy to establish, colorful, healthy, and has been reliably hardy for us.  They come in a fairly wide range of colors.

If you live in Zone 6 or further north, you can keep it indoors in a pot overwinter, or simply treat it like an annual.

These are not expensive plants.  I generally pay about $4.oo for a 4″ Lantana plant during spring annual season at the garden center.  A very small investment, for five to six months of color and entertainment, and the promise of many more years to come.

If you have not yet met Lantana, I invite you to get acquainted sometime soon.

Lantana wrapped with a Morning Glory vine.

Lantana wrapped with a Morning Glory vine.

 Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Establishing your own butterfly and hummingbird garden; Forest Garden 2013

Return of the Butterflies

July 20, 2014 butterflies 048

Our garden is alive with butterflies once again.   

We spotted at least five different individual butterflies enjoying their Sunday dinner in the garden today.

July 20, 2014 butterflies 017

We have been watching for them for several weeks now, and are so happy to find our garden animated with their bright fluttering wings this morning.

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on Paw Paw Trees.  We have several in the ravine at the back of our property, and so are blessed with these beautiful butterflies in the garden.

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on Paw Paw Trees. We have several in the ravine at the back of our property, and so are blessed with these beautiful butterflies in the garden.

The banquet is spread from shrub to pot to bed to border.

The garden blossoms anew each morning with fresh nectar filled flowers, awaiting their visit.

And now we watch them enjoy it all, and hope they choose this garden as an adequate nursery for their next generation.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Butterfly Garden Plants

July 20, 2014 butterflies 021

Butterflies Everywhere….

What a wonderful sensation to wander out into the butterfly garden and stand in the midst of dozens of butterflies flying around from flower to flower sipping nectar. Sometimes four or five butterflies are all drinking from the same plant, shoulder to shoulder with the bumblebees. What joy to be a butterfly in July when … Continue reading

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 677 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest