Nature Challenge Day 1: Tree Frog

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Near the end of a long day of gardening, as I was planting the last Caladium in a bed near our drive and preparing to clean up, my partner came out to check on my progress.   As we were visiting, he asked, “What on Earth is that?!”

He was looking at the front fender of our car, where a light grey blob had attached itself just beyond the headlight.  At first glance it looked like a huge bumpy wad of chewed gum.

I pulled off one muddy glove and retrieved my camera from its pocket in my gardening vest, then ever so quietly focused on the blob.


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It never moved as the camera powered up or as I crept into position to shoot.  But it didn’t take long for me to realize this was a living creature clinging to the side of the car.

Not just any creature, but one neither of us had seen before.


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It remained perfectly still as I moved around it for several more shots, drawing ever closer.  Finally, I could see its sides moving faintly with its shallow breathing.   But it never startled as we conversed, and I took photo after photo.  We could tell it was some sort of frog, but the strangest frog we’ve ever seen!

Only later, with the photos uploaded and edited, did we finally solve the mystery of its name.  We consulted The Virginia Herpetological Society’s website, where we learned there are two grey tree frogs native to Virginia.  This one appears to be “Cope’s Gray Treefrog,” or Hyla chrysoscelis.


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We’re not sure it is an exact match because the frog on our car is much lighter than the ones in their photos.  But the Cope’s Gray Treefrog is native to James City County, so we will go with this identification.

It was still clinging to the side of the car an hour or so later when the cat went outside for the evening.  We hope it has taken up residence in our garden and that we will see it again this summer.  We’ve sometimes seen green tree frogs, in previous years, clinging to the windows of our home.  They never cease to amaze us with their ability to cling for hours on end.

Always peaceful, we enjoy their presence and appreciate their appetite!


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Blogging friend, Y,  invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday.  Thank you for your invitation Y., at In the Zone, and for sharing your fascinating photos taken around our shared state of Virginia.  Y and I know many of the same places and share a love for the quirky and beautiful, the fun and poignant.  I appreciate her invitation and will follow her lead to capture the spirit, if not the exact parameters of the challenge.

Not only is one asked to post a nature photo for seven days running, but to also invite another blogger to join in each day.

For this first day of the challenge, I’ll invite you.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you tomorrow.

Although I try to take photos in our garden each day, friends and followers may have noticed that it has been a very long time since I’ve been able to post daily.  Life has gotten quite busy over the past year, and I would always rather spend a free hour digging in the dirt, given the blessing of choice!

But in the spirit of the challenge I’ll set the intention to post a photo daily.  If you decide to accept this challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours.


Another photogenic visitor in our garden today, a Broad Headed Skink.

Another photogenic visitor in our garden today, a Broad Headed Skink.


Woodland Gnome 2016

A Frog’s Life

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“Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,

the lovers, the dreamers and me.”


Kermit the Frog


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“The mind of a child is a beginner’s mind

and, for them, every idea is fresh, stimulating

and leads somewhere surprising.”


Kermit the Frog


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“Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending,

keep believing, keep pretending.”


Kermit the Frog


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“You are all sitting here listening to me – a talking amphibian.

That alone is a radical act of creativity.

It’s what I call a “conspiracy of craziness”.


“It’s not easy being green. “


Kermit the Frog


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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

Taken at Brent and Becky Heath’s display gardens in Gloucester, VA



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Wednesday Vignettes: Questions

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“A much more interesting, kind,

adventurous, and joyful approach to life

is to begin to develop curiosity,

not caring whether the object

of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet.”


Pema Chödrön


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“Judge a man by his questions

rather than by his answers.”




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“No matter how knowledgeable you are,

respect your parents for their experience

and your children for their curiosity.”


Amit Kalantri


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“The scientist is not a person who gives

the right answers, he’s one

who asks the right questions.”


Claude Lévi-Strauss


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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016


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All photos taken at Brent and Becky Heath’s display gardens

outside their Bulb Shop in Gloucester, Virginia March 11, 2016


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“Most misunderstandings in the world

could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask,

“What else could this mean?”

Shannon L. Alder


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“Incidentally, the world is magical.
Magic is simply what’s off our human scale…

at the moment.”


Vera Nazarian



The Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Scale


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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014- 2015


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The Price of an Education

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The price of an education is experience.

Which means, I’ve earned a tremendous amount of useful information over the last day while dealing with the challenges presented by the plagiarism of my posts from Forest Garden.

First, the thank-yous:  I appreciate each and every person who has contacted me over the last day by phone, email, and comments to commiserate, offer support, and to make helpful suggestions.  One friend expressed, ” …”hell hath no fury” like a woman plagiarized. ”  More on that in a bit.

I also appreciate Christine at Bluelime Media in Vancouver, BC, who very calmly let me know that no, her company had nothing to do with the offending site; other than having produced the theme which pirated.  Her company develops themes for WordPress, and she helped re-direct my efforts towards finding those who needed to be found.

And I appreciate those involved with and related sites who voluntarily removed my content from their pages last night.


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I also appreciate the WordPress platform, because it provides help on just about any blogging related topic one can need.  Their article about content theft provided a list of actions to take, and the links I needed, to figure out how to handle this situation.

WordPress makes our everyday publishing so easy that we can produce endless content with a minimum of technical know-how.  To solve this conundrum yesterday, it was necessary to dig beneath the surface of things to hunt for clues.

But this has been far from an easy process.  In fact, it is a very frustrating, time intensive scavenger hunt of clues and dead-ends when one enters the shadier reaches of cyberspace in search of hard, actionable information.  That is where the ‘fury’ part comes in handy. 


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The first meaning of fury, in many dictionaries, has to do with a wild rage.  That is superbly unhelpful in a case such as this.

I prefer the more ancient meanings of fury, which is derived from those loveable Furies of Greek literature.  Do you recall them?  It is the energy of the anger, the fury, which is useful when once needs to get something done well, and done quickly.

So for the second time in a week, with apologies, I’ll share with you some bits of information which you might find useful.  It is very hard to stay out of the garden this long, but we bloggers must help one another from time to time.  Here are the highlights of what I’ve learned:

1.  Keep an eye on ‘your brand.’  A blogging friend tipped me off that she had found my content on another person’s website unattributed.  Had I searched in Google or Bing for my own blog post titles I could have discovered the miscreant myself.  But I didn’t think to do that.  Late last night I did search for several recent posts, and found the link to the miscreant site listed on the list of returns, above my own….

2.  Theft of published content is an international crime, with protections outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  It turns out those who stole my content are based in Australia.  One begins to request restitution with a DMCA notice directed to the domain and the domain host.


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3.  One begins with an inventory of exactly what has been stolen.  This includes taking screen shots of the offending website.  One may also copy and paste from their site into a word processing file.  The lovely thing about most word processing software protocols is that they reveal a great deal of information not visible on a ‘live’ website.  Since theft is very much a crime, even online, collecting this data first, before doing anything else, ensures you have the evidence you need on down the  line.

4.  One can also get the full details about any website through a Domain Search.  No, I hadn’t heard of it either, until last night.  Here is another useful resource to combat internet plagiarism, with the links you need to begin the search.

5. Explore every link on a questionable site.  By clicking one of the photographs on, I found a link to a related business, also selling gardening products.  That business had contact information, and there was even a gmail address for a person connected with that business.  A friendly email to that person, requesting their assistance in contacting ‘Farmer,’ who signed his name to my posts reprinted without permission on his site, was fruitful.  She managed to locate him and pass on the message.  I appreciate that.  My plagiarized posts came down within the hour.

6.  Finally, publish an ironclad disclaimer statement on your blog.  Hugh Roberts directed me to an excellent post on crafting your own personal disclaimerSerin’s post explains why this is essential for every blogger, and gives excellent links to additional resources on blog security.

7.  Maintain an attitude of gratitude.  I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to publish each day, and for those who join with me in this adventure.  It is life’s challenges and frustrations which force us to climb those steep learning curves in our daily lives.  Have you noticed? 


First Forsythia of the season....

First Forsythia of the season….


I’ve learned a good deal from this experience.  And I hope the miscreant who thought he or she would quietly get by with ‘lifting’ my work each day, through some as yet undiscovered pipeline through cyberspace, has learned a bit over the last 24 hours, as well.

And I hope that you, whether you write a blog yourself, or not; might have learned a useful trick or two through reading about my experiences.

Thank you for visiting Forest Garden today, for your wonderful comments, and for giving me a very good reason to spend time writing and taking photos each day.

Woodland Gnome 2015




Birthday Portraits: Snapping Turtles

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We were in the midst of watering the garden yesterday morning when my partner spotted it, barely visible against the blacktopped street.

But my partner has a special knack for spotting anomalies,  and the tiny turtle, craning his neck around this way and that for a  complete view of his newly found world, caught his attention.

He called me over, and together we decided to lift the little one out of the street, back into the garden.

Barely more than an inch from one end of its sculpted grey shell to the other, this one had just arrived to the world of sunlight.

Once set down under the shrubs, he quickly disappeared into the dried leaves.


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We both returned to our tasks, murmuring our appreciation for this little turtle and our good wishes for his survival.

But then tiny turtle reappeared, running across the mulch from one bed to the next.

Or was it another one?  This one was moving so fast it was hard to tell.


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But when we spotted a third, and then a fourth; we realized that a nest of turtle eggs must have opened somewhere in the garden.  The search was on.

And it didn’t take long to spot a fifth turtle, just appeared near a small hole under our Hibiscus.


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The hole wasn’t two inches across, nestled near the stems and well hidden in the mulch.

But careful observation soon revealed a tiny head, and two tiny eyes adjusting to sunlight for the first time.

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Watering now on hold, I settled in near the hole, camera focused, hoping to photograph the moment when this little guy crawled out into the world.

But these creatures are smarter than you might expect. 

And he was very aware of the great human giants too near beside  his sipapu.  And cautiously, he waited. 

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Too long, because soon another head popped up behind him.  There was obviously a que of turtles waiting below.

So Mr. Cautious dropped back into the hole, and Ms. Adventurous took his place at the opening; weighing her options.

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I kept the camera focused and ready, taking birthday portraits from time to time, but waiting for the moment of emergence.

My partner suggested that I needed to back off.  My body suggested I not stay bent in position  too long.

And Ms. Adventurous suggested she had all day long to begin her journey.

We chatted.  We both encouraged her, and gave her lots of parental advice about staying in the garden, and hiding well, and how she would find plenty to eat here.

Listening attentively, she still waited.  And yet another head appeared.  My partner wandered away, and I moved back a ways further  from the hole, and slightly out of their line of sight.

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A birth must not be rushed, and patience finally was rewarded as Ms. Courageous climbed the rest of the way up onto the soft mulch.

Her grey eyes took in her new, bright surroundings, and her gigantic human companion, before she took off running across the mulch.

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Each turtle headed in a different direction, but all must have had some sense of the pond at the bottom of the hill, waiting for them.


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I left the rest of the turtles in peace to emerge in their own time.

We kept encountering our tiny turtles throughout the day.  When we spotted them on the driveway later, we moved them to safer spots in the garden.

Found later on the driveway, my partner moved this turtle to the safety of a pot so I could take another photo.

Found later on the driveway, my partner moved this turtle to the safety of a pot so I could take another photo.

These are snapping turtles, Chelydra serpentina, common throughout Virginia.

We spot them from time to time in the garden and throughout the community.

Although their reputation is fierce, we must have uncommonly gentle ones here.

We’ve never encountered an aggressive one.


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The baby turtles disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as they appeared.

We hope they found their way down to the ravine and pond, where they can hunt and find shelter.  There are plenty of wild spaces for them to live and grow in safety.  As omnivores, there will be plenty for them to eat year round.

It will be at least a dozen years before these turtles reach maturity, and they may still inhabit the garden a century from now.  Turtles are extremely long lived, if they reach maturity, with very few predators.

We’ll have our eye out for them, now.

This Box Turtle was waiting for me in the lower garden when I arrived, later, to water.

This Box Turtle was waiting for me in the lower garden when I arrived, later, to water.


They can join the box turtles and the blue tailed skinks; the toads and tree frogs, as welcome denizens of our Forest Garden.


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Toad, found laying her eggs in the garden yesterday morning.

Toad, found laying her eggs in the garden yesterday morning.

One Word Photo Challenge: Grey

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Wendy and Alan Wubbel’s forest garden at Forest Lane Botanicals in York County is lush with growth in every shade of green, silver, burgundy, pink, orange, and chartreuse.

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Magical in its infinite variety of vegetation, it is not at all where one might expect to find grey.

Wendy and Alan's display gardens at Forest Lane Botanicals.

Wendy and Alan’s display gardens at Forest Lane Botanicals.

And yet grey is the foil, the backdrop, which makes the plants pop.

Stone and concrete, weathered wood and leaves traced in silver soothe the eye; offering a spot to rest one’s eyes from the myriad details of their lush landscape.

Fairy garden designed by Wendy Wubbel.

Fairy garden with miniature Hostas,  designed by Wendy Wubbel .


Neutral and grounded, grey speaks to eons of continuity and perseverance.

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Its inert solidity provides the perfect contrast to green growing things which leap to life each spring.

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Wendy and Alan, welcoming and brimming with talk about their wonderful plants, greeted us this morning and led us around every path of the garden.

Another of Wendy's magical fairy gardens.

Another of Wendy’s magical fairy gardens.

We considered natives and hybrids, Maples and Hostas, Begonias and ferns.

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They offered initiation into growing a new genus:  the pitcher plant,  Sarracenia. 

Loving full sun, wet feet and dry ankles, as Wendy explained, we have the perfect spot to grow the pitcher plant we brought home with us:  in the new grey hypertufa  pot I’m already planning to cast for it.

All photos in this post were taken at Forest Lane Botanicals in York County, Virginia.

All photos in this post were taken at Forest Lane Botanicals in York County, Virginia.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells 

for hosting the Weekly One Word Photo Challenge











Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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A new site allows me to continue posting new content since after more than 1700 posts there is no more room on this site.  -WG

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