Fabulous Friday: Summer Rain

Colocasia ‘Black Coral’ glows after a rain shower.

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As the early summer rain continues to fall in fits, drizzles and passing storms, I am enjoying a rare quiet day at home, chased inside from any major gardening tasks by the weather.  The forays outside have been brief thus far today, and usually ended with me left feeling soggy from the humidity or a sudden shower.

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Ferns and hardy Begonias enjoy our damp weather.

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I woke this morning concerned about all of the little plants in their nursery pots, still waiting to be planted out.  I thought of how soggy their roots must be and rushed outside to move them as needed and empty standing water that had collected overnight.

Soggy roots can mean sudden death for many plants that need a bit of air in their soil.  That set me to puttering about with pots and baskets and a few strategic transplanting jobs.

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Rose scented Pelargonium likes room for its roots to breathe.

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I am especially concerned for the Caladiums still growing on in their bins.  It is one of those tasks that gets more difficult the longer one procrastinates.  While I wait for the new ones, ordered this spring to emerge, the ones grown from over-wintered bulbs have gotten huge and leggy; their roots entangled.  But the wet soil and frequent showers give me reason to wait another day for more transplanting.

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What won’t wait is our annual dance with the bamboo grove in the ravine.  Bamboo is considered a grass, but what a stubborn and determined force of nature it as proven to be in our garden!  Though we didn’t plant it, we admire it and appreciate its beauty.

But that beauty is expected to stay within reasonable bounds.  The bamboo disagrees, determinedly marching up the slope of our garden towards the house.  It sends out small scouting sprouts ahead of its main force.  We must stay on top of these year round, as they seek to colonize every bed and pathway.  The bamboo’s main assault begins in late April, as its new stalks emerge.

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We allow a certain number of these to grow each spring, and it seems that we give up another few feet of garden to the ‘bamboo forest’ with each passing year.  What would happen if we were away in May?  Could we find the house when we returned?

Every day we seek out and remove the new bamboo stalks growing in spots we cannot allow.  The squirrels appreciate our efforts, and feast on the broken shoots we leave for them.

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And so it was that we were out early this morning, me with the pots and saucers, and attacking the new bamboo that emerged over night.  This constant stream of moisture has encouraged its audacity.

As we made another tour of the garden during a break in the rain this afternoon, my partner called me over to see one of our garden visitors.

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She was hiding under a very large sage plant.  At least I hope she was hiding, and had not dug a nest to lay her eggs.

The turtles like our garden.  We find them resting in the greenness of forgotten places, and try to always give them their peace.  They repay us by eating their share of bugs each day.

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But just as I settled in to re-plant another pot or two with Caladiums, the brief sunshine was blotted out by another passing, rain soaked cloud.  Large cold drops of rain splattered down much quicker than I expected, leaving me all wet once again.

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And so there is nothing to do but enjoy the luxury of a rainy afternoon indoors.  The coffee is made, and I’ll soon be off to enjoy a good book with the cat curled up by my feet.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious; let’s infect one another!
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Honoring Earth Day

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“Our Mother Earth is the source of all life, whether it be the plants, the two-legged, four-legged, winged ones or human beings.
“The Mother Earth is the greatest teacher, if we listen, observe and respect her.
“When we live in harmony with the Mother Earth, she will recycle the things we consume and make them available to our children and to their children.
“I must teach my children how to care for the Earth so it is there for the future generations.

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“So from now on:

“I realize the Earth is our mother. I will treat her with honor and respect.
“I will honor the interconnectedness of all things and all forms of life. I will realize the Earth does not belong to us, but we belong to the Earth.

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“The natural law is the ultimate authority upon the lands and water. I will learn the knowledge and wisdom of the natural laws. I will pass this knowledge on to my children.
“The mother Earth is a living entity that maintains life. I will speak out in a good way whenever I see someone abusing the Earth. Just as I would protect my own mother, so will I protect the Earth.
“I will ensure that the land, water, and air will be intact for my children and my children’s children – unborn.”
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Anonymous, reprinted from WhiteWolfPack.com

 

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Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970.  I was in grade school, and this new celebration felt like a very big deal to me.  I was happy for all of the efforts the ‘grown-ups’ were making to protect the air, water, land and wildlife.  It felt good. 

This new Earth Day celebration was a ray of hope, a spark of light in an otherwise very dark time in our country.  We were still using unspeakable weapons in Southeast Asia, destroying their forests with Napalm and their people with terror. Nixon and his cronies still controlled the White House.

The first nuclear weapons in modern times had been used against two Japanese cities only 25 years earlier, and the the arms race to develop and test more of these life-destroying weapons was exploding around the planet.

But, we also still had George Harrison and John Lennon in those days, and the millions of voices of the Woodstock Generation raised in song and protest.

So much has happened in these last 47 years.  Our lives have changed in unimaginable ways.  Our country has changed, too.  The Woodstock Generation has mostly spent their lives now in doing what they can, for good or for ill; before losing their voices and their mobility to the natural progression of things.

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And their legacy lives on, in the rest of us ‘youngsters.’  The battles still rage across our planet between the special interests of our age.  There is a basic philosophical divide, as I see it, between those focused on preservation of the environment, sharing and preserving our resources for generations yet to come; and those focused on using up every resource they can to make a profit.

The divide is between those focused on themselves and their own profit and pleasure, and those whose focus and concern expands to include the good of the millions of voiceless plant and animal species , generations yet unborn, and our beautiful planet.

That is a stark oversimplification, I know.  And I would bet that many who read these words disagree with my interpretation of things.

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Good people can disagree.  Well-intentioned people can see things differently.  We each have our own story to tell about life and our experiences, in our own way.

A neighbor said to me just the other day, “The Earth doesn’t have a problem.  The Earth has never had a problem with human beings.  It is the humans who want to continue living on this planet who have the problem.”

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And he is right.  Actually, the more information which leaks out about Mars, and what has happened to that once beautiful planet over the last half a million years, the more we understand how fragile our own planetary biosphere to be.  Perhaps that is why our government has tried to control the many photos of man-made structures on Mars, and evidence of water and the life once living there, so fiercely.

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So what can any of us do?  Each of us can choose something, or somethings, which are in our power to do that will make a positive impact on our biosphere’s, and our own, well-being.  And then, we can raise our own voice, and use the power of our own purse to influence our neighbors, and the greater human community, towards doing something constructive, too.

Here are a few ideas from the Earthday.org site to get us all started:

Create your own ‘Act of Green’

Plant a tree or donate a tree

Eat less meat

Stop using disposable plastic

Reduce your energy footprint

Educate others

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I invite you to celebrate Earth Day 2017 in your own personal way.  Do something positive for yourself, your family, our planet and our future.  It doesn’t have to be something big, fancy or expensive.

Just do something to commit your own “Act of Green,” your own radical act of beauty.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016-2017

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“I do not think the measure of a civilization

is how tall its buildings of concrete are,

but rather how well its people have learned

to relate to their environment and fellow man.”

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Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Earth

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WPC: The Road Taken

Jones Millpond

Jones Millpond

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“You never know what’s around the corner.

It could be everything. Or it could be nothing.

You keep putting one foot in front of the other,

and then one day you look back

and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

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Tom Hiddleston

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Do you often find roads you love so much, you travel them again and again?

We love the Colonial Parkway, and often find ourselves turning towards its quiet beauty.  It stretches from Jamestown Island to the Yorktown beaches; 23 scenic miles of Virginia history linking the earliest settlements in our area.

This is a place where you feel the presence of the past.  Earthworks stretch away on both sides of the road, along the same creeks navigated by the First Nations.  Historic homes, some crumbling and some restored, still stand along the way.  Teams of archeologists continue to dig up clues about the people who also called this place ‘home.’

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Much of the Parkway rolls across bridges, through tunnels, and along the quiet banks of the James and its tributaries.  There is always something beautiful to find, no matter the season.

We watch the trees bud and bloom in spring.  Months later we see them turn bright reds and oranges before their leaves fall.

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First wildflowers of the season here.

First wildflowers of the season here.

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We watch for eagles’ nests, egrets, Canada geese and great blue herons.  In summer, we sometimes find a family of swans here on Jones Millpond.  It is always worth driving this way to have a look.

We study the marshes for turtles sunning themselves on logs, and count the chucks and rabbits grazing beside the road.

Wildflowers grow here in abundance each summer.  Frog song symphonies and birdsong and the hum of countless bees lull one into relaxation and peace.

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There is comfort in having such a road nearby.  It is a window to an earlier, quieter time.  And there is always some interesting sight waiting for watchful eyes to find.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”

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J.R.R. Tolkien

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  The Road Taken

 

Kaleidoscope World

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We returned to Jones Mill Pond this afternoon.  The swans were nowhere in sight, but the far bank shone with pale pink Mountain Laurel in full bloom.

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May has remained cool and wet; those rare days when we see the sun luring us outside to enjoy a few hours in the garden.  Abundant rain feeds abundant growth.  Every tree and shrub has cloaked itself in verdant leaves; fresh, vibrant, and lush.

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Wave after wave of spring blossoms linger in these moist and cool days, embellished with raindrops and growing to gigantic proportion.

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We feel surrounded by a Kaleidoscopic world of green.  Every stem and blade stretches itself from one hour to the next, as though this May will last forever.

Paths close with encroaching vegetation, all hard edges blurred by expanding green.

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The opposite shore glowed even on this dull day between rain showers.  The spongy ground sank beneath my every step as I clambered around the near bank of the pond, taking photos down the coves and hoping to catch a glimpse of the swans at rest.

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It was utterly silent; no croaking frogs or calling birds to break the spell.  We’d seen turtles along the way, driven from their usual spots by this morning’s torrential rains.

But none were visible at the pond.

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Found along the way, near Jamestown, this wise old turtle held its ground as I took photos.

Found along the way, near Jamestown, this wise old turtle held its ground as I took photos.

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Asclepias stands ready to feed hungry Monarch larvae.  Hundreds of flowers offer up their nectar filled blossoms.

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There is cover for every creeping, slithering, nesting and burrowing creature wanting a home.  But they did not show themselves this afternoon.  Maybe they had found other shelter, still waiting for the next shower they could feel drawing ever closer.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

~May 21, 2016 garden 020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Community

November 6, 2015 Parkway 101

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“Everybody is a story.

When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables

and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore.

Sitting around the table telling stories

is not just a way of passing time.

It is the way the wisdom gets passed along.

The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”


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Rachel Naomi Remen

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 061

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“I alone cannot change the world,

but I can cast a stone across the waters

to create many ripples.”


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Mother Teresa

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“One of the marvelous things about community

is that it enables us to welcome and help people

in a way we couldn’t as individuals.

When we pool our strength

and share the work and responsibility,

we can welcome many people,

even those in deep distress,

and perhaps help them find

self-confidence and inner healing.”


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Jean Vanier

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 096

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“The world is so empty if one thinks only

of mountains, rivers & cities;

but to know someone who thinks & feels with us,

and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit,

this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”


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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 100

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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November 6, 2015 leaves 018

 

 

 

 

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Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day: June

Our overwintered geranium basket has finally come into beautiful bloom.

Our overwintered geranium basket has finally come into beautiful bloom.

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Carol Michel, an horticulturalist and Indiana garden writer, sponsors a wonderful meme called “Garden Bloggers Bloom Day” on the 15th of each month from her blog, “May Dreams Gardens.”

I dipped in for a visit last evening. What a wonderful way to share our gardens with one another!

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I enjoyed hopping around from garden blogger to garden blogger seeing what is in bloom.  Here is another opportunity to visit gardens and gardeners not only around the country, but around the planet, from the comfort of one’s armchair.

After a long hot day of deadheading and weeding, what a treat to enjoy what is blooming in others’ gardens!   Sadly, I wasn’t doing either again today; too hot again.  But that is beside the point, isn’t it?

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Our Allium flowers remain popular with the insects.  These from onion sets planted last year to protect other things growing in our stump garden.

Our Allium flowers remain popular with the insects. These from onion sets planted last year to protect other things growing in our stump garden.

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I finally suited up and ducked outside  this evening, once the sun committed to setting, admiring the flowers filling our garden tonight.  I’ve been looking forward to doing this all day.

Actually, my mind is spinning with gardening “to-do’s” which have gone undone.  Maybe tomorrow, when it’s cooler?

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The Foxglove has given us several weeks of bloom, and is winding down.  It is still lovely.

The Foxglove has given us several weeks of bloom, and is finally winding down. Considering how frozen it looked in March, I’ve been delighted with its performance.

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April, May and June bring rapid change in our garden as spring perennials burst into bloom and fade.  As much as I try to plan color to last the entire season, mid-April to early June remain a high point for us.

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June 16, 2015 blooming in June 007~

Finally, at this point in June, we begin to see the flowering perennials, annuals and shrubs with staying power.  These same plants will bloom nearly continuously for the next three to four months; many until frost.

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This has been a week of firsts.  Our first Canna lilies bloomed; our first day lily and  our first Echinacea flowers opened; and our first Rose of Sharon shrubs broke into bloom today.

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I love this time of year when the planning and labor of the last many months come to fruition!

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Long time gardeners understand that a different garden grows in each passing season.  Last year’s lovely shrub might have died over winter.  Last year’s small new perennial has its roots and takes over the bed this year.  Things grow bigger and spread.  Beds fill in, or fill with unanticipated weeds.  The process of growing a garden remains perennially dynamic.

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We are celebrating our daylilies this year.  We celebrate them, because they have actually bloomed.  Although many grow in our garden, most years the deer have grazed them before a single blossom opened.  Last year our Echinacea were grazed early on and our only flowers came late, on stunted plants.

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The Canna roots we planted in 2013 are vigorously spreading now.  They look naturalized.

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The few small Colocasia starts from last season also multiplied over winter, or died.  We lost a few varieties, but C. “Pink China” has thrived and still needs more dividing.

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We’ve started several  new garden areas this summer, and our collection of pitcher plants has grown. We purchased a pot of our native yellow pitcher plant, Sarracenia flava, from Alan Wubbels at Forest Lane Botanicals several weeks ago for our new bog garden.  They offer an interesting variety of pitcher plants, Iris, and other marginal plants at their center in York County.

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June 16, 2015 blooming in June 039

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It is hard to tell the bloom from the bright pitchers, which actually are leaves.  These flowers remind me a child’s drawing of a fantasy flower.

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We also choose to change things up from year to year.  Ivy geraniums grow this year in a series of pots where Basil has grown in the past.  Last year’s crop disappointed me, so I chose color over flavor this season.

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This Lantana returned for its fourth season in our garden.

This Lantana returned for its fourth season in our garden.

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Many of our lovely Lantana didn’t make it this past winter.  I’ve replaced some of  them with new plants, and planted other things where some Lantana once grew.

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We finally planted a few Penta plants last week, raised by the Patton family at Homestead Garden Center. We plant a few of these each summer for the hummingbirds.  The Pattons raise these lovely annuals from seed each spring in several different colors.

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Both this ornamental pepper, and the Petunia growing with it, came up as volunteers from seeds dropped by last year's annuals in pots.

Both this ornamental pepper, and the Petunia growing with it, came up as volunteers from seeds dropped by last year’s annuals in pots.

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The Zinnias I planted from seed in early May have not come in as expected.  Re-planting is on that long “to-do” list.  I would love to have Zinnias to cut for vases in August.

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There are other flowers coming in down in the lower garden, and on the patio and deck.  Perhaps we’ll visit other areas to see what is blooming in July.  Walking around the garden, morning and evening, always brings surprises.

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One of the perennial geraniums I planted in spring, growing with dusty miller, which survives winter here.

One of the perennial Geraniums I planted in spring, growing with dusty miller, which survives winter here.

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We watch for new flowers opening, and for the shy appearance of our wild companions.  One of our beautiful golden box turtles allowed me to take his portrait this evening as he strolled across the lawn.  We are glad the turtles enjoy living in the garden, and always thank them for allowing us to see them.

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I appreciate Carol’s encouragement to document what is blooming in the garden each month, and to share those photos with others.  I enjoy learning from other gardeners’ experiences, and always enjoy seeing how plants are used by others.

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I hope you will enjoy this quick look at some of what is in bloom in our forest garden today. 

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Parsley is ready to bloom with the geraniums near our back steps.

Parsley is ready to bloom with the geraniums near our back steps.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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June 16, 2015 blooming in June 020

A Jolly Good Idea: Living Border

June 14, 2015 garden 055

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After writing about the Bed For Salvias we built earlier this month, I was intrigued by a suggestion Sue and Alex offered in a comment.  They have a fresh take on gardening topics, probably because they live in Australia and have access to a whole different world of resources.

Sue and Alex sent a link describing a novel way to create a living ‘border’ for gardens, and suggested it might help with the erosion problems we have been experiencing on our slope.

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Our new perennial bed this morning, before work on the new border began.

Our new perennial bed this morning, before work on the new border began.

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It took me a little while to comprehend the article they offered from  Gardening Australia .  There’s a wee language barrier, and I was clueless what “Hessian” might be.  A little searching quickly translated the term as ‘burlap,’ which I know quite well!

The concept is elegantly simple:  One lays out a long strip of burlap where a border or barrier is needed.  The size of the finished border is limited only by one’s imagination, materials, and need.  I chose to cut my piece of burlap in half, which resulted in two long strips, each about 2′ wide.

Next, one lays the filling for the roll.  I used my favorite Leaf Grow bagged compost.

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This is a good mix I use for planting shrubs and building planting beds.  One could also use topsoil, potting soil, gravel, or sand depending on one’s purpose.

The burlap is then rolled up around the filling, secured, and rolled into place where needed.

I found the burlap at our JoAnn’s craft and sewing shop.  The burlap was marked down by 30%, and I had a 50% off one item coupon.  The fabric ended up costing a little less than $1.50 per yard, and I used only half the width of each yard.  For this project, then, the fabric cost around $0.75 per yard, and I used 10 yards.

I secured my roll with a combination of jute twine and floral wire, and used about 2 1/2 bags of compost.  Since this is a steep slope, and we have all sorts of animals through our garden, I decided to secure the finished roll in place; which wasn’t suggested in the original article.  We purchased 10″ aluminum roofing nails, driving them into the Earth every few feet around the finished border.

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June 14, 2015 garden 037

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It took about us about 10 days to gather all of the needed materials, including culinary sage to plant in the border.  They came as a great deal, also.  McDonald Garden Center had all of their herbs marked down last weekend, and a coupon for an additional 20% off of one’s entire purchase.  I suppose it pays to time these projects for late in the spring planting season. 

Our recent heat wave has forced me to procrastinate on this project until today.   It is such a brilliant idea, and our heavy rains lately threaten this new bed.  And of course, those Salvias needed to come out of their tiny pots.

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I used six S. 'Berggarten,' a golden sage, and five S. 'Tri-color' for the border.

I used six S. ‘Berggarten,’ a golden sage, and five S. ‘Tri-color’ for the border.

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We were slated to be a tiny bit cooler this morning, and so I committed to pull this project together…. finally.

My guess on fabric length was spot on.  The burlap, once spread on the ground, went the entire length of the bed with about 18″ left on each end to tuck up the sides.  I began at the shady end laying a line of compost in the center of the fabric.

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June 14, 2015 garden 039

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The ends are folded up and secured with floral wire, poked “through” the loose weave of the fabric like metal stitches and tied off.

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June 14, 2015 garden 050

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After laying the compost in the fabric, I lifted the outside edges to settle it all into the center before folding the lower edge up over the compost, and then rolling the top edge down and over it to create a double thickness of fabric on what became the underside of the roll.

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I stopped every 18″-24″ and tied up the roll with a length of jute.

I pre-cut these pieces of twine, and laid them out along the roll before starting the process of filling and tying.

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June 14, 2015 garden 040~

Once the entire roll was filled and tied off; and the final end folded and wired shut, I rolled the entire piece over so the ties lay against the soil.

Working again from one end to the other, I rolled the border into place and then pushed/pounded a roofing nail into the soil just beyond the border, on the downhill side,  to prevent it from slipping out of place.

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June 14, 2015 garden 052~

Once the Salvias’ roots penetrate the burlap and work their way into the ground, they will hold the border. The nails will keep everything stable until then.

Planting completes the process.  With the border stabilized, I planted from the two ends in towards the middle with three different varieties of culinary Sage.  Thyme or Germander would also work well in our climate.  I wanted a woody stemmed perennial herb to hold this border for years to come.

I cut an 8″ slit with a pair of scissors in the top of the border,  where each Salvia was to be planted.

First, I reached in and packed the compost more tightly in all directions, but especially side to side, lengthwise.  Then, I added two pots full of compost into the slit (using one of the Salvia’s empty pots) and packed the soil again.

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June 14, 2015 garden 051

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Removing each Salvia from its nursery pot, I gently broke up the root ball on the very bottom to encourage its roots to grow sideways into the surrounding soil.

I’ve learned (the hard way) that massaging a transplant’s roots may be the most important step in planting success.  The roots must be gently lifted away from the root ball, where they have been encircling the soil inside the pot, to encourage them to grow outwards into the planting hole.

Failure to loosen the roots may leave them growing in circles.

If the transplant’s potting mix isn’t thoroughly moistened, the plant can starve for water even though there is moist soil around the transplant.  This is a further reason why it is wise to allow transplants to soak up sufficient water into their mix before removing them from their nursery pots.

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With the root ball loosened and made a bit shorter and wider, I slipped it through the slit in the fabric and into the opening of the compost.  Then, I had to massage the entire border roll around the transplant to bring the compost snuggly up around the Sage’s roots.

In nearly all cases, I added a little more compost into the opening around the root ball to ‘top things off.’  It is important to plant each plant at the same depth so it is neither deeper nor shallower in its new ‘pot’ than it was in its nursery pot.

I spaced the new plants fairly widely, about 18″-24″ apart, because each plant can grow quite large.  Sage hate to be crowded.  Eventually, I hope they will all knit into one another.

I moved a golden Sage planted about two weeks ago in the new bed over into the border near the center.

I was about two plants short of enough, and will purchase an additional golden Sage and a final tri-color Sage to complete this design.

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June 14, 2015 garden 053

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This entire process took me a couple of hours, at least in part because it was so terribly hot today.  I was working in full sun, and the heat slowed me down.

My partner (who kept bringing me water) and I are both happy with this new border.  We look forward to seeing how it weathers over the summer and to seeing how the plants fill in.

I can see this as a useful strategy for planting knot gardens, for starting hedges, and even for starting seeds.

With seeds, it would be like taking the principle of  a ‘seed tape’ to a new level.   This works equally well on slopes as it would on level ground.

I especially like this for controlling erosion as water pours down this slope in heavy rain.  I’ve broken the slope with multiple tiers above this level already, each planted with well rooted woody plants.  This terracing has allowed us to use land which otherwise would not be useable, except as open space.

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Cheery red Pentas, growing in another part of our garden, to say "Thank you!" to Sue and Alex.

Cheery red Pentas, growing in another part of our garden, to say “Thank you!” to Sue and Alex.

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So I offer my appreciation to Sue and Alex for linking me up with this idea to improve our new perennial bed, and to solve our erosion problem.

One of the great joys of our blogging community is how we can all reach out to one another with information, collaboration, support, and jolly good ideas!

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Our third mother turtle of the summer, laying her eggs in your garden on Thursday afternoon....

Our third mother turtle of the summer, laying her eggs in our garden on Thursday afternoon….

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

Five Photos, Five Stories: Turtle Mama

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My partner spotted her first.  It was pouring rain, keeping us both indoors yesterday afternoon.  I was at my desk and on the phone when he summoned me to join him at the front windows.

And there, in the middle of what little ‘lawn’ we tend, a large turtle squatted over the hole she had just dug and filled with pond water, laying her eggs.

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My partner’s first response was not one of joy and wonder at the workings of nature.  The lawn is his, and only steady rain had kept him from his plans to mow yesterday.

But I was mesmerized by her intelligence and her determination.  Intelligence, because she somehow knew we would help to protect her nest from the predators who would be searching for it; and determination to dig a large hole out in the open, and then stay there for the hours it took to lay her whole clutch of eggs.

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May 21, 2015 turtle 004

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I slipped out into the rain, camera in hand, to get a closer look.  I stayed a good distance back, but her only notice of me was to pull her head back into her shell, watching me warily from this perceived safety.

We both kept watch from the front windows as the afternoon wore on.  She laid an egg every few minutes, resting in between.   We wondered how she knew how large a hole to dig to safely accommodate all of her eggs.  We also wondered how she had managed with so many eggs inside her non-expanding shell!

We watched both to share the process, but also to know when she left.  I wanted to capture another photo of her after she left her nest.

My partner wanted to make sure the nest was properly covered and filled back in.

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May 21, 2015 turtle finishing 015

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We had seen another, similiar turtle, laying her eggs in the side yard two weeks ago.  Much smaller and younger, she didn’t fill the hole back in.  My partner came behind her later and pushed the soil she had removed back in on top of the eggs.

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A different turtle, who left her eggs in our side garden on May 7, 2015.

A different turtle, who left her eggs in our side garden on May 7, 2015.

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This is our fourth turtle in two weeks.   I also found a box turtle last week, hanging out in some tall grass and weeds as I was cutting back one of our banks.  We recognized her from last summer.

Our area of coastal Virginia serves as habitat for many species of turtles.  Our state has strict guidelines about handling any turtles which wander onto one’s property, too.  Native and naturalized turtles may not be bought or sold in Virgina, and the state’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries asks that we leave turtles and their nests alone.  Trying to move or relocate them is never wise.

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May 21, 2015 turtle finishing 010

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We know this turtle likely lives around the pond and creek behind our property.  Yet we are still a little surprised to see these gentle giant reptiles visiting our garden, out in the open.  Last summer, we found a nest of turtles as they were hatching.  We watches as many tiny turtles crawled up out of their underground nest, and immediately headed for the water nearby.

Tomorrow, May 23, is World Turtle Day.  It is a day to bring attention to tortoises and turtles, and increase our knowledge about them, and respect for them.  American Tortoise Rescue has sponsored World Turtle Day annually since 2000. You may learn more about how to participate in World Turtle Day here.

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August 28, 2014 turtles 061

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Soon after our turtle left yesterday afternoon, my partner noticed a large crow land near her nest.  Taking no chances, he immediately went outside and covered the nest with a large grill basket to protect it.  The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ website suggests making a round cage from chicken wire to protect such nests from predators, anchoring the edges of the wire in the ground around it.  The wire  cage should have openings large enough to allow the baby turtles to crawl through once they hatch.

Incubation time depends on the species, but we expect these will need until late July, at least.  By then the grass will have grown back over the nest and it will be invisible to predator species.

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One of our tiny turtles who hatched in the garden last August.

One of our tiny turtles who hatched in the garden last August.

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Please be aware that this is the season when turtles may be moving across the roads you frequent, and watch for them.  If you do see a turtle crossing the road, pull off safely, and then move the turtle only in the direction it was already heading when you can do so safely.

If you find turtles in your garden, please leave them in peace if you possibly can.  They are ancient and important parts of our web of life.

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July 4, 2014 After Arthur 073

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Development has destroyed much of their native habitat, and now like so many other animals, they are trying to adapt to life in a very changed environment.  These are extremely gentle creatures.  They are clean and silent, asking only for a quiet place to rest.  With long lifespans, the turtles found in the garden may reappear from year to year, like our Box Turtle.    We appreciate her efforts to reduce the insect population in the garden, and are always happy to see her.

Now we have two nests to watch, as well. 

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May 21, 2015 turtle 009

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Barbara, at  Silver in the Barn, invited me to join the Five Photos Five Stories Challenge, and this is my fourth post in the series.

This is a simple challenge:  To participate, you simply post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.

Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.

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Columbine bathed in yesterday's rain.

Columbine bathed in yesterday’s rain.

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And today, I am inviting Yvette, at Priorhouse Blog, to join the challenge.  Yvette documents her life in and around Richmond, Virginia.  She has a keen eye for observing and an interesting perspective on life.  I hope you will enjoy visiting her site, and that she will accept the challenge!

Dor, at Virginia Views, published her first Five Photos Five Stories Challenge post yesterday.  She had me in stitches laughing, and agreeing with her at the same time!

If you would like to participate in the challenge, and have not yet been asked, please consider yourself invited by me today!  Allan, at Ohm Sweet Ohm,  let me know yesterday that he can’t accept the challenge right away.  Please leave me a comment that you want to play along, and I’ll include a link to your blog in my final challenge post tomorrow.

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The finished nest, as the mother turtle left it.

The finished nest, as the mother turtle left it.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

*   *   *

Five Photos, Five Stories: Dormant Isn’t Dead

Five Photos, Five Stories: Perspective

Five Photos, Five Stories: Hot

Five Photos, Five Stories: Chocolate Cake

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