Sunday Dinner: Changes

November 1, 2015, fall drive 019

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“In every change, in every falling leaf

there is some pain, some beauty.

And that’s the way new leaves grow.”

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Amit Ray

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“When we resist change, it’s called suffering.

But when we can completely let go

and not struggle against it,

when we can embrace

the groundlessness of our situation and relax

into it’s dynamic quality,

that’s called enlightenment”

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Pema Chödrön

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November 1, 2015, fall drive 015

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“Fret not where the road will take you.

Instead concentrate on the first step.

That’s the hardest part and that’s

what you are responsible for.

Once you take that step

let everything do what it naturally does

and the rest will follow.

Do not go with the flow.

Be the flow.”

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Elif Shafak,

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November 1, 2015, fall drive 013

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“Consciousness is only possible

through change; change is only possible

through movement.”

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Aldous Huxley

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November 1, 2015, fall drive 008

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“Man cannot remake himself

without suffering, for he is both the marble

and the sculptor”

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Alexis Carrel

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“Anyone who knows me, should learn to know me again;
For I am like the Moon,
you will see me with new face everyday.”

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Rumi

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November 1, 2015, fall drive 002

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“Nothing endures but change.”

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Heraclitus

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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National Blog Posting Month

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

Inspired by The Daily Post’s     

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

Wednesday Vignettes: Flow

October 15, 2015 Gloucester 041

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“If you have a good idea, use it

so that you will not only accomplish something,

but so that you can make room for new ones

to flow into you.”


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Ming-Dao Deng

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October 15, 2015 Gloucester 052~

 

“Water shapes its course

according to the nature of the ground over which it flows;

the soldier works out his victory

in relation to the foe whom he is facing.”

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Sun Tzu

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October 15, 2015 Gloucester 039

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“The only way to make sense out of change

is to plunge into it, move with it,

and join the dance.”


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Alan W. Watts

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October 15, 2015 Gloucester 043~

“Flow is the nature of energy;

flow is another name of life.”


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Banani Ray

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

All photos were taken at the display gardens of Brent and Becky Heath in Gloucester, Virginia

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Thanks to Anna of Flutter and Hum for hosting Wednesday Vignettes each week.

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Autumn Lives at Brent and Becky Heath’s Display Gardens

October 15, 2015 Gloucester 016~

We visited Brent and Becky Heath’s gardens at their Bulb Shop in Gloucester, Virginia, today.

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Their gardening staff maintain several acres of themed display gardens where one may wander and view thousands of plants growing under various conditions.

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Of course the many different bulbs they offer are featured players in these garden designs.  But a rich tapestry of shrubs and trees, annuals and perennials frame the many garden beds.

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And everywhere there is a whimsically light touch to delight the visitor.

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We found an observation hut filled with humming beehives.

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Bees come and go freely at a safe distance from garden visitors.  Worker honeybees collect nectar alongside many other species of bees and small wasps.

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These gardens were composed to support many different pollinators, birds, frogs, toads and fish.  They are vibrantly alive even as autumn pushes summer into memory.

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Vivid Dahlias, Chrysanthemums and Asters dominate many of the beds now.  But the autumn flowering Crinum lilies, Colchicum, and fall blooming Crocus bloom throughout.

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Camellia sasanqua have begun opening as the many Hydrangea cultivars finish for another year.

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Lazily wandering the paths of these gardens, one absorbs a rich education in how plants respond in our climate and in the various microclimates where they’ve been planted.

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One may encounter the same cultivar again and again in different exposures and paired with different companions.

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Many of the catalog offerings are planted up front in long rows, where one may compare them side by side.  This more regimented display is a quick study for gardening newbies selecting one variety or another.

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But the quiet display gardens behind the bulb shop draw us ever deeper into their orbit.

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Benches beckon one to sit and watch butterflies lazily drifting from flower to flower.

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The music of flowing water draws one further on to explore elusive paths among the rocks and conifers.  There is always just one more garden to explore, one more mass of blossoms to admire.

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A gardener approached as we were leaving, and named the particular Asters blooming today.

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He told me where to find interesting Salvias next spring.  We discussed the winter coming and shared hopes that tender perennials might survive it.  He knows and loves every inch of these gardens, and is happy to share a bit of what he knows with curious visitors.  We’ve chatted before, and I look forward to learning more from him on future visits.

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October 15, 2015 Gloucester 089~

Grasses glistened in the afternoon sun.  Bare, berry covered branches stood out vividly against a deeply blue sky.

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Patches of orange and red blazed in the surrounding trees.  Gigantic spiders spin sparkling webs between shrubs.

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The breeze was fresh, and almost cool.

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Winter will have visited before we return.  We plan to come back in early December for Amaryllis just before bulb sales end for another season.

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By then the garden will have transformed, yet again.  It may be quieter, in winter, but the woody bones of this special place and the many evergreens will ensure it remains interesting and beautiful.

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We’ll look forward to viewing hardy Cyclamen and perennials which shrug off our cold.

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And there will surely be more gardening lessons to absorb from these special gardens.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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October 15, 2015 Gloucester 042

 

Sunday Dinner: Spirit Swans

September 26, 2015 swans 001~

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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September 26, 2015 swans 002

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“One thing: you have to walk,

and create the way by your walking;

you will not find a ready-made path.

It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realization of truth.

You will have to create the path by walking yourself;

the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you.

It is just like the sky: the birds fly,

but they don’t leave any footprints.

You cannot follow them;

there are no footprints left behind.”

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Osho

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September 26, 2015 swans 006

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“I once listened to an Indian on television

say that God was in the wind and the water,

and I wondered at how beautiful that was

because it meant

you could swim in Him

or have Him brush your face in a breeze.”

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Donald Miller

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September 26, 2015 swans 003

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“We are all connected;

To each other, biologically.

To the earth, chemically.

To the rest of the universe atomically.”

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Neil deGrasse Tyson

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“The power of human thought grows exponentially

with the number of minds that share that thought.”

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Dan Brown

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September 26, 2015 swans 009~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Jones Mill Pond, along the Colonial Parkway, near Yorktown, Virginia

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September 26, 2015 swans 008~

“The Way is not in the sky;

the Way is in the heart.”

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Gautama Buddha

WPC: From Every Angle

August 29, 2015 turtle 005

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Photography teaches the great life lesson to examine things from many different angles.

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What we perceive from a single point of view rarely gives us enough information.  We need to not only look more closely, we often need to come at a thing from a different place, too.

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But of course it takes time; and it requires a certain flexibility of mind.

I began taking photos when I was given an old Brownie camera in the late 60s.  I was just starting grade school, and the camera went with me on a field trip to Maymont Park in Richmond.  I had great fun that spring day exploring the park with  my classmates, and taking photos to record it all.  That was probably my first real photo outing, and the little black and white photos were precious to me for a long time.

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August 29, 2015 turtle 001

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But in those days, children weren’t encouraged to take a lot of photos.  The pictures were expensive to develop, and kids aren’t always the best photographers.  A gift of film from my parents was a rare treat.

Eventually, I grew into better and better cameras with lots of lenses and filters, settings and gizmos.  Each shot was carefully planned.  But what I gained in technique, I often lost in spontaneity.

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August 29, 2015 turtle 007

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Most kids today have their own digital camera built into their phones.  Every kid can be a photographer, and there is no expense for film and processing to serve as an obstacle to exploring the world through photos.  Taking photos has become a part of daily life.

I wonder whether this freedom to photograph and explore with digital photography changes how today’s kids see their world?

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August 29, 2015 turtle 008

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I was thrilled to use my first digital camera.   A memory chip gives one the freedom to take photo after photo of an interesting subject without counting frames.  It allows us to explore a subject in depth; to probe, to experiment, to tell a story; and to simply play.

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We can consider our world from every angle, and perhaps broaden our understanding in the process.

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August 29, 2015 turtle 003~

Woodland Gnome 2015

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Every Angle

 

Turtles of Virginia

 

Wednesday Vignettes: Lotus and Koi

August 15, 2015 Gardens 108

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“It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet

the echo of the Music of the Ainur

more than in any substance that is in this Earth;

and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken

still unsated to the voices of the Sea,

and yet know not for what they listen.”


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J.R.R. Tolkien

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August 15, 2015 Gardens 107

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“In one drop of water

are found all the secrets of all the oceans;

in one aspect of You

are found all the aspects of existence.”


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Kahlil Gibran

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August 15, 2015 Gardens 106

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“When you sit in silence long enough,

you learn that silence has a motion.

It glides over you without shape or form, exactly like water.

Its color is silver.

And silence has a sound you hear

only after hours of wading inside it.

The sound is soft, like flute notes rising up,

like the words of glass speaking.

Then there comes a point when you must shatter

the blindness of its words, the blindness of its light.”

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Anne Spollen

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August 15, 2015 Gardens 109

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All photos from Brent and Becky’ Heath’s display garden in Gloucester, Virginia

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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August 15, 2015 Gardens 113

Wednesday Vignettes

July 27, 2015 Parkway 029

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Pickerelweed, Phragmites, cattails, wildflowers and grasses populate this briny marsh along one of the many creeks in our area. 

The scene changes continuously as tides rise and fall and the seasons melt one into another.  For months of the year, we see mostly mud here.  It is a cause to celebrate each spring when the marshes green with their first growth.  Now, despite abundant rain this summer, some of the plants have already begun to yellow and fade.

Soon, summer’s greens will melt into shades of yellow and brown with autumn’s approach.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 021

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This sun-baked marsh contains a rich ecosystem of birds and all manner of flying insects, small crabs, fish, shellfish, frogs and muskrats.  It is always dinner time here, and it remains alive with activity from before sunrise until after the light fades from the sky each evening.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 013~

Some folks may look at this land and consider it wasted acreage.  There are always developers looking to build something new to turn a profit, especially in James City County these days.  There is the constant conversation between those seeking permits for ecological destruction and “economic  development,” and those working hard to preserve our natural resources; including the marshlands.

The truth is, that all of these marshes drain into the Chesapeake Bay.  Every creek, pond, bay and marsh in our area drain into one of our three major rivers, which feed fresh water into the Chesapeake Bay.  And so there are laws at every level of government now to regulate land use, in the interest of preserving water quality in the Bay. 

If you are interested, please enjoy the interesting and informative presentation our county has assembled here.  This is a .pdf file presentation with all sorts of useful and interesting information.  James City County was actually the first locality in Virginia to adopt a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance, in 1990.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 023

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Today’s vignettes celebrate the natural landscapes of the marshes in our area.  These photos were all taken within the Colonial National Historical Park, along the Colonial Parkway.  I love to study nature’s hand at planting, even knowing I could never recreate beauty on this scale in my own garden.

Thank you to Anna at Flutter and Hum for hosting the Wednesday Vignette each week.  I hope you will visit her today to enjoy her lovely “Green on Green” planting.  How can we not celebrate all of the lovely greens living in our landscapes now?

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 027

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 026

Green Rain Falling

June 3, 2015 garden in rain 001

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Green rain falling.

Staccato dripping from gutters,

Broken by frog song,

Call and response from the pond;

Celebration of wet abundance.

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Ground glistens below

Jewel encrusted leaves.

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Steady patter, hour after hour.

Creek filled ditches flowing,

Flowing, flowing, where?

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Frogs shelter on  windows, hunting

By porch light.

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Turtle heaven,

Watery world

Filled with liquid shadows.

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Birds perch beneath the eaves,

Warbling,

Waiting,

Rainy week in June.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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June 3, 2015 garden in rain 013

A Re-do and a Potential Success

March 19 bottles 003

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After constructing several terrariums this winter, I wanted to experiment with an “aqua-terrarium.”  I wanted to try a terrarium of plants growing in a watery environment.

Petco offered a selection of plants sold specifically for use in aquariums, from which I chose two small ferns.  Both ferns were new to me, and so I did a little internet research between buying them and planting them.  Which proved very helpful.

I learned that the Crested Java Fern, Microsorium pteropus, ‘Windelov,’ should be anchored to something and not planted directly into soil, sand or gravel.  And I learned that the (so called) Aqua Fern, Trichomanes javanicum, does not grow well completely submerged.  The success rate of growing this fern in an aquarium long term is slim to none…

I pressed on, allowing the upper leaves of the Aqua Fern to remain above water, and nestled its roots into a pocket of potting mix covered in small stones.

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January 16, 2015 terrarium 004

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Less than a week into the experiment it was clear that this was not a healthy planting.  The water quickly grew murky.  The Aqua Fern never perked up.

I decided to cut my losses and save the Crested Java Fern by moving it into a new, soil-less  “aqua-terrarium.’  I used pure spring water in the construction, and placed the newly built container where it would get bright but indirect light for most of the day.

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And the fern has responded with new growth.  There is not only evidence of new shoots from the base, but what appear to be roots have begun to grow from the tips of some of the fronds!

Native to Southeast Asia, this fern may be found growing along areas that flood and in shallow bodies of fresh or brackish water.  It will grow in anything from moist soil to a completely underwater environment.  And it spreads itself, with those growths on its leaves which take hold to most any surface, to cover wide areas.  I enjoy the beautiful shape of its fronds floating in the water.

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I clean the surface of the water every week or so with a paper towel before topping off the water level.  I don’t know what the “sheen” which forms on the water’s surface may be, but I remove it and wipe residue from the neck of the vase to keep it looking fresh.

Thus far, I rate this experiment as a potential success, and would recommend it to others who want to try growing an ornamental plant underwater indoors.  Now, I’m considering whether to add a small aquatic snail to help feed the fern and balance the planting….

After cleaning the murky water from the original ‘aqua terrarium’ planting, adding a bit more gravel, and allowing the Aqua fern several weeks to show new growth; I decided a “re-do” was in order.

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Who knows; this poor fern may have been on the decline when I purchased it.  An unfamiliar species, I don’t know how it should have looked to begin with, but it didn’t look particularly appealing from the beginning.

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March 19 bottles 007~

Back to Petco to find a replacement plant, I was amazed to find several containers of my favorite Peacock Spikemoss on the aquarium plant display!  Really?  I know they appreciate moist soil, but have never heard of growing them completely submerged!

But I decided that while I wouldn’t try to grow it underwater, spikemoss would certainly look better in my vase than the dead fern!  And I just happened to have some clumps already growing well at home…  Remember the Amaryllis planting?  Well, the strawberry begonia plants and spikemoss are still growing strong.

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The re-do was a simple bit of “chuck and pluck.”  I very unceremoniously chucked the dead fern where all such things land, and plucked a healthy bit of spikemoss and strawberry begonia out of the Amaryllis garden where they were growing.

A bit of re-arranging of stones and cleaning up of the original vase made it ready to accept the new plants.  I added some clumps of moss, an Apophyllite cluster for sparkle, and watered it all in with a bit of pure spring water.

Although not an ‘aqua-terrarium,’ it is still  a pleasing ‘terrarium.’  We will enjoy it until the plants grow too large for the vase.

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March 19 bottles 009

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Although the original ‘aqua terrarium’ experiment didn’t work out as I had planned, it has finally worked out OK.  All I lost was a single plant, while gaining some useful experience.

Lessons learned:  Regular potting compost doesn’t work out well in an aqua-terrarium.  Maybe I needed a thicker layer of sand and gravel to contain it, but I still think it was the factor in making the water murky and unpleasant.

Don’t depend on the pet store to recommend appropriate plants for growing underwater.  I should have browsed and noted the names of the plants first;  then done the internet research before making a purchase.  Just because a plant is sold for use in an aquarium doesn’t mean it will grow successfully underwater.

Given the right plant, like the Crested Java Fern,  this approach to an aqua-terrarium works and makes an interesting and unusual display.  I would definitely construct ‘aqua-terrariums’ in future, using the Java fern, with an eye to an interesting container and beautiful stones.

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This fern is known to grow rapidly and divide easily.  It is a good gift for someone who claims they have no green thumb, but would like to have a plant in their home or office.  There is no worry about over-watering!

Gardening experiments give us ample opportunities to fix our mistakes and try again.  It is better to try something new and learn something, even if we have a ‘re-do’ or three along the way.

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March 19 bottles 008

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

Watershed

The Chickahominy River flows into the James, then on to the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chickahominy River flows into the James, then on to the Chesapeake Bay.

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Abundant rainfall continues to fall in our area.  Whether coming as snow, sleet, rain or freezing rain; moisture has filled our sky several times a week for the last few months.

We appreciate the rain.  Our soil is so well hydrated it squishes.

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Water from this ditch runs into a tiny creek which feeds College Creek, less than 200 ft. away.

Water from this ditch runs into a tiny creek which feeds College Creek, less than 200 ft. away.

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Our neighborhood ditches and low spots fill with precious water, and excess water is channeled down our steep sloping yards into the many creeks which run through our ravines.

Living near the coast, on a peninsula between mighty rivers, with ponds, marshes and and creeks dotting the landscape, we see and cross bodies of water each day.

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Channeling water run off in our neighborhood into College Creek

Channeling water run off of streets  in our neighborhood into College Creek

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Our close relationship with our area’s waterways remains immediate and tangible.

There is a clear route from our garden directly to the James River, then the Chesapeake Bay, and within only about 60 miles directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

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This pond behind our home flows directly into College Creek

This pond behind our home flows directly into College Creek

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And every inch of this watery pathway hosts abundant life.  Our thick forests and dense marshlands support thousands of species of birds, fish, insects, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, and small mammals.  We see and hear many of these beautiful creatures each day, and we appreciate their presence. (Except for the dratted voles, ticks, and mosquitoes, that is.)

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College Creek flows under this Colonial Parkway bridge and into the James River

College Creek flows under this Colonial Parkway bridge and into the James River

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has raised awareness of the Bay’s fragile ecosystem since the late 1960’s.  I grew up admiring this group and its efforts to improve water and air quality in our state, to raise awareness of erosion, and to preserve the unique beauty of our coastal region.

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Erosion continues to be a problem along our waterways.  Here, ducks enjoy feeding in the shallows of College Creek near where it empties into teh river.

Erosion continues to be a problem along our waterways. Here, ducks enjoy feeding in the shallows of College Creek near where it empties into the river.

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As much as the Bay’s health remains dependent on the decisions and actions of corporations, the U.S Navy, and all levels of government; there are still things individuals can do (and not do) to make our own small efforts to preserve the health and beauty of our waterways.

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The Beautiful James River with water flowing into it from College Creek to the left.

The beautiful James River with water flowing into it from College Creek to the left.

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We are often reminded that anything left on the ground will eventually find its way to the Bay, and then the ocean.  This includes not only litter and pet waste, but also lawn chemicals, garden fertilizers, oil or gas leaked from engines, and even eroding soil.

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Much of the river banks in our immediate area are forested.  Forest lands and marshes do a great deal to filter water running off of the land before it reaches the larger waterways.  Even the hated phragmites, bane of boaters, serve an important role in filtering harmful substances out of water flowing through creeks and marshes on its way to the Bay and the Atlantic.

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Phragmites fill much of our marshy areas.

Phragmites fill much of our marshy areas.

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Every bit of vegetation helps absorb run-off and clean the air, filtering out harmful substances, including carbon, trapping them within the tissue of the plant.

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation runs a number of excellent projects both to educate people at all levels about the Bay’s ecosystem, and to take direct action to restore watersheds and clean up solid pollution.  Please take a look at the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Foundations Clean Water Blueprint for more information.

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This ditch along Jamestown Road catches and absorbs run off before it can reach the James River.

This ditch along Jamestown Road catches and absorbs run off before it can reach the James River.

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Even with a nuclear power station as one of our ‘neighbors,’ across the river in Surry, there has been a minimum of impact from that industrial site on the overall health of this section of the James river.

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Surry nuclear power station as seen across the james River from the Colonial Parkway, ,near Jamestown Island.

Surry nuclear power station as seen across the James River from the Colonial Parkway, near Jamestown Island.

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We came home earlier today to find one of the ubiquitous “lawn care” companies spraying mystery liquids on a neighbor’s lawn.  I immediately tensed up and felt angry that the neighbor had actually hired someone to come and spray harmful chemicals so close to the pond behind our homes.  This same neighbor had shrubs and trees ripped out of her yard a few years back so this green lawn could be laid.  Now we have to listen to the crews come with their noisy equipment to care for it and treat it with chemicals on a regular basis.

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Our pond empties directly into this area of College Creek

Our pond empties directly into this area of College Creek

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With every rain, those chemicals wash off of her lawn and into the pond behind our properties, home to frogs, toads, turtles, and more; then on into College Creek.

Planting and preserving trees, shrubs, herbs, and vines helps hold the soil and slow run-off during rainstorms, thus preventing erosion.  Planting primarily native or naturalized species which don’t require herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers for their growth allows us to enjoy a beautiful landscape around our homes without releasing chemicals into the ecosystem.  Naturalized landscapes use far less energy than lawns and return far greater value to the ecosystem.

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Another neighbor whose garden borders our shared pond has filled his garden with native shrubs and trees.  This Mountain Laurel makes a spectacular display in his garden each May.

Another neighbor whose garden borders our shared pond has filled his garden with native shrubs and trees. This Mountain Laurel makes a spectacular display in his garden each May.

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Re-planting native and naturalized species also helps re-store the ecosystem for our wildlife.  As we provide food sources and nesting sites, we provide safe haven for the many creatures which make up the web of life in our region.  This is good stewardship of our ecosystem, and also saves us a great deal of time an money.  Wouldn’t you also prefer listening to birdsong than to the blowers, mowers, saws and grinders of a lawn crew?

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May 27. 2014 Herons 027

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Jane, a blogging friend at “Just Another Nature Enthusiast,” has created a new blogging meme called, “Unless… Earth Friendly Fridays.”  Somehow I missed her start up.  Jane has declared March the month for us to focus on water and waterways.  March 14 is the International Day of Action for Rivers,  and March 22 the UN’s World Water Day.

Jane posted the challenge, “Water- What’s Your Watershed?” on the last Friday of February, and I’m finally responding with this post today.  Better late than never, I believe!

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The Chickahominy River earlier this afterrnoon.

The Chickahominy River earlier this afterrnoon.

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Although Jane lives in the beautiful northwest of the United States, and we live here in coastal Virginia; we have a great deal in common.  Even living on opposite coasts, I feel as though we share a back yard.  Perhaps all of North America is in some way our back yard!  If we all treated it as such, I firmly believe that we could do a great deal to clean and preserve our environment in our generation.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 049

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Working together, helping others become more aware of how their actions affect the greater whole, we might be able to leave a cleaner, more beautiful planet for our granddaughters and grandsons.

Woodland Gnome 2015

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March 12, 2015 watershed 045

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Please join the Earth-friendly Friday Challenge.

UNLESS we care nothing is going to get better… it’s not

Our watershed

Our watershed

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