“Green Thumb” Tip #1: Pinch!

Coleus, with new branches beginning to emerge several days after pinching.

Coleus, with new growth beginning to emerge several days after pinching.


Pinch out the growing tips of each stem to make a plant grow more branches.  Some gardeners do this after a stem produces three sets of leaves.  Each new branch helps a plant grow ‘bushier’ and can produce more leaves and flowers.  Use this method to grow larger, more productive plants. 

Use this tip on flowering annuals and perennials, herbs, shrubs and even some vegetables with a structure of leafy stems.

Why it works:  This is an ‘hormonal thing.’  When you pinch out the growing tip of a leaf covered stem, an hormonal message is relayed to every leaf node below that point to produce a new stem.  This is how a single stem can become the framework for multiple stems growing from its sides.  Pinch each lateral stem after at least three sets of leaves form, and more lateral stems will grow from each of its leaf nodes.  Although flowering may be slightly delayed, you will be rewarded with many times more leaves and flowers from a larger plant.

Woodland Gnome’s caveat:  I try to pinch the terminal leaf from a growing stem when it is tiny and not yet fully formed.  Often, this can be done without sacrificing the tiny flowers emerging beside the new leaf.  Use small scissors to prune away emerging leaves without damage to the plant.

“Green Thumb” Tips:  Many of you who visit Forest Garden are amazing gardeners with years of experience to share.  Others are just getting started, and are looking for a few ‘tips and tricks’ to help you grow the garden of your dreams. 

I believe the only difference between a “Green Thumb” and a “Brown Thumb” is a little bit of know-how and a lot of passion for our plants.  If you feel inclined to share a little bit of what YOU KNOW from your years of gardening experience, please create a new post titled: “Green Thumb” Tip: (topic) and include a link back to this page.  I will update this page with a clear link back to your post in a listing by topic, so others can find your post, and will include the link in all future “Green Thumb” Tip posts.

Let’s work together to build an online resource of helpful tips for all of those who are passionate about plants, and who would like to learn more about how to grow them well.


Lantana, with new stems growing from the leaf nodes.

Lantana, with new stems growing from the leaf nodes.


Woodland Gnome 2016

‘Green Thumb’ Tip:  Release Those Pot Bound Roots!  by J. Peggy Taylor

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #2:  Feed!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #3:  Deadhead!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #4 Get the Light Right!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #5: Keep Planting!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #6: Size Matters!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip # 7:  Experiment!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #8  Observe

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #9 Plan Ahead

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #10: Understand the Rhythm



Tiny Gardens

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Tiny gardens, indoors and out, help solve any number of gardening challenges.  My earliest memory of creating a tiny garden involved a cleaned up peanut butter jar, some soil dug from the back yard, and a few grass seeds pinched from a bag my father kept in the furnace room.  The seeds sprouted and I had great fun watching them grow.  And I was hooked on gardening.

While tiny container gardeners help apartment and townhouse dwellers grow a few herbs or vegetables on a small porch or balcony, they are great fun for those of us with larger gardens around our homes, as well.  In fact, the winter months are my favorite time to build little gardens to fit on a table or a windowsill.


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Little windowsill gardens can bask in the warm sunshine by day, but have protection from bitter cold over night.  They allow one to keep one’s fingers in the dirt during the long months of winter.


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This tiny Alocasia was left over from another project.  It came potted in a tiny 1″ pot, from The Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond.  They offer a wonderful selection of little tropical plants in tiny pots for terrariums, bonsai, and containers.

After they potted up its twin and a tiny fern in a bonsai dish for me to take to a loved one in hospital; I brought this tiny pup home to grow on towards spring.  Still in its little nursery pot, it sits in this crystal wine glass filled with aquarium gravel.  What could be simpler?


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The same Alocasia cultivar, purchased last spring, continues to grow in another window in a shallow bonsai pot with a  Selaginella kraussianna.


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If you are interested in novel ideas for tiny potted gardens, you might enjoy a new book called Teeny Tiny Gardening by Emma Hardy.  51QXwRvUbZL._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_

This is a beautiful little book, filled with good color photographs of each of the thirty plus projects described. Emma gives detailed and easy to follow instructions for pulling each little garden together and good suggestions for how to display each.

Emma is British, and so has access to some plants and materials harder to find in my region of the US.   That isn’t an obstacle, however, as her ideas are very adaptable.  She demonstrates ingenious ways to re-cycle and put garage sale and charity shop finds to new uses.  Many of her projects can be displayed on a desk, narrow shelf, windowsill, or patio.


A gardening friend and I built this, and several other fairy gardens, two summers ago.

A gardening friend and I built this, and several other fairy gardens, two summers ago.


Emma builds many of  her gardens in containers without drainage, and demonstrates how to do so successfully.  But she also demonstrates hanging baskets, terrariums, gardens built in baskets and sturdy bags, and in other ingenious containers to use out of doors.

This is a good ‘idea’ book.  Even if you don’t build any of her projects, she will likely spark an idea for you to follow up with your own containers and plants.

She demonstrates how novel containers, shells, stones, and other little accessories can make tiny gardens very special and fun.  One of her designs, constructed as a play area for children, even includes plastic dinosaurs in a ‘swamp.’  Another demonstrates a simple way to construct a table top water garden.


A tiny herb garden in a hypertufa pot

A tiny herb garden in a hypertufa pot


Winter is my favorite time of year for reading  new gardening books and for keeping up with gardening magazines.  There is a good crop of newly published gardening books this year, too.

If you’ve found a good one you know others will enjoy, too, please leave a comment and tell us about it.


Christmas centerpiece, 2013

Christmas centerpiece, 2013


Woodland Gnome 2016


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A Colonial Winter Garden

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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Woodland Gnome 2015

Photos from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

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


In A Vase: E. ‘Green Jewel’

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Today’s vase is a celebration of green; particularly the Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ new to our garden.

I was extremely fortunate to find Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ offered on Brent and Becky Heath’s end of season perennial sale a week ago.  I bought two pots, already in flower.  I finally cut two of the flowers for today’s vase, with the intention of helping the plants establish a little better without their flowers setting seed.


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That set the color note, and I added various shades of green with Apple Mint and Coleus ‘Gold Anemone’ for the background foliage.

My offering today features a smattering of favorites, including some a friend especially admired on our impromptu garden tour this morning.  I love the opportunity to deepen a friendship while sharing a garden.  It was her first visit to ours, and now I’m looking forward to visiting the garden she and her husband have designed.


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She was interested in the mints and the Coleus especially.  Of course, the ‘Under the Sea’ line of Coleus are so unusual they really don’t resemble normal Coleus very much.  I love the fern like fringe of these leaves.

There are a few stems of flowering Basil in the vase today, along with a a handful of our happy Black Eyed Susans and a few roses.

I’ve walked past the roses in recent weeks, trying, like Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, to feature a few of our more unusual flowers.  But I love the roses and they bring us such pleasure each day.  I relented and cut a few for today’s vase.


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I especially like how the mostly green arrangement sets off the peachy tones of these ‘Lady of Shalott’ roses from David Austin’s collection of English shrub roses.

This is one of my favorite green glass vases, acquired second or third hand many years ago.  The green egg is Malachite and so is the tiny green frog.  This stone frog reminds me of the tiny frogs we find hopping around the garden in August.


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It has been very hot here again today, and we are truly dry for the first time in months.  I spent much of yesterday watering the garden and pulling grass and weeds from around thirsty perennials.

The jewel like green surrounding us a few weeks ago looks a bit faded today, showing the growing distress of our trees and shrubs.  We still hope for some rain tonight and tomorrow.  In fact, clouds were gathering from the west as I went out late this afternoon to cut stems for today’s vase.

I didn’t make it out to the garden this morning before the heat set in, and so waited for the blazing sun to fade behind the gathering clouds before cutting this evening.


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I hope you are still finding beautiful and interesting stems in your garden to cut and bring inside to enjoy.

Preparing a vase each week, or two or three; gives us the opportunity to appreciate the garden’s offerings at leisure and up close.  The flowers look different, more special somehow, trimmed, arranged, and placed just so indoors.  I appreciate Cathy encouraging garden bloggers to cut and arrange each week by allowing us to share with one another through her posts.

Please try your hand at it if you haven’t already.  This is one of summer’s simple pleasures and is not to be missed.


One of our new Echinacea 'Green Jewel' before I cut for today's vase.

One of our new Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ before I cut for today’s vase.


Woodland Gnome 2015


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Still in the Garden


Beautiful tomatoes were grown in a friend's garden last. summer

Beautiful tomatoes were grown in a friend’s garden last. summer


Hugh Roberts, who challenged us all to show what sits atop our Christmas tree, has chosen the Alzheimer’s Research UK research charity to receive his very generous  gift of L250 sterling.  Hugh pledged to give a pound to charity for each entry his challenge received from participants around the world.

I learned of Hugh’s challenge early on in December through fellow blogger Sue Vincent and chose to participate.   Hugh published his round up post earlier this week, with links to all participants, and the story behind his tree-top angel, Angela.

Hugh chose to support the Alzheimer’s Research charity because that is the disease which took both his grandmother and his mother from him. It runs in his family; as degenerative brain disease runs in many of ours.

We have our own legacy of Parkinson’s disease and stroke casting a shadow in our own family. It is absolutely heartbreaking to witness the elders of our family, who we love, and respect, wrestle with these devastating changes to their lives.


Flowers, vegetables and herbs grow together in my friends' deck garden.

Flowers, vegetables and herbs grow together in my friends’ deck garden.


Which is why I stumbled across the wonderful book, 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss, by Jean Carper, earlier this summer. Although the suggestions in this book are wide ranging, and include physical exercise, community involvement, sports and games; the suggestions always return to nutrition.jean-carper-book-large  By the way, gardening is also a wonderful way to keep one’s brain healthy and active !

Food is a very personal subject for us all. Food is comfort. Food is tradition. Food connects us to our family’s roots. Food is recreation and food is survival.

It is often only when facing a serious health challenge, whether diabetes, blood pressure, or cancer that we come around to realizing that food is also our best medicine.

Remember that the first humans were given a garden to meet all of their needs. Indigenous people the world over, who are generally very healthy and long-lived, still understand how to “live off of the land.”


My friend fashioned this lovely dragon fly ornament for her garden.  Creating works of art also protects and strengthens our brains.

My friend fashioned this lovely dragon fly ornament for her garden. Creating works of art also protects and strengthens our brains.


Physicians and medical researchers establish a clear link between what we eat and how long we live. Our quality of life is a direct result of our nutrition. And I learned this summer, from Jean Carper’s wonderful book, that eating the right foods also protects our brain from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other degenerative brain diseases.

Researchers and practicing physicians have proven over and again that plant based foods are the ones which heal us. Animal based foods feed the diseases which kill us and destroy our brains.

This is jarring for most Americans and Europeans, who eat meat, eggs, fish and dairy multiple times every day. Our traditional meals and favorite foods are all centered on animal products.

And yet, learning to eat and enjoy plant based meals is always the prescription for good health. We must eat from “the garden.”   We not only need to eat plant based foods, but also choose those which don’t come laden with the agricultural chemicals which will poison us.  Locally grown food, grown organically, nourishes us and heals us.


My friend coaxes fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs from her steep slope.

My friend coaxes fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs from her steeply sloping garden.


After reading Jean’s book this summer, I compiled a simple half sheet list of “Foods Which Protect Our Brains” for my parents, and shared it with my siblings. There is abundant research to back up the healing powers of each food on the list

Since then, another close family member began treatment for a very aggressive cancer. One of her survival strategies has been to follow a vegan, and mostly raw, diet. And it is helping her to remain active and energized as she continues with the other treatments her doctors prescribe.


Herbs hold the power to heal us.  Our own garden in July-

Herbs hold the power to heal us. Our own garden in July-


Dr. Joel Fuhrman, whose book, Eat To Live, I read several years ago, realizes that he is a “doctor of last resort.” Most of his patients would never consider following his diet advice unless it was their last hope of survival.Eat to Live

What is that radical advice? To under-consume calories. He recommends a mostly raw diet of only selected vegetables, little or no oil or butter, whole grains, and no sugar. A typical meal includes a huge bowl of salad chopped vegetables dressed with a home-made fat free dressing.

Dr. Fuhrman has since generated cookbooks and a number of additional titles including: The End of Diabetes, Super Immunity, Disease Proof Your Child, and The End of Dieting. His advice is based in his own practice with terminally ill patients,  as well as up to date research in disease prevention.  Dr Fuhrman’s first book, Eat To Live, clearly describes how animal foods create and feed those diseases which destroy our bodies and brains.


Dill in our garden last July

Dill in our garden last July


I “returned to the garden” in 1986, giving up all flesh foods, for a variety of reasons. I won’t bore you with those reasons, but they were far ranging. And I’ve never once been tempted to add meat back into my diet. I haven’t been as successful with eliminating dairy, although I continue to reduce the amounts we consume. 2015 may be the year for that final shift, however.

I prefer to focus on learning new ways to prepare delicious meals rich in colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, and herbs.

Our creators (Elohim, from the Hebrew) gave us every single thing we need for healthy living, and we honor them, and ourselves, by living vibrant, healthy lives.


Fig tree in our garden, August 2014

Fig tree in our garden, August 2014


Please allow me to share the list of brain healthy foods I compiled for my parents this past summer, based on reading Jean Carper’s book, 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss.

Adding these simple and delicious foods to our diets in greater quantity may protect our brains, and our lives, for many more years to come.

Foods to Eat Frequently

To Heal and Protect Our Brains:

Coffee, Tea, Cocoa (Caffeine)

  Fresh Vegetables (5+ daily)

Spinach, Chard, Kale, Tomato

Nuts:  Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pecans, Walnuts, Cashews

Fresh Fruit (5+daily)

2 Apples each day (or apple juice)

Berries: Blueberries, Blackberries   Strawberries, Cranberries 


Juice: Pomegranate, Apple

Cranberry, Purple Grape

Olives, Olive Oil 

Whole grains


    Eggs, Fish, Fish oils

Dark Chocolate


Our pear crop, August 2014

Our pear crop, August 2014


Woodland Gnome 2015


Green World

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What to get for the guy who has nearly everything?

A world of his own, of course!

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Welcome to “Green World.”

This little environment is almost self-sustaining.  Did you get interested in terrariums when they were popular back in the 1970’s?  Those were often completely enclosed, needing little to no attention for months at a time.

What was old is new again, and terrariums have come back in fashion.  Today’s terrariums are a little less rigorous, with small openings to allow fresh air to circulate.


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This little terrarium is made with divisions from plants I’ve kept going this winter.  In addition to the mosses, collected from the garden during a break in the rain, there is a tender lady fern, strawberry Begonia divisions (Saxifraga stolonifera) , and some bits of of moss fern,  Selaginella pallenscens.

The plant divisions are a bit spare now, but within a month or so they will begin to fill in.  And it will get a bit crowded and need division by this time next year.  This fern is especially vigorous, growing to about 14″ tall and sending out many runners.  The strawberry Begonia gets its name from the tiny plants it produces on the tips of long stems.


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As you look closely, you may notice lots of little plants growing up through the mosses.  There are several different varieties of moss, and bits of lichen.

The lichen on the branch will continue to live, drawing moisture from the air.


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Examining the tiny plants is relaxing.  It is a beautiful, green respite in the midst of December.  A tiny breath of spring…

The little landscape is completed with quartz and apophyllite crystals.  The cluster of very bright crystals is apophyllite.

Bright, indirect light and occasional watering to keep things moist will keep this little green world alive and growing.  It is a Christmas gift for a special member of my family.

It is Christmas Eve, and our preparations are now completed.


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Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Woodland Gnome


A Forest Garden 2015 Calendar

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Our  “A Forest Garden 2015” calendars arrived yesterday, and are finally ready to share.

Our theme this year is kindness. Each month offers a different quotation somehow related to the importance of kindness in creating a better world for ourselves and our loved ones.

This  2015 calender contains 60 of our favorite photos taken over the last year.  Birds, bees, butterflies, or other creatures we’ve encountered  grace each page, reminding us of the fascinating animals who share the garden with us.


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But what makes this calender very special, and different from other calenders you might purchase, is the wealth of information contained on each page.   Every calender will give you the official public holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.  But A Forest Garden 2015 also includes fun and not so well known observances such as Dr. Seuss’s Birthday (Read Across America), Global Forgiveness Day, National Ice Cream Day, American Chocolate Week, Men’s Health Week, and Husband Appreciation Day!

Every month highlights several special monthly observances, weekly observances and commemorative days.  This is an ecumenical calender, citing Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and traditional Celtic feasts and celebrations.  We’ve even noted “Free Thinker’s Day!”  It’s helpful when one has a wide circle of friends!

The astronomical information many gardeners follow is of course included.  Moons, solstices and equinoxes are noted along with first and last frost dates for zones 5-9.  And, I’ve added a few personal gardening tips and reminders of things to do to keep the garden going strong for each month of the year.


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I want this special calender to be  beautiful, useful, and entertaining!  It was compiled with loved ones in mind.  We’ll be giving the family version, with all of our birthdays noted, to extended family members.

But we also have a version to share with friends,  and you can note your own family’s birthdays and special celebrations on its pages.

There is a limited number of extra copies to share with you, if you’d like your own A Forest Garden 2015 calendar to use as you prepare for your personal new year.

I can offer these for $15.00 each, which includes postage within the United States.  Please send me an email if you would like to order a copy for yourself or as a gift to:  woodlandgnome@zoho.com. We can exchange information, and I’ll mail your calendar out to you right away.

It is never too early to plan ahead, and to prepare  for the happiest of new years.

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 All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015




November Roses

Rose, "Crown Princess Margareta" by David Austen.

Rose, “Crown Princess Margareta” by David Austen.  Photo taken November 1, 2014


The roses which make it through to November have to be tough.

This one has been a special joy.

Rose, "Crown Princess Margareta" by David Austen.

Rosa, “Crown Princess Margareta,” side view this morning.


We stop and enjoy its fragrance every time we walk up our driveway.

The rose bush is in a bed directly beside the drive; the first bed I dug, specifically for roses, once we came to this garden.

Our November rose in bud on October 19, 2014

Our November rose in bud on October 19, 2014


These very tough David Austin roses have survived annual grazing from the deer, root damage from the voles, sun, drought, wind and snow.

And they still bloom this beautifully.

The same blossom of "Crown Princess Margareta" taken on October 25.

The same blossom of “Crown Princess Margareta” taken on October 25.


This particular rose began as a bud in mid-October.  We had already enjoyed it for several days when I first photographed it on October 19.

It was so stunning, my partner suggested that we photograph it.

The same rose again on October 28.

The same rose again on October 28.

Each day it has gotten  more beautiful.

And through wind and rain, cold nights and sunny warm days it has lingered.

An unknown rose planted by the previous gardeners here.  It is covered with fragrant buds and flowers today.

An unknown rose planted by the previous gardeners here. It is covered with fragrant buds and flowers today.


Last night we dropped into the mid-40’s here in our garden.

Today dawned overcast, cool and wet;  bone shivering wet and windy.

Another bud of the same rose in bloom

Another bud of the same rose in bloom


So much so, that I was inspired to spend the morning bringing in a hanging geranium we’ve left outside in the crepe myrtle tree, the first of the succulent pots, and a even the large variegated geranium which has lived by our kitchen door since May.


Rosa, "Lady of Shallott," another rose bred by David Austen.  This shrub rose is extremely vigorous with tall,arching canes.  It has bloomed non-stop since May.

Rosa, “Lady of Shalott,” another rose bred by David Austen. This shrub rose is extremely vigorous with tall,arching canes. It has bloomed non-stop since May.


But my first thought was for the roses.  We love them so much this time of year as they give their final flowers of the season.


R. "Lady of Shalott" in bud

R. “Lady of Shalott” in bud


And our stalwart rose by the driveway continues to bloom, every petal intact, and offer up its fragrance each time we stop to visit.

We have made great effort to grow roses in this garden.  It is the reason we work constantly  to keep deer out of the garden, as rose buds are the sweetest of “deer candy.”


R. "The Generous Gardener,"  a fairly new introduction from David Austen.

R. “The Generous Gardener,” a fairly new introduction from David Austen.


Given good soil, sun, and moisture; roses are relatively easy to grow.

But like pets and children, they require supervision and timely intervention. 

R. The Generous Gardener

R. The Generous Gardener


While tea roses thrive on pruning, shrub roses may be allowed to grow without such drastic pruning.

They respond well to having dead flowers cut off, spring shaping and general maintenance; but they require far less maintenance than the hybrid teas.


The last flower of the season on this floribunda rose from Jackson and Perkins.

The last flower of the season on this floribunda rose from Jackson and Perkins.


David Austen’s hybrids are my favorites for fragrance, form, and color. 

He has reached back over the centuries to the older full and fragrant varieties as the parents of his modern disease-resistant hybrids.

His hybrids offer  the best of the old romantic roses on hardy, easy to care for shrubs.


Hybrid tea roses, like this one, generally have fewer than 40 petals per bloom.  Austen's hybrids frequently have more than 80 per bloom, offering rich fragrance.

Hybrid tea roses, like this one, generally have fewer than 40 petals per bloom. Austen’s hybrids frequently have more than 80 per bloom, offering rich fragrance.


We  don’t ever “spray” here with chemicals.  These roses are all grown organically.  Once established, the shrubs remain healthy and give flowers all season long.

Even in November.

What more may any temperate climate gardener hope for than a garden full of roses on the first of November?


R. "Lady of Shalott, blooming in our garden this morning.

R. “Lady of Shalott, blooming in our garden this morning.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014


R. "Golden Celebration," another of our favorite David Austen roses, at the end of May.

R. “Golden Celebration,” another of our favorite David Austen roses, at the end of May.




Sleeping In

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It was still cool and wet when we first came out into the garden this morning.

It  had been raining again overnight, and drops of rain still clung to every surface.

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I came out with the camera to explore the new Hibiscus flowers which had opened.

And as we padded silently around the garden, my partner drew my attention to one tiny creature after another.

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It looked as though they were still asleep, resting peacefully in the spots they had chosen last night.

First a lizard, and then a butterfly slumbered on while we took their photos.


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The bees were not so peaceful.


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They were already busily gathering nectar and pollen from the thousands of Hibiscus blossoms open to their approach.


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In fact, we laughed to watch the bees fly into the very blossoms I was photographing while I framed and focused each shot.


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It was as if they were little camera hogs- like young teens who push into as many photos as possible with waggling fingers and wide grins.


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Some of the bumblies were already white powder covered scavengers, greedily gathering more and more of the largesse of the garden.


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Our garden was alive this morning with creatures large and small.

The only one missing was the cat.  He had chosen to stake out his position in a sunny spot on the deck, aloof from the activity below.


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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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Turtles in Our Garden

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A slight movement under the Coreopsis caught my eye this morning while I as watering in the lower garden.

Moving closer, bright orange markings moved slowly between the leaves.  I quietly approached and saw a good sized turtle lumbering across the wet Earth.

I wanted photos to share with you, and made a quick trip back inside for my little camera.

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Now, if you’ve ever tried to photograph a moving turtle crawling under the foliage of a flowerbed you understand the challenge I faced.

And so I silently walked around the perimeter of the bed looking for an intelligible angle for the shot.

But, something was odd.  Body parts weren’t where body parts would be expected to be on such a simple creature.

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Slowly I realized this wasn’t one turtle hiding from my lens, but two!

I had intruded upon a couple of turtles seeking a private interlude between the Coreopsis and the Salvia.

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So, having been raised with manners, I backed away, powered down the camera, and stashed it in a pocket while I returned to watering…. elsewhere.

Eventually I dragged the hose back uphill and headed for the long butterfly garden.  Newly planted Basil would appreciate some moisture in the soil before the heat of the day set in.

But once again, something orange was moving beneath the foliage.

And once again, I turned off the water and silently moved in for a closer look.

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Another turtle!  Which, of course, meant more turtle photos this morning.  My reward for kindness and discretion, no doubt.

We’ve been finding Eastern Box turtles in this garden from time to time.

There was the tiny guy in early spring burrowed in the hillside where I was weeding.

I gently moved him out of the bed and into a wooded area… only to find him returned to his burrow an hour later.

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My partner has found turtles on this bank several times when he’s been out mowing and trimming.   We leave them be, or gently move them out of harm’s way whenever we find them in garden or street.

Eliza Waters also encountered a wood turtle this weekend, in her garden, and took some wonderful photos of the large female she found.  Please visit her post for more information on the meaning of turtles.

It must be the season when turtles allow themselves to be seen…..

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And we appreciate all who come to the garden to help us along with tending it.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014


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