WPC: Weathered Flowers

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Flowers have survived on our Hydrangea quercifolia shrubs longer this season than ever before.  From buds to these weathered remnants, we have enjoyed them daily over their season.

This is the longest they’ve ever lasted, as some years the flowers  are eaten off of our oakleaf Hydrangeas by hungry deer before the flowers fully mature.

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I see these winter wilted leaves and weathered flowers as a small sign of victory in our ongoing struggles with this garden.  Like an elderly person, a story of survival is told in every detail of their countenance.

Winter teaches us to find beauty in all stages of life.  It shows us the dignity of strength and tenacity, and serves as

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Allium flowers, gone to seed, and now with the seeds mostly blown away.  Their structure and grace remains.

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“…a reminder that there’s beauty to be found in the ephemeral and impermanent.”

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For the Daily Post’s:

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Weathered

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Blossom XXX: Garlic Chives

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Do you fill your garden with beautiful plants, or with useful plants?  Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum, offers late summer beauty while also filling a useful niche in our very wild garden.

It has been blooming for a couple of weeks and will continue well into September; a favorite among our pollinators.  It blooms long after our other Alliums have finished for the year.

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It grows in ever expanding clumps in sun, partial sun, and even partial shade.  I bought the first few pots, years ago, in hopes its garlicky fragrance might help shield more tasty plants from grazing deer.  It was a good idea to try, and it certainly discourages them.  It offers more protection in a potted arrangement than in the open garden.

We quickly learned that this Allium reseeds prolifically.  Now, it grows in many places we never thought to plant it.  It even makes a place for itself in tiny cracks and crevices in the hardscape. Hardy to Zone 3, it easily thrives through our winters, and surprises you with its sudden and unexpected appearance each spring.

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Garlic chives spread themselves around the garden, blooming in unexpected places in late summer.

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It remains evergreen here through most of the year, only succumbing to frost for deepest winter.  Once the weather warms in spring, its leaves shoot up to greet the sun.  Which means, that if you enjoy it as a culinary herb, you have a steady supply of leaves to use fresh or dried.

This is a favorite in many Asian cuisines, and both leaves and flower buds may be enjoyed fresh or sauteed.  This Allium is native to Asia, but has traveled all around the world now and naturalized in many areas.  In fact, in some areas, particularly in Australia, it is now considered invasive.

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“Invasive” to some perhaps, but “reliable and hardy” to us.  These beautiful blossoms are what I’ve come to love most about our garlic chives.  Purely white, long lasting, and perky; these certainly brighten up our garden when it needs it most.

Now that they have had several years to spread, they create a beautiful unity and rhythm as clumps emerge randomly in many different areas.  They accent whatever grows nearby.

The clumps may be dug and divided after flowering, if you want to spread them through your garden even faster than they will spread themselves.  The dried seed heads prove interesting once the flowers have finished.  When the seeds have ripened and dried, you may break them from their stem, and simply shake them over areas where you would like garlic chives in coming years.

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And yes, you can enjoy these blossoms inside in a vase for several days.  They combine well with interesting foliage; other flowering herbs, like Basil; and with more common garden flowers.

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There is a certain satisfaction in growing edible and medicinal plants which blend in to the perennial garden.  Even better when they prove perennial, tough, and still very, very beautiful.

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Woodland Gnome 2017
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For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Structure
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Blossom XXV: Elegance
Blossom XXVI: Angel Wing Begonia
Blossom XXVII: Life 
Blossom XXVIII: Fennel 
Blossom XXIV:  Buddleia

 

 

 

The Yorktown Onion

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Locals in our area enjoy the spectacular early summer bloom of naturalized “Yorktown Onions” as they drive the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown.  Thousands of brilliant magenta flowers nod and bob in the breeze from late May through mid-June.

The National Park Service leaves broad areas along the roadsides unmown each spring, so that these distinctive flowers may grow and bloom, surrounded by beautiful grasses.   By late June, these stands of wildflowers will be gone; the fields and grassy shoulders neatly mown once again.

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The battlefields at Yorktown also hold broad swathes of these beautiful Alliums in early summer, to be followed by a steady progression of wildflowers, including thistle, as the months pass.  These historic Revolutionary War battlefields, now wildflower meadows, escape the mowers until fall.  But you’ll often see herds of deer grazing here in the early morning and at dusk, and clouds of wild birds feeding as the various seeds ripen.

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If you’re visiting, please resist the urge to pick or pull the onions.  York County passed an ordinance protecting the Yorktown Onion many years ago.  They may not be picked or harvested on public land.

But these are a quintessential ‘pass along plant.’   If you’re lucky enough to know someone growing them on private property, you may be able to beg some seeds or sets to start your own patch.

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I believe we make more drives along the Colonial Parkway when the onions bloom each year.  We marvel at their wild, random beauty.  Their tiny blossoms prove magnets for bees and other pollinators.  The Yorktown Onion is one of many beautiful wildflowers visitors enjoy along the Parkway each summer.

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Native in Europe and in parts of the Near and Middle East, historians suggest that seeds were brought to Yorktown during the Colonial or Revolutionary eras.    These particular Alliums are one of many Allium species you might choose for your own garden.  The Yorktown Onion, Allium ampeloprasum, may be purchased from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs  in Gloucester, along with more than 30 other Allium cultivars.  The Yorktown Onion, like other Alliums, wants full sun.  They are drought tolerant and hardy in Zones 4-8.

Also known as ‘wild leeks’ or ‘wild garlic,’ these beautiful flowers are exceptionally easy to grow.  Basically, plant them where they’ll thrive, and then leave them alone!  They don’t like to be disturbed, and will gradually increase to a more substantial display each year.

The Heath’s grow their onion sets from seed, thus the dear price they charge for the “Yorktown” Alliums in their catalog.  If you want the general effect, without the boutique pricing, you might try the very, very similar A. ‘Summer Drummer.’  This nearly identical tall (4′ +) burgundy Allium may be purchased in groups of 5 bulbs for the same price as a single Yorktown Allium bulb.

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Allium bud as it begins to open in our own garden, June 1 of this year.

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If you want something a bit shorter and less likely to fall over with the weather, consider planting chives, garlic chives, or even just onion sets or garlic cloves bought at a farmer’s market or the produce section of your grocery.  You might be a bit surprised at what beautiful flowers show up in your garden!

Chives thrive in our garden.  The clumps expand, and their seeds readily self-sow each summer.  Use them in cooking and enjoy their edible flowers as garnishes.   Dried Allium flowers look very nice in dried arrangements or used to decorate wreathes or swags.

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Allium buds in our garden, late May

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I began planting Alliums to protect other plants from hungry deer.  I’ve learned that their strong fragrance can confuse the deer nose, and possibly deter deer from reaching across them to nibble something tasty.  Like other deer deterrents, Alliums work often, but not always, to protect the garden.

That said, why not grow Alliums for their own special beauty?  It is one of the short list of plants with a fairly iron-clad guarantee to not be nibbled.

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We stopped along our drive yesterday evening at Jone’s Millpond to enjoy the view and the wildflowers.  It is one of the few places along the Parkway where you may park and get an up-close view of the Yorktown Onions.  Even at dusk, the bumblies were busily feeding on the tiny flowers which make up each globe.

There is something about seeings hundreds, or thousands of these flowers naturalized across a wild field, that mesmerizes.  This is an effect it would be difficult to duplicate in one’s own garden.

I hope you’ll find yourself in our area when the Yorktown Onions bloom some summer soon.  At the end of your trek, in old Yorktown proper, you’ll find a sandy beach and a little gift shop called “The Yorktown Onion” nestled under the Coleman Bridge.

The journey is the destination….

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Woodland Gnome 2017

Sunday Dinner: Gratitude

Eastern Swallowtail on Verbena 'Lollipop' at the Heath family's garden in Gloucester.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Verbena ‘Lollipop’ at the Heath family’s garden in Gloucester.

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“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;

they are the charming gardeners

who make our souls blossom.”

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Marcel Proust

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June 18, 2016 Gloucester 019

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“Beauty is not who you are on the outside,

it is the wisdom and time you gave away

to save another struggling soul, like you.”

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Shannon L. Alder

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Alliums with Iris, Gloucester, VA

Alliums with Iris, Gloucester, VA

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“I believe that what we become

depends on what our fathers teach us

at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us.

We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

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Umberto Eco

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Allium in our Forest Garden

Allium in our Forest Garden

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“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up

trying to pay back the people in this world

who sustain our lives.

In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender

before the miraculous scope of human generosity

and to just keep saying thank you,

forever and sincerely,

for as long as we have voices.”

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Elizabeth Gilbert

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June 17, 2016 Hibiscus 012


The rare daylily left ungrazed to bloom in our garden; for which we are most grateful!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

With love and appreciation to all of those Fathers
who give of themselves so generously
to make this a more beautiful and more loving world for all.

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June 17, 2016 Hibiscus 017


Zantedeschia aethiopica in our Forest Garden

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“You pray in your distress and in your need;

would that you might pray also

in the fullness of your joy

and in your days of abundance.”

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Kahlil Gibran

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June 17, 2016 Hibiscus 039

 

Nature Challenge Day 7: In Motion

May 30, 2016 Parkway 014

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Everything we know, everything we dream, remains in motion. 

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 022

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Never a second of stillness or rest; every particle of our lives from the most distant star to the tiniest electron in our heart, remains dizzily spinning its dance of life.

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 017

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And so it is with every bird and fish, every drop of water, and everything green and growing. 

Our only response remains to dance along with life. 

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 012

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Some may wish to grasp the moment and hold it still; to stop time, if only for a little while. 

But if we ever succeed, we find that moment opening into a doorway to the deeper layers of life.  We pass through to some wider knowing, some greater vision.  But we remain in motion along the winding path of our being.

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 003

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And so we become ‘Lords and Ladies of the Dance,’ flowing along with the worlds we shape. 

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 024

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We hear the humming of insects, the crashing of waves, the crack of thunder, the whistling of wind, the call of geese, and a newborn’s cry as echoes of our own voice; the sound of life in motion.

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 018

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 025

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Blogging friend, Y., invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday from her new site, In the Zone.  I appreciate the invitation, as it has challenged me to find something to post each day over the last week.  I have enjoyed sharing some of the beauty of a Virginia May with everyone who visits Forest Garden.  And I’ve definitely enjoyed the daily exchange in comments with Y., and everyone else who has left a comment this week.

For this seventh day and last day of the challenge, I’ll invite you again to join in. This challenge has been out there for a while, and many nature photographers have already participated.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you in a follow up post.

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May 29, 2016 white 002

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Pollinators

June 17, 2015 pollinators 013

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“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice.

And that is part of the problem –

because most of what comes to us from nature is free,

because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced,

because it is not traded in markets,

we tend to ignore it.”

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Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. 

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June 17, 2015 bees 034

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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June 17, 2015 bees 033~

Pollinator Week June 15-21, 2015  http://www.pollinator.org

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June 17, 2015 pollinators 002

Silent Sunday

Allium with bees

Allium with bees

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“Handle a book as a bee does a flower,

extract its sweetness but do not damage it.”
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John Muir

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June 7, 2015  Yorktown 099~

“One can no more approach people without love

than one can approach bees without care.

Such is the quality of bees…”
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Leo Tolstoy

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June 7, 2015  Yorktown 094

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Woodland Gnome 2015

One Word Photo Challenge: Eggplant

One Word Photo Challenge:  Eggplant

 

Ornamental pepper

Ornamental pepper

So purple it”s almost black, “eggplant” is a favorite foliage  color to add a little drama in the garden.  I love the contrast and depth it creates.

Ajuga, "Black Scallop"

Ajuga, “Black Scallop”

Still, I’d rather eat my eggplant than gaze upon it.

Luckily, there is one already growing in a pot on the deck.  Its purple blossoms make it worthwhile, but I’m still counting on a few to fry later in the summer….

Allium

Allium

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013-2014

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her 

One Word Photo Challenge: Eggplant

Petunia

Petunia (July 2013)

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