Changes

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We treasure these fragrant autumn roses, still opening in our garden.   Our ‘Indian Summer’ has begun its inevitable shift towards winter.  The trees here grow more vibrant with each passing day; scarlet, orange, gold and clear yellow leaves dance in the wind and ornament our windshields and drive.  Finally, autumn.

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We’re engaged in the long, slow minuet of change, sped along by storms and cold fronts sweeping across us from elsewhere.  It hit 80 here yesterday as I worked in our garden.  I planted the last of our stash of spring bulbs, and moved an Hydrangea shrub from its pot into good garden soil.  The sun shone brightly as butterflies danced among the Pineapple Sage and flower laden Lantana in the upper garden.

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We had a good, soaking rain over night, waking up to winds from the north and temperatures a good 25 degrees lower than yesterday’s high.  From here on, our nights will dip back into the 40’s again, and I worry about our tender plants.  When  to bring them in?

Last year I carried pots in, and then back out of the garage, for weeks as the temperatures danced up and down.  This year, I”m trying to have a bit more faith and patience, leaving those precious Begonias and ferns in place as long as possible.

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Most of our Caladiums are inside now, but not all.  I’ve left a few out in pots, and am amazed to see new leaves still opening.  Warm sunshine and fresh breezes day after day seem a reward well worth the slight risk of a sudden freeze.

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This is how ‘climate change’ looks in our garden.

We were well into December before our first freeze last year.  It was balmy on Christmas, way too warm to wear holiday sweaters.  One felt more like  having a Margarita  than hot cocoa.  But why complain when the roads are clear and the heat’s not running?

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And I expect more of the same in the weeks ahead.  Our  great ‘pot’ migration from garden to house is delayed a few weeks, with the Begonias and Bougainvillea blooming their hearts out in the garden, still.    The autumn Iris keep throwing up new flower stalks, the Lantana have grown to epic proportions, and the Basil and Rosemary remain covered in flowers.

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But the garden, flower filled as it may be, grows through a growing blanket of fallen leaves.  Heavy dew bejewels each petal and leaf at dawn.  Squirrels gather and chase and chatter as they prepare their nests for the cold coming.

And the roses….

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Their flowers concentrate the last bits of color and fragrance into every precious petal.  They’ve grown sweeter and darker as the nights grow more chilled.

I”m loathe to trim them, this late in the season, and so hips have begun to swell and soon will glow orange, a reminder both of what has passed, and what is yet to come…

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Blossom XVII: Samhain Magic

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes

the whole world around you

because the greatest secrets are always hidden

in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

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Roald Dahl

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“We do not need magic to transform our world.

We carry all of the power we need

inside ourselves already.”

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J.K. Rowling

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“I want to be magic.

I want to touch the heart of the world and make it smile.

I want to be a friend of elves and live in a tree.

Or under a hill.

I want to marry a moonbeam

and hear the stars sing.

I don’t want to pretend at magic anymore.

I want to be magic.”

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Charles de Lint

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Sunday Dinner: Imagine

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“Imagination is the beginning of creation.

You imagine what you desire,

you will what you imagine

and at last create what you will.”


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George Bernard Shaw

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“Imagination is everything.

It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

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Albert Einstein

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Sunday Dinner: Emergence

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“Only keep still, wait, and hear, and the world will open.”

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Richard Powers

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“And suddenly you know:

It’s time to start something new

and trust the magic of beginnings.”

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Meister Eckhart

 

On A Tray: Beautiful Bouquets

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Inspiration waits everywhere; especially in a good gardening magazine.

Particularly inspiring is the article ‘Beautiful Bouquets’ in the current special edition Plant Issue of Gardens Illustrated magazine.  Plantswoman Anne Townley suggests delicious combinations of plants one might grow together, expecting to later cut them for beautiful and unusual bouquets.

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Clockwise from top left: Violas, Edgeworthia, Artemesia

Clockwise from top left: Ivy, Violas, Edgeworthia, Lavender, Artemesia, Iris, Mahonia, Fennel, Black Eyed Susan.

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Her plant choices are quite idiosyncratic, at least to this Virginian gardener.

The photography for this article was my inspiration, however.  Photographer Andrew Montgomery created a stunning tableau with each combination of plants Ms. Townley selected.  Please follow the link to see these artful vignettes of petal and leaf composed to illustrate this lively article about cutting gardens.

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Clockwise from top left: Viola, Camellia, Cyclamen

Clockwise from top left: Camellia, Viola, Pineapple Sage, Camellia, Cyclamen, Viola, Edgeworthia, Ivy, Rose, Salvia, Hellebore,  Pineapple Mint, scented Pelargonium.

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Emulation remains the highest form of flattery, and so I couldn’t resist assembling a little tableau of my own this morning from what looks fresh in our garden today.

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Part scavenger hunt, part journey of discovery; what a surprisingly diverse collection of leaf and flower waited for me in the garden!

Wandering, cutting and arranging, I quickly realized that most of these bits of horticultural beauty would have grown unnoticed save for this challenge.

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Clockwise from top left: Rosa, 'The Generous Gardener,' Ivy, Viola, Black Eyed Susuans,

Clockwise from top left: Rosa, ‘The Generous Gardener,’ Ivy, Viola, Black Eyed Susan, Rose hips, Mahonia, Fennel, Iris.

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Each newly snipped blossom and leaf delighted me.  Though cut from many different areas of the garden, from pots, beds and shrubs; they harmonize.  What a helpful way to get a ‘read’ on how well the plants in one’s garden go together.

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Clockwise from top left:

Clockwise from top left: Purple Sage, Viola, Rosemary, Pineapple Sage, Lavendar, Dianthus, Vinca minor,  Cyclamen, Viola, Ivy, Salvia, Hellebores, Pineapple Mint, Pelargonium, Camellia

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I could have just sat and admired this tray full of cuttings over a steamy cup of coffee.

But, other projects called, like the bin filled with Brent and Becky’s bulbs, gleaned from their end of season clearance sale, just before the holiday.   We had been granted another good day for planting, and so I didn’t tarry over the tray too long.

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Rather, I recut the stems and tucked them into a vase, floated the blossoms in a bowl, slipped the ivy into a jar of rooting cuttings, and headed back out to the garden.

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Because there were  just one or two stems of each plant on the tray, this is a somewhat unusual vase.  It needed photographing from all sides as each of its ‘faces’ is different.

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I am happy to join Cathy at Rambling In the Garden for her “In A Vase On Monday’ meme this week.  She has created a ‘Moondance’ by the sea; more inspiration, as always!

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Although we are enjoying our little vase this afternoon, my partner and I remain intrigued by the possibilities of simply arranging stems  on a tray.  I plan to tour the garden, tray in hand, at some regular interval from here on just to see what there is to see.

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And, inspired by several excellent articles on garden color  in Gardens Illustrated, I also took my bin of bulbs back out to the garden for a few happy hours of planting today.  Bulbs planted a few weeks ago have already broken ground with their first, tentative leaves.

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Winter blooming Iris have started into growth in this pot with Violas and Moss.

Winter blooming Iris have started into growth in this pot with Violas and Moss.

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I dug new areas and planted Daffodils, Muscari, Leucojum, Cyclamen and more, before covering everything with a fresh coat of compost.

Although imagination is a wonderful thing,  I can’t wait to actually see these new additions grow into the tapestry of our garden in the months ahead.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

 

Solstice in Blossoms

Daffodils blooming here on December 20....

Daffodils blooming here on December 20….

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Happy Winter Solstice to you!

Our morning was filled with bright sunshine and blue skies.  It has been unusually warm here today.   The clouds moved in this afternoon, but the nearly full moon rose early, and is shining brightly in a huge corona through the misty, drifting haze.

It was still in the mid-50s at 7 PM  here; a little above the usual mid-day high for us in December.  But the garden is loving it!

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Yesterday morning, my partner told me about an odd flower he had spotted.  He had picked it up where the rain had beaten it down into the lawn.  He said it looked a little like a Daffodil.  But isn’t it much too early for Daffodils in December?

And he was right; on both counts.  When I finally went out to look in the afternoon, the setting sun illuminated those yellow blossoms so sweetly.

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We had gone out to chase a few rogue deer who somehow snuck into the garden.  And rounding the corner, there were golden roses proudly blooming on a climber which normally blooms only in the spring.  It had re-awakened to share a few special winter blossoms with us.

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Even after a cold snap this weekend and frost on Saturday morning, the flowers keep coming all over the garden.  We have Camellias and Violas, Snaps and roses.  And now this golden Daffodil, too….

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This Camellia normally blooms each spring. Do you see the open Forsythia blossom in the photo? If it is 80 here on Christmas Eve, as is forecast, I expect this shrub to begin leafing out by New Year's Day....

This Camellia normally blooms each spring.  Do you see the open Forsythia blossom in the photo? If it is 80 here on Christmas Eve, as is forecast, I expect this shrub to begin leafing out by New Year’s Day….

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Indoors, our Amaryllis has bloomed in record time.  And such blossoms! 

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This is the special, huge, bulb I brought home form The Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond.  What flowers!  Only the first stem has bloomed so far, so we have at least four more blossoms to open this week.

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It was fine, until I moved it for better photographs.  That upset the balance, and the stem and leaves were flopping over by early evening.  Hindsight, right…?

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But now I’ve staked it with a coil of copper wire and a green stake from a peony cage.   The flowers are standing up proudly again, so pretty in the morning sun.

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These final ‘blossoms’ are not flowers at all; they are our ornamental cabbages, with their outrageously ornate leaves.  They appear quite happy with our mild December weather.  They will hold up to snow, but too many bitterly cold nights will show up on the leaves.

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This afternoon, we  finally brought  our Christmas tree indoors, and its fresh aroma has begun to fill our home with that special fragrance of Christmas.  I hope to get lights on it later this evening.

But these last days before Christmas are full ones. 

The beauty of our Solstice blossoms invites us to slow down; to appreciate the beauty, and not get completely lost in the flurry of  endless tasks and errands.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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Sunday Dinner: Peacemakers

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“-We need more love, to supersede hatred,

-We need more strength,  to resist our weaknesses,
-We need more inspiration, to lighten up our innermind. …

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“-We need more learning,  to erase our ignorance,
-We need more wisdom, to live longer and happier….

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“… -We need more truths, to suppress deceptions…

… We need more peace, to stay in harmony with our brethren…

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 …-We need more humility to be lifted up,
-We need more patience and not undue eagerness …

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“… -We need more sympathy, not apathy …

… -We need more focus, to avoid distraction …
 …-We need more optimism,  not pessimism …

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“-We need more peacemakers, not revolutionaries…

with these, we create an heaven on earth.”
.

Michael Bassey Johnson

from, The Infinity Sign

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

 

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Heads Up!

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Camellia shrubs eventually grow into small trees.

These beautifully neat, evergreen creatures hold their own in the border all year.  And then, when the days grow short, and every other tree is dropping its summer foliage, Camellias break out into hundreds of crisp, bright flowers.  Every opening bud makes us smile.

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And they invite us to look up to enjoy their particular beauty.  Even against a heavy grey sky; even against the living sculpture of bare limbs; Camellia flowers offer an optimistic greeting.

Old Camellias poke out over garden walls in historic Virginia neighborhoods.  They stand alongside Azaleas in our parks and botanical gardens.  They grow in churchyards and hug front porches, stalwart in their faithfulness from year to year.  Their woody limbs grow symmetrically, with strength and vigor.  Their romantic flowers can be found in many sizes and forms, but mostly in shades of pink, white, and red.

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A potted Camellia shrub is one of the best investments a gardener in our region can make.  For under $15.00, one can buy a lifetime of amazing beauty.  These Camellias were planted by the first owner of our garden, about 40 years ago.  And they bring us such pleasure all these years later.  Four different varieties grow side by side, and they bloom, one after another, from October until spring.

Like most woody shrubs, they are pretty self-sufficient once established.  These grow in the shade of tall deciduous trees, among a few Dogwoods, Azaleas, and a Gardenia shrub. Nothing fancy, but what a beautiful combination of congenial friends sharing this narrow strip between two driveways.  Our neighbor recently added a few Rhododendrons to the mix on his side.  So we enjoy nearly continuous blooms from October until June along our shared border.

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Heads up!  If you have a shady bit of land with average moisture, and you garden in Zone 7, 8, or 9; you, too, can grow Camellias.  Buy Camellia sasanqua in bloom from September through December.  Camellia japonica will come on the market, in bloom, next spring.  They require very little of the gardener, but give so much, year after year.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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Sunday Dinner: Community

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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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“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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“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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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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Outrageous Color

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Fall never fails to fascinate with its outrageous color.

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Suddenly, the tired, dry world of late summer in reinvigorated by cooler nights, shorter days, and a bit of rain.  And the world transforms itself yet again.

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Each day just grows better as the colors concentrate into the brightest possible hues.  A cerulean sky floats above gold and bronze, scarlet and orange leaves of all shapes and descriptions.

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When the wind whispers even slightly, a shower of falling leaves gently let loose and dance their way to the ground.  And there they lay in moist and colorful splendor, against an emerald green mix of grass and herbs, until they fade.

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We, too, float in that magical space of Indian Summer, here in Williamsburg this year.

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After morning rain, we enjoyed warm sunshine this afternoon.  The golden late afternoon sun animated every petal and leaf in the garden.

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We had the slider to the deck open to enjoy the balmy, rain rinsed air.   The cat and I enjoyed this chance to hear the birds just outside in the trees and smell the sweetness of autumn.

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New flowers are opening daily on the Camellias.  Even our perennials still bravely pump out buds, hoping this warmth will last.

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Echinacea

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The hungry bees lap of each day’s nectar like the precious gift that it is.  And we feast on the colors of autumn, changing daily, packing in every bit of beauty to our minds’ eyes, while they last.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not,

but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess,

and then thankfully remember

how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”

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Marcus Aurelius

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Winter's buds have appeared on our Edgeworthia.

Winter’s buds have appeared on our Edgeworthia.

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