Sunday Dinner: Exercise of Imagination

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“What I’ve always found interesting in gardens
is looking at what people choose to plant there.
What they put in. What they leave out.
One small choice and then another,
and soon there is a mood,
an atmosphere, a series of limitations,
a world.”

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Helen Humphreys

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“When tended the right way,
beauty multiplies.”
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Shannon Wiersbitzky,

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“Humility, and the most patient perseverance,
seem almost as necessary in gardening
as rain and sunshine,
and every failure must be used
as a stepping-stone
to something better.”

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Elizabeth von Arnim

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“It is only our limited time frame
that creates the whole “natives versus exotics” controversy.
Wind, animals, sea currents, and continental drift
have always dispersed species into new environments…
The planet has been awash in surging, swarming species movement
since life began.
The fact that it is not one great homogeneous tangled weed lot
is persuasive testimony to the fact
that intact ecosystems are very difficult to invade.”
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Toby Hemenway

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“I’d love to see a new form of social security …
everyone taught how to grow their own;
fruit and nut trees planted along every street,
parks planted out to edibles,
every high rise with a roof garden,
every school with at least one fruit tree
for every kid enrolled.”

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Jackie French

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“Dandelions, like all things in nature,
are beautiful
when you take the time
to pay attention to them.”
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June Stoyer

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“Gardening is like landscape painting to me.
The garden is the canvas.
Plants, containers and other garden features
are the colors. I paint on the garden of canvas
hoping to create a master piece with my colors.”

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Ama H.Vanniarachchy

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Half the interest of the garden
is the constant exercise of the imagination.”
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Mrs. C.W. Earle

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“A visitor to a garden sees the successes, usually.
The gardener remembers mistakes and losses,
some for a long time,
and imagines the garden in a year,
and in an unimaginable future.”
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W.S. Merwin

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Sunday Dinner: Persistence

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“One bulb at a time.
There was no other way to do it.
No shortcuts-
-simply loving the slow process of planting.
Loving the work as it unfolded.
Loving an achievement that grew slowly
and bloomed for only three weeks each year.”
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Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

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“Discover a purpose that gives you passion.
Develop a plan that makes you persistent.
Design a preparation that motivates you
to optimize your potentials.
Do it because you love it!”
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Israelmore Ayivor

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“To persist with a goal,
you must treasure the dream
more than the costs of sacrifice
to attain it.”
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Richelle E. Goodrich

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Waiting
is a form of passive persistence.”
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Ogwo David Emenike

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“A river cuts through rock,
not because of its power,
but because of its persistence.”
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James N. Watkins

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“You plan by dreaming,
you learn by doing
and you succeed by persisting.”
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Debasish Mridha MD

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The Temptations of Early Spring…

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Last week we were swept up in the edges of the ‘Polar Vortex’ and had some of our coldest temperatures of the season.  It felt like winter.  We ate soup and stayed indoors.  But a winter storm swept through on Friday and took the cold out to sea, leaving us with balmy spring-time weather in its wake.

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We were still frozen at mid-day on Sunday, but the sun was out and warmth was returning.

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It was warmer this morning than all day yesterday, and by afternoon we were looking for projects to take us outside.  The air was soft and the sun was warm.  I could smell the sweetness of our opening Edgeworthia flowers for the first time this season.

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A honey bee was out foraging on the Mahonia flowers, and birds called to one another throughout the day.  A group of owls had a loud conversation in the ravine, and a nest has appeared in a shrub by the garage.

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It feels like instant spring, and I was inspired to all sorts of little tasks like taking cuttings, giving our living room fern a trim out on the deck, and potting up some of our rooting Begonia stems.

I groomed the pots on the patio; fingers crossed.  We had geraniums still green until this last cold spell and ‘annual’ Verbena still green and growing.  The ‘Goodwin Creek’ lavender is usually fried and frozen by February; but so far, so good with ours in big pots by the front porch.

Will it make it all the way through to next summer?

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Italian Arum unfolding ever so slowly in a pot by the kitchen door.

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I am a little chagrined to realize how much the weather effects my ambition to get gardening things done.  The warmth and sunshine gave me a welcome rush of energy.  Even so, I know that winter hasn’t finished with us, yet.

There may be warmer days yet in the forecast for the week, but I know that more ice and snow will find us before May.  I’m still reluctant to do much pruning or other clean-up so early.

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Iris bulbs are up and growing in the Iris border at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. We will have flowers before the end of February.

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I wanted to clean up the dead and dying branches of things in pots near the house, but not too soon, if they can still recover from their roots.

Cut too soon, the next hard freeze might kill them.

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I spotted little green buds on the Clematis and found Dianthus buds ready to open.  I’m still taking inventory of all the Hellebores with flower buds.   Oh, the havoc a false spring can create when a hard freeze follows a balmy breeze!  I’d rather the plants remain dormant, and not begin to grow too early.

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It was too nice a day to waste fretting over winter’s next act.  I went ahead and pruned our little variegated English holly to shape it a bit, and now have a pan with eight Ilex aquifolium cuttings that I hope will root.  The holly should be hardy enough to not mind the early pruning.

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Hellebores keep right on blooming through winter storms and freezing nights.

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Bulbs are popping up everywhere and buds are swelling on our Magnolia trees.  Yesterday morning, the ground was too frozen to re-plant Violas uprooted by the squirrels.

Today, the soil is soft and moist, full of promise and tempting me to press some bit of stem or seed or root into it for safe keeping, until spring settles in and our garden grows lush and green once again.

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Woodland Gnome 2019

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Date Seed Update:  I moved some of the seeds showing growth from the jar of water to a damp paper towel in a zip-lock.  I have the seeds under a lamp in a warm spot, and am checking them daily for growth. 

Of course, I could have planted these directly into pots of soil.  But it’s more interesting to keep them out where we can watch them grow a while longer!

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Sunday Dinner: Potential

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“Difficulties and adversities
viciously force all their might on us
and cause us to fall apart,
but they are necessary elements of individual growth
and reveal our true potential.
We have got to endure and overcome them,
and move forward. Never lose hope.
Storms make people stronger
and never last forever.”
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Roy T. Bennett
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“Every moment has infinite potential.
Every new moment contains for you possibilities
that you can’t possibly imagine.
Every day is a blank page
that you could fill
with the most beautiful drawings.”
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John C. Parkin
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“You can dance in the storm.
Don’t wait for the rain to be over before,
because it might take too long.
You can can do it now.
Wherever you are, right now,
you can start,
right now;
this very moment.”
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Israelmore Ayivor
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Do or Do not, there is no ‘try.’
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Yoda

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“It’s so difficult to love another person
and yourself for who they are
and not what they do
or who they could be.
To stay in this moment
and know it in all its pleasure and its pain.
The world is a beautiful place.
How often do we say this aloud?”
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Vicki Forman
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“Who you are tomorrow
begins with what you do today.”
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Tim Fargo
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“Say ‘Yes’ to your life
by saying ‘Yes’ to the potential of the moment.
Seize the moment,
for the moments add up and become your life.
Every moment has a choice.
Make choices that empower and help you.
Make this moment
the best it can be by living it with love,
kindness, compassion,
forgiveness,  faith
and hope.”
.
Akiroq Brost

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
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“Potential has a shelf life.”
.
Margaret Atwood

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“If the doors of perception were cleansed,
everything would appear to man as it is
– infinite.”
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William Blake

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Golden February

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Have you noticed that certain colors predominate in the landscape each month?  August here is always very green.  January is a study in brownish grey.  April is awash with Azalea pinks and reds.

And February is golden.

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Yes, there are white snowdrops and rosy Hellebores in our garden now.  Purple and blue Violas bloom in pots and baskets.

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Mahonia aquifolium

Mahonia aquifolium, blooming through our winter, provides nectar for early pollinators.  By summer each flower will have grown into a plump purple berry, loved by our birds.  These tough shrubs, native to western North America, have naturalized across much of Virginia.

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But the flowers highlighting our garden now, blooming fiercely against a still wintery brown backdrop; are the first golden Daffodils of spring, showering cascades of yellow Mahonia flowers, the occasional sunshiny Dandelion, and hundreds of thousands of yellow Forsythia buds.

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Forsythia greets each spring with thousands of tiny yellow flowers.

Forsythia greets each spring with thousands of tiny yellow flowers. An Asian native, Forsythia naturalized in North America more than a century ago.  An important source of nectar, these large, suckering shrubs provide shelter for many species of birds and insects.

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Forsythia and Daffodils line many of our public roads, too.  We found a huge stand of blooming yellow Daffodils in the median of Jamestown Road, near the ferry, last week.  Their cheerful promise of spring feels almost defiant as we weather the last few weeks of a Virginia winter.

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Edgeworthia chrysantha, or Chinese Paperbush, fills our front garden with fragrance now that its blossoms have opened. We found happy bees feeding on these flowers on Sunday afternoon.

Edgeworthia chrysantha, or Chinese Paperbush, fills our front garden with fragrance now that its blossoms have opened. We found happy bees feeding on these flowers on Sunday afternoon.

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Touches of gold may also be found in the bright stamens of Hellebores, the warm centers of Edgeworthia flowers, and the bright Crocus which will bloom any day now.

These golden flowers of February prove a perfect foil to bare trees, fallen leaves and late winter storms.

What a lovely way for our garden to awaken to spring.

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Woodland Gnome 2017

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Shades of Brown

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Do you know anyone whose favorite color is brown? 

Can’t say that I do, either….

We gardeners often remain partial to green, or possibly to colors in our favorite flowers.  But brown?  Why not?

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We certainly look at it for much of the year! 

Brown is woody skeletons of trees, fallen leaves, peat, seeds, mushrooms, stems, and the debris waiting for me to clear from perennial beds. 

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But brown is also rotten apples, faded flowers, insects, compost, bare Earth.

 

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Brown generally presents a challenge.  It invites effort.  It signals something coming or going in the garden.

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But I am at least at peace with brown. 

I wear khaki shirts and skirts and brown leather belts. We love polished wooden furniture, rattan, and hardwood floors. 

Brown can be restful when polished up, and made useful. 

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Brown colors  our garden today.  Sodden mulch, rotting leaves, bare stems, and wet trees dominate the picture.

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But oh, when those brown stems pop open to release a flower, what delight!

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Brown is the color of pure potential, and holds its own silent promise. 

Beautiful brown….

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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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

 

 

Outrageous Color

Beautyberry

Beautyberry

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Fall never fails to fascinate with its outrageous color.

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 Camellia

Camellia

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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.

In Bloom

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Our garden grows golden today.

Bright yellow Forsythia flowers explode from the bare branches which frame our driveway, line our front border, and grow as an impenetrable barrier on one corner of the garden.  This is an ancient stand of Forsythia, planted decades ago by the original gardeners here.

Towering over our heads, its brilliance lights up the entire garden when it blooms.

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Waves of golden daffodils punctuate the rolling hillside.  Although many have naturalized over the decades in large clumps, we have planted new bulbs every autumn since we came here.

It is interesting to watch the clumps grow each year from a single stem to a thriving colony of bright flowers.

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We are about at ‘mid-season’ now for daffodils, and we’ll enjoy them throughout April.

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We plan to drive up to Gloucester next week to visit the daffodil farm there, and perhaps select a few new varieties to plant this autumn coming.

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The daffodils bloomed even before the Muscari this spring.  We have both white and blue ones blooming now.

Our Magnolia liliflora ‘Nigra’ began to open yesterday in the afternoon’s warm sunshine.

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These were also planted by earlier gardeners here, much to our delight.  Their dark purple flowers open slowly over several weeks in spring, and often return at the end of summer for a second time.

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We planted a Magnolia stellata this week, covered in buds.  While one might expect a white shrub to get lost in our woods, it shines like a beacon.  I can only imagine how lovely it will be in a few year’s time when it has grown up.

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Trees have burst into bloom in the back garden.  The peach blossoms began to open overnight, and the apple and pear showed their first color late in the afternoon yesterday.

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This is that magical time when our entire garden bursts into bloom.

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All of the Vinca vines cover themselves in tiny periwinkle flowers, opening a few more each day.

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These spread themselves all around the garden, wherever there is a bit of bare ground. And all of the Hellebores are blooming now in various shades of burgundy, pink, mauve, and white.  Even several planted out as tiny seedlings last spring have matured enough to flower.

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The Edgeworthia continues to get better, sweetly fragrant and tipped in golden yellow.  Lilac shrubs stand full of buds.

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Violas in pots have taken courage from the softer weather to grow again and cover themselves in flowers.  Even the Camellia japonica buds are opening to release their thick, waxy petals into the warmth of April.

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I hope you can feel the warmth and smell the sweetness of our spring breezes this evening.

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Each day, we become more aware of that fourth dimension in which we move:  time.

Some days time slows down and allows us to savor time spent enjoying the company of friends.  An hour stretches out into a long, languorous visit of good conversation and laughter.

Other days, hours seem to evaporate into nothingness as we clean out beds, plant, prune, and plan what will go where this spring….

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If photos allow us to capture a moment in time, they give us some measure of power over all four of the dimensions which structure our lives.  We can capture all four in only two-

The world is full of miracles and wonders.

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 Happy Spring!

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Woodland Gnome 2015

WPC: Fresh

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Fresh:  new, different, out of the ordinary….

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A perfect theme for this opening of a new season. 

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The world is freshly washed in crystal clear raindrops.  Fresh flowers finally opened in the garden. 

Our spirits feel re-freshed through the transition from bleak to bright

as we hover now on the cusp of spring.

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Fresh:  energetic, clean and cool, unspoiled,

Full of life and promise-

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The Daily Post challenges photographers to show something which is fresh.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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