Artistry of Herbs

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So much of our garden was slack and wilting yesterday evening, before the rain began.  The ground has grown drier each day, available moisture retreating deeper, away from the multitude of thirsty roots.  This time of year devolves into a contest of will between me with my trusty garden hoses, and July’s relentless heat and extended dry spells.

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Bronze fennel glows in the late afternoon paired Verbena bonareinsis and Joe Pye weed.

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Plants react differently to the many challenges that befall them in the course of the year.  Watching how plants respond to stress can guide us in the choices we make in planting.

No one enjoys a garden filled with drooping, brown tipped leaves.  And most of us don’t have the unlimited time or resources to water enough to compensate when the weather turns hot and dry for days or weeks at a time.  That is why it is smart to plant a good percentage of deep rooted, sturdy, drought tolerant plants to stand tall through July and August.

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Loose foliage of Siberian Iris and Crinum lily function like ornamental grasses through summer, setting off other flowering plants nearby.

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Herbs top my list of sturdy, dependable choices for summer structure.  Fennel, lavender, Salvias, dill, thyme, Santolina, rosemary, Germander, Artemesia, and Pelargoniums stand up and look smart with a minimum of supplemental water.  Iris, considered an herb by many, are a part of this dependably sturdy cohort.

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Rose scented Pelargonium

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And, these plants are all beautiful.  Many are fragrant, and some bloom for weeks right through the summer. Their leaves are fleshy and thick, some waxy and prepared to stand up to the relentless Mediterranean sun.  Their subtle colors and designs fascinating.

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Spanish Lavender

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As an added bonus, most can be found for a very small investment each spring.  Many herbs are offered at local big box stores and grocery stores from March through June or early July for just a few dollars a pot.

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Newly planted Rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue’ grows with tough Sedum ‘Angelina.’  This Rosemary can eventually grow into a good sized shrub.

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Perennials generally survive challenging weather better than annuals, anyway, because they have grown deeper, larger roots. Perennial herbs prove some of the most dependable.

They may need more coddling through their first few months, but once established they will hang on until conditions improve.  Like trees and shrubs, their roots can seek out moisture out of reach of many other plants.

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Keep newly planted perennials well watered while their roots grow out into the surrounding soil. Once new growth begins, you know the plants are settling in. The Monarda and Verbena hastata were planted in mid-July, a terrible time for planting!  The Pineapple sage (top right) is now well established and can handle summer weather.

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We are all discovering ways to adapt to the challenges our changing weather patterns bring.  We see all sorts of records broken month after month, and know that more change is likely ahead.

Our gardens can adapt, beautifully, and with tremendous artistry.  We just need to keep an open mind as we plant.  A willingness to experiment with new plants, ones we may not have previously considered for the perennial garden, and different ways of cultivating it opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

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“In a world of change,

the learners shall inherit the earth,

while the learned shall find themselves

perfectly suited

for a world that no longer exists.”
.

Eric Hoffer

~

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Garden Gold

Fennel flowers allow for easy access to their nectar.

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The hotter it gets, the more gold in the garden glitters and shines.  As the mercury goes up, yellow and gold feel almost cooling.

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An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeds on Lantana ‘Chapel Hill Yellow,’ a fairly new perennial Lantana introduction. WBG

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I don’t understand the alchemy of that, but I do understand the clear attraction of gold for all of our nectar seeking pollinators.

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Gold flowers may just taste sweeter.  They certainly draw in the bees, wasps and butterflies who draw sustenance from their sugary depths.

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Lantana ‘Chapel Hill Gold’ is also a perennial in Zone 7. WBG

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All the while, these prolific flowers are also ripening seeds to delight goldfinches and other small birds who will feast on their ripe seeds well into the barren months of winter.

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Flocks of goldfinches took wing from the wildflowers where they were feeding, as I walked through the Williamburg Botanical Garden yesterday afternoon.

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Golden and yellow flowers often prove among the easiest for a gardener to grow.  Turn to dill, fennel and parsley for their distinctive round umbel inflorescence, all flat and easy to access;  Rudbeckias and Helianthus for their many petaled sunburst flowers.

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The first black eyed Susans, our native Rudbecki hirta, have begun to open in our garden.

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Coreopsis, Lantana, marigolds and Zinnias all bloom in shades of yellow, orange and gold.

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The season ends on a wild and native note as Solidagos burst into bloom in September and October, towering over the black eyed Susans in our garden like great feathery plumes of living gold.

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Solidago blooms alongside Rudbeckia in our garden, October 2017.

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If the entire garden were nothing but green and gold, animated with swallowtail butterflies and goldfinches, what a beautiful display we would still enjoy.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood

will show you something about the sun

which you could never get

from reading books on astronomy.

These pure and spontaneous pleasures

are ‘patches of Godlight’

in the woods of our experience.”


.

C.S. Lewis

Sunday Dinner: Discovery

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“From so high above it,

the world seems ordered and deliberate.

But I know it’s more than that.

And less.

It is structured and chaotic.

Beautiful and strange.”

.

Nicola Yoon

~

~

“Our real discoveries come from chaos,

from going to the place that looks wrong

and stupid and foolish.”

.

Chuck Palahniuk

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

(parsley flowers and fennel leaves, after the rain)

.  .  .

For the Daily Post’s 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Order

~

 

One Word Photo Challenge: Chartreuse

Gloriosa Lilies

Gloriosa Lilies

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Whether golden tinged green,

Or green faded towards yellow;

*

 

August 2, 2014 015

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Chartreuse glows like chlorophyll infused sunlight.

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Dill in bloom

Dill in bloom

 

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Named for a French mountain monastery where monks make herbal infused liqueur;

*

 

Perennial Begonia, planted last autumn as cuttings, fills this bowl.

Perennial Begonia, planted last autumn as cuttings, fills this bowl with Creeping Jenny.

 

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even this botanical liqueur comes in a greener variety (more potent)

*

Autumn "Brilliance" Fern

Autumn “Brilliance” Fern

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and a milder, sweeter yellow golden variety.

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Coleus

Coleus

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“Chartreuse” is the given name of a family of colors, more than any one particular shade.

*

 

Coleus

Coleus

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Sometimes fashionable, sometimes not;

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August 3, 2014 butterflies 015

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An acquired taste, perhaps,

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Rose scented Pelargonium with Colocasia

Rose scented Pelargonium with Colocasia

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Which can light up the garden, on even grey and cloudy days,

 

*August 3, 2014 butterflies 091

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Chartreuse.

*

Geranium

Geranium

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

And her One Word Photo Challenge:   Chartreuse

A “Dirty Hands” Garden Club

Colocasia, "Blue Hawaii"

Colocasia, “Blue Hawaii”

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I would love to join  a “Dirty Hands” Garden Club;
One whose members know more about fertilizers
Than they do about wines…

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July 19, 2014 Container 044

A gift of Glads, from a sister gardener…

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I’d want our meetings spent wandering through nurseries,
Learning from  expert gardeners,
Or building community gardens…

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Bumblebee on Lantana

Bumblebee on Lantana

 

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Not frittered away in chit chat over hors d’oeuvres .

~

 

Bumblebee on Basil

Bumblebee on Basil

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And all of us would be at least a little expert in something,
Glad to share what we’ve learned;

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Tiger Swallowtail on Echinacea

Tiger Swallowtail on Echinacea

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And we all would love putting our hands in the dirt
To help something grow.

~

 

Eastern Redbud Tree seedpods

Eastern Redbud Tree seedpods

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My club would collect species, not dues;
Re-build ecosystems rather than plant ivy and  box.

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Blue dragonfly on Lantana

Blue dragonfly on Lantana

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We “dirty hands” gardeners can band together
In spirit, if not in four walls.
We can share plants and insights,
Instigate, propagate, and appreciate;

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Rooted Begonia cutting

Rooted Begonia cutting resting on a bowl of Pitcherplants

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Perhaps we can even help rehabilitate 
Some sterile lawn somewhere
Into something which nurtures beauty
And feeds souls….

~

A gift of Siberian Iris, from Barbara, growing in a new section of the garden.

A gift of Siberian Iris, from Barbara, growing in a new section of the garden.

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Others can judge flowers,
Decorate homes at Christmas
And organize tours.
These things are needed, too.

~

Native Hibiscus

Native Hibiscus

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(But I would rather be out in the garden;
Where cardinals preside over the morning meeting,
And  hummingbirds are our special guests for the day.
The daily agenda ranges from watering to transplanting;
From pruning to watching for turtles and dragonflies.)

~

July 20, 2014 hummingbird 010

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We  wear our muddy shoes and well worn gloves with pride,
Our spades and pruners always close at hand.

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July 19, 2014 Container 051

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We converse with Nature,
And re-build the web strand by strand,
Plant by plant.

~

July 20, 2014 butterflies 001

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If this invitation speaks to you,
Perhaps we can work together,
From wherever we might find ourselves
Around the globe.
~

July 19, 2014 Container 023

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We can each put our hands in the dirt
and create a garden,

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July 19, 2014 Container 025

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Nurture Beauty,
And restore health and vitality to our Earth, together.

~

July 19, 2014 Container 024

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Does a “Dirty Hands” Garden Club
Appeal to you?

~

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014
~
Canna

Canna

Return of the Butterflies

July 20, 2014 butterflies 048

Our garden is alive with butterflies once again.   

We spotted at least five different individual butterflies enjoying their Sunday dinner in the garden today.

July 20, 2014 butterflies 017

We have been watching for them for several weeks now, and are so happy to find our garden animated with their bright fluttering wings this morning.

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on Paw Paw Trees.  We have several in the ravine at the back of our property, and so are blessed with these beautiful butterflies in the garden.

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on Paw Paw Trees. We have several in the ravine at the back of our property, and so are blessed with these beautiful butterflies in the garden.

The banquet is spread from shrub to pot to bed to border.

The garden blossoms anew each morning with fresh nectar filled flowers, awaiting their visit.

And now we watch them enjoy it all, and hope they choose this garden as an adequate nursery for their next generation.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Butterfly Garden Plants

July 20, 2014 butterflies 021

Opening

The first every buds opening on a "volunteer" Crepe Myrtle which has finally grown large enough to bloom this season.

The first ever buds opening on a “volunteer” Crepe Myrtle which has finally grown large enough to bloom this season.

Hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into seasons;  as we drift through the unfolding year something new  always opens up for us, even as something spent is crumpling and falling away.

Gardenia

Gardenia

The first week of July, well into the summer, hosts a fresh round of openings and beginnings here in our forest garden.

Buddleia, "Harlequin" has come into bloom.

Buddleia, “Harlequin” has come into bloom this weekend.

Hibiscus and Buddleia, Dill and Crepe Myrtle are all opening and unfolding the first of their flowers at the moment.

The first bud of the season ready to open on our hardy Hibiscus, H. moscheutos moscheutos

The first bud of the season ready to open on our hardy Hibiscus, H. moscheutosJapanese beetles have been active eating its leaves this summer.

I love to find a plant covered in buds; full of potential and beauty, ready to open itself to the garden.

Tiny grapevines have sprouted from the Muscadine seeds I planted last fall.

Tiny grapevines have sprouted from the Muscadine seeds I planted last fall.

 

July, as flower-filled as May in our garden, also offers up an incalculable array of shades and hues of green.

 

Canna, gift from a friend's garden, survived our harsh winter.

Canna, gift from a friend’s garden, survived our harsh winter.

 

When rain has been plentiful, as it is this year, greens are fresh and vibrant.

 

Redbud "volunteer" has grown well this season.  Perhaps next spring it will bloom.

Redbud “volunteer” has grown well this season. Perhaps next spring it will bloom.

Greenness generates the energy needed for growth; and one may almost hear the whispers of unfolding leaves and lengthening stems on a warm summer evening.

 

Joe Pye Weed planted about a month ago is growing well now.

Joe Pye Weed planted about a month ago is growing well now.

Change comes minute upon minute in the garden during deep summer.

Abundant moisture and  constant heat provide the hothouse for outrageous growth.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

Vines stretch and new seeds germinate.

Shrubs magically expand and ferns fill in the open spaces.

July 7, 2014 opening flowers 008

Buds constantly opening fill every breeze with sweetness.

First Crepe Myrtle blooms of the season open on this favorite tree>

First Crepe Myrtle blooms of the season open on this favorite tree>

 

Every part of the garden glows with color.

 

July 7, 2014 garden 018

 

A garden serves as a reliable text book for life.

 

Fungus are key to opening the fertility of soil to plants.

Fungi  are key to opening the fertility of soil to plants.

 

Lessons trivial and profound are written daily in the sky and soil.

July 7, 2014 opening flowers 022

Pruned hard exactly a year ago, this beautiful old oak shows strong new growth.

 

Every creature and plant is a willing tutor to those who engage with them with mind and heart open to their wisdom.

 

July 7, 2014 opening flowers 013

 

The changing light weaves a new story each day; a faithful Scheherazade for those who will listen and take pleasure in the tale.

 

July 7, 2014 opening flowers 020

In July, the garden’s theme is abundance and profound love.

July 7, 2014 opening flowers 001

Source is generous with its gifts, nourishing through its fruits, and rich in its beauty.

 

July 7, 2014 opening flowers 003

 

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down,

creating and destroying,

keeping everything whirling and flowing,

allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion,

chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

John Muir

 

July 7, 2014 garden 010

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Floral Fireworks

June 30, 2014 butterfly 031

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Phosphorescent lights

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July 6, 2014 garden 003

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Explode  against the night sky,

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July 6, 2014 garden 010

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Expanding

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July 4, 2014 After Arthur 155

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Into fantastic bursts of color and form,

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July 4, 2014 After Arthur 003

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Before twinkling and blinking  out

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July 4, 2014 After Arthur 143

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As gravity pulls showers of fading bits

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June 27, 2014 garden 008

 

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Back to Earth.

 

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June 30, 2014 butterfly 021

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

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