Not Just A Vase: Pots by Dorothy Steele

July 18, 2016 mugs 028

~

“I have always seen clay as organic in substance and form,

and have been drawn to the Earth, nature and its colors. 

It is out of this core inspiration that I create my pottery.” 

.

Dorothy Steele

~

July 17, 2016 mark 003

~

It was love at first sight….

I fell in love with Dorothy’s enchanting pottery immediately, when I discovered it more than a year ago, at Mossy Creek Pottery in Lincoln City, OR.  None came home with me on that trip, but I purchased two of her mugs when I returned this April, as a gift for my partner.

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 034

~

I chose designs from her sea themed collection, embellished with mermaids, shells, sea grasses and a long tentacled jellyfish.  We’ve used them daily since, remembering our love for the Oregon coast as we do.

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 035

~

But a flurry of emails between us found Dorothy agreeing to construct a few more mugs for us with her signature grapevines, dragonfly and other garden motifs.  She offered to make several to give me a choice.  But, I loved them all. 

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 029

~

Also a gardener, Dorothy uses cuttings from her garden in her work.  She presses ferns, leaves, vines and other natural objects into slabs of porcelain to create organic artworks which also happen to be functional.

I love using beautiful works of art every day, taking fresh pleasure in them with each sip of coffee.

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 033

~

Dorothy and I share a love for beautiful pottery, which is enough to begin a transcontinental friendship.  But then we have both invested chunks of our lives teaching in public school and elsewhere, and we share a deep passion for our gardens and the natural world.  We both love making beautiful things with our hands.  And I admire her wonderful imagination for creating in clay and glaze.

Dorothy moved her studio home to Gresham Oregon in 2010, and from there supplies six galleries in Oregon, another in Washington, and participates in numerous juried shows, retail craft fairs and wholesale craft markets.  She and her potter colleagues also participate in ‘Empty Bowls’ to help feed the hungry in the greater Portland area.

These mugs are perhaps the tamest of her creations.  Most of her bowls, tea pots, candlesticks, sake and sushi sets take whimsical, organic forms as well.  If you have a moment, please follow the links to Dorothy’s site to see more of her pots.

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 026~

To make a long story longer, I couldn’t choose between the mugs Dorothy constructed for us and advised her to, “Send them all!”  One or two will find their way to loved ones at the holidays, and we will enjoy the rest.  I am beguiled by the dragonflies and curling vines; summer captured forever in clay.

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 032

~

I’m using them as vases today, holding a few clippings of Oxalis, Coleus and Heuchera from pots by the door.  I squandered the cool early morning hours watering, weeding, planting and photographing; neglecting cuttings for a vase until after it was too hot to breathe.  I hope these few stems will do….

Cathy, at Rambling In the Garden always inspires with her floral creations.  And today her vase is expertly filled with Hydrangea and Cosmos, and many other delectable blossoms.  Please visit her to see what other gardeners around the planet snipped for their vases today.    You’ll find links in her comments to many wonderful garden sites. We all appreciate Cathy for hosting this tete a tete of flowers each Monday.

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 038

~

Gardening friends in Oregon likely know Dorothy and her work already.  But I want to share her unique porcelain pottery with others, too.

My collection of Steele pots is destined to grow in the years ahead, and perhaps yours might, as well…..

~

Email: steelepots@gmail.com

Email: steelepots@gmail.com

~

Woodland Gnome 2016

 

Advertisements

WPC: Opposites

June 30, 2016 rainbow 040

~

“If we can stay with the tension of opposites

long enough —sustain it, be true to it—

we can sometimes become vessels

within which the divine opposites come together

and give birth to a new reality.”

.

Marie-Louise von Franz

~

Oregon Trip 2016 026

~

“God created… light and dark, heaven and hell—


science claims the same thing as religion,

that the Big Bang created everything in the universe

with an opposite;

including matter itself, antimatter”


.

Dan Brown

~

Oregon Trip 2016 025

Depot Bay, Oregon

~

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challege:  Opposites

~

June 30, 2016 rainbow 038

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

~

Caladium 'Miss Muffett' in a mixed planter with Heuchera 'Glowing Embers' and ferns.

Caladium ‘Miss Muffett’ in a mixed planter with Heuchera ‘Glowing Embers,’ ivy and ferns.

Plant Now For Spring Living Flower Arrangements

November 2, 2015 015

~

Who wants to look at empty pots for the next four months?  I am as interested in planting attractive pots for the winter season as I am interested in replanting those pots for summer.  And each fall, I keep an eye and and ear open for new ideas.

Brent Heath offered a workshop last month at his Bulb Shop in Gloucester that I sorely wanted to attend.  He even offered to bring his workshop across the river if I could pull a group together in our community.  And how I wish my time and energy had stretched far enough to invite him!

~

Miniature daffodils grow to only 6"-8" tall and work well in spring pots. Plant the entire bulb and foliage out into a permanent spot in the garden when switching out plantings for summer.

~

Brent, a master horticulturalist, teaches the finer points of loading containers with bulbs.  Now even though he and his wife Becky are known internationally for their prodigious offering of Daffodils; they sell hundreds of different bulbs and perennials.  Brent’s workshop teaches how to layer several different species of bulbs into a single pot to create a “Living Flower Arrangement” which changes over time as different bulbs appear, bloom, and fade.

I wanted to attend Brent’s workshop to learn a new trick or two.  I’ve used various bulbs in containers for many years now, but there is always a better way, when one is open to learn from someone more experienced.  But the stars haven’t aligned this season, and so I’ve been experimenting on my own with the bulbs we’ve been collecting.

~

Violas with white Dianthus, and Muscari. Miniature Daffodils bloomed later in the season.

~

The idea is elegantly simple:  since one plants bulbs at different depths depending on the size of the bulb, and since new growth from most bulbs is very narrow before it reaches the light,  one can plant one ‘layer’ of bulbs on top of another, allowing the emerging stems to sort out the spacing as they grow upwards towards the light.  In fact, three or four ‘layers’ of different types of bulbs may be planted into a single large pot.   This very crowded planting works for a single season, but must be unpacked by early summer.  The bulbs may be transplanted ‘in the green’ into garden beds, to allow the leaves to fully recharge the bulb for the next season of flowers.

~

 Containers for sale at the Heath's Bulb Shop last April

Containers on display at the Heath’s Bulb Shop last April

~

I modify this idea to include annuals, perennials, woodies and moss so the planting has immediate interest while we wait for the bulbs to emerge in the spring.

Begin with a clean pot.  I use coffee filters or a paper towel over the drainage holes to hold the soil while the roots are growing.  The filters will soon decompose.  Choose a good quality, light, commercial potting soil with nutrition already mixed in.  The annuals and perennials are heavy feeders, and the bulbs will perform better in rich soil.  Many of the ‘organic’ potting soils now come pre-loaded with worm castings!

Now one must  ‘do the math.’  Having chosen 2-5 species of bulbs, depending on the size and depth of the pot, first study the proper planting depth of each.  If you are using Daffodils, for instance, which are planted at a depth of 6″, then fill the pot with soil to within about 7″ of the rim.    Set the first ‘layer’ of Daffodil bulbs on the soil by pushing the root end slightly into the soil so that the tip points upwards.  Space these Daffodils 3″-4″ apart from one another and at least an inch or two inwards from the sides of the pot.  Carefully fill in around these bulbs with more potting soil so they are barely covered, and firm the soil with your palm.

~

Violas jnder a potted redbud tree grow here with Heuchera and daffodils.

Violas under a potted Redbud tree grow here with Heuchera and Daffodils early last spring.

~

Choose your next bulb, adding just enough soil so it is planted at its correct depth, and arrange these bulbs by lightly pushing them into the soil.  Try to avoid setting a new bulb directly over top of a deeper one.  Lightly top with soil to hold this layer in place, and add an additional layer or two of bulbs.  I like to select a few bulbs, like Crocus, Muscari, or Galanthus nivalis, which will emerge in late winter.  These will often be the ones planted most shallow.

~

Miniature Iris and Muscari are planted in a grid beneath the moss. Violas fit between the bulbs. I've tucked in rooted cutting of Creeping Jenny for color. These turn bright red in a harsh winter.

Miniature Iris and Muscari are planted in a grid beneath the moss. Violas fit between the bulbs. I’ve tucked in rooted cutting of Creeping Jenny for color. These turn bright red in a harsh winter.

~

If your living flower arrangement will contain only bulbs, then simply top off the soil with a layer of living moss, water in, place the pot, and wait.  You can certainly add a few branches, pods, stones or cones to the pot to catch the eye while you wait for spring.

~

Violas with creeping jenny and a hardy Sedum.

Violas with Creeping Jenny and a hardy Sedum ‘Angelina’ last April.

~

But I want a living flower arrangement which goes to work right away.  I always add some annuals or perennials to the mix, which complicates the bulb planting a bit, as you don’t want bulbs directly under the huge root ball of a perennial or shrub.   I tend to place  a shrub or perennial in the pot first, then plant the bulbs around it.  This is a good use for those clearance shrubs with tiny root balls so easy to find in late October or November.  Or, for the many evergreen shrubs showing up now in tiny quart or 1 gallon pots.

~

March 20 2014 spring 006

~

Many vines and some perennials root easily from cuttings.  Simply tuck bits of Creeping Jenny, hardy Sedum, or divisions of Ivy or Ajuga into the soil of your finished pot.  These will grow in place.  Consider sprinkling seeds for perennials like Columbine, which like to overwinter out of doors.  They will begin to sprout next spring as the bulbs emerge.

~

Creeping Jenny last March

Creeping Jenny last March

~

You might complete your design with some winter annuals.  You can pot up the deeper layers of bulbs, and then plant a few Violas, Pansies or snaps in the top three inches of the pot.  Layer in your Crocus and Muscari bulbs around them.

~ April 7,2014 spring flowers 002

~

I still finish the pot with moss or pebbles.   This topdressing not only looks more attractive than plain dirt; it helps hold moisture, insulates the roots as temperatures dive, and it offers some protection from digging squirrels.  If I were using Tulips in the pot, I would be tempted to lay some chicken wire, with large openings, over that layer of bulbs for further protection from marauding rodents.  Tuck in a few cloves of garlic or onion sets to protect your Violas from grazing deer and rabbits.

~

March 20 2015 fresh 027~

Now, the ultimate ‘multi-tasking’ for this sort of planting:  hardwood cuttings.  Many of our woodies will root over winter if stuck into moist soil and left alone for several months.  If you have some shrubs you would like to propagate, take your cuttings and push them artistically into the finished pot.  If they root, fine.  If they don’t, you have still enjoyed the extra sculptural elements they lend over winter while the bulbs are sleeping.

~

I've added a hardwood cutting of fig to this new mixed planting with bulb and other flowering plants.

I’ve added a hardwood cutting of fig to this new mixed planting with bulb and other flowering plants.

~

This sort of winter ‘living flower arrangement’ takes a bit of planning.  There are lots of choices to make about timing and color schemes, size and scale, costs and placement.  You have to imagine how the bulbs will look when they emerge, so the tall ones are more to the center and the shorter ones nearer the edges; unless the shorter ones will finish before the tall ones emerge.  And the container must be large enough to contain all of those robust roots without cracking; and of material which will hold up to your winter weather.

~March 6, 2015 garden 002

~

This is an excellent way to showcase miniature Daffodils and other delicate, small flowering bulbs.  You might combine several types of daffies to include those which flower early, mid- and late season.  Daffodils with blue Muscari always look great together.

~

Ornamental cabbage with Heuchera in a newly planted pot.

Ornamental cabbage with Hellebore in a newly planted pot.

~

You might also compose an arrangement of various Iris.  Include some combination of Iris unguicularis, Iris bucharica, Iris histrioides, Iris reticulata, Dutch Iris, and perhaps even a root of German Bearded Iris for a long season of beautiful Iris blooms.

If your winter is especially harsh, plant your container now, water it in, but leave it in an unheated garage or shed until February.  Bring it out into the spring sunshine and enjoy the bulbs when the worst of winter has passed.

~

Newly planted Violas with Heuchera

Newly planted Violas with Hellebores.  Bulbs are tucked into the soil, waiting for spring.

~

We enjoy the luxury of  Zone 7b, which allows us to grow winter annuals which would die a few states to the north, and also bulbs which wouldn’t survive in the warmer winters to our south.  We also have many winter or early spring  flowering shrubs to plant in our container gardens.

~

Arum italicum unfurls its first leaf today. The tuber has been growing for about a month now.

Arum italicum unfurls its first leaf today. The tuber has been growing for about a month now.  Foliage will fill this pot all winter, with flowers appearing in the spring.

~

Here are some of the plants I choose most often for these dynamic pots:

Perennials:  Hellebores, Heucheras, Cyclamen hederifolium, Arum, Iris unguicularis, evergreen ferns, culinary Sage, Rosemary, Ivy, Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny), Sedum rupestre, ‘Angelina’ and other hardy Sedums, Ajuga, Vinca Minor (Periwinkle), hardy Oxalis, Columbine, Dianthus

~

Pansies will soon respond to wramer days and nights with renewed growth. Here with miniature daffodils.

Pansies will soon respond to warmer days and nights with renewed growth. Here with miniature daffodils.

~

Annuals:  Violas, Panolas, Pansies, Snapdragons, Allysum, ornamental kale or cabbage

Whatever combination of plants you choose, think of these living flower arrangements as narratives which unfold over time.

Time truly is the magical ingredient for baking bread, raising children, and creating beautiful gardens.

~

March 25-28 013

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

In A Vase: Rooting

May 26, 2015 vase 037

~

The flowers and foliage in today’s vase were clipped late this afternoon; mostly from pots on the deck.

So many stems cut for the Monday vases this spring rooted in place, that I chose this particular combination with that intention in mind.

~

May 26, 2015 vase 051

~

These Coleus, from the “Under the Sea” collection, were clipped from the nursery pots I bought them in on Saturday.  I took cuttings immediately to leave with my father, another Coleus devote’, and now I’ve snipped a little more for cuttings of my own.  The original plants will remain in their pots for another day at least.

~

May 26, 2015 vase 039

~

Coleus root quickly and easily in water.  My father simply breaks stems from a growing plant and pushes the stem into the soil in another pot.  He has great success, but I am not quite that self-confident.  I enjoy watching the little white roots form in a vase by the kitchen window before tucking the well rooted little cutting into some soil.

I’ve managed to collect three of the “Under the Sea” cultivars this spring.  So far I have C. “Lime Shrimp,” C. “Bonefish,” and C. “Gold Anemone.”  These are some of the most delicate and unusual forms of Coleus I’ve ever found, and I like them alone or in combination with annual flowers.  Have you found these at your garden center?  The “Under the Sea” Coleus is easy to grow.  It tolerates more sun than some older cultivars of Coleus, and can grow into a good sized plant over the season.

~

May 26, 2015 vase 046

~

With the Coleus is a cutting of a dusky purple Petunia I’m growing in baskets this summer.  I like this unusual color, which was the closest I could find to the wonderful gold and purple striped Petunias I grew in baskets last summer.  Sadly, the plants didn’t make it through the winter.  I hope this Petunia will root, as we enjoy it in the vase.

Our Heuchera, or Coral Bells, have bloomed in pots on the deck.  I grow them for their unusual leaves, and these delicate stems of flowers are a bonus from time to time.  The other stems of flowers were cut from Oxalis.

~

May 26, 2015 vase 053

~

Finally, I had to add a few little pieces of our Muscadine grape vines, which are such a beautiful shade of green when young and tender.  It is highly unlikely these will root, but I have a place ready for them if they do.  One of the vines I transplanted in early spring has not leafed out, and I cut it back today.

Our mineral today is a cluster of Aqua Aura quartz.

~

May 26, 2015 vase 038

~

This is actually clear quartz, which was specially treated to create this unusual blue color.  Our little moonstone turtle sits with the vase, also, as a reminder of the turtle eggs incubating now in our garden.

This is the season when there is always more to do in the garden. 

We’ve both been spending our mornings, into the early afternoon, working outside.  We love this time of year, when the garden is growing so rapidly, but it takes enormous time and energy to keep up with it all.  I stayed a bit too long today out in the hot sun, and so wanted something cool and delicate in our vase indoors.

~

May 26, 2015 vase 045

~

Please remember to visit Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden, who sponsors “In A Vase On Monday” each week.  I appreciate her tireless inspiration to cut and arrange home grown flowers, and to encourage other garden bloggers to do the same.   This week she has created a stunning arrangement she calls, “Storm in a Teacup.”  You’ll find many links to other gardeners’ blogs in her comments.

~

May 26, 2015 vase 035

~

And remember, you can enjoy beautiful foliage in your vase while it roots.  Just as our gardens find their structure in foliage and accents in flowers; so our arrangements may, as well.

We enjoy both the pleasure of its beauty and the gift of a new plant when we eventually take it all apart.  It is sort of like eating your cake, and having it, too .

~

May 26, 2015 vase 041

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

In a Pot On Wednesday…..

March 18, 2015 pot 008

~

We have celebrated the warmth and sunshine of the past several days out in the garden, preparing for a new growing season.

We’ve fertilized, pruned, shredded leaves, cleaned up planting beds, and taken absolute delight in the signs of awakening perennials.  Our daffodils have begun their annual ‘season in the sun’ as more and more clumps begin to open.  I’ve planted a few still sleeping perennials and spread some compost.

~

March 18, 2015 pot 009

~

All the while, I’ve been thinking of those less fortunate… those whose gardens still lie under ice and snow.  I’ve never wanted to live further ‘north’ than Zone 7.  In fact, I like Zone 8 even more.  But for those blogging friends still waiting for your first daffodils to appear, and especially for those friends waiting to see your soil again after weeks of wicked winter weather; please know you are not forgotten or overlooked.

I’ve potted up a little ‘eye candy’ especially for you, to hopefully bring you a little cheer as you wait….

~

March 18, 2015 pot 013

~

Monday passed quickly, pruners and camera in hand, and late in the afternoon there was no energy left to execute a ” Vase ” for a Monday post.  Tuesday was much the same, I’m delighted to say.

We have visited our friends who run the best garden center in the area,  ostensibly to buy a few bags of compost.  Of course, when I saw their racks filled with colorful annuals and a whole section of tiny perennials at a bargain price; the inevitable euphoria broke my resolve.

Weather forecast ignored, I came home with the first flats of the season.

~

March 18, 2015 pot 006

~

And that is how “In A Vase on Monday” morphed into “In A Pot on Wednesday.”

Now, there is still snow in our forecast.  We are counting on a “dusting” with the temperatures hovering just above freezing.  These are all hardy plants, and should manage just fine.  And the pot is completely portable if things get colder than we expect.

Here is the lovely Hellebore from the “One Word Photo Challenge: Melon” post yesterday, with a Heuchera “Melting Fire,Allysum and two melon colored snaps.  What I hope you can’t see in these photos are the cloves of garlic I’ve tucked in to discourage any wayward deer who might sneak into the garden.  They won’t bother the Hellebore or Allysum, but they’ve been known to snack on Heuchera leaves.  Garlic has proven effective to protect our pots from deer nibbling.

~

March 18, 2015 pot 004~

This pot is nestled at the base of a Dogwood tree, among some budding Autumn Olive shrubs, which will soon be covered in tiny champagne colored flowers.  Sunny now, this area will remain shady much of the day when the trees have their leaves.

Even though I didn’t manage a ‘Vase” this week, please still take a moment to visit Cathy’s post at Rambling In the Garden and see the many beautiful arrangements others have created.

We’ve been tidying up until today.  With the chores mostly done, I took a few hours late this afternoon to finally plant a little color.

~

March 18, 2015 pot 012

~

The flat of Allysum and snaps are all in the ground.  Such tiny little things now, almost lost among the leafy mulch.  But like all of the other tiny starts of spring, these too, will grow.

~

March 18, 2015 pot 010~

Like so much of the happiness in our lives, we take a little here and there as we can.

~

March 18, 2015 pot 016

~

We are enjoying these first warm and sunny afternoons of spring.  Fully aware that winter isn’t finished yet, we feel its grip loosening a bit more with each passing day.

Woodland Gnome 2015

Let The Planting Begin!

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 010

~

We had a taste of spring here yesterday and this morning.  We actually hit 70 F yesterday afternoon!  It was the perfect day for a drive out to the country, and so some loved ones and I took off for destinations west after lunch.

Just over the county line, in the eastern edge of Amelia, Clay Hudgins of  Hudgins Landscape and Nursery, Inc., is preparing for his first spring in his new location. We had visited last fall and been impressed with the excellent condition of the plants and friendliness of his staff.

What else to do on the first 70 degree day of the new year, but go wander through a nursery?  Although I was in search of potted Hellebores, Clay interested me in shrubs instead.   Many of his shrubs were on sale, and most of his Espoma products.  So I stocked up on Holly Tone and Rose Tone; and adopted a gorgeous Rhododendron.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 001~

Our neighbors have successfully grown Rhododendron, even without fencing out the deer; and so we are going to try this one in a spot where a Camellia failed this autumn.  The poor Camellia had been nibbled by deer multiple times during its short life.  Sadly, most of its roots had also been eaten by the voles.  It was too abused to even take a photo of it.

But I’ve learned a trick or two to protect new shrubs since that Camellia went into the ground in 2011.  Today I planted both the Rhodie, and a potted dwarf  Eastern Redbud tree, Cercis canadensis, which was already growing with Heuchera ‘Caramel,’ spring bulbs, and an Autumn Brilliance fern.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 003

~

This is a cool and partially shaded area, part of our fern gardens behind the house.  These plants will get afternoon sun, and should grow very happily here.

The first line of defense to protect a shrub’s roots from vole damage is gravel in the planting hole.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 004

~

I dug this hole about 4″ deeper than needed, and about 6-7″ wider.  You may notice a clam shell stuck to the side of the planting hole in the photo.  That is plugging up the main vole tunnel, which is now back-filled with gravel behind that shell.

Like earthworms, voles dig and tunnel through the soil.  My job is to make that as difficult and hazardous as possible.  In addition to gravel, I like to surround the new shrub with poisonous roots.  There were already a few daffodil bulbs growing in front of the deceased Camellia.  You can see their leaves just poking through the soil in the bottom left corner of the photo, if you look closely.  I’ve added a few more daffodils now, planted near the new Redbud, a few feet behind the Rhodie.

~

These roots are beautiful; not potbound at all.  I still scored vertical lines in several places around the rootball with the tip of a knife to stimulate growth and prevent any 'girdling' of the roots .

These roots are beautiful; not pot bound at all. I still scored vertical lines in several places around the root ball with the tip of a knife to stimulate growth and prevent any ‘girdling’ of the roots as they grow .

~

I’ll plan to plant more daffodils in this area when they come on the market again in fall.  But, until then, I’ve surrounded the Rhodie with seedling Hellebores, spaced about 12″ apart.  Hellebores are one of the most toxic plants we grow.  Every part, including the roots, is highly poisonous.  Once these roots begin to grow and fill in, they will form a poisonous “curtain” of plant matter around the Rhodie’s roots, protecting the root ball as the shrub establishes.  Just for good measure, I’ve laid a light ‘mulch’ of the old Hellebore leaves we pruned this morning.  They will quickly decompose into the soil, and their toxins will offer this area additional protection.

~

From top left: Yucca leaves, Heuchera, 'Caramel," a tiny Redbud tree, emerging bulbs, seedling Hellebores, Hellebore leaves, Rhododendron Purpureum Elegans, daffodil leaves, and a mature Autumn Brilliance fern.

From top left: Yucca leaves, Heuchera, ‘Caramel,” a tiny Redbud tree, emerging bulbs, seedling Hellebores, Hellebore leaves, Rhododendron Purpureum Elegans, daffodil leaves, and a mature Autumn Brilliance fern.

~

Japanese Painted Ferns are already established in this area.  Their first fronds will unfurl over the next six weeks.  I’ll add additional ferns, and most likely some Wood Anemones to this planting.  It is mulched in pea gravel and some shells at the moment, to further thwart creatures who might want to dig here.

A little Holly Tone is mixed into the bottom of the planting holes and is also dusted over the mulched ground.  Mushroom compost is mixed with the soil used to fill in around the root balls.  Finally, I watered in all of the plants with a generous wash of Neptune’s Harvest.  It smells so foul that hungry creatures give it wide berth.  Just for good measure, I also sprayed the Heuchera and Rhododendron with deer repellent just before going back inside.

Overkill?  Not at all!  I want these plants to get off to a good and healthy start!  I’ll show you the progress here from time to time.  This gorgeous Rhodie is absolutely covered in buds, which will open in a beautiful shade of lavender later in the spring.   I’m so pleased with this shrub, having seen its beautiful roots and abundant growth, that I’m seriously considering purchasing a few more Rhododendrons from this same lot while they are available, and still on sale.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 013

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

~

Hellebore with a bud emerging in another part of the fern garden.

Hellebore with a bud emerging in another part of the fern garden.

Silent Sunday

January 11, 2015 terrarium 016

~

“Accept that you are not finished,

and a new and better life is just beginning.”

Bryant McGill

~

 

Photo by Woodland Gnome 2015

One Word Photo Challenge: Marsala

Heuchera

Heuchera

*

Marsala,

Brownish pink, rosy brown,

Color chosen for 2015.

*

 

January 6, 2015  marsala 005

*

Color of ivy stems, winter blossoms, dried blood,

Wine, pomegranates, terra cotta, grapes.

*

 

January 6, 2015  marsala 001

*

Cooly warm, this hue.

Color of Earth, not sky;

*

Begonia

Begonia

*

Muddy water, not fire.

*

January 6, 2015  marsala 012

*

Color of life,

New leaves, new growth, winter survival.

*

Philodendron

Philodendron

*

Marsala purrs softness, comfort, calm.

*

Hellebores

Hellebores

*

It promises spring.

*

March 27, 2014 parkway 025

*

It verifies vitality

It witnesses winter’s defeat.

*

 

Hellebore

Hellebore

*

Marsala:  taste the good taste of new.

*

 

January 6, 2015  marsala 020

*

Woodland Gnome 2015

 

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her

One Word Photo Challenge:  Marsala

 

Garlic With Pansies?

Violas with Heuchera, April 2014

Violas with Heuchera, April 2014

 

Every autumn we plant pansies and Violas. 

These colorful little plants brighten our outdoor pots and beds for a good six months.  They are usually still going strong when we need to pull them out to plant spring and summer annuals.

 

Violas jnder a potted redbud tree grow here with Heuchera and daffodils.

Violas under a potted redbud tree grow here with Heuchera and daffodils.  April 2014

 

When the days begin to warm in February and March, the plants expand and come into their glory, covered in bright blossoms.

Paired with bulbs, ferns, Hellebores, evergreen shrubs, and ornamental kale or cabbage; they create a stunning display for the cooler half of our gardening year.

 

Violas with creeping jenny and a hardy Sedum.

Violas with creeping jenny and a hardy Sedum.   April 2014

 

The only problem we have, is that these pretty flowers also taste good… to any passing deer.

We’ve tried various ways to protect them over the years.  And the method which works best (so far), and  which we are using again this season, involves garlic.

 

A newly planted Panola, with its personal garlic clove nestled in the soil near its roots.

A newly planted Panola, with its personal garlic clove nestled in the soil near its roots.

 

We plant cloves of garlic interspersed with our pansy starts.

Our freshly planted Violas were grazed last fall before I tried the garlic.  A few plants never recovered.  Others bounced back in late winter.

A fresh head of garlic with garlic cloves, already broken a part and ready to plant.

A fresh head of garlic with garlic cloves, already broken apart and ready to plant.  The “flat” end goes down, where roots will grow.  The pointy end sticks up, ready for its leaves to emerge.

 

Only the Violas planted out of reach on our back deck went unscathed.

But last year, after the first grazing, I tried simply tossing some cloves on top of the soil around the plants.  It worked:  No more grazing in the garlic laced pots.

But something else happened, too:  the garlic cloves sprouted!  Roots busily grew out of the business end of each clove, seeking soil and moisture.

 

These little Panola starts we purchased yesterday will go out into pots on our next warm, dry day.

These little Panola starts we purchased yesterday will go out into pots on our next warm, dry day.

 

Plants always amaze me with their determination to live and grow.  When I notice the cloves rooting into the pots, I helped them out with a gentle nudge into the soil.  Each clove grew long green leaves, which we could have snipped to eat.

When I dug the Violas to transplant out into beds at spring potting time, the garlic went with them.

These Violas have been growing in their new pot for a few weeks.  Do you see the garlic leaves growing near them?

These Violas have been growing in their new pot for a few weeks. Do you see the garlic leaves growing near them?

 

So I’m starting off right this year. 

Little cloves are going into the soil around ever Viola, Panola and pansy we plant.  Some have already sprouted leaves.

They look like ornamental bulbs beginning to sprout, and don’t detract from the beauty at all, to us.

 

Viola here with garlic under a Brugmansia.  We also push cuttings of scented Pelargonium into the soil for extra protection.  Some will root.

Viola here with garlic under a Brugmansia. We also push cuttings of scented Pelargonium into the soil for extra protection. Some will root.

 

We look at them as “green insurance” for our Violas, Panolas and pansies to last through the winter, ungrazed.

March 20 2014 spring 006

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

*

 

 

December 13 2013 poinsettias 003

Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

 

Things Change: Butterfly Garden

Pineapple Sage fills the butterfly garden last October.

Pineapple Sage fills the butterfly garden last October.

 

The butterfly garden was built four springs ago during our first year on the property.

Finding the garden full of butterflies and hummingbirds when we first settled in, I wanted to plant even more nectar rich flowers  on the sunny west facing slope between our house and the ravine.

We constructed a raised bed, roughly 8′ deep, which stretched the full length of a fairly flat area between walkways.

 

March of 2010, our newly built bed is ready to plant.

March of 2010, our newly built bed is ready to plant.

By then we had discovered the voles.  So we laid down landscaping fabric and filled the bed in with purchased garden soil and compost, hoping to create a bed the voles couldn’t reach.

And that first season we planted three butterfly bushes, three rose bushes, white and purple coneflowers, several different Salvias, lots of Basil, Cleome, Monarda, giant Zinnias, and probably a half dozen other things I’m not remembering.

Late June of 2010, the newly planted garden is taking off.

Late June of 2010, the newly planted garden is taking off.

It was gorgeous, especially in late summer and early autumn, when all of the Salvias came into bloom.

Back then, the Rose of Sharon shrubs weren’t quite so tall on the bank above the garden.

There were a few spindly little deer nibbled Rose of Sharon shrubs below the bed, too;  but they were too short to make significant shade.

The garden in 2011

The garden in 2011

The bed has changed a little each season.  I’ve added several new rose bushes and some Iris.  Two of the Buddleia davidii  died over winter.

But perhaps the most significant change has been a change in the light reaching the garden from full sun to partial shade.

June of 2011 with full sun, the herbs and perennials grow happily.

June of 2011 with full sun, the herbs and perennials grow happily.

And I was inspired to keep planting in tiers down the slope, setting out shrubs as they outgrew their pots, more iris, and lots of little Rosemary and Lavender plants on the sun drenched slope.

Like with any growing family, over time, things change.

By mid-August of 2014 surrounding shrubs shade the actual raised bed..

By mid-August of 2014 surrounding shrubs shade the actual raised bed..

The Rose of Sharon in front of the bed, given a little love in the form of careful pruning and Plant Tone have just taken off!  They’ve grown from knee high to “out of reach” in just these last few years.

The little re-blooming lilacs moved from pots into the ground quickly quadrupled in size, casting their shade back onto the original raised bed.

Plants along the edges of the bed have gotten enough sun to grow.  The Pineapple Sage made it through the winter, and has grown high again this year.  It will burst into bloom late next month.

Plants along the edges of the bed have gotten enough sun to grow. The Pineapple Sage made it through the winter, and has grown high again this year. It will burst into bloom late next month.

I started work in the butterfly garden in early spring, cutting back last year’s woody growth and weeding.

Our long cold winter delayed appearance of the perennials.

But I kept puttering out there, transplanting bulbs “in the green” from pots into the ground, pruning and feeding the roses, and finally as the weather warmed, planting Basil, Zinnias, and scented geraniums.

April 2014, Comfrey and Parsley

April 2014, Comfrey and Parsley

But the butterfly garden never quite came together this summer as it has in past years.

We had a nice crop of roses in May, but the Monarda, Echinacea, and Cleome just didn’t appear as I had expected.

And while I waited for them to appear, weeds sprouted in their place.

Late May 2014

Late May 2014

But I was busy elsewhere and let them get away from me.  Life happens, doesn’t it?

And, as you surely know, I’ve invested a lot of my “gardening hours” in other parts of the garden this season.

So last week, when I finally had a stretch of days at home, it came time to face the sad state of our once stunning butterfly garden and see what could be done to fix it.

The roses are already shaded by over arching Rose of Sharon shrubs here in mid-May.

The roses are already shaded by over arching Rose of Sharon shrubs here in mid-May.

With  encouragement from the weather, we used the cool August morning to our advantage, and waded in.

I pulled out weedy growth by the handful, and my partner gathered it all and carted it off to return to the Earth in the ravine.

The main offender, Mulberry weed, or Fatoua villosa, has leaves enough like our herby perennials that it can easily hide out near other plants.

It grows thickly from seeds left the season before, and easily shades out more desirable plants returning from seed.

It was the featured weed of the month in a gardening magazine I happened to read last week.  When I learned that it can shoot its little seeds up to four feet away from the mother plant, I realized it could be tolerated no longer!

Mulberry weed is growing among the perennial Ageratum, at the base of the Echinacea here.  This is on the opposite side of the pathway from the raised bed.

Mulberry weed is growing among the perennial Ageratum, at the base of the Echinacea here.   This is on the opposite side of the pathway from the raised bed.

The ground was soft and moist enough to allow us to pull the weeds, roots intact, with minimal effort.

I was happy to find a few of the Salvias and Monarda we’d been watch for struggling on among the weeds.

Zinnias and Penta, on the front edge of the bed, got a bit dirt covered during the great weeding....

Zinnias and Penta, on the front edge of the bed, got a bit dirt covered during the great weeding….

But the main problem with the bed wasn’t really the weeds…. it was the shade.  Leggy growth on perennials can only be explained away in so many ways….

Although I thinned out some of the over-arching Rose of Sharon branches, that won’t be enough to restore this bed to its original sunny exposure.

Rose of Sharon, which has grown from knee high to "out of reach" in such a short time.  Butterflies and hummingbirds just love these flowers.

Rose of Sharon, which has grown from knee high to “out of reach” in such a short time. Butterflies and hummingbirds just love these flowers.

 

It is time to acknowledge that the growing conditions here have shifted, and adjust with new plants.

 

Leggy growth is a sure sign of too much shade.

Leggy growth is a sure sign of too much shade.  This poor rose was recently grazed by deer, in spite of the scented geranium planted in front of it.

The roses will stay, of course, and the herbs and Lantana planted along the very front edge will just have to manage for the remainder of this season.

We also have one good stand of Pineapple Sage on the  end of the garden.  But once the weeds were pulled, there was a lot of bare real estate to replant.

Early August, before I got busy working on the butterfly garden.

Early August, before I got busy working on the butterfly garden.

Visiting deer remain a  complicating factor for this garden, which limits plant choices.  All of the Heuchera I moved out of pots to this garden in the spring have been grazed.

The scented Pelargoniums, onion sets, Basil, and Comphrey were supposed to help keep the deer away… But the roses and missing Heuchera bear witness to the deer and their hunger.

So what nectar rich, deer resistant, shade loving plants might survive in this garden?

Hardy Begonia, before I dividided it and replanted portions in the butterfly garden.

Hardy Begonia, before I divided it and replanted portions in the butterfly garden.

Most of the obvious selections, like Impatiens, Hosta,  or Solomon’s Seal have already proven too tasty in summers past.

Even Coleus, which produces flowers in the sun, tempts our deer from time to time.

But  hardy Begonias have survived  on a shady bank, in another part of the garden, since we planted them there in 2009.

Hardy Begonia begins its season of bloom in August, and blooms until frost. Here, on a shady bank.

Hardy Begonia begins its season of bloom in August, and blooms until frost. Here, on a shady bank.

 

These beautiful plants bloom in the shade, attract butterflies, spread, and return year after year.  Luckily, we have a large pot of them started from cuttings last summer, which survived the winter, too.

Ferns will also fill the space beautifully, hold no interest for deer, and spread a little each year.

We had a large clump of Japanese Pained Fern, Athyrium niponicum in a pot on the deck which needed dividing anyway.

So I began the rehabilitation of this once lovely garden with divisions of fern, Begonia, and two hardy ferns picked up at Lowes.

 

Divisions of Japanese Painted Fern and Hardy Begonia will spread to fill the shadiest portions of the butterfly garden.

Divisions of Japanese Painted Fern and Hardy Begonia will spread to fill the shadiest portions of the butterfly garden.

Once plants fill the space, weedy growth will not be much of a problem.  And once the Begonias establish, they will bloom here reliably season after season.

A bag of compost is always a good investment when re-working a garden space, and I added it generously to this bed as I planted.

I grew this particular Begonia for more than a decade in my last garden before moving it here, and I have no idea what its cultivar name might be.

 

August 16, 2014 garden 036

Plant Delights Nursery offers a dozen different hardy Begonias which I’m looking forward to trying here.

Begonia grandis, ‘Heron’s Pirouette’ is growing nicely in a pot on the deck.  I’ll take cuttings and have more plants to add to the now shady butterfly garden by next season.

Begonia, ‘Pewterware’ should arrive in the mail later this week.  A new plant in the catalog, I’m looking forward to watching it grow.

We also have Saxifraga stolonifera, or Strawberry Begonia, spreading like crazy in a large pot in the front garden.   I’ll move a few of these around to the front edge of this garden for spring blooms.  We saw them in full bloom at Forest Lane Botanicals this year, and they make an impressive display for a few weeks each spring.  They provide a pleasing ground cover during the rest of the season.

There is space left to add a few more ferns to the garden around the Begonias.

Autumn 'Brilliance' fern remains evergreen in our garden.  I'll add a few of these to the bed as they come available.

Autumn ‘Brilliance’ fern remains evergreen in our garden. I’ll add a few of these to the bed as they come available, and will also add some evergreen, winter blooming Hellebores.

The Patton’s have promised that a shipment of ferns will be in at the Homestead Garden Center later this week, and I’ll hope for an interesting selection.

We have plenty more Japanese Painted Ferns in pots to divide, but they are deciduous ferns.  I’d like at least a few evergreen ferns to fill the bed over the winter.

One thing I’ve learned over the years:  good gardeners experiment continuously. 

August 16, 2014 garden 045

We continue to experiment and to observe; to try new plants and methods, and to learn more than we currently know.

We change and grow with our gardens.  And we find ways to transform disappointments into opportunities.

That is our philosophy in our Forest Garden, and thus far we’ve been rewarded richly  for our efforts.

August 16, 2014 garden 041

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 667 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest