Strange Magics In the Garden

~

I kept hearing the refrain to a favorite ELO tune running through my brain as I moved through the garden this morning.  I was watering, trimming, pulling weeds, and very occasionally pausing to pull off my glove and snap a photo, but everywhere I saw wonder and beauty; ‘Strange magics.’

~

~

There was the large green insect that popped up out of the stilt grass I was pulling, the same color as the weeds and with enormously long legs.  He casually hopped away in search of a better place to hide.

~

~

There was the huge black butterfly returning again and again to an enormous panicle of deep purple Buddliea.  I was intently watering a clump of drooping perennials and so missed the shot, but still hold tightly to the memory of such fleeting beauty.

~

~

Our garden is indeed a magical place in July.  Inches of growth happens overnight.  New plants crop up in unexpected places, and we are surrounded by an ever changing cast of lizards and bugs, swooping birds and invisible songsters.

~

~

The sad and bedraggled Begonias we pulled out of the garage in mid-May have sprung back to life, re-clothed in fresh vibrant leaves and new flowers.  Their resurrection always delights as these fragile looking plants prove their strength and resilience.

~

~

I move slowly during these extended watering sessions, pot to pot, plant to plant.  I’m always observing, tweaking, and nudging things along as the season unfolds.

One must be as ready to subtract and divide as one is to multiply or add something new.  How else does one keep order in such a wild kingdom?

~

~

And then there is the choice surprise, the beauty one has waited to enjoy for an entire year, since it last appeared.

~

~

Perhaps there is the low burrr of a hummingbird’s wings, its movement barely seen on the periphery before it swoops up and over and away.

There is a new blossom just opening, or the flash of a goldfinch flying across the garden, or a blue lizard’s tail disappearing under vines or behind a pot.

~

~

One must concentrate with quiet attention to see even a fraction of the action.

“… I get a strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Got a strange magic … ” 
.
Jeff Lynne

~

~

It is the jaded eye that we must open wide, to fully appreciate all that is happening in the garden.  “Seek and you will find.” 

But without the search, the knocking that opens doors of discovery, the ask for something unique and special from our time in the garden; we might miss the magic and lose the ripe opportunities this moment offers.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018
*
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes
the whole world around you
because the greatest secrets are always hidden
in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic
will never find it.”
.
Roald Dahl

~

Advertisements

Fabulous Friday: Hibiscus in Bloom

Hibiscus moscheutos opens its first blooms of the season today.

~

We always celebrate when the Hibiscus moscheutos bloom.  These easy native perennials largely care for themselves.  Although they die back to the ground each autumn, they grow quickly once their stems finally appear again in late spring.

~

~

Native Hibiscus prove very accommodating and will grow in a variety of conditions.   Seen most commonly in the wild near water, they appreciate a little irrigation when the weather turns hot and dry.  They grow in a variety of soils from partial shade to full sun.  Happy, well irrigated plants grow to between four and five feet tall.

We let them seed themselves around and grow where they will, always delighted when their colorful blooms quite suddenly appear in mid-summer.  Each stem may produce a half dozen or more buds.  Once the flowers fade, interesting seed capsules ripen and persist into winter.  Many of our songbirds enjoy pecking ripe seeds from the open capsules until we finally cut their dried stems down.

~

Hybrid Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ is much showier than our native Hibiscus with somewhat larger flowers. Its foliage is also more attractive… until the Japanese beetles have their way with the leaves.  This cultivar was introduced by the Fleming Brothers of Lincoln, Nebraska, who have produced several Hibiscus hybrids based on crosses of H. moscheutos and H. coccineus.

~

While many cultivars of H. moscheutos are available on the market, I believe that most of ours are the species.  We planted H. ‘Kopper King’ about four years ago and it has grown into a large and vigorous plant. Various Hibiscus volunteers in our garden bloom deep pink, light pink or white.  We see them, too, in the marshes along the James River and creeks that feed it.

~

Hardy Hibiscus coccineus will start blooming by early August.

~

Native Hibiscus prove a reliable, hardy and very beautiful perennial in our garden.  We have more native Hibiscus species yet to bloom; and the Asian Hibiscus syriacus, or woody Rose of Sharon, is in the midst of its much longer season of bloom.

~

Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon

~

The woody shrub form of Asian Hibiscus also seeds itself around the garden, growing quickly from seedling to blooming tree in just a few years.  Although new cultivars are introduced each year, we have four or five different flower colors and forms which keep us quite happy.  A non-native, it also feeds many creatures with its nectar, pollen, leaves and seeds.

~

Rose of Sharon, or tree Hibiscus

~

It is fabulous to enjoy a plethora of gorgeous showy flowers with very little effort on our part during this muggiest part of summer.  It is also fabulous to watch the beautiful and varied bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that visit to enjoy their abundant pollen and sweet nectar each day.

~

Rose of Sharon in our shrub border bloom prolifically from mid-June until early September.

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious;

let’s infect one another!

*

*

“Seize the moments of happiness,

love and be loved!

That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.

It is the one thing we are interested in here.”

.

Leo Tolstoy

 

Blossom XIV

August 26, 2016 spider 003

~

“Patience is the calm acceptance

that things can happen in a different order

than the one you have in mind.”

.

David G. Allen

~

August 17, 2016 garden 004

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

 

Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom III
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII
Blossom IX
Blossom X
Blossom XI
Blossom XII
Blossom XIV
Blossom V
BlossomVI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII

Sunday Dinner: Giving

July 24, 2016 Hibiscus 014

~

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

.

Kahlil Gibran

~

July 24, 2016 Hibiscus 006

~

“You often say ; I would give , but only to the deserving,

The trees in your orchard say not so,

nor the flocks in your pasture.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and nights

is worthy of all else from you.

And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life

deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver ,

and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life-

while you , who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.”

.

Kahlil Gibran

~

July 24, 2016 Hibiscus 011

~

“Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion.

Do not concern yourself with how much

you receive in return, just know in your heart

it will be returned.”

.

Steve Maraboli

~

July 22, 2016 sunset 008

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

~

July 24, 2016 Hibiscus 010

~

“Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity,

when I give I give myself.”


.

Walt Whitman

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 013

 

Blossom III

July 18, 2016 mugs 023

~

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.”

.

Claude Monet

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 022

~

“What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence.”

.

Claude Monet

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 008

~

“If you take a flower in your hand

and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.”

.

Georgia O’Keeffe

~

July 18, 2016 mugs 024

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Details
.
Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII

Garden Tapestry: July and August

July 13, 2015 Our native Hibiscus are in their full glory. This seedling pokes up amidst the border of Canna Lily and Colocasia.

July 13, 2015 Our native Hibiscus are in their full glory. This seedling pokes up amidst the border of Canna Lily and Colocasia.

~

Cathy, of  Garden Dreaming at Chattilon,’ inspired me through her comment last week, to review my garden photos taken over the last year with an eye to those ‘tapestries’ of plant combinations which worked well, and also to analyze those which didn’t.

~

July 1 2015

July 1 2015 A ‘Chocolate Vine,’ Akebia quinata and a wild grapevine grow beyond the trellis and up into a Rose of Sharon tree, with Dogwood foliage providing the backdrop.  The Akebia bloomed in early summer, before the Hibiscus.

~

I started with my favorite gardening months, May and June.   I love these months because our roses always come into bloom by Mother’s Day in early May, and our Iris are at their best.  But many other interesting plants are growing, too, as the summer progresses.

~

July 11, 2015 and we still have abundant roses blooming in the garden.

July 11, 2015 and we still have abundant roses blooming in the garden.

~

Looking back over my photos from this last July and August, I’m struck by how many are close ups of pollinators and single blossoms rather than true ‘tapestry’ shots.  I’m also a little disappointed in myself for neglecting the weeds and wild grasses to the point where there are some shots I’d rather not publish.   They are inspiration to do a better job of keeping up with the weeding and trimming in 2016!

~

July 28, 2015 and the Joe Pye Weed is in its glory and covered with bees.

July 28, 2015 and the Joe Pye Weed is in its glory and covered with bees.

~

There are also several fairly ‘new beds’ which haven’t filled in quite yet.  They were more a ‘patchwork quilt’ than a tapestry in mid-summer!

~

July 16, 2015 the Joe Pye Weed, planted in 2014, towers over this new perennial bed.

July 16, 2015 the Joe Pye Weed, planted in 2014, towers over this new perennial bed.  This bed did extremely well over summer and bulked up nicely by autumn.

~

But excuses aside, there were some areas which pleased me.  The part of our garden nearest the street, where I concentrated my attention this season, was cloaked in deep shade until three major trees fell in a storm in June of 2013.  Suddenly, this shady and fairly neglected area was bathed in full sun.

~

July 16, 2015 This is the farthest edge of the new border where Cannas end and a variegated Butterfly Bush is growing into its space.

July 16, 2015 This is the farthest edge of the new border where Cannas end and a variegated Butterfly Bush is growing into its space near a stand of native Hibiscus moscheutos.  Foxglove still bloom on the front edge of the border.

~

I’ve been planting this area with perennial beds, ornamental trees, bulbs and shrubs since July of that year, beginning with our ‘stump garden.’

A sister gardener made a gift of a grocery bag full of Canna lily divisions dug from her garden that fall, which started our very tropical looking border of Cannas and Colocasia.

~

July 16, 2015

July 16, 2015 the leading edge of this new border begins where the Ginger Lily ends, in the shade of a Dogwood tree.  Some of the Colocasia didn’t make it through the past winter and were replaced by hardier varieties this spring.

~

We already had native perennial Hibiscus and tree Hibiscus, or Rose of Sharon, growing when we came to the garden in 2009.  But once there was more sun available, more of the seedlings began to grow and bloom in this new area.  We also planted several additional Hibiscus cultivars, a variegated Buddleia, several perennial Salvias and Lantana along this long, sunny border.

~

July 16 This is the other side of the border, where Hibiscus and other perennials were left by previous owners of the garden.

July 16 This is the other side of the border, where Hibiscus and other perennials were left by previous owners of the garden.  The deep magenta Crepe Myrtle ( in the center of this photo ) has been growing from a seedling and finally gained some height this year.

~

This border grows better each year as the Cannas and Colocasia multiply, the Hibiscus grow, and the existing shrubs grow larger.

~

This shady bed, under a Dogwood tree, holds mostly ferns and Hellebores. The Begonias, with their large and colorful leaves, stay in pots as summer visitors.

This shady bed, under a Dogwood tree, holds mostly ferns and Hellebores. The Begonias, with their large and colorful leaves, stay in pots as summer visitors.

~

Another perennial bed, still in shade, has done exceptionally well, too.  I raised a circular bed under a Dogwood tree by ringing it with containers, and filling in with bags of compost.  This was home to a good collection of Caladiums the first year, inter-planted with various ferns and seedling Hellebores.  Plants in raised beds definitely perform better than plants put directly into the ground over most of the garden.

~

July 10, 2015 Here is my magical Begonia, which dies back to its rhizome from time to time. From its sad start when I set it out in May, it has now grown its summer crop of new leaves in a shady bed of ferns.

July 10, 2015 Here is my magical Begonia, which dies back to its rhizome from time to time. From its sad start when I set it out in May, it has now grown its summer crop of new leaves in this shady bed of mixed ferns.  It is going into its fourth year now, overwintering in a pot in the garage.

~

I add large leaved Begonias when the weather warms in May, taking them back inside in October.  The mix of ferns here makes a pleasing tapestry of foliage.  The Hellebores have finally grown large enough to bloom this winter, and now they take much more of the available space in the bed.

~

July 28, 2015 Oxalis and Hardy Begonia share one of the border pots with a division of fern. These plants are all perennial, and should fill the pot nicely this summer coming.

July 28, 2015 Oxalis and Hardy Begonia share one of the border pots with a division of fern. These plants are all perennial, and should fill the pot nicely this summer coming.

~

I’ve also planted Sedum along the sunny edge and Saxifraga stolonifera into the pots which ring the bed. This past spring I added divisions of hardy Begonias with their lovely reddish leaves, which will fill in over time.

~

August 2, 2015 our Devil's Walkingstick has come into full bloom.

August 2, 2015 our Devil’s Walkingstick has come into full bloom along the border of the back garden.

~

July and August give us Crepe Myrtle flowers and a lovely tapestry of flowers and foliage from the many trees around our garden.  A ‘Devil’s Walkingstick,’ Aralia Spinosa, grows into our garden from the woody border between our neighbor’s garden and ours.  It was absolutely spectacular this summer, and I’ve found several seedlings in other parts of the yard.  This native plant grows wild along the roads in James City County, blooming in mid-summer before covering itself with inky purple berries in early autumn.

~

August 30, 2015 Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana is a native shrub.

August 30, 2015 Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, is a native shrub which ‘volunteered’ in a stand of Ginger Lily this summer.  Considered a weed by most, I chose to let it grow for the beauty of its flowers and berries.  Birds love the berries and pollinators enjoy its long lived flowers.  But, because I let it set seed this summer, we know that seedlings will emerge all over the garden next spring….

~

Much of our garden tapestry was either  already here when we began to garden, or has sprouted as a volunteer seedling.  Nature takes a strong hand in what grows where, and what is ‘edited’ out by storms and the passing seasons.  Our best intentions and plans often get thwarted or changed along the way.

~

August 5, 2015

August 5, 2015 August brings this glorious ‘Butterfly Tree’ into bloom at the bottom of the garden at the edge of the ravine.  It is a magnet for butterflies and other pollinators.

~

As gardeners, we can certainly add plants, prune, ‘weed’ and change the landscape with new planting beds.  But at best, we adapt to the ongoing life of the garden with our own human touches.

~

A scented Pelargonium growth in a bed cloaked in Vinca and Creeping Jenny.

August 7, 2015  A scented Pelargonium grows in a bed cloaked in Vinca and Creeping Jenny in the ‘stump garden.’  Vinca minor is one of the default groundcovers which encroaches in every part of the garden.  Beautiful, it quickly takes over new planting beds; and so often chokes out other desirable plants.

~

Woodland Gnome 2016

~

July 1, 2015

July 1, 2015

 

 

“Leave It Be”

November 22, 2014 frost 002

.

“Leave it be.”  Words I heard with some frequency growing up….

And this simple bit of advice is often just the wisdom needed whether baking, navigating relationships, or preparing the garden for winter.

“Leave it be” insists that we quiet our strong urge to interfere with the already unfolding process.  It asks us to step back and observe; to allow for a a solution other than our own.

 

November 22, 2014 frost 007

My mother’s pound cake recipe includes the instruction to leave the oven door closed for the first 75 minutes of baking.  Opening the door too early changes the texture and rise of the cake.  Once in the oven, you must leave the cake be until the very last few minutes of its total cooking time.  You have to trust the process, and resist the urge to constantly check on it or admire it.

First time mothers soon learn the value of this wisdom, too.  When a baby is sleeping, you leave them alone to rest while you enjoy those few minutes of peace.  When a toddler is happily (and safely) playing, it is best to observe without interrupting the flow of play.

And so it is with a garden at the onset of winter. 

The urge is strong for some to tidy up the leaves as they fall, to cut back perennials as soon as they fade, to pull out the annuals as soon as they freeze, and maybe even prune back shrubby trees as soon as their leaves are gone.

And while some neighbors and neighborhoods might expect this level of neatness, it isn’t Nature’s Way. 

 

Autumn fern remains green all winter in our garden.

Autumn fern remains green all winter in our garden.

.

Letting our gardens take their time to die back and settle into winter allows nature to recycle and re-purpose in interesting ways.

Leaving organic materials in place also helps insulate our marginal plants to give them a better chance to survive the winter ahead.

It isn’t so much that you avoid the fall clean up chores, just that you strategically tweak the timing of when you do them….

Here are some of those things we intend to “Leave be” for the time being, and why:

.

HIbiscus seeds.  I'll finally cut these back to the ground once the seeds are gone.

HIbiscus seeds pods. I’ll finally cut these back to the ground once the seeds are gone.  These look especially pretty coated in snow.

.

Seed Heads provide important food for birds and other wild things.

What remains of the African Blue Basil will feed our birds for many weeks.  This patch also provides shelter for the birds.

What remains of the African Blue Basil will feed our birds for many weeks. This patch also provides shelter for the birds.

.

Basil and Echinacea seeds always attract goldfinches.  None of those seeds will be wasted when left in the garden.  So I delay pulling out frozen Basil plants as long as possible into late winter.

 .

Echinacea, Purple Coneflower

Echinacea, Purple Coneflower

.

I won’t cut back any of the seed bearing perennial stems until I’m fairly satisfied they’ve been picked clean.  When I do finally clear up, the plant skeletons will get tossed into the ravine where they can decompose, enriching the soil.

Fallen leaves serve many useful purposes.  Blown into piles at the bases of shrubs they serve as insulation from the cold.  They help conserve moisture as a natural mulch.  As they decompose they add nitrogen and many other nutrients back into the soil.  How often have you seen someone bag their leaves for the trash, then buy bags of mulch and fertilizer for their garden?

Chopped or shredded leaves offer one of the best ammendments to improve the health and texture of the soil.  Leaf mulch attracts earthworms.  Earthworms enrich the soil wherever they burrow.

.

 

Oregon Grape Holly appreciates winter mulch of shredded leaves.  I also sprinkle spent coffee grounds around the base from time to time.

Oregon Grape Holly appreciates winter mulch of shredded leaves. I also sprinkle spent coffee grounds around the base from time to time.  These new fallen leaves will get shredded one day soon.

.

Leaf mulch also encourages the growth of mycelium,.  Mycelium, which is the permanent part of a fungus,  decompose organic matter in the soil, thus  freeing up the nutrients for use by plants.

They improve the texture of soil, and help nearby plants absorb water and nutrients more efficiently.  You might have noticed white threadlike structures growing in soil, or under a pile of leaves.  These are mycellium, and are always a good sign of healthy soil.

.

November 22, 2014 frost 021

.

We rake our leaves only enough to make them accessible for the lawn mower or leaf vacuum.   Once shredded, we pour them onto the ground wherever we need some winter insulation or want to improve the soil.  I always pour shredded leaves around our Mountain Laurels, Azaleas,  and around newly planted shrubs.

Marginal tropicals, like Canna and ginger lily, and our Colocasias,  react very quickly to freezing temperatures.  All of the above ground herbaceous stems and leave immediately die back.  What a mess!

.

 

What remains of the Cannas

What remains of the Cannas

.

But the tubers are still alive underground.  Cutting the stem now leaves a gaping wound where cold and moisture can enter, potentially killing the tubers before spring.

.

Elephant ears, Colocasia, can't survive freezing weather.  But the tubers remain hardy in Zone 7, particularly when protected and mulched.

Elephant ears, Colocasia, can’t survive freezing weather. But the tubers remain hardy in Zone 7, particularly when protected and mulched.

  .

Allowing the plants to remain uncut, eventually falling back to the ground, provides insulation for the tubers and protects them from ice and cold rain.

The frozen stalks must be cleaned up by the time new growth begins, but I believe leaving them in place over the winter helps protect the plants.

.

The Lantana is gone for another season after several nights in the 20s.  Birds take shelter here all winter, scavenging for seeds and bugs.

The Lantana is gone for another season after several nights in the 20s.   Birds take shelter here all winter, scavenging for seeds and bugs.

.

Another marginal perennial, Lantana, isn’t reliably hardy in our Zone 7 climate.  Further south, these plants grow into large shrubs.  Most Virginia gardeners treat them like annuals.

We’ve learned that left alone, Lantana regularly survive winter in our garden.  Cutting back their woody branches too early allows cold to penetrate to the roots, killing the plant.

Leaving these woody plants standing after the flowers and leave are killed by frost gives the roots an opportunity to survive.  The roots grow very deep, and generally will survive if the plant was able to establish during the previous summer.

Although we cut back Lantana in late March or early April, new growth often won’t appear until the first week of May.

Even perennial herbs, like lavender and rosemary survive winter with less damage when left alone.

.

Rosemary with Black Eyed Susan seed heads.

Rosemary with Black Eyed Susan seed heads.

.

Prune lavender now and it will probably be dead by April.  Leave it be now, prune  lightly in March, and the plant will throw out abundant new growth.

.

Crepe Myrtle seeds feed many species of birds through the winter.  Prune in mid-spring, before the leaves break in April.

Crepe Myrtle seeds feed many species of birds through the winter. Prune in mid-spring, before the leaves break in April.

.

Trees and shrubs which need pruning will potentially suffer more winter “die back” when pruned too early.  For one thing, pruning stimulates growth.

 

.

Deadheading a spent flower a week or so ago stimulated this new growth, which likely will die back before spring.  Roses will lose a few leaves over winter, but generally survive in our garden without much damage.

Deadheading a spent flower a week or so ago stimulated this new growth, which likely will die back before spring. Roses will lose a few leaves over winter, but generally survive in our garden without much damage.

.

 

Roses pruned hard in fall will likely start growing again too soon, and that new growth is tender and likely to freeze.

Pruning flowering shrubs like Buddleia and Rose of Sharon in early winter leaves wounds, which will be affected by the cold more easily than a hardened stem.

.

Rose of Sharon shrubs, covered in seeds.  These need thinning and shaping, but wait until spring.

Rose of Sharon shrubs, covered in seeds. These need thinning and shaping, but wait until spring.

.

Leave pruning chores, even on fruit trees and other woody trees or shrubs until after the first of the year.  Allow the plant to go fully dormant before removing wood.  I prefer to leave pruning until February.

Our gardens depend on a rich web of relationships between bacteria, fungus, insects, worms, and decaying organic matter in the soil for their vitality.   Plants grow best in soil which supports a vibrant ecosystem of microbes and invertebrates.

.

The butterfly garden this morning revealed ice "growing" out of our Pineapple Sage stems.  The temperature dropped so rapidly into the 20s last night that water in the stem froze, exploding the wood.

The butterfly garden this morning revealed ice “growing” out of our Pineapple Sage stems. The temperature dropped so rapidly into the 20s last night that water in the stem froze, exploding the wood.

.

I believe that “leaving the soil be” is one of the smartest things a gardener can do.  Pile on the organic matter, but resist the urge to dig and turn the soil.  Spread mulch, but disturb the structure of the soil only when absolutely necessary to plant.

.

November 22, 2014 frost 053

.

Here are a few tasks, for those who want to get out and work in the garden, which you can enjoy this time of year:

1.  Shred and spread the leaves which fall near the house.  We have to sweep  copious piles of leaves which gather on our deck and patio and catch in the gutters.  Sweeping and shredding these a few times each season provides lots of free mulch.

2.  Cut the grass a final time after the leaves are falling.  The green grass clippings mix nicely with the brown leaves to speed along composting.  We catch the trimmings in a bag and spread it where needed.

3.  Plant bulbs until the ground is frozen.  Bulbs have gone on sale in many shops and can be had for a fraction of their September price.    Plant a wide variety for many weeks of spring flowers.

4.  Remodel those pots which will stay outside all winter. 

.

November 12, 2014 golden day 168

.

Pull out the annuals as they freeze and either plant hardy plants in their place, or make arrangements with branches, pine cones, and moss to keep those pots pretty.

5.  Pick up nuts, acorns, pine cones and fallen branches for winter arrangements and wreathes.  Cut overgrown grape or honeysuckle vines and weave them into wreath bases.    Cut and condition evergreen branches for use on wreathes and in arrangements.

6.  Sow seeds which need winter’s cold to germinate.  Broadcast the seeds where you intend for them to grow, or sow in flats which remain outside all winter.  Columbine and many other wildflowers require this winter stratification to germinate well.

7.  Take photos of the garden.  Photograph everything, and then review the photos over the winter as you make plans for spring purchases, plantings, and renovations.

.

 

November 22, 2014 frost 006

.

8.  Prepare new garden beds with “sheet composting.”  Mark where a new vegetable, flower, or shrub bed  will be planted next spring, and cover the entire area with sheets of newspaper or brown paper bags to kill any grass and weeds there now.

Pile shredded leaves, grass clippings, twigs and wood chips, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, banana peels, and shredded shredded newspaper on the area all winter long.  These materials will slowly decompose.  Cover the whole area with a few inches of good compost or top soil a few weeks before you plan to plant.

Add edging around the bed, and it is ready for spring planting.  The materials in your “sheet compost” will continue decomposing over the next year or so, feeding your new garden bed.

.

November 22, 2014 frost 008

.

Working with nature always proves easier than working at cross purposes with her. 

She can make our chores lighter and our gardens more abundant when we understand her ways.

When you understand the wisdom of, ‘Let it be,” you will find that nature does much of the heavy work for you, if just given enough time and space.

.

November 22, 2014 frost 009

.

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

.

 

 

November 21, 2014 calendar 014

Order “A Forest Garden 2015” calendar

Seeds to Share

This blue morning glory vine reseeds itself each season.  I have seeds to share.

This blue morning glory vine reseeds itself each season. I have seeds to share.

 

Sharing plants is one of the nicest things about gardening friendships. 

Several of us regularly share cuttings, seeds, and divisions within our own community.

These lovely Cannas were given by a friend last fall.

These lovely Cannas were given by a friend last fall.

If it grows for one of us, chances are very good that it will grow in our friends’ gardens, too!

Our visits nearly always end up with a gift of something which will grow.

A friend pulled this division of Sedum from her own pots one day over tea.  Now I must share it with the deer....

A friend pulled this division of Sedum from her own pots one day over tea. Now I must share it with the deer….

 

And our gardens grow as constant reminders of our friendships.

 

Blogging friend Michael, of Michael's Woodcraft, send these divisions of Lemon Lime Hosta earlier this summer.  All of his divisions are growing well!

Blogging friend Michael, of Michael’s Woodcraft, send these divisions of Lemon Lime Hosta earlier this summer. All of his divisions are growing well!

 

I’ve exchanged seeds, cuttings, and divisions with a few blogging friends this summer, too.

 

Barbara, from Silver In the Barn brought this lovely clump of Iris.  I am so looking forward to seeing them bloom next May!

Barbara, from Silver In the Barn brought this lovely clump of Iris when she came to visit.   I am so looking forward to seeing them bloom next May!

 

What a joy to share our gardens and love of plants with one another!

 

Rose of Sharon seeds are ripening now, and may be collected for anyone who wants them.  These small trees bloom after three or four years of growth.

Rose of Sharon seeds are ripening now, and may be collected for anyone who wants them. These small trees bloom after three or four years of growth.

 

I have gathered seeds this autumn from our beautiful blue morning glory vine and from our native Hibiscus moscheutos, and will be happy to share.

 

Native Hibiscus moschuetos.  I have seeds of red, pink, and this lovely white variety.

Native Hibiscus moscheutos. I have seeds of red, pink, and this lovely white variety to share.

 

I sent a packet off to a blogging friend in today’s mail, and have plenty left to share with others who may be interested.

The morning glory is an annual and reseeds itself each year.

 

August 3, 2014 butterflies 015

 

It should grow anywhere the growing season is at least two to three months long.

The Hibiscus is a perennial in Zones 5-10.

 

Native Hibiscus blooming in our garden this morning.

Native Hibiscus blooming in our garden this summer.

 

It will take a few years for the plant to bloom, but it is stunning and gives more than a month of blooms once it does.

Please leave me a comment if you would like seeds from either of these beautiful plants.

 

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

This is my favorite Begonia to share.  I've given cuttings to many friends.  They root very easily.

This is my favorite Begonia to share. I’ve given cuttings to many friends. They root very easily.

Colocasia: First Flowers

August 7, 2014 garden 035

We have a bit of tropical beauty where the  Colocasias, Hibiscus,  Canna, and Ginger Lily have woven themselves together into a beautiful out-sized screen in the front garden.

The tallest in the group are over seven feet high, and still growing, scarlet flowers stretching high above our heads.

 

August 2, 2014 020

Hidden among the leaves, the first of the Colocasia flowers emerge, elegant and creamy white in the shadows.

Such beauty is completely unexpected and absolutely appreciated. 

 

August 7, 2014 garden 034

Planted for their enormous and unusual leaves, these Elephant Ears have made themselves at home; first sending out runners to increase their real estate, and now offering  these exotic flowers.

 

August 7, 2014 garden 037

We haven’t seen them visited yet, but hope our nectar loving insects will find them soon.

Our experiment in growing these Colocasia and Cannas has proven a beautiful success.

 

August 2, 2014 019

This part of the garden has transformed itself this season from a largely neglected area to one of real interest and beauty.

The transformation began with a grocery bag of Canna Lily roots,  offered by a dearly loved friend to help us reform this area left sunny and bare after the loss of three oak trees in summer storms last June.

 

August 7, 2014 garden 032

This just goes to show how a sincere gift, given in love, can sometimes initiate transformation and beauty beyond our wildest imagining.

 

August 3, 2014 butterflies 059

Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

August 7, 2014 garden 031

Summer Still Life

July 29, 2014 garden 024

Summer Still Life

July ends today, and tomorrow we greet August.

The garden is still building towards autumn, the busiest, “blooming-est” time of all.

It is a fine time to pause and take a deep breath; to appreciate the beauty which surrounds us now.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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

Join 677 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest