In Celebration of Spring

March 21, 2015 moss garden 005

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In celebration of spring, here is a tiny garden constructed as a gift for a much loved friend.

Our friends celebrate the ancient festival of Nowruz, which is the first day of spring.  This special festival, in celebration of the new year, which begins at the spring equinox; traces its history to ancient times and the Zoroastrian faith of the ancient Persians.

This special festival brings friends and family together to share wishes for health, wealth, and the fulfillment of wishes in the new year.  There is wonderful food, music, flowers, and abundant laughter.  We were so honored to be invited to join their celebrations this evening!

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March 21, 2015 moss garden 003

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This little gift of green life and abundance carries our good wishes for the new year to our friends and their family.  There are ferns just poking up through the soil, a sprouting vine of Creeping Jenny, many different mosses, and lichens.

I hope you have celebrated this first day of spring, and that you have found joy in it. 

What a perfect day to count as the beginning of a new year of growth and abundance!

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March 21, 2015 moss garden 008

Woodland Gnome 2015

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Heart Stone

February 18, 2015 fern garden 004

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Have you ever found a heart stone?  A heart stone is a little stone worn away into the shape of a heart.  We always watch for them.

Sometimes we find them on beaches, worn into shape in the pounding surf.  These are always special.

Others we find in rock and crystal shops, at mineral shows, or from online mineral vendors.

Colleen, at Silver Threading, and I have been chatting about heart stones since I read her installment entitled, “ The Swamp Fairy-Deciphering the Code” in her online short story about The Swamp Fairy.  This is a wonderfully magical story, and I invite you to read it from the beginning, “The First Dream of the Swamp Fairy.”

A heart stone features in her story, with a wonderful photograph of the stone.

When Colleen learned that heart stones are special to us, she asked to see some in our collection.  That was enough to inspire me to create a little moss garden for this heart stone, carved from labrodorite.  The fern has actually been growing in this container for a few months now.  It came inside in early autumn to live through the winter in our living room garden.  Today I dressed it up with moss left from yesterday’s fairy garden project, a few bits of lichens I’ve been saving, and of course, a heart stone.

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February 18, 2015 fern garden 003

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You might have noticed that I often use bits of mineral and gemstone in my potted gardens and terrariums.  Gemstones all have a very particular molecular and crystalline structure which allows them to transmit and amplify energy; particularly electrical energy.  That is why the watch you’re wearing is probably a quartz watch.  The piezoelectric properties of all quartz based minerals are particularly useful for receiving, amplifying, storing, transmitting, and transforming energy.  That is why our computers use quartz, and why the Egyptians capped their pyramids and built their obelisks from quartz rich granite.

All plants and animals produce bioelectricity.  We respond to the energy produced by the sun and transmitted by the Earth.  Pairing plants with minerals enhances both.

And keeping a heart stone nestled in this bed of moss, beneath this young fern, in the heart of our home, feels like a good thing to do.  We enjoy its beauty, and it radiates happiness and well-being.

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February 18, 2015 stone 002~

Woodland Gnome 2015

 

Heart stones found on the beach in the Aran Islands.

One Word Photo Challenge: Seafoam

February 11, 2015 daffodils 022

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Seafoam; such a soft pastel color hovering between green and blue.  This color always transports me back to the color palette of the 1950s.  It feels cool.  It tastes minty to the eyes.

Definitely a watery color, it remains far more chic than the fluffy beige foam which washes up on east coast beaches.

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Artemesia

Artemesia last October

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This color proved a challenge for me this week, in case you were wondering, Jenny.  The closest I could find in nature were the greenish greys of Artemesia and Lichens.

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Which is how this week’s challenge inspired a newly minted moss garden, using a tiny pot purchased from the artist.

The pot was probably made by local Williamsburg artist John Watters.  I can’t quite read the signature to be sure, but it was made in 2013.  John works with delicious glazes in lovely blues and greens.  There is no drainage in this little pot, but I laid a layer of gravel, sand and glass chips below the soil.

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February 11, 2015 daffodils 025

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The plant is a tiny Begonia Rex surrounded by mosses and lichens scraped from the garden.  It will grow on happily here for a few months until I can transplant it into something larger and set it outside in the shade.

Do you see the sheen of silver on its leaves?  In the bright sun earlier today it looked as though its leaves were covered in finely ground garnets.  So beautiful!

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February 11, 2015 daffodils 024

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And we had beautiful sun today.  Each sunny day now feels like a gift.  Each day brings us closer to spring, and will make it that much easier to find color in the garden once again.

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

and her One Word Photo Challenge:  Seafoam

Seafoam

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2015

A January Monday Vase

January 26, 2015 Monday vase 018

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What bits of beauty can you scavenge from your garden on this last Monday of January?

That is the challenge…

Answering the challenge took me all around the garden today with clippers and a cup of warm water in hand.  We have the proverbial calm before the storm today in coastal Virginia.  It was actually sunny when I headed out mid-day, and almost warm.  The wind was brisk, though, which reminded me to make this a quick scavenging hunt.

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January 26, 2015 Monday vase 016

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I found more snowdrops blooming in a sheltered spot beneath some box, some white Hellebores just making their presence known in the lower stump garden, and a few bright Viola blossoms.  I’ve been admiring the bright red stems of our native blueberry bushes, and so included a few along with some evergreen Azaleas.

There are also a few stems of Forsythia, their buds still tightly closed, and some of the variegated ivy growing near the kitchen door.

Meager as that may be, it reflects the beauty of our January garden.

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There is a bit of potting soil and sand beneath the moss to sustain the plants growing in the glass plate.

There is a bit of potting soil and sand beneath the moss to sustain the plants growing in the glass plate.

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And yes, of course the bright vivid greens of our moss and lichen, thriving in this very wet winter.  While most of our evergreens are just hunkered down for the duration hoping to survive, the moss glows with vitality.

I have placed the vase in the midst of another moss garden, constructed in a shallow glass plate set in a silver charger.  Rooted ivy grows and a tiny fern division grow out of the living moss.  Perhaps this little vignette will last long enough for the cut branches to respond to our warmth indoors and begin to unfurl their buds.

I’ve been thinking of a friend while puttering in the garden today, who with her husband left our community a few years back to move closer to her family on the coast of Florida.  She lets me know, sometimes, how much she misses her friends here in Williamsburg, and the magic of our changing seasons.

An avid gardener herself, and very talented floral designer, I hope the photos of this little Monday vase will brighten her day and let her know that we miss her, too.

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January 26, 2015 Monday vase 011~

I discovered the “Monday Vase” challenge a week ago while following links from gardening blog to gardening blog.  Many of the participants tend their gardens across Europe.  Perhaps more of my gardening friends from here in the United States will decide to join in with vases of their own as our gardens awaken to spring.  What a nurturing thing to do to bring a bit of the garden indoors for our loved ones to enjoy close up once a week!

If you love cut flowers, and are curious to see what others have created today, please follow the links in the comments on Cathy’s page.  I also enjoyed John’s vase of pansies and parsley today in his lovely cobalt blue vase.

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January 26, 2015 Monday vase 008

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Often I hesitate to cut flowers from our garden because I want to enjoy them as they grow.  We leave them for the bees and butterflies.  And I wonder if they’ll make us sneeze indoors.

But after enjoying the beautiful arrangements others have made to join this challenge, I’m inspired.  And I plan to make the garden tour with clippers in hand a Monday ritual from here on.

Woodland Gnome 2015

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January 26, 2015 Monday vase 009

 

Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day

January 21, 2015 cutting board 013

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What fun to stumble upon something new!  Today I found a link to Christina’s gardening blog, where she hosts this wonderful event on the 22 of each month.

Christina posts, “Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, where we celebrate all kinds of foliage, green, evergreen, silver, gold or red.”

And what a wonderful hour I’ve just spent following the links from her blog to other fascinating gardening blogs with posts about interesting leaves!

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January 21, 2015 cutting board 016

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My offering for this January 22 is the latest in my series of little moss gardens and terrariums.  My gardening is mostly inside at the moment, and these little moss gardens bring such pleasure.

A friend and I shopped the Re-Store, which supports Habitat For Humanity, earlier this week; and I came home with lots of interesting clear glass containers for terrariums.  This was the best one, and I made it up as a gift for her husband’s recent re-retirement.

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January 21, 2015 cutting board 014

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This little garden’s most interesting foliage is the tiny strawberry begonia, Saxifraga stolonifera.  This is another new baby off of some larger plants I’m overwintering inside.

In addition to the soft green mosses from our garden, there is a division of a special lacy fern and a division of peacock spikemoss, Selaginella uncinata.

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January 23, 2015 birds 003~

A bit of shelf fungus pulled from a branch in our forest completes this little garden.

All of these plants may be transplanted outside in a few months when the weather settles.  Whether moved to a pot or planted into a bed, this little grouping will grow on in a shady spot.  All little divisions now, they will each grow quite a bit larger and continue to spread.

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January 23, 2015 birds 002

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I am so happy to be surrounded with talented friends who love gardening and are happy to share the joy of it with me.  And now that I’ve found Garden Blogger’s Foliage Day, there is another opportunity to photograph and share the many beautiful foliage plants we grow and enjoy throughout the year.

 

Woodland Gnome 2015

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January 21, 2015 cutting board 016

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

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January 16, 2015 signs 030

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Abstract

January 13, 2013 bleak 031

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What is it?

Let’s set that question aside for a moment, if you are willing to play along with me for a little while.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 027

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Our brains want to bring meaning to the abstract patterns which surround us each day.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 020

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 We try to organize, categorize, connect the dots, and see how the part fits into the whole.

It is hard wired into us from infancy.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 034

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But let’s suspend belief for a moment, and allow a different set of neurons to fire as we simply appreciate.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 018

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Let your eyes wander over the abstractness of these colors and forms.  Touch the texture with your imagination.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 009

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Is it sharp?  Is it hard?  How would it feel under your fingertips?

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January 13, 2013 bleak 036

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Would you invite these colors into your life?

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January 13, 2013 bleak 022

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Into your home?

Do the patterns evoke a memory?

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January 13, 2013 bleak 005~

Spark an inspiration?  Could it suggest the solution to a problem you’ve been pondering?

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January 13, 2013 bleak 021

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Allow yourself a holiday from the logical; a tiny crack in the facade of reality to visit the unknown.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 008

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Such beauty leads of forward, onward towards the possibilities we have perhaps sensed, but not yet lived.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 030

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Even in mid-winter, when we assume the world is bleak; it may be possible to find the magic, once again, within the abstract beauty we encounter all around us.

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January 13, 2013 bleak 040

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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January 13, 2013 bleak 007

 

 

To Delight A Passerby

January 4, 2014 garden 046

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A fallen tree, teeming with life, caught my eye as we were out driving last Sunday afternoon.  Lush and green, it stood out against our wintery landscape of greys and muddy browns.

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January 4, 2014 garden 050.

It has been fallen for a few years, from the look of it; lying where some forgotten windstorm left it, normally hidden from view in the edge of the forest.

But the leaves are down now, allowing glimpses into the hidden places.

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January 4, 2014 garden 051.

It is an interesting geography of ravines and ridges, creeks and fallen timber.

One glance piqued my curiosity enough that we made a point of stopping on the way home.

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January 4, 2014 garden 047.

The ravine is steep enough that I didn’t climb down to take photos close up.  Perhaps another day in my climbing boots I’ll make the hike.

We’ve had abundant rain for a while now, supporting luxuriant moss, lichens, and shelf fungus.

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January 4, 2014 garden 049.

And I can only imagine the hidden colonies of tiny insects living below this green carpet of moss, in the bark and interior of the tree.

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January 4, 2014 garden 049 (2).

Such a wonder!

Nature uses every resource, allowing nothing to go to waste.  And does it in such style, creating this lovely garden on a falling tree, to delight a passerby on a cold and grey wintery day.

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January 4, 2014 garden 052.

“The Holy Land is everywhere”

Nicholas Black Elk

 

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“Knowing nature is part of knowing God.

Faith directs us to the invisible God,

but leads us back from God

to the entire visible world.”

Arnold Albert van Ruler

 

Woodland Gnome 2015

Winter’s “Flowers”

Ornamental Kale

Ornamental Kale

 

Look at what is “blooming” in our garden! 

We are just past the Winter Solstice, and the coldest weeks of winter stretch before us.  Our days may be growing almost imperceptibly longer, but frigid Arctic air sweeps across the country, dipping down to bring frosty days and nights well to our south.

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Lichens

Shelf fungus

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Our garden looks a very different place at the moment, mostly withered and brown.  But even now, we enjoy bright spots of color and healthy green leaves.

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January 4, 2014 garden 054.

Some we planned for, some are a gift of nature.

All are infinitely appreciated and enjoyed!

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Ornamental Kale with Violas and dusty miller

Ornamental kale with Violas and dusty miller

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We garden in Zone 7b, here in coastal Virginia.  We are just a little too far north and a little too far inland to enjoy the balmy 8a of Virginia Beach and Carolina’s Outer Banks.  We will have nights in the teens and days which never go above freezing… likely later this week!

But there are still many plants which not only survive our winters, but will grow and bloom right through them!

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Camellia, "Jingle Bells" begins blooming in mid-December each year, just in time to bloom for Christmas.

Camellia, “Jingle Bells” begins blooming in mid-December each year, just in time to bloom for Christmas.

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I saw the first scape of Hellebore rising above its crown of leaves yesterday, topped with a cluster of tight little buds.  Our Hellebores will open their first buds later this month.

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Hellebore with a new leaf emerging.  Bloom scapes have emerged on some plants in the garden.

Hellebore with a new leaf emerging. Bloom scapes have emerged on some plants in the garden.

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Snowdrops are also poking above the soil line now in several pots.  Snowdrops, named for their ability to grow right up through the snow as they come into bloom, open the season of “spring” bulbs for us each year.

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January 4, 2014 garden 057.

Camellias and Violas remain in bloom, and our Mahonia shrubs have crowned themselves in golden flowers, just beginning to open.

There are several other shrubs which will bloom here in January and February.  Witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is on my wishlist, and I hope to add it to our garden this season.

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Mahonia

Mahonia

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Our Forsythia are covered in tight yellow buds, ready to open in February.  Our Edgeworthia chrysantha has tight silvery white buds dangling from every tiny branch.

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Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia

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They look like white wrapped Hershey’s kisses, or tiny ornaments left from Christmas.  These will open in  early March into large, fragrant flowers before the shrub’s leaves appear.

Although many of our garden plants are hibernating under ground, or are just enduring these weeks of cold until warmth wakes them up to fresh growth, we have a few hardy souls who take the weather in their stride.

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January 4, 2014 garden 065.

This is their time to shine. 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2015

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Male flowers have appeared on our Hazel nut trees.  We will enjoy their beauty for the next several months.

Male pollen bearing “flowers”  have appeared on our native  Hazel nut trees. We will enjoy their beauty for the next several months.

 

 

Green World

December 24, 2014 green world 008.

What to get for the guy who has nearly everything?

A world of his own, of course!

December 24, 2014 Terrarium 007

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Welcome to “Green World.”

This little environment is almost self-sustaining.  Did you get interested in terrariums when they were popular back in the 1970’s?  Those were often completely enclosed, needing little to no attention for months at a time.

What was old is new again, and terrariums have come back in fashion.  Today’s terrariums are a little less rigorous, with small openings to allow fresh air to circulate.

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December 24, 2014 Terrarium 008.

This little terrarium is made with divisions from plants I’ve kept going this winter.  In addition to the mosses, collected from the garden during a break in the rain, there is a tender lady fern, strawberry Begonia divisions (Saxifraga stolonifera) , and some bits of of moss fern,  Selaginella pallenscens.

The plant divisions are a bit spare now, but within a month or so they will begin to fill in.  And it will get a bit crowded and need division by this time next year.  This fern is especially vigorous, growing to about 14″ tall and sending out many runners.  The strawberry Begonia gets its name from the tiny plants it produces on the tips of long stems.

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December 24, 2014 green world 004.

As you look closely, you may notice lots of little plants growing up through the mosses.  There are several different varieties of moss, and bits of lichen.

The lichen on the branch will continue to live, drawing moisture from the air.

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December 24, 2014 green world 003.

Examining the tiny plants is relaxing.  It is a beautiful, green respite in the midst of December.  A tiny breath of spring…

The little landscape is completed with quartz and apophyllite crystals.  The cluster of very bright crystals is apophyllite.

Bright, indirect light and occasional watering to keep things moist will keep this little green world alive and growing.  It is a Christmas gift for a special member of my family.

It is Christmas Eve, and our preparations are now completed.

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December 24, 2014 green world 001

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Woodland Gnome

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