First Ginger Lilies

~

Our first ginger lily of the year began opening a few days ago, wafting its intoxicatingly sweet fragrance across our garden.  These hardy perennials return year after year, growing to over 7 ft high in our garden.

~

~

I remain grateful to our neighbor who offered to let me dig some of these beauties from her garden in the weeks before she moved.  I’d never grown these  before, and simply trusted that we would enjoy them.

We had space for them to spread, and spread they have in the years since.  This part of our garden grows dense and tropical and full of life.

Oh my!  What a treat we look forward to in late summer each year, when our ginger lilies bloom.

Getting reacquainted with their pure white flowers today has made this a Fabulous Friday, indeed.

Woodland Gnome 2017
~
~
“Just remember to say THANK YOU sometimes,
for all of these everyday extraordinary gifts.”
.
Scott Stabile

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious, so let’s infect one another!

 

 

 

Blossom XXVIII: Fennel

~

Fennel produces beautiful golden flowers.  Many different pollinators feast from these tiny blossoms.  Abundant flowers and fine foliage make this a special plant in our garden over many weeks.

Bronze fennel is particularly beautiful, and may be grown in pots with other herbs and flowers for a spectacular container garden.

Considered an herb, it in an edible hardy perennial in our garden.  Use the leaves fresh as needed, or dry for winter.

~
~

Fennel feeds both pollinators and butterfly larvae.   Finding caterpillars devouring the plant cheers us that the next generation of swallowtail butterflies are on their way.

Plant fennel in full sun for best flowers.   It will grow quite large in good sun and soil, and may need staking after its first year.  These flowers are good enough to cut for arrangements; though we prefer to leave them sparkling in the sun, offering their nectar to whatever hungry mouth might buzz buy.  Their seeds are tasty, and may be gathered to dry for cooking through the season.

~
~
Woodland Gnome 2017
~
~
“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry;
conquer the wicked by goodness;
conquer the stingy by generosity,
and the liar by speaking the truth.”
.
Gautama Buddha

Fabulous Friday: What is Beauty?

~

We live surrounded by beauty.  But how do you define it?  Everyone has their own idea of what is beautiful, and what is not.

This is a conversation that has been going on for a very, very long time.  We know that people living many thousands of years ago discussed this a lot, and had their own, very definite ideas.

~
~
Anything in any way beautiful
derives its beauty from itself
and asks nothing beyond itself.
Praise is no part of it,
for nothing is made worse or better by praise.
.
Marcus Aurelius
~
~

We gardeners generally intend to cultivate beauty through our efforts.  That isn’t to say our gardens are always beautiful, though.   Beauty happens, but there is a lot of cleaning up of the ‘not so beautiful’ too.

And that is the space which interests me: when there might be disagreement as to whether or not something is beautiful.

~

Do you find this Eucomis beautiful?  Would you grow it?

~
“Everything has beauty,
but not everyone sees it.”
.
Confucius
.

Most of us find flowers beautiful.

But what about the perfect insects which drink their nectar?  What about the beetles eating their petals?  Can you see their beauty, too?

~
~

Perhaps my perception of beauty is a little skewed, but I find the insects, in their geometric grace and perfection, beautiful.

There is beauty in every leaf, every petal, every stem.  The longer you gaze, the more beauty one absorbs.

~
~

I was so pleased, when I walked through the garden this afternoon, to find these beautiful wasps enjoying our Allium blossoms.  There must have been 20 or more of them, each enjoying the sweet nectar at their feet.  They were peacefully sharing the bounty with bees and other pollinators.

~
~

There are people in my life who would have squealed and backed away at the sight of these busy insects.  But I was too fascinated to fear them, and instead took great joy in making their portraits.  They are interesting visitors, and we rarely see such large, colorful wasps.

~
~

Our garden’s bounty this week includes golden parsley flowers and creamy white carrot flowers, in addition to the Alliums.  There are Echinaceas now, lavender, Coreopsis, Salvias, crepe myrtle, Basil, and more.  All these tiny nectar filled flowers attract plenty of attention from hungry pollinators!

~
~

It’s a feast for our eyes, too.  Sometimes, it is hard to imagine the abundance of our June garden until it returns.

We’re celebrating the solstice this week, and we are surrounded by such beauty here, that it is a true and heartfelt celebration

~

~

I’ve always valued beauty.  To me, beauty can cause happiness, just as food expresses love.  There is beauty in truth, though you can argue that beauty may often be based in illusion.

We could discuss this all evening, couldn’t we? 

.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
~
~

Rather than ‘over-think’ it, which may be the antithesis of beauty, let’s just enjoy it.

Let’s simply celebrate this Fabulous Friday, this Beautiful high summer day; and like the bees, drink in as much sweet nectar as our eyes and hearts will hold.

~

Caladium ‘Highlighter,’ a new introduction this year. Do you find it beautiful?

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts.”
.
Rachel Carson
~

Clematis ‘Violet Elizabeth’

~

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is Contagious, Let’s infect one another!

Wednesday Vignette: Peace

~

Peace begins with a smile..”
.

Mother Teresa

~

~

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness:

only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate:

only love can do that.”

.

Martin Luther King Jr.

~

~

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power,

the world will know peace.”

.

Mahatma Gandhi

~

~

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.

If you are attentive, you will see it. ”

.

Thich Nhat Hanh,

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“The mind can go in a thousand directions,

but on this beautiful path,

I walk in peace.

With each step, the wind blows.

With each step, a flower blooms.”

.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday Dinner: Small Worlds

~

“The world is awash with colours unseen

and abuzz with unheard frequencies.

Undetected and disregarded.

The wise have always known that these inaccessible realms,

these dimensions that cannot be breached

by our beautifully blunt senses,

hold the very codes to our existence,

the invisible, electromagnetic foundations

upon which our gross reality clumsily rests.”

.

Russell Brand

~

~

“Infinity is before and after an infinite plane.”

.

RJ Clawso

~

~

“It is frightfully difficult

to know much about the fairies,

and almost the only thing for certain

is that there are fairies

wherever there are children.”

.

J.M. Barrie

~

~

“It didn’t seem possible to gain so much happiness

from so little.”

.

Peter Lerangis

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“Do the little things.

In the future when you look back,

they’d have made the greatest change.”

.

Nike Thaddeus

 

Bog Garden: Early Summer

~

Maybe you don’t have a pond or spring in your yard, and would still like to grow a few special plants who like their roots wet.  We’re not talking a full-fledged water garden here, filled with Lotus and water lilies.  That requires an excavation or above ground water-tight construction. which will hold a foot or two of water; maybe with a stream or a waterfall with a pump and filter worked in.

A ‘bog’ garden tolerates variable amounts of water, from several inches to slightly moist.  These plants enjoy moist soil, but don’t want to remain submerged all the time.  Our bog garden has evolved in a mysterious old rock and cement construction in our back garden.  Maybe, at one time, it was water tight.  But it’s not water tight anymore.  Its uneven bottom of cemented gravel and large rocks allows for water to collect in several little pools before slowly draining away.

~
~

I cleaned out the old leaves and accumulated silt a few years ago, and began massing pots of moisture loving plants in this mostly sunny spot to create a potted bog garden.  That is also when I began adding to our collection of a Southeastern North American native carnivorous plant, the Sarracenia, or Pitcher Plant.

Sarracenia produce tubular, brightly colored leaves all summer long, starting about now.   Each leaf holds a pool of digestive solution, just waiting for a curious insect to fall into the brightly colored hollow opening.  Their ‘Dr. Seuss’ flowers emerge early, in bright reds and yellows, looking like the sort of flower a child might draw.   These are very unusual looking plants which naturally grow in the sort of wet, insect filled swamp most of us tend to avoid.

~

Our first pitcher plant, in late May of 2014

~

But they prove easy to grow in a pot, so long as you use their preferred potting mix and keep them moist.  Sarracenia want moist soil, but not water-logged soil.  Their roots need some oxygen and don’t like the sour/stagnant soil often found in water gardens.  Dr. Larry Mellichamp, in his book, Native Plants of the Southeast, recommends a 50:50 mix of pure peat moss and clean quartz sand for pitcher plants.

I began collecting pitcher plants four years ago.  My first one spent the summer with its pot set in a ceramic bowl, about 2″ deep, which I filled with the hose when I watered that part of the garden.  It was gorgeous all summer long, and a conversation piece for every visitor.  That first pitcher plant inspired me to set up a bog garden, the following summer, with space for a community of more pitcher plants mixed with other plants that like wet soil.

~

Pitcher Plants growing in the swamps around Jamestown were collected by John Tradescant the Younger around 1638. It was difficult for English gardeners to keep them alive until they learned to grow them in pots of moss standing in water. These are displayed at Forest Lane Botanicals in York County, Virginia.

~

Pitcher plants, like other perennials, grow in clumps and may be divided every few years.  The plants we’ve collected were still growing in modest sized pots.  But I wanted to change the look of our bog garden this year, and so tracked down a huge, shallow pot to hold divisions from several of our Sarracenia cultivars.

Following Dr. Mellichamp’s instructions for potting mix has brought us success.  The one plant I purchased, and didn’t re-pot myself, didn’t make it through the winter of 2015.  It was in a compost based potting mix and failed to thrive.  But the grower made it good, and I’ve relied on the peat/sand mixture for my own re-potting.

~
~

Mix and re-hydrate the peat at least a day before you plan to use it.  It is important to have very moist soil when you re-pot pitcher plants.  I knocked three of our Sarracenias out of their pots, pulled out or trimmed back the old, brown leaves, and then gently pulled the clumps apart.  I potted some of the smaller clumps into this new, large pot; and re-potted the largest of each division back into its original pot. Pack the peat mixture into the pot fairly tightly, and then water it in to settle the soil and rinse off the pot.

~
~

You never fertilize Sarracenia.  That is one reason it doesn’t work to use compost or a standard potting mix which would work perfectly well with most potted plants.  Sarracenia take their nutrition from the insects that fall into their leaves.  And they thrive in acidic conditions, which the peat provides.

In addition to pitcher plants, I’ve grown Colocasia, Canna, Asclepias, Hibiscus, Coleus and Zantedeschia  in this bog garden.  All of these have at least a few cultivars that enjoy full sun and wet soil.  This year, I’ve added Colocasia ‘Tea Cups’ to the Colocasia ‘Mojito’ we’ve had in years passed.  Colocasia ‘China Pink’ grows around the outside.  This year I’ve potted up a few divisions from our yellow flag Iris to add to the mix.

~

Colocasia ‘Tea Cups,’ saved from last summer’s garden, spent the winter in our basement. We’re happy to have it growing again. This Colocasia loves damp soil and could even grow submerged in a pond.

~

A bog garden like this one, where there is usually at least some water, provides important resources for wildlife.  Birds, frogs, turtles and many insects come here to eat, drink and find shelter.  Once the plants grow in, there is cool, moist shade on even the hottest summer days.

Rain provides sufficient wetness for the bog garden during much of the year here in coastal Virginia.  But during dry spells, I try to visit this garden several times a week with the hose, filling it and watering the various pots.  Creeping Jenny, originally planted around the border as a ground cover, has colonized the interior of the garden, too.  I was a little surprised to learn that it, too, tolerates growing in shallow water.

~

Tadpoles and other tiny creatures can often be found in the bog garden.  This photo is from its first summer, 2015.

~

If you don’t already have a wet spot in your own garden, you might consider building something similar to this with stone and concrete.  If that is too much trouble, you might follow Dr. Mellichamp’s advice and begin with a child’s wading pool.  You can put a small drainage hole or two, if it doesn’t have a crack or hole already, and either excavate and sink the liner in the ground, or build up some landscaping blocks around it to make it more attractive.

Line the bottom with some gravel and sand, and then fill your new bog garden with the peat/sand mix, or just set ceramic pots into it as I’ve done.  Dr. Mellichamp shows a beautiful bog garden he built, in his chapter on bog plants.  His is filled with peat and sand, with the plants growing as they would in a natural bog.  The peat is overgrown with moss and the effect is stunning.

If you don’t have Sarracenia at a garden center near you, you can order a wide variety of pitcher plants, and other water loving plants, from Plant Delights nursery in North Carolina.  Sarracenia Northwest, a grower based in Oregon, offers a wide selection of pitcher plants, and other interesting carnivorous plants.  Their service is excellent.  The plants I ordered arrived in excellent condition.

~
~

Pitcher plants are easy to forget during winter.  Most are hardy in zones 5-9.   They stay outdoors, dormant, and need no special care.  It is only when those psychedelic flowers suddenly appear in late spring, and the first new leaves emerge that you take notice.

That is when I’m moved to clean them up, and begin assembling a beautiful collection of plants for our summer enjoyment in this quiet spot in our back garden.

~
Woodland Gnome 2017
~

 

Wednesday Vignette: Meditations

Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris

~

“The soul becomes dyed

with the colour of its thoughts.”

.

Marcus Aurelius

~

~

“Accept the things to which fate binds you,

and love the people with whom fate

brings you together,

but do so with all your heart.”

.

Marcus Aurelius

~

~

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority,

but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

.

Marcus Aurelius

~

~

“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit.

The second is to look things in the face

and know them for what they are.”

.

Marcus Aurelius

~

~

“Very little is needed to make a happy life;

it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.”

.

Marcus Aurelius

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“Do not act

as if you were going to live ten thousand years.

Death hangs over you.

While you live, while it is in your power,

be good.”

.

Marcus Aurelius

quotations from The Meditations

 

Wednesday Vignette: Living Geometry

~

“The geometry of the things around

us creates coincidences, intersections.”


.

Erri De Luca

~

~

“Philosophy [nature] is written in that great book

which ever is before our eyes –

– I mean the universe –

– but we cannot understand it

if we do not first learn the language

and grasp the symbols in which it is written.

The book is written in mathematical language,

and the symbols are triangles, circles

and other geometrical figures,

without whose help it is impossible

to comprehend a single word of it;

without which one wanders in vain

through a dark labyrinth.”

.

Galileo Galilei

~

~

“You don’t see something

until you have the right metaphor

to let you perceive it”

.

James Gleick

~

~

“The harmony of the world is made manifest

in Form and Number,

and the heart and soul

and all the poetry of Natural Philosophy

are embodied in the concept of mathematical beauty.”

.

D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson

~

~

“Number rules the universe.”

.

Pythagoras

~

~

“Maths is at only one remove from magic.”

.

Neel Burton

~

~

“A circle has no end.”

.

Isaac Asimov

~

“Seed of Life” Mandala designed and stitched in cotton thread by the Woodland Gnome 2016.  Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

More on Geometry:

Sacred Geometry, Flower of Life…. (additional links at the end of the post)

 

Signs Of Spring

Iris histrioides

Iris histrioides

~

Signs of spring draw us outside, and lead us step by step, path by path, through the garden today.

~

Daffodils

Daffodils

~

There is a newness to the greens emerging now from the warming, moist soil.  Can you smell the smell of green on the breeze? 

~

Vinca minor

Vinca minor

~

We won’t bother with labels like leaf or weed, grass, shoot, stem or bud.  It is all welcome on a day such as this.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-024

~

Another warm day, that is; with bright sunshine and blue sky and soft breezes setting the Daffodils dancing to some unheard ( by us) spring jig.  But the birds flitting from shrub to shrub surely hear it.  Their chirps and bits of tune harmonize with the wind song in the still bare branches high above the garden.

~

february-20-2017-miniature-daffies-002

~

We went out to admire the bits of clearing and pruning we’ve completed already, and take stock of what is still needed to welcome spring.

The Vinca has already given soft lavender flowers; new leaves emerge still tightly wound in their buds.  This is the one time of year when I actually like the Vinca vines which threaten to take over every bed we start.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-006~

The one Iris we discovered Saturday afternoon has multiplied, and now stands in company with its sisters.  Their petals almost startling blue, gauche perhaps against winter’s neutrals, but so welcome.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-001

~

Blue Iris and soft purple Crocus stand low against the soil, timid almost, to have shown their faces so early in the season.

~

Crocus

Crocus

~

But cheeky Daffodils open bravely, budding and unfolding  with such speed that we delight in finding new ones each day.  The first of the miniatures appeared yesterday.

~

february-20-2017-miniature-daffies-026

~

And today I noticed a divided Daffodil bulb exposed to the afternoon sun.  It lay on a steep bank below a shrub, a few of its roots determinedly reaching down into the soil even as leaves and a flower bud emerged from each bulb’s tip.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-021

~

How did it get here?  Did it wash out of its bed in heavy rain, or can we thank some curious squirrel for its plight?

~

Rep-planted, and ready to grow!

Re-planted, and ready to grow!

~

I was simply glad to notice it, and moved it to a more accommodating spot where it can ‘live long and prosper…”… I hope.

We can never have too many Daffodils brightening a February day!

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-017

~

The seedling  Hellebores I transplanted last spring are blooming now, too.  They hybridize themselves promiscuously, and I’m endlessly fascinated to see the first of their flowers open.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-019

~

No named beauty in a catalog is quite as lovely as these debutantes, bred in our own garden.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-038

~

I find it deeply satisfying to see their  leaves and buds stretching for the sun, appearing in places I had forgotten I’d planted them.   And today I made mental notes of where to plant a few more seedlings later this week.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-015

~

Forsythia flowers are opening, and even the Hydrangea buds have begun to burst and show a hint of green.  Tender new leaves have emerged now on the roses and from woody vines on the trellis.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-013

~

What do you think?  Do we trust this early spring?

We moved our Olive and Pomegranate trees back outside this weekend to let them enjoy a bit of fresh air and real sunshine.  I hope, for my back’s sake, that they can stay!

All of the hanging baskets had a holiday on Sunday, out of the garage, and a good deep drink with a bit of  Neptune’s Harvest mixed in.  We opened the garage door to let air and light in to the pot-bound Begonias and Bougainvillea sheltering there.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-035

~

A Virginia spring is never a settled thing.  It teases and promises, but never can be trusted until early May, at least.  I’ve spent too many Easter Sunday mornings huddled in a winter coat and shivered through too many April snows, to fully trust an 80 degree February day.

~

Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny

~

We happily use these sweet warm days, opening windows and doors and starting new projects.  But the furnace kicks in again by dusk.  There is no long-term contract signed, yet. 

Still, we will marvel at each emerging bud and fiddlehead, and keep our fingers crossed that March will be gentle with our garden.

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-002

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

.

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is.

And when you’ve got it, you want—

oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want,

but it just fairly makes your heart ache,

you want it so!”

.

Mark Twain

~

february-21-2017-bulbs-005

 

Wednesday Vignettes: Walk in Beauty

november-7-2016-garden-013

~

“To be creative means to be in love with life.

You can be creative only if you love life enough

that you want to enhance its beauty,

you want to bring a little more music to it,

a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”

.

Osho

~

november-7-2016-garden-016

~

“Here is the world.

Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

Don’t be afraid.”

.

Frederick Buechner

~

november-8-2016-021

~

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it.

Notice the bumble bee, the small child,

and the smiling faces.

Smell the rain, and feel the wind.

Live your life to the fullest potential,

and fight for your dreams.

.

Ashley Smith

~

november-8-2016-012

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

~

november-7-2016-garden-012

~

“Many eyes go through the meadow,

but few see the flowers in it.”
.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

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

Join 528 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest