August Wonders

Azalea indica ‘Formosa’ in bloom on August 22, 2017.


A deeply pink blossom shone like a beacon in its sea of dusty August green.  What could that be?

I know that color; a color normally enjoyed in late April: Azalea indica ‘Formosa’.   But the Azaleas in our garden are old ones, planted years before the ‘Encore’ series of fall blooming  Azaleas was ever marketed.

I studied this beautiful flower, a wondrous anachronism, as I drew closer and saw that yes, it was blooming from an Azalea shrub.  In August…

August is filled with wonders. 



August often melts into a reprieve of sorts.  Relentless heat and drought eventually give way to soaking rains, cooler nights; and a chance for new growth to replace the burnt and fallen leaves of high summer.   Each new leaf whispers a promise of renewal.


Virginia Creeper


After the rains begin, one morning we’ll find living fireworks sprung up nearly overnight from long forgotten bulbs.

The spider lily, or hurricane lily, has awakened for another year.  Their exuberance is a milestone along the long downward arc of days from Summer’s Solstice to Autumn’s Equinox.


Hurricane Lily, Lycoris radiata


The cast of characters in our garden shifts through the seasons.  The topography of things changes, too, as Cannas and Ficus and Rudbeckia gain height with each passing week.

The poke weed I cut out so ruthlessly in May finally won, and has grown into a 12′ forest in one corner of our garden.


Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, proves an invasive native perennial loved by birds.


Countless clusters of beautiful purple berries hang from its spreading branches, an invitation to the feast.  Small birds flit in and out of its shelter from dawn to dusk, singing their praises of summer’s bounty.



After so many decades of gardening, one would think that I could have learned the twin disciplines of faith and patience by now.  It is a life long practice; perhaps never perfected. 

Time seems to slip past my muddy fingers each spring as I race to plant and prepare our garden for the season coming.  But nature bides her time, never fully revealing the bits of life she has nurtured through winter’s freezing nights; until she chooses to warm them back to life again.


Mexican Petunia, Ruellia simplex


At first I assumed it was a windborne weed, this bit of green growing up through the Oxalis in a humble clay pot by our back door.  I very nearly plucked it one day.  But something about its long narrow leaf was familiar, and echo of a memory of summers past.

And so I left it alone, keeping watch and feeding it, hoping it might be the newest incarnation of the marginally hardy Mexican Petunia.  My patience was rewarded this week with its first purple blossom.



Hardy only to Zone 8, this Ruellia is one of the plants I search for in garden centers each spring.   And this spring I didn’t find one.  And the pot where I grew it on our deck last summer with Lantana and herbs showed no life by mid-May, and so I threw its contents on the compost.

But this pot by the door sat undisturbed, filled with growing  Oxalis and a bit of geranium.  And obviously, the dormant, but still living, Ruellia’s roots.  How often our plants live just below the surface, waiting for the right moment to show themselves, bursting  into new growth.

We somehow have to wrap our minds and memories around the full scope of our garden’s possibilities.


Garlic chives spread themselves around the garden, blooming in unexpected places in late summer.


Autumn is our second spring, here in coastal Virginia.  It is a fresh chance to plant and harvest, plan and prune and putter in the garden.


Caladium ‘Desert Sunset’ has renewed its growth with vibrant new leaves.


We have ten or twelve weeks remaining, at least, before cold weather puts an end to it for another year.

As our season cools, we can spend more time outside without minding the heat and humidity of July and early August.


Hardy Begonias have finally begun to bloom.


We breathe deeply once again, and share the renewed joy of it all with the small creatures who share this space with us.

Late August is filled with wonders, teasing us out from the air conditioning of our indoor havens, back out into the magic waiting in the garden.



Woodland Gnome 2017


Blossom VII

August 1, 2016 blossoms 005


“If patterns exist in our seemingly patternless lives —

and they do —

then the law of harmony insists

that the most harmonious of all patterns,

circles within circles,

will most often assert itself.”


Dean Koontz


August 1, 2016 blossoms 006


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

“What we call chaos

is just patterns we haven’t recognized.

What we call random

is just patterns we can’t decipher.”


Chuck Palahniuk


August 1, 2016 blossoms 001

Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom III
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VIII


One Word Photo Challenge: Rainbow

July 16, 2014 pots 001

The spectrum of visible life dances in different wavelengths, and at different speeds, on its journey to our eyes.

All clear light at Source, its dance leads it through refraction, and against reflection, giving us the kaleidoscopic illusion of hundreds of colors when the light finally reaches us.


July 16, 2014 pots 004

Living plants do wonderful things to light as they absorb this bit, reflect that, and allow the rest to pass right through leaf and petal in a warm glow of color.

Sometimes their colors appear as a waxy shine, other times deep and velvety.  Sometimes rough and dull.

July 16, 2014 pots 007

Variation upon variation is born to the endless delight of gardening addicts everywhere.

July 16, 2014 pots 006

As we surround ourselves with  leafy greenness, we seek the other colors of the rainbow in golden yellow stamens; red leaves; orange fruits and petals; and blue and violet flowers.

Every band of the rainbow dances in the garden.

And this grouping of pots supports them all.

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

July 16, 2014 pots 005

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her One Word Photo Challenge:  Rainbow


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