Sunday Dinner: “Be Fruitful”

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“Don’t sit at home and wait
for mango tree to bring mangoes to you wherever you are.
It won’t happen.
If you are truly hungry for change,
go out of your comfort zone
and change the world.”
.
Israelmore Ayivor

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“True passion motivates the life forces
and brings forth all things good.
.
Gabriel Brunsdon

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Double Narcissus ‘Gay Tabour’

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“Try not to become a man of success.
Rather become a man of value.”
.
Albert Einstein

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“There is no season of your life
that you cannot produce something.”
.
Bidemi Mark-Mordi

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“To be fruitful
is to understand the process of growth”
.
Sunday Adelaja

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
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“It had long since come to my attention
that people of accomplishment
rarely sat back and let things happen to them.
They went out and happened to things.”
.
Leonardo da Vinci

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“Success is not how high you have climbed,
but how you make a positive difference to the world.”
.
Roy T. Bennett

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Sunday Dinner: Grateful

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“I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual.
It is surprising how contented one can be
with nothing definite –
only a sense of existence.
… I am ready to try this 
for the next ten thousand years,
and exhaust it …
 My breath is sweet to me.
O how I laugh when I think
of my vague indefinite riches.
No run on my bank can drain it,
for my wealth is not possession
but enjoyment.”
.
Henry David Thoreau
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“Be thankful for your allotment in an imperfect world.  
Though better circumstances can be imagined,
far worse are nearer misses
than you probably care to realize.”
.
Richelle E. Goodrich
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“You have to be able to slow down enough
to switch your focus away from
all the ways things could be better,
to know how good they already are.”
.
Katherine Ellison
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“One single gift acknowledged in gratefulness
has the power to dissolve the ties of our alienation.”

.
David Steindl-Rast
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“It’s a funny thing about life,
once you begin to take note
of the things you are grateful for,
you begin to lose sight
of the things that you lack.”
.
Germany Kent
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“Behind every creative act is a statement of love.
Every artistic creation is a statement of gratitude.”
.
Kilroy J. Oldster
~
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“The single greatest cause of happiness is gratitude.”
.
Auliq-Ice
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Photos By Woodland Gnome 2017
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“Don’t ever stop believing in your own transformation.
It is still happening
even on days you may not realize it
or feel like it.”
.
Lalah Delia

What to Grow For A Rainy Day?

Colocasia ‘Pink China’

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Have you ever found a list of plants to grow for a rainy day?  Surely there must be such a catalog, somewhere.  There are lists of plants for sun and shade, lists for arid gardens, for rock gardens and for water gardens.  There are lists of plants for attracting butterflies and for repelling deer.  Why not a list of rainy day plants, too?

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Colocasia ‘Tea Cups’

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Their leaves must be thick and waxy; their stems strong enough to take a pounding.  And, of course, they should hold raindrops and show them off like fine jewels.

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Oakleaf Hydrangea

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Rainy day plants need a bit of glow about them.  They should sparkle and shine on the dullest of days.

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Colocasia ‘Tea Cups’

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And they can’t ever turn to a soggy mush when rainy days stretch into rainy weeks.  We are blessed with our share of rainy days in coastal Virginia.

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Caladium

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Some predict that climate change will bring us ever more rain, as warmer air absorbs and carries more moisture from the sea.   That has proven true these past few years, as coastal storms have brought us inches at a time.

Our soil holds it, too, like a soggy sponge.  And we need plants whose roots can luxuriate in this wet abundance.

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Muscadine grapes

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And mostly, we gardeners need some beautiful thing to admire on wet days.  Don’t you agree?

It’s good to walk out into one’s soggy garden and find it all looking fine.   To discover new layers of beauty when a plant is raindrop-clad brings us a little extra happiness.

~

Daucus carota, a carrot flower

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Let’s make our own list of Rainy Day Plants.  Let’s consider what stands up well in our extreme summer weather, whatever that might be in our own garden.

For us it’s heat, humidity and rain.  Perhaps your own conditions are a bit different.  Do you have wind?  Drought?  Hail storms?  Floods?

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Crepe Myrtle

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Let’s be open to change.  Let’s plant our gardens to succeed in our current circumstance, whatever that might be.

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We can move beyond that tired old list of what we’ve always done before, and make new choices.

Let’s fill our gardens with beauty and abundance, no matter which way the wind blows, and no matter how many rainy days come our way.

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rose scented geranium, Pelargonium

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Woodland Gnome 2017
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“Live in moments that consume your heart and mind,

but be distracted by the music from the leaves,

birds, wind, rain, sun and people”

.

Val Uchendu

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StrawberryBegonia

 

 

Focus

June 24, 2016 flowers 012

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“Create your own miracles,

don’t just wait for miracles to happen.

Infinite possibilities exist

by keeping focus on what you really want.”

.

Steven Redhead

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

The Way of Things

March 25, 2016 Daffodils 002

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Things are always changing.  This is the touchstone for all of us past a certain age, I’ve learned.  Gardening brings one intimately close to an understanding of our lives in this material world.  Sometimes changes bring happiness.  Other times we feels frustration as we lose something we enjoy, something we expected to last.

Understanding the nature of change is a lifetime’s work.  Accepting, even embracing it, hones our spirits.

~

March 25, 2016 Daffodils 003

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Our beautiful evergreen Star Jasmine vine covered the railings to our porch long before we ever came to this garden.  An ancient thing, with a large trunk, we enjoyed its greenness all winter and waited for its lovely fragrant flowers to open each spring.  Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all came to sip from its flowers.  It was one of the most beautiful gifts of the garden.

But harsh cold in winter 2013 weakened it.  Some of its stems never sprouted fresh leaves and flowers that next summer, and flowers came late.  We worked with it all summer and hoped for the best.  But a second harsh winter in 2014, followed by the cold and late spring last year, finished it off.  Its leaves dropped for months.  We were saddened to loose this beautiful vine.  And we didn’t want to lose its bulk and intricate stems which had protected our porch for decades.  What to do?

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 005~

Although we did some cleaning up and trimming back, we left the vine in place;  and decided to use it as a framework for growing other vines.  The handful of Muscadine grape seeds I’d casually planted below the Jasmine in 2013 were growing happily, undamaged by the cold.  So we spent last summer training those new vines up and over the framework left by the Jasmine.  I planted a Clematis in a pot at the base of the old trunk, and began training it up into the Jasmine as well.

And now, our bare framework of vines is greening.  The grapevines sprouted tiny green leaves this week, which grow larger each day.  The Clematis has sprouted new leaves as well, with new growth stretching further each day.  We’ll help anchor it along the front face of the old vines above the trunk.

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 009

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Change is happening to our framework of vines.  It will glow green and fruitful once again this summer in its fresh clothing of grape leaves and Clematis flowers.

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 001

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Change remains the dynamic force of creation.  We can harness its principles to create great beauty around us.  We can work with it when it comes unbidden.  But we cannot arrest its eternal power. 

The tale of change is written all around us in the incredible transformations which have swept over our beautiful planet.  The story unfolds within each of us, and in the faces of our loved ones.

It is the way of things. 

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 004~

Woodland Gnome 2016

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In A Vase: Rooting

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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.

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May 26, 2015 vase 051

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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.

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May 26, 2015 vase 039

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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.

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May 26, 2015 vase 046

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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.

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May 26, 2015 vase 053

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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.

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May 26, 2015 vase 038

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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.

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May 26, 2015 vase 045

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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.

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May 26, 2015 vase 035

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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 .

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May 26, 2015 vase 041

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Transition

August 27, 2014 Parkway 064

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August is slowly, steadily, sliding into September.

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August 27, 2014 Parkway 047

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Summer sun still bakes the beach,

and the garden ,

at mid-day;

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August 26, 2014 garden 040

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But

Nights whisper in

Cool breezes.

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Frog and cricket song

Start a little earlier each evening;

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Birds greet the sunrise a little later each day.

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Dew gilded mornings feel fresh;

Clear blue skies deepening  to sapphire.

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Energy of beginnings :

Renewed interest –

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August 28, 2014 turtles 041

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Reawakened purpose –

Opportunities taken-

Journeys begun.

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Berries swell and ripen.

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August 27, 2014 Parkway 039

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A season’s efforts almost complete.

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August 27, 2014 Parkway 030

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Greens soften into plum,

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crimson, gold, magenta,

nutty brown.

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Paring down.

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August 27, 2014 Parkway 057

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Discarding the extraneous,

The exhausted, the empty husks of yesterday.

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August 27, 2014 Parkway 090

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Transition.

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August 27, 2014 Parkway 102

 

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

August 27, 2014 Parkway 069

Herb Garden

Garlic chives come into bloom beside Thyme and a Muscadine grape vine.

Garlic chives come into bloom beside Thyme and a Muscadine grape vine.

“My love affair with nature is so deep

that I am not satisfied with being a mere onlooker, or nature tourist.

I crave a more real and meaningful relationship.

The spicy teas and tasty delicacies I prepare from wild ingredients

are the bread and wine

in which I have communion and fellowship with nature,

and with the Author of that nature.”

Euell Gibbons

 

 

August 19, 2014 lavender 032

Garlic chives remain one of the easiest of herbs to grow.  Plant in full sun, keep them moist, and they will grow indefinitely.  A perennial herb, the stand of chives grows a bit larger each season.  All parts of the plant are edible, and leaves can be snipped year round to season in cooking.  Chives are especially nice mixed with cream cheese or sour cream.  Their flowers may be cut for arrangements, cut and used as a garnish, or left to delight the bees.

Thyme grows as another spreading, perennial herb which enjoys full sun.  It blooms sometimes in summer, and it is a favorite for cooking.  A good cheese spread may bee made with chives, thyme leaves, and perhaps a little garlic, minced Rosemary, and freshly ground pepper.  Mix these into any combination of soft cream or goat cheeses.

Grape leaves make tasty wraps for various fillings.  Our favorite are Greek dolmades, which are stuffed with a mixture of rice and herbs, then steamed.  Grape leaves may be eaten raw in salad or added to sandwiches.

 

Basil grows here beside scented Pelargonium.

Basil grows here beside scented Pelargonium.

Basil leaves remain our favorite summer herb.  Eaten raw on a sandwich, pureed into pesto, or cooked with tomatoes, their distinctive flavor sings “summer,” even when enjoyed in February.  Their flowers are edible and may be enjoyed as cut flowers or as a garnish.  Stems of  Basil, mixed in with other flowers in a vase, perfumes the entire room.

Basil

Basil

Scented Pelargoniums are not only edible, they dry beautifully.  Lemon, orange, or rose scented geraniums, as they are called, may be added to home made mixes for tea, used as flavor in baked goods, or may be dried and preserved for their fragrance. Their flowers are edible and may be used to garnish cupcakes.  Some Pelargoniums survive the winter for us in Zone 7B.  They die back to the ground, but will sometimes come back from their roots in late spring.  They are happiest in full sun with moist soil.

Chocolate mint in bloom

Chocolate mint in bloom

Plant all of the mints in full sun.  They prefer moist soil, and will spread madly over a summer.  Every part of the plant may be eaten fresh or dried.  Used mainly to flavor beverages, mints are wonderful fresh or dried in tea.  A stand of mint in bloom remains busy with every sort of bee and wasp enjoying the feast of nectar.  This chocolate mint has beautiful, distinctive foliage and smells like minty chocolate candy.

Pineapple Sage, Pineapple Mint, and Rosemary enjoy this end of the butterfly garden where they get sun.  All appreciate moist soil, and will return each spring.

Pineapple Sage, Pineapple Mint, and Rosemary enjoy this end of the butterfly garden where they get sun.   All appreciate moist soil, and will return each spring.

A garden may be appreciated by all of our senses, including taste and smell.  These wonderfully fragrant herbs contain healing oils and compounds, in addition to their delicious flavors.

Although not a traditional vegetable garden, an herb garden allows us to consume a bit of what we grow and use the plants in many different ways.

Salvia officinalis, 'Tricolor' is delicious.  This perennial culinary herb is added to many savory dishes.  Individual leaves may also be fried in butter or olive oil  and used as a tasty garnish.

Salvia officinalis, ‘Tricolor’ is delicious. This perennial culinary herb is added to many savory dishes. Individual leaves may also be fried in butter or olive oil and used as a tasty garnish.

Whether bringing cut herbs and flowers indoors to enjoy, making sachet packets to keep moths out of our drawers,   blending our own tea, or cutting herbs to add to our food; we come to know these beautiful plants better through frequent use.

Salvia officinalis, 'Berggarten'

Salvia officinalis, ‘Berggarten’

Perennial herbs generously offer themselves up season after season, and once planted, remain with us so long as we tend the garden.

Rose scented Pelargonium with Pineapple Sage and Rose

Rose scented Pelargonium with Pineapple Sage and Rose

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

 

Opening

The first every buds opening on a "volunteer" Crepe Myrtle which has finally grown large enough to bloom this season.

The first ever buds opening on a “volunteer” Crepe Myrtle which has finally grown large enough to bloom this season.

Hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into seasons;  as we drift through the unfolding year something new  always opens up for us, even as something spent is crumpling and falling away.

Gardenia

Gardenia

The first week of July, well into the summer, hosts a fresh round of openings and beginnings here in our forest garden.

Buddleia, "Harlequin" has come into bloom.

Buddleia, “Harlequin” has come into bloom this weekend.

Hibiscus and Buddleia, Dill and Crepe Myrtle are all opening and unfolding the first of their flowers at the moment.

The first bud of the season ready to open on our hardy Hibiscus, H. moscheutos moscheutos

The first bud of the season ready to open on our hardy Hibiscus, H. moscheutosJapanese beetles have been active eating its leaves this summer.

I love to find a plant covered in buds; full of potential and beauty, ready to open itself to the garden.

Tiny grapevines have sprouted from the Muscadine seeds I planted last fall.

Tiny grapevines have sprouted from the Muscadine seeds I planted last fall.

 

July, as flower-filled as May in our garden, also offers up an incalculable array of shades and hues of green.

 

Canna, gift from a friend's garden, survived our harsh winter.

Canna, gift from a friend’s garden, survived our harsh winter.

 

When rain has been plentiful, as it is this year, greens are fresh and vibrant.

 

Redbud "volunteer" has grown well this season.  Perhaps next spring it will bloom.

Redbud “volunteer” has grown well this season. Perhaps next spring it will bloom.

Greenness generates the energy needed for growth; and one may almost hear the whispers of unfolding leaves and lengthening stems on a warm summer evening.

 

Joe Pye Weed planted about a month ago is growing well now.

Joe Pye Weed planted about a month ago is growing well now.

Change comes minute upon minute in the garden during deep summer.

Abundant moisture and  constant heat provide the hothouse for outrageous growth.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

Vines stretch and new seeds germinate.

Shrubs magically expand and ferns fill in the open spaces.

July 7, 2014 opening flowers 008

Buds constantly opening fill every breeze with sweetness.

First Crepe Myrtle blooms of the season open on this favorite tree>

First Crepe Myrtle blooms of the season open on this favorite tree>

 

Every part of the garden glows with color.

 

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A garden serves as a reliable text book for life.

 

Fungus are key to opening the fertility of soil to plants.

Fungi  are key to opening the fertility of soil to plants.

 

Lessons trivial and profound are written daily in the sky and soil.

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Pruned hard exactly a year ago, this beautiful old oak shows strong new growth.

 

Every creature and plant is a willing tutor to those who engage with them with mind and heart open to their wisdom.

 

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The changing light weaves a new story each day; a faithful Scheherazade for those who will listen and take pleasure in the tale.

 

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In July, the garden’s theme is abundance and profound love.

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Source is generous with its gifts, nourishing through its fruits, and rich in its beauty.

 

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Nature is ever at work building and pulling down,

creating and destroying,

keeping everything whirling and flowing,

allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion,

chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

John Muir

 

July 7, 2014 garden 010

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Wild Fruit

Wild grape vine found growing along the Colonial Parkway

Wild grape vine found growing along the Colonial Parkway

Have you ever eaten wild fruit, picked from seeming “weeds” growing wild?

There are those who believe wild fruits are the sweetest…. or is that my conditioning from an adolescence lived in the 1970s speaking up again?

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(Yes, my ears still perk up when I hear the languid strains of  “Afternoon Delights” by the Starland Vocal Band.)

June 15, 2014 Father's Day 004

If you’ve ever picked wild blackberries and eaten them while still warm from the sun, you understand.

There was a time when I could locate every wild blackberry patch and Sassafrass tree within biking distance.

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Mother didn’t so much ask where those berries came from, as she set about making a crust for the cobbler we would enjoy after dinner.

Oh, how delicious those cobblers tasted drenched with melting vanilla ice cream.

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Somehow my best summer memories include freshly picked blueberries or peaches; apples from our own trees; blackberries, or hidden grapes left behind by the birds.

Wild Muscadine grapes

Wild Muscadine grapes

These blackberries and grapes grow along the Colonial Parkway.

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Protected by the National Park service, they are there for the wild creatures who live nearby.  So no, we didn’t gather or sample….

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Grapes grow here in abundance, popping up as though by “magic.”

Another gift of nature, ready to offer up their sweetness, if only allowed to grow.

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Last autumn we bought  some  Muscadine grapes, a species native to this area of Virginia, from our favorite farm stand.  And you know what I did with those seeds now, don’t you?

And, yes, I’m finding tiny little starts of vines popping up in the many places I scattered them.

Not edible; in fact poisonous, these berries grow among the grapes.  I believe they are called "Canada Moonseed."

Not edible; in fact poisonous, these berries grow among the grapes. I believe they are called “Canada Moonseed.”

You see, our plan is to grow a little “wild fruit” of our own here in our forest garden.

Poisonous, but still pretty.  These vines are semi-evergreen, and grow to great heights in the trees.  These berries will turn dark purple by fall.

Poisonous, but still pretty. These vines are semi-evergreen, and grow to great heights in the trees. These berries will turn dark purple by fall.

There are “wild” blackberry vines growing now along the fence line in the edge of the ravine.

And grape vines one day will cover the stump in the center of our “stump garden.”

Our "stump garden" is coming along well.  I hope our own Muscadine grape vines will grow on the stump, replacing the Virginia Creeper growing up the stump at the moment.  Virginia Creeper produces berries loved by birds.

Our “stump garden” is coming along well. I hope our own Muscadine grape vines will grow on the stump, replacing the Virginia Creeper growing up the stump at the moment. Virginia Creeper produces berries loved by birds.

Perhaps that is the lesson learned in one’s fifth decade on the planet:  “Wild fruit is still the sweetest; but it is best when eaten from your own garden.”

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

June 15, 2014 Father's Day 002

Inspired by Ed’s Sunday Stills:  Macro  Since we took these photos on Sunday, perhaps they’ll count 😉  And Ed, you’re right- so much “macro” to enjoy beyond flowers and bugs.  But I still included the shot with the spider.

Please also enjoy Cee’s Sunday Stills for some fascinating photos.

 

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