In Bloom

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Our garden grows golden today.

Bright yellow Forsythia flowers explode from the bare branches which frame our driveway, line our front border, and grow as an impenetrable barrier on one corner of the garden.  This is an ancient stand of Forsythia, planted decades ago by the original gardeners here.

Towering over our heads, its brilliance lights up the entire garden when it blooms.

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Waves of golden daffodils punctuate the rolling hillside.  Although many have naturalized over the decades in large clumps, we have planted new bulbs every autumn since we came here.

It is interesting to watch the clumps grow each year from a single stem to a thriving colony of bright flowers.

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We are about at ‘mid-season’ now for daffodils, and we’ll enjoy them throughout April.

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We plan to drive up to Gloucester next week to visit the daffodil farm there, and perhaps select a few new varieties to plant this autumn coming.

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The daffodils bloomed even before the Muscari this spring.  We have both white and blue ones blooming now.

Our Magnolia liliflora ‘Nigra’ began to open yesterday in the afternoon’s warm sunshine.

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These were also planted by earlier gardeners here, much to our delight.  Their dark purple flowers open slowly over several weeks in spring, and often return at the end of summer for a second time.

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We planted a Magnolia stellata this week, covered in buds.  While one might expect a white shrub to get lost in our woods, it shines like a beacon.  I can only imagine how lovely it will be in a few year’s time when it has grown up.

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Trees have burst into bloom in the back garden.  The peach blossoms began to open overnight, and the apple and pear showed their first color late in the afternoon yesterday.

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This is that magical time when our entire garden bursts into bloom.

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All of the Vinca vines cover themselves in tiny periwinkle flowers, opening a few more each day.

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These spread themselves all around the garden, wherever there is a bit of bare ground. And all of the Hellebores are blooming now in various shades of burgundy, pink, mauve, and white.  Even several planted out as tiny seedlings last spring have matured enough to flower.

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The Edgeworthia continues to get better, sweetly fragrant and tipped in golden yellow.  Lilac shrubs stand full of buds.

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Violas in pots have taken courage from the softer weather to grow again and cover themselves in flowers.  Even the Camellia japonica buds are opening to release their thick, waxy petals into the warmth of April.

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I hope you can feel the warmth and smell the sweetness of our spring breezes this evening.

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Each day, we become more aware of that fourth dimension in which we move:  time.

Some days time slows down and allows us to savor time spent enjoying the company of friends.  An hour stretches out into a long, languorous visit of good conversation and laughter.

Other days, hours seem to evaporate into nothingness as we clean out beds, plant, prune, and plan what will go where this spring….

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If photos allow us to capture a moment in time, they give us some measure of power over all four of the dimensions which structure our lives.  We can capture all four in only two-

The world is full of miracles and wonders.

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 Happy Spring!

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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Awakening

Columbine begins its annual growth in our garden.

Columbine begins its annual growth in our garden.

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Warmer days this week drew us outside to begin cutting back the dead branches of perennials, pull mouldering leaves out of planting beds, and look for the many tiny signs of spring.  Autumn leaves have found lodging everywhere, it seems.  Too wet to shred, we will leave them to mulch the soil a bit longer.

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Catmint has reappeared in the stump garden.

Catmint has reappeared in the stump garden.

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I was a little surprised to see abundant growth of new leaves on the catmint once last summer’s stems were cleared away.  Tiny green shoots of Comphrey poke a few inches above the moist soil.  New daffodil leaves emerge each day.

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Tete-a-Tete daffodils bloom in a pot with a budding Clematis vine.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils bloom in a pot with a budding Clematis vine.

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A single bright yellow daffodil blossom magically appeared over night on Tuesday in a pot near the drive, and a spray of tiny Tete-a-Tete daffodils opened the following day in the pot where a Clematis vine has already budded out.  Their cheerful golden trumpets brighten up this soggy Saturday.  Mid-March is muddy here in Williamsburg.

We are happy for the mud, however, as it shows us the ground has thawed.  Our last snow-pile finally melted by Thursday morning.

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Now little bits of fresh growth have begun to emerge in the oddest places.  Bright moss shines along the front walk.  Deep rosy red buds appeared this week on the roses, beckoning me to finally trust that the worst of winter has passed and cut them back.

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We’re walking around, taking stock; cleaning up what winter left behind.

Somehow a box of bare root Siberian Iris came home with us from Sam’s Club, and I scooped out moist holes for their roots yesterday.  I love their deep purple flowers waving in the warm May breeze.  They spread and multiply rapidly, making thick stands of saturated color as the Azaleas fade each year.  A bare root white Clematis from the same package now grows along a fence.

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A fitting surprise waited for me in the old bag of potting soil which has lingered beneath the wheelbarrow these last frozen months.  I opened it to fill a pot for the second Clematis yesterday, and found little shoots of green already growing in the mix.  Apparently, this was soil I had scooped out of a pot at the end of the season to save, forgetting there were tiny bulbs mixed in from another spring.  The bulbs sprouted anyway, and their leaves were poking out of the moist soil.  I rescued them from the bag and tucked them into pots where they can prosper in the sun.

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Crocus emerge beneath a woody web of Lantana stems.  We want to wait until the weather settles a bit more before cutting the Lantana back for spring.

Crocus emerge beneath a woody web of Lantana stems. We want to wait until the weather settles a bit more before cutting the Lantana back for spring.

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Always filled with interesting surprises, spring cheers me like no other season.  As each perennial emerges from its winter rest, as each bulb breaks the Earth with its brilliant green leaves and each fruit tree bursts into flowers; I am reminded again that life is full of beautiful surprises.

Our gardens, like our own lives, remain perennially capable of new growth.  Although we don’t find it in every season, the potential remains.

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When the soil is warm  and moist, things always grow.  Whether that growth is what we planned or whether it ends up a straggler which blew in from elsewhere; the soil covers itself with interesting leaves, spreading stems, and sometimes a delicate flower.

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I've transplanted Hellebores seedlings to grow beneath this Camellia shrub.  They will make a lovely ground cover in a few years.

I’ve transplanted Hellebores seedlings to grow beneath this Camellia shrub. They will make a lovely ground cover in a few years.

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The sun beckons, even as rain clouds mute its life giving rays.

March: the month when our garden awakens to spring.  May all of its verdant possibilities inspire you.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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Wordless Wednesday

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“Endurance:

It is the spirit which can bear things,

not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope.

It is the quality which keeps a man on his feet

with his face to the wind.

It is the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial

into glory because beyond the pain it sees the goal.”

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Anonymous

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

One Word Photo Challenge: Strawberry

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Real strawberries may be months away from ripening in our pots on the deck, yet I’ve found touches of pink and red growing now in our indoor winter garden.

Thank you for coming to enjoy these photos today, inspired by Jennifer Nichole Well’s One Word Photo Challenge:  Strawberry.

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This challenge helps us focus on the many beautiful and unusual colors which surround us each day.

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This Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, is so happy in its cool spot near a window that it continues to set buds.

This Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, is so happy in its cool spot near a window that it continues to set buds.

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I found touches of “strawberry” in new growth on our houseplants today, and also in a single Viola blossom in a sheltered area on our still-frozen deck.  I thought you might enjoy it in the same vase photographed last Monday for Cathy’s Vase Challenge.

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Although last week’s Violas and snowdrops didn’t stay fresh for the entire week, the two white Hellebore blossoms continue to swell and will open later this week.  Forsythia branches have responded to the warmth indoors and have begun to show color.  The blueberry buds remain tightly closed, which isn’t surprising since they open much later in the spring than the Forsythia in the garden.

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While you’re here, I need to share something with you that we learned earlier today.  It seems a neighbor of ours suffered a robbery while he was sleeping last week.  But there were no signs of forced entry.  It was as though the robber somehow had a key…. and the crime remains a mystery so far as has been told to the community.

We heard a related story on our local news this afternoon about a website which allows one to order duplicate keys from a photograph.  Would-be robbers can simply take a photo of your house key with their phone, upload it to a particular website, and order a duplicate key for less than $10.00.

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This newly opened Philodendron leaf is nearly 'strawberry'....

This newly opened Philodendron leaf is nearly ‘strawberry’….

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As much as we love the conveniences technology offers, now we must all be vigilant and careful with yet another bit of our daily routine.  The days of leaving our keys in plain sight, whether on our desk, clipped to our belt or purse, or even loaned out to a valet or mechanic’s shop, have passed.  Any unscrupulous person may quickly snap a photo and help themselves to duplicates of our keys.

Even a workman coming into our home could quickly snap a photo of our keys left lying on a counter, and then sell our house key and our address.  Please don’t think I’m overly paranoid in sharing this with you.  We just all need to be very smart and mindful in these interesting times in which we live.  We weren’t aware of this  online “service” until we heard the story today; and you may not have heard of it yet, either.

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New spring growth on a cane Begonia

New spring growth on a cane Begonia

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Here is the story from our local news, and another from New York.  Keysduplicated.com, which provides this service, offers these safety tips to help you protect yourself from an invasion of your privacy:

  • Keep keys in a pocket, purse, or anything else worthy of guarding your credit cards.
  • Don’t leave your keys unattended, even on your desk at work.
  • Be careful who you let borrow your keys, whether it’s a friend, mechanic or valet. Only hand over the necessary keys, not your whole key-ring.
  • Buy (or have your landlord buy) high security locks
  • Don’t post pictures of your keys on Twitter, Facebook, or other online services.

We have ventured a bit far afield from a photo challenge post today, and I appreciate your patience.  If you were hoping for a bit of poetry, I’m sorry to disappoint.

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Our Amaryllis is coming along nicely.

Our Amaryllis is coming along nicely.

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Assuming I’m finally able to get out of the house tomorrow, it will be to pick up a quart of strawberries.

And once we have some fresh strawberries in the house, I’ll hope to show you something delicious made with them.  When it’s too wet and cold to dig in the garden, there is always the kitchen to play in…

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Ah, June....

Remembering June….

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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A January Monday Vase

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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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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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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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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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One Word Photo Challenge: Indigo

One Word Photo Challenge:  Indigo

 

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With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

For her

One Word Photo Challenge:  Indigo

Photo by Woodland Gnome 2015

One Word Photo Challenge: Marsala

Heuchera

Heuchera

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Marsala,

Brownish pink, rosy brown,

Color chosen for 2015.

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Color of ivy stems, winter blossoms, dried blood,

Wine, pomegranates, terra cotta, grapes.

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Cooly warm, this hue.

Color of Earth, not sky;

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Begonia

Begonia

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Muddy water, not fire.

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Color of life,

New leaves, new growth, winter survival.

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Philodendron

Philodendron

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Marsala purrs softness, comfort, calm.

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Hellebores

Hellebores

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It promises spring.

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It verifies vitality

It witnesses winter’s defeat.

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Hellebore

Hellebore

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Marsala:  taste the good taste of new.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her

One Word Photo Challenge:  Marsala

 

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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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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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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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.

 

 

Wordless Wednesday

December 31, 2014 frost 004

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“How did it get so late so soon?

It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June.

My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?”

 

Dr. Seuss

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2o14

 

 

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New Year’s Eve

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On New Year’s Eve I’m reminded that the new is always born out of all that has gone before.

The ghosts of our past both comfort and haunt us, traveling with us into the newness of each day, each new year.

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Our roots run deep into the soil of our life experiences, and our parents’ and grandparents’ experiences.  Our roots live in the  knowings and acts and loves of all of those who came before, and all those who journey with us now.

We draw the energy and motivation to move forwards from the richness of our past .

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As we reflect on our lives up to this moment, there are moments of sorrow as well as joy.  Disappointments mixed in with our accomplishments.

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There are those loved ones we’ve lost along the way, friends estranged, colleagues left behind.

And of course there are those friends and loved ones with us still, who have been our companions for much of our lives.

Each of these relationships, each of these experiences  has enriched us in countless ways.

They are all our mentors. 

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So let us bless it all.  Let us recollect all of those people who have been our companions along the way.  Because our history also shows us our path forwards.

Whether our memories are bitter or joyful, or mixed; let us bless them, forgive them, appreciate them, and acknowledge what we have learned from each one.

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Let us recollect the many experiences of our lives. Let us accept them, the painful as well as the positive ones, as part of our story.  Each one has played its part in bringing us to this moment, at the cusp of a new year.

Our lives are infinitely enriched with the people and experiences of each passing year.

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Let us move forwards in peace, accepting what has been, and forming a  clear vision of the life we intend to live moving forwards.

It is our inner vision, our power of imagination to create the life we desire, which moves us forward.

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On this New Year’s Eve, skip the resolutions and instead envision the life you intend to live from this moment on.  Determine what you want to hear, and see, smell and feel in your daily life.

Our dreams and intentions are the seeds which create what we desire. 

Planted in the rich soil of our life, nurtured with awareness and intent, our vision will grow into reality.

May you walk in beauty and happiness through all the days to come.

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Woodland Gnome 2014

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