Sunday Dinner: Honestly

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“Integrity is telling myself the truth.
And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”
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Spencer Johnson

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“Patience is the calm acceptance
that things can happen in a different order
than the one you have in mind.”
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David G. Allen

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“Nothing is at last sacred
but the integrity of your own mind.”
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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Listen with curiosity.
Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.
The greatest problem with communication
is we don’t listen to understand.
We listen to reply.
When we listen with curiosity,
we don’t listen with the intent to reply.
We listen for what’s behind the words.”
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Roy T. Bennett

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“Every man must decide
whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism
or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
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Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“Each of us is an artist of our days;
the greater our integrity and awareness,
the more original and creative our time will become.”
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John O’Donohue

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Watch any plant or animal
and let it teach you acceptance of what is,
surrender to the Now.
Let it teach you Being.
Let it teach you integrity — which means to be one,
to be yourself, to be real.
Let it teach you how to live and how to die,
and how not to make living and dying into a problem.”
.
Eckhart Tolle
~

 

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A Vase On Monday: Unfolding Buds

March 1, 2015 vase 004

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Have you ever meditated on a bud’s unfolding?  The process of its growth from a tight, scaly bump on a branch to a softly colorful flower or leaf continues to amaze me.

Forsythia branches open their buds so elegantly that bringing them inside is an annual ritual of spring in our home.

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March 1, 2015 vase 008

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You think you might recognize this vase?  Well, perhaps you do…

But its contours have shifted, haven’t they?  My partner declared that the Hazel branches had to go as they released their golden pollen into the dining room.  Lovely as they were, there was no denying the sneezing and our watery eyes might have been related to their virility.

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March 1, 2015 vase 002

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So we are left with just the Forsythia and ivy from last week’s vase, transformed by the passage of time.

But finally, it is March.

And one day soon we’ll get up and find daffodils blooming in the garden.  Longer days and a bit of warmth promise to re-ignite the whole magical process of unfolding buds, lengthening stems, greening grass, and awakening perennials.  Let color return to this wintery garden!  Let new leaves clothe the shivering bare branches!

Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden hosts “In A Vase on Monday” each week.  Please visit her post today and find links to beautiful vases created by gardeners this first Monday in March.  A few minutes spent admiring such beauty and creativity is good for us all.

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March 1, 2015 vase 007

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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February 26, 2015 snow 018

 

 

In A Vase On Monday

February 16, 2015 Monday Vase 002

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Today’s vase of flowers reflects what is growing and blooming in our garden indoors.

We were thrilled to see the Impatiens, tucked into a pot of Caladium tubers back in November, in bloom this weekend.  These are the first Impatiens flowers we’ve seen since autumn.   We expect these cuttings will root and grow on through the coming summer.

The Caladiums have also decided to offer some fresh winter leaves.  I selected two tiny ones for this vase.  A few Cyclamen flowers and a Jewel Orchid stem complete the arrangement.

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February 16, 2015 Monday Vase 003

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We are happy to enjoy a vase of these bright summer flowers, knowing that at least a few of these stems will grow roots and live on. Our indoor garden offers enough flowers to get us through until the garden outside wakes up to spring.

Today’s vase was purchased from the potter at a show a few years ago.  It is very ‘handmade,’ and eccentric, but we admired its free form exuberance and bright glaze.  Sadly, it is signed only with an initial, and I don’t recall the artist’s name.

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February 16, 2015 Monday Vase 005~

The glass ball off to the side is by Portland, Oregon glass artist Paris Birdwell.   I met her at a show  in Oregon last September, and had to bring this unusual piece home.

You can see our stark winter garden through the window.  The hazel tree is absolutely covered with little catkins dancing around in the breeze.

It just looks cold, doesn’t it? 

Our garden is frozen rock solid now, after a winter storm front swept through Saturday evening, leaving Arctic air in its wake.  Our high today was around 20 F, and all of the waterways around us are freezing.  The Violas I had hoped to cut for the vase today have collapsed in the cold, and snow will cover them by nightfall.  They are hardy, though, and can perhaps  be cut next week, instead.

Today we are content to stay inside, where it’s warm enough for flowers, cats and people to grow on happily, and in comfort.

Please visit Cathy, at Rambling In the Garden, to see the beautiful vase of early spring flowers she brought in from her garden today.  Cathy hosts this Monday Vase challenge each week, and you’ll find links in her comments to vases arranged by many other enthusiastic gardeners.

This is an international challenge, and I always find it interesting to see how the seasons are progressing, elsewhere.  If you’re feeling even a little inspired, please pull together a little vase of your own with whatever you can scavenge locally.  Wonderful surprises wait for you to notice them…..

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February 16, 2015 snow 002

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Candlemas Monday Vase

Purple sage has survived winter, still growing in the garden.

Purple sage has survived winter, still growing in the garden.

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February demands patience.  Still locked in a battle for survival, the garden remains in defensive posture; waiting out the onslaught of wind, ice, rain, and grinding cold.

And so do we.  Perhaps already feeling the approach of spring, our bones tell us that winter will linger a while yet.  Perhaps a frustratingly long while yet.  Who can say?

Interludes of brilliant sun always fade as the clouds blow back in, bringing who knows how much more pounding rain or snow.  A morning in the 50s will likely fade into the 20s overnight.  Such is February, perhaps the hardest month of the year.

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February 2, 2015 Monday Vase 005

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Today’s Monday vase reflects this sense of ‘survival mode’ in our garden.  Buds remain tightly closed. ‘Evergreen’ leaves are dulled and discolored from the cold.

Yet ‘survival’ is the operative word here, and the garden remains very much alive.  Hazel twigs sport their male pollen filled ‘flowers.”

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February 2, 2015 Monday Vase 013

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Lavender, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme remain fresh and growing, if only very slowly.  Our Camellias are covered in buds.

Sprigs of ivy, found growing under a mat of wet leaves, show new growth.

Like a tightly coiled spring, the entire garden waits for the sun’s signal to begin its annual vernal unfolding.

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The moonstone frog heralds spring, as the discarded antler reminds us of what was left behind last autumn.

The moonstone frog heralds spring, as the discarded antler reminds us of what was left behind last autumn.

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Candlemas, February 2 of each year, brings its own message of purification, hope and renewal.

Bright color may presently be lacking in this vase and in the garden; but for those with patience, the potential for spring’s explosion of new life and color can be felt everywhere.

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February 2, 2015 Monday Vase 014~

The vase is hand blown glass made by Blenko, an historic glass company in West Virgina.  Filled with a sandy bottom, it suggests the eternal sea, from which all new life comes.  The plate is by friend and potter Denis Orton.

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February 2, 2015 Monday Vase 010

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With appreciation to Cathy at Rambling In the Garden for her Monday Vase challenge. 

Please visit her page for links to more beautiful vases of flowers prepared today.

Woodland Gnome 2015

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February 2, 2015 Monday Vase 015

Words and Herbs, “In A Vase On Monday:  Snow White”

In A Vase on Monday- Gray or Silver?

A Walk In the Garden, In A Vase on Monday: Buds

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.

 

 

Golden

March 8 2014 golden 012

Witch hazel, Hamamelis, our earliest golden shrub to bloom each spring.

What a golden day it has been here today. 

March 8 2014 golden 011

From sunrise to sunset, we’ve enjoyed the kiss of spring.

Hazel catkins lit by sunset's glow.

Hazel catkins lit by sunset’s glow.

Smiles just bubbled up naturally when one walked out of doors into the warmth and bright sunshine.

I went searching for gold today; for that brilliant joyful golden yellow which heralds spring in Virginia.

March 8 2014 golden 032

And I was richly rewarded.

I hope your Saturday has been golden and full of joy; doing things you love.

March 8 2014 golden 018

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

“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

Spring: Out of Focus

March 5 sunset 013A little out of focus…

March 5 sunset 011

That is how spring feels at the moment.

March 5 sunset 005

Surely it is beginning to appear, but in such tiny increments.

March 5 sunset 015

They are hard to see.

March 5 2014 parkway birds 077

One has to search them out,

March 5 2014 parkway birds 076

and finding, one must squint a bit to bring them into focus.

March 5 2014 parkway birds 069

The wintery background still overwhelms the senses, and the lens.

March 5 2014 parkway birds 068

But if you look very closely, and squint a bit yourself,

March 5 sunset 012

Perhaps your heart will see spring,

March 5 sunset 003

and celebrate, with mine.

March 5 sunset 008

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

March 5 sunset 006

American Hazelnut

March 2 garden 003

Our hazel trees, Corylus americana,  have decorated themselves with golden catkins, which appear to grow a little longer and a little more luminous each day.  These male “flowers,” which first appeared in early winter, are now full of pollen, ready to fertilize the emerging female flowers.

The most flagrantly “ready” reproducers in our winter garden, calling more attention to themselves than even our frisky birds, these gorgeous hazel trees have taken root in several areas in our back garden and along the edge of the forest.

Long catkins, full of pollen, glow in yesterday afternoon's sunshine.  The tiny red buds are flowers nearly ready to open.  A nut will eventually form to replace each fertilized flower.

Long catkins, full of pollen, glow in yesterday afternoon’s sunshine. The tiny red buds are flowers nearly ready to open. A nut will eventually form to replace each fertilized flower.

Hazel trees, closely related to the birch, are monoecious.  That is, they produce male catkins full of pollen separate from the female flowers.  Both may appear on the same tree, but hazel nuts will only grow from the flowers.  Looking carefully at the photos, you might notice the bright red flowers ready to break bud, yesterday.

A mix of rain, sleet, and snow fill our skies today, as the temperatures plummet. We expect north winds to bring us temperatures in the teens by midnight tonight.

A mix of rain, sleet, and snow fill our skies today, as the temperatures plummet. We expect north winds to bring us temperatures in the teens by midnight tonight.

The flowers, cautiously waiting to open, have been bathed in sleet and snow today.

These small trees grow as multi-stemmed clumps.   They spread a bit year to year, as they grow thicker and taller.  The individual trunks remain slender; more shrub than tree. Growing to around 12′ tall, the crowns may spread to be a bit wider.  These native trees begin to grow wherever a buried nut is forgotten by the squirrels.

March 2 garden 005

Preferring full sun, the Corylus americana  also does well in partial shade, at the base of larger hard wood trees.  Giving fewer nuts in shade, the tree still grows happily in moderately moist soil.  Its small nuts ripen in late September or early October.  Not that it matters… ours are usually long gone by then, enjoyed by birds and squirrels.

The long, pliable stems of the hazel can be cut and used for fencing, plant supports, and even to make the framework of baskets.  This is a “cut and come again” shrub which welcomes moderate harvesting.

Branches cut now make a beautiful and long lasting addition to indoor arrangements.  They give structure when used with early bulbs, hellebores, and even other branches, which will soon flower.

March 2 garden 012

Evergreen Eastern Red Cedar grows near this clump of Hazel.

Although deer enjoy the nuts in late summer and autumn, they don’t generally bother the hazel’s leaves or new shoots.  This is another shrub which can co-exist with grazing deer.

A welcome signal that warmer weather is coming, I was thrilled to notice the tiny red buds on our hazels yesterday.  New leaves are still several weeks away.  But the hazel  flowers are anxious to open to fresh pollen, and lead our garden into a new season of fruitfulness.

March 2 garden 014

All photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Hazel catkins outside our window this morning.

Hazel catkins outside our window this morning.

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