In A Vase on Monday: May Remembered

November 30, 2015 iris 001

~

On this last day of November, we filled our vase with fresh cut roses and the last of our Iris.  This is one of the many reasons we love gardening in coastal Virginia!

~

November 30, 2015 Roses 003

~

Today proved wet and mild.  It was in the mid-40s when we went out on mid-day errands, and the low white sky promised more slow and steady drizzle.  A damp glaze on everything and muted light made the remaining golden and scarlet leaves on our trees glow radiantly.  What a simply beautiful day.

Those trees still holding their leaves were  like torches set against the bleak November day.  Our roses shone like beacons across the garden.

~

November 30, 2015 Roses 006

~

It was already dusk when I finally got outside  to cut the roses.  We thought the frost last week had finished our Iris for the season.  But the buds survived, and this lovely I. ‘Rosalie Figge’ opened today as though the frost had never even happened.

~

November 30, 2015 iris 002

~

Our Artemisia survived the first few frosty nights as well, glowing with silver light on this dark and rainy day. Our little vase of flowers reminds us of the sheer joy of May; a last gift of the season before we face December in the morning.

~

November 30, 2015 Roses 001~

The vase itself came to us through the Habitat for Humanity shop.  I spotted it last summer, and noticing it was made in France, and is quite old; decided to add it to our collection of vases.  I love its cream and gold colors and classic shape.

We’ll enjoy these vibrant apricot roses and deeply purple Iris as we leave autumn behind now, and welcome winter and the holiday season for another year.   Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden, has cut autumn roses from her garden for her vase today, too.  It shows me how small our world really is to see we are both cutting similar roses on the very same day, thousands of miles apart from one another!   I hope you’ll pop over to see her gorgeous apricot rose named, “The Poet’s Wife.”

Cathy faithfully hosts this challenge to post a vase of fresh cut flowers each Monday, and I’m happy to join her coterie of flower gardeners again today.

~

November 30, 2015 Roses 008

~

Soon we will all be awash in red and green, silver and gold as more and more holiday decorations find their way out of storage.

I hope you had a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend spent relaxing with loved ones.  As the garden drifts off to sleep through another winter, our attention turns to other things inside, where it is warm and dry.

~

November 30, 2015 Roses 009

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

Sunday Dinner: Transition

November 28, 2015 fall color 019

~

“A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me

with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is

any more than he.”

.

Walt Whitman

~

November 28, 2015 fall color 021

~

“In all affairs

it’s a healthy thing now and then

to hang a question mark

on the things you have long taken for granted.”

.

Bertrand Russell

~

November 28, 2015 fall color 013

~

“In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.”

.

Jeanette Winterson

~

November 28, 2015 fall color 007

~

“Light precedes every transition.

Whether at the end of a tunnel,

through a crack in the door

or the flash of an idea,

it is always there,

heralding a new beginning.”

.

Teresa Tsalaky

~

November 28, 2015 fall color 012~

“ ‘Siri, what is the meaning of life?’

She answers: ‘ To think about questions like this.’

Huh. Good one.”

.

Kim Wright 

~

November 28, 2015 fall color 027

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

~

November 28, 2015 fall color 003

~

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition

All photos at Jones Millpond from the Colonial Parkway in York County, Virginia

 

 

 

WPC: Transition

November 27, 2015 color 014

~

Transition: N. The process of passing from one state, stage, place, or subject to another : change or movement.

The garden remains in a state of transition, week to week and season to season.  But some weeks are a bit more dramatic than others.

~

November 27, 2015 color 016

~

This past week brought our first true frost.  A few more beautiful plants have faded from the garden.  In fact, we just finished cutting back the ginger lilies.   They were withered on Wednesday morning, after our first hard frost.   Last year they made quite a mess when we left them in place, draped across one of our perennial beds.   So we cut them today, before they had a chance to topple over.  That whole area is opened up again to light and air after the lily’s dense growth all summer.

Quite a few things are still ‘looking good’ in our garden this week.  ( Many thanks to Gillian at Country Gardens UK for hosting this theme each Friday, reminding us to appreciate what we have. )

~

Autumn Brilliance fern, which will remain evergreen in our garden. New fronds in early spring open a rosy bronze before maturing to green.

Autumn Brilliance fern, which will remain evergreen in our garden. New fronds in early spring open a rosy bronze before maturing to green.

~

Transition is not all good or all bad.  Some transitions may be a bit more pleasant than other ones; but all bring us to  new territory full of both challenges and joys.

~

November 27, 2015 color 022

~

After winter sweeps away a season’s growth, we have the opportunity to begin again, making different choices.  It is a little like shaking an Etch-a-Sketch or wiping the chalkboard clean.

~

November 27, 2015 color 018

~

Frost withers everything tender, cleaning up both flowers and those last pesky weeds.  We pull them, cut them back, watch them fall; rake, mulch and sweep away the remains of the summer season.

And then next spring, we begin anew.  As the Earth warms the whole unfolding begins again.

It is novel and a little bit surprising, to watch the shoots push up through the thawing soil  and buds explode from woody stems.  Fallen seeds sprout in unexpected places.  Bulbs have multiplied and perennials grow stronger than ever before.

~

A late bloomer. It makes us happy to see new buds opening even as the season fades.

A late bloomer. It makes us happy to see new buds opening even as the season fades.

~

I’ve just watched the whole, beautiful unfolding of 2015 once again through my thousands of photos.

It takes a very long time to look through them all, selecting just a few to represent each month of the year, as I build my annual garden calendar.  But what a deeply satisfying experience to revisit those photos and appreciate all of the magic and beauty each month offers.

The practice reminds me how quickly the garden grows and changes each year.  It shows me just how deeply ever-spiraling time changes every aspect of our lives.

~

November 27, 2015 color 003

~

Our calendar is finally complete for this year; a labor of love which consumed me for several days. 

A calendar is a special thing, as it chronicles so many cycles of change.  I’ve never found one on offer that provides all of the information I want each year.  Which is what inspired me to construct our first A Forest Garden calendar back in 2014.

The normal holidays are all included, of course; but also the moons, the first and last frost dates in Zones 6-9, the many different cultural observances of  the ‘New Year,’ and selected holidays for Christians, Muslims, Native Americans, Jews and Wiccans.  Since we are all one human family, it is good to know when and what our neighbors are celebrating, too! Some saints days are noted, election day, American bank holidays and of course the major modern shopping days.

And yet there’s more!  There are notations about bird counts and environmental clean up days, the year’s solstices and equinoxes, special weeks, monthly commemorations and a whole year’s worth of gardening tips and reminders.  This is the most informative calendar you will find which isn’t offered as an ‘Almanac.’

~

November 27, 2015 color 004

~

The A Forest Garden 2016 calendar is a tangible celebration of transition.  Our theme this year is the power of gratitude and appreciation in our lives.  And we are so excited that it is completed for another year, and will arrive from the publisher early next week!  I am very excited to finally hold it in my hands after working on it for so long.

We create these calendars each year  for ourselves and as a special gift for our family members and for our many gardening friends.  But I’ve ordered a few extra to share with visitors to Forest Garden, who might also enjoy the companionship of this calendar through the year ahead.

If you would like to order one for yourself or for a friend, please email me at  woodlandgnome@zoho.com  The calendars are $15.00 each, which covers my costs and includes postage within the United States.

~

November 27, 2015 color 024

~

We’ve passed another milestone of the year this week.  Thanksgiving is cleaned up and the holiday season finally is upon us.  I won’t mind holiday music on the radio for the next few weeks.  It is time to hang the twinkle lights, mulch the leaves, hang the mistletoe and fill the kitchen with the fragrance of baking.

This is one transition I always enjoy….

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

November 27, 2015 color 001

~

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition

 

Amaryllis Centerpiece

November 19, 2015 Amaryllis 007

~

You know the weather has shifted when I’m inspired to make a living centerpiece for our dining room.

We enjoyed watching our Amaryllis grow so much last winter, that I decided to start one early enough to enjoy over the holidays this year.

~

February 12, 2015 Amaryllis 006

~

The Great Big Greenhouse, near Richmond, carried some of the largest Amaryllis bulbs that I’ve ever seen .  They also have the largest selection of varieties I’ve found, anywhere.  Some of the ‘specialty’ varieties normally only found in catalogs, with exorbitant price tags, were right there in their bulb display at grocery store prices.

And so I selected a huge Amaryllis bulb last weekend, and four tiny ferns, for this arrangement.  A bulb this large would be expected to give several stalks of flowers.

~

November 19, 2015 Amaryllis 002

~

The ceramic bowl has no drainage.  It is much deeper and wider than the Amaryllis needs, which leaves room for a couple of  inches of aggregate in the bottom to afford drainage for the roots.  I’ve used a fairly coarse pea gravel to leave pockets for air or water.  Use only new, good quality potting soil for a project like this.  I’m using a lightweight mix of mostly peat and perlite.

Amaryllis need only their roots in soil.  The ‘collar’ of the bulb, where its leaves emerge, should be visible above the soil line.  In addition to the four tropical ferns, I’ve planted a tiny Strawberry Begonia and a tiny tender fern division, both rescued from an outside pot.  The soil is covered with sheets of moss lifted from an oak’s roots in the upper garden.

Maybe it is an odd idiosyncrasy, but I don’t like looking at potting soil in a living arrangement.  Who wants to look at a dish filled with dirt in the middle of their dining table, anyway? 

~

November 19, 2015 Amaryllis 001

~

Rarely do I leave a potted plant ‘unfinished,’ without at least a mulch of fine gravel over the soil anymore.  It is easier to water neatly, the plant needs less water, the plant stays cleaner outside in the rain, and it just looks better to me.

Since moss has no roots, it won’t grow down into the potting soil.  It will continue to grow only in the thin film of soil where it is already anchored. Press it firmly into the surface of the potting soil as you place patch beside patch.  I drop fine stones around the edges to help meld these pieces together, and to help retain moisture around the patches of moss.

Moss will live indoors so long as it remains hydrated.  You can mist it, or pour a little water over it every few days.  Keeping the mix evenly moist keeps the moss and ferns happy.   Watering occasionally with diluted tea (no cream or sugar, please) makes the moss happy, too, as it appreciates soil on the acidic side.

When I eventually break this arrangement up, in a few months, the moss should be transplanted back outside.  It can also be ground up and used to start new colonies of moss, even if it appears dead at that point.

This is a simple project which gives weeks of pleasure.  It would make a nice hostess gift over the holidays.

~

November 19, 2015 Amaryllis 003

~

If you’re ever tempted to order the glitzy Amaryllis gifts from your favorite catalog, consider making your own instead for a fraction of the cost.  Even a non-gardener can enjoy an Amaryllis bowl such as this one.

Simply add a little water, and enjoy!

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

November 19, 2015 001

~

“If nature has made you for a giver,

your hands are born open,

and so is your heart;

and though there may be times when your hands are empty,

your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that-

-warm things, kind things, sweet things-

-help and comfort and laughter-

-and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.”

 .

 

Frances Hodgson Burnet

 

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

Sunday Dinner: Peacemakers

November 14, 2015 planting 029

~

“-We need more love, to supersede hatred,

-We need more strength,  to resist our weaknesses,
-We need more inspiration, to lighten up our innermind. …

~

November 14, 2015 planting 030

~

“-We need more learning,  to erase our ignorance,
-We need more wisdom, to live longer and happier….

~

November 14, 2015 planting 027

~

“… -We need more truths, to suppress deceptions…

… We need more peace, to stay in harmony with our brethren…

~

November 14, 2015 planting 026

~

 …-We need more humility to be lifted up,
-We need more patience and not undue eagerness …

~

November 14, 2015 planting 028

~

“… -We need more sympathy, not apathy …

… -We need more focus, to avoid distraction …
 …-We need more optimism,  not pessimism …

~

November 14, 2015 planting 024

~

“-We need more peacemakers, not revolutionaries…

with these, we create an heaven on earth.”
.

Michael Bassey Johnson

from, The Infinity Sign

~

November 14, 2015 planting 021

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

 

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

Arum Unfolding

November 14, 2015 planting 009

~

Arum italicum is a new winter foliage plant for us.  We bought tubers and planted them in small pots last month.  Now, the first leaves have begun to unfold.

A native of the Mediterranean and parts of Europe, Arum thrives in partial shade in any average, moist soil in Zones 5-9.  It has naturalized in other areas, including parts of North and South America. Also known as ‘Italian Lords and Ladies,’ it eventually grow to about 18″ tall and wide.

Beautifully marked winter leaves will fuel creamy white spring flowers.

~

November 14, 2015 planting 011

~

But then showy red seeds will develop by late summer, which last for an extended period.  Evergreen south of Zone 6, this perennial will have an attractive presence through all four seasons in our garden.

The seeds are fertile and tasty to wild things.  They often sprout in other areas of the garden to increase the display.

Since I’ve not yet grown this Arum out, there aren’t many photos for you.  We have it in a pot and two separate beds so far, so we’ll see how it does for us.  This is supposed to be a deer resistant and somewhat poisonous plant.

Have you grown Arum italicum?  Do you have any words of advice for how to grow it to best advantage?

~

Arum here with hardy Geranium, Lycoris foliage, Viola, and our first Colchicum 'Waterlily' to bloom.

Arum here with hardy Geranium leaves, Vinca minor, Lycoris foliage, Viola, and our first Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ to bloom.

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

November 14, 2015 planting 012

 

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

Woody Vines

November 11, 2015 Parkway 036

~

Strong, woody vines take hold easily and grow quickly, clambering up trees in the wild.  Without a vigilant gardener recognizing and removing these vines, they grow enthusiastically; reaching for the greater light high up in a tree’s canopy.

~

July 27, 2015 Parkway 014

~

Tiny airborne seeds, blown on the wind or left by birds, soon sprout and begin the climb.  The Virginia woods are interwoven with these familiar vines:  Trumpet Vine, Poison Ivy, Virginia Creeper, Honeysuckle, native grapes, Wisteria, Clematis, Kudzu and Ivy.

While some are native, others were imported from other parts of the planet as ornamentals…. and escaped.

~

November 6, 2015 Parkway 071

~

These vines need the support of shrubs and trees to grow.  Once they scamper up the trunk, they begin weaving through the branches.  Some  form aerial roots to support themselves, and perhaps draw moisture from a tree’s bark.  They aren’t true parasites because all have green leaves for synthesizing their nutrition from sunlight.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 048

~

But they can weight a tree down; create shade and sap its strength.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 043

~

Some vines, like this poison ivy, eventually grow massive trunks of their own.  These huge old vines hang from the branches in heavily wooded areas looking like great ropes for swinging.

~

March 6, 2015 birds 019

~

Most of these vines prove useful in some way.  Native grapes can be gathered.  Most are tasty if they last long enough on the vines to ripen.  But I’ve also harvested grapevines over many autumns to craft wreathes and for holiday decorations.  These vines grow quickly, and respond well to pruning.

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 021

~

Others, like Honeysuckle, Clematis, Wisteria and Trumpet vine offer up nectar in summer and provide seeds in winter.  Even Poison Ivy makes berries enjoyed by birds in the winter months.

~

November 6, 2015 Parkway 080

~

Most of these vines crop up in our garden.  Even those which aren’t native have naturalized.  Once invited or allowed, they become fixtures.

~

November 6, 2015 Parkway 081

~

So it is good to recognize them when young, and understand their potential if left to grow.  Poison Ivy is easy:  eradicate it on sight.

~

"Leaves of three, let it be". Poison Ivy growing in the edge of my garden.

“Leaves of three, let it be”. Poison Ivy growing in the edge of our garden.

~

But I’m more tolerant of Virginia Creeper, which turns brilliant scarlet in autumn.

I let it grow in a few locations, but remove it where it could choke out younger shrubs and perennials.   But  ‘pruning back’ doesn’t eliminate vines like these.  Their extensive roots are tenacious, too, and simply send up new shoots.  To remove one of these vines, one must get the roots, as well.

~

October 28, 2014 fall color 081

~

Honeysuckle vines tend to twine around trunks and branches, entangling themselves in the thickest part of a shrub.  I remove these in most parts of the garden, tolerating them only along one tall hedge for their sweet perfume in early summer.

A friend has offered me some Sweet Autumn Clematis from her garden, and I’m considering accepting the offer.

~

Sweet Autumn Clematis

~

I planted some in my last garden to soften a tall wooden fence.  It is appreciated by pollinators, and looks pretty when in bloom.  Sited carefully, it is a wonderful addition to the Autumn garden.  Because it self seeds, you have to remain vigilant or find your garden eventually sporting new vines everywhere.

Our long, moist, warm growing season favors abundant growth from vines.  They are just a part of our landscape. 

~

October 3, 2015 wet day 001~

Now that many leaves have fallen, Ivy covered trees along the side of the road shine in the sunlight.  They add interest, along with the native Holly trees in the understory and the Cedars and Pines along the edges of the woods.

~

Along the path from the parking area to the boat ramp and docks.

~

And the woody trunks of mature vines climb and twist through the stark silhouettes of our newly bare trees.  We see them now in all of their architectural splendor.

Majestic in their own right, they sometimes add to the beauty of our trees.

~

November 12, 2014 golden day 106~

They remain an important part of the forest community as well, helping feed small mammals and birds through the winter months ahead.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 035

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

More detailed information on these vines can be had here.

~

April 19, 2014 wisteria 082

 

 

 

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

“The Ancient Law of Life”

November 11, 2015 Parkway 015

~

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers.

I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 026~

“In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 029

~

“Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 016

~

“When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 003

~

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 030

~

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 011~

“The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 031

~

“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 045

~

“I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else.

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 049~

“I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy.

Out of this trust I live.”

Hermann Hesse

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 033~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

~

November 11, 2015 Parkway 032

 

 

 

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

Layers

November 10, 2015 autumn 003

~

Color lies in layers,

like a living, moving quilt

blanketing the garden,

 preparing for winter slumber.

~

November 10, 2015 autumn 008~

Soak  in every vibrant tint and hue

While one may;

While life vibrates

From petal and leaf, berry and seed.

~

November 10, 2015 autumn 009

~

What more can one do

than wrap oneself, too, in such beauty?

~

November 10, 2015 autumn 013

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

November 10, 2015 autumn 005

 

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

Heads Up!

November 8, 2015 Camellias 004

~

Camellia shrubs eventually grow into small trees.

These beautifully neat, evergreen creatures hold their own in the border all year.  And then, when the days grow short, and every other tree is dropping its summer foliage, Camellias break out into hundreds of crisp, bright flowers.  Every opening bud makes us smile.

~

November 8, 2015 Camellias 005

~

And they invite us to look up to enjoy their particular beauty.  Even against a heavy grey sky; even against the living sculpture of bare limbs; Camellia flowers offer an optimistic greeting.

Old Camellias poke out over garden walls in historic Virginia neighborhoods.  They stand alongside Azaleas in our parks and botanical gardens.  They grow in churchyards and hug front porches, stalwart in their faithfulness from year to year.  Their woody limbs grow symmetrically, with strength and vigor.  Their romantic flowers can be found in many sizes and forms, but mostly in shades of pink, white, and red.

~

November 8, 2015 Camellias 001

~

A potted Camellia shrub is one of the best investments a gardener in our region can make.  For under $15.00, one can buy a lifetime of amazing beauty.  These Camellias were planted by the first owner of our garden, about 40 years ago.  And they bring us such pleasure all these years later.  Four different varieties grow side by side, and they bloom, one after another, from October until spring.

Like most woody shrubs, they are pretty self-sufficient once established.  These grow in the shade of tall deciduous trees, among a few Dogwoods, Azaleas, and a Gardenia shrub. Nothing fancy, but what a beautiful combination of congenial friends sharing this narrow strip between two driveways.  Our neighbor recently added a few Rhododendrons to the mix on his side.  So we enjoy nearly continuous blooms from October until June along our shared border.

~

November 8, 2015 Camellias 006

~

Heads up!  If you have a shady bit of land with average moisture, and you garden in Zone 7, 8, or 9; you, too, can grow Camellias.  Buy Camellia sasanqua in bloom from September through December.  Camellia japonica will come on the market, in bloom, next spring.  They require very little of the gardener, but give so much, year after year.

~

November 5, 2015 autumn flowers 028

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

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

Join 683 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest