WPC: Transmogrify

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“Transmogrify: to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform.”

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Ferns in the Connie Hansen Garden, Lincoln City, OR

Ferns in the Connie Hansen Garden, Lincoln City, OR

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Isn’t this a great word for October?  Especially as we prepare for that most transformative of holidays, Halloween or Samhain; when we focus on our fear of change.

This isn’t the sweet and uplifting change of bare branches breaking into springtime blossoms and emerging daffodils.  We now find ourselves at the other side of the wheel of the year:  Autumn, where our garden begins to disintegrate as we head towards winter.

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Rudbeckia fading in our garden as the Salvia keeps getting better

Rudbeckia fading in our garden as the Salvia keeps getting better.

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Flowers transform into dry seedheads;  leaves lose their green and blow down from our trees onto the lawn.  Frost kills our tender annuals, and much of our garden withers.

What was so lovely a few weeks ago has grown grotesque.  Green stems turn brown, then grey.  Plump and healthy plants twist and shrivel.  We’re left with frost blasted perennials and the  naked skeletons of trees.  And we find ourselves left with this mess to tidy up sometime between now and the coming spring.

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Once mighty tree turned into driftwood on an Oregon beach near Pacific City.

A once mighty tree turned into driftwood, on an Oregon beach near Pacific City.

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But since both spring and fall are simply two sides of the same annual cycle, we also find closure and balance in autumn’s path.

There are ripe seeds to gather and sow, perennials to divide, and fruits to harvest.   There is beauty in the garden, still.

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Basil and Salvia in our garden

Basil and Salvia in our garden this week, where ripe seeds stand alonside new flowers, much to the goldfinches’ delight!

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Autumn’s lesson reflects the wisdom of the Hindu god, Shiva:  Destruction of the old precedes  creation of the new.  It is the lesson of compost; the truth of a seed splitting itself open so that a tender new shoot may emerge;  the dark wisdom of all fertility.

Gardening is about transformation.  Our only constant remains constant change.

And transmogrification, our garden in autumn, prepares the way for a new springtime beginning.

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Transmogrify

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Re-blooming Iris open alongside Allium seeds and fading perennials.

Re-blooming Iris ‘Rosalie Figee’ opens alongside Allium seeds and Rudbeckia in our garden.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Not Just A Vase: Pots by Dorothy Steele

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“I have always seen clay as organic in substance and form,

and have been drawn to the Earth, nature and its colors. 

It is out of this core inspiration that I create my pottery.” 

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Dorothy Steele

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It was love at first sight….

I fell in love with Dorothy’s enchanting pottery immediately, when I discovered it more than a year ago, at Mossy Creek Pottery in Lincoln City, OR.  None came home with me on that trip, but I purchased two of her mugs when I returned this April, as a gift for my partner.

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I chose designs from her sea themed collection, embellished with mermaids, shells, sea grasses and a long tentacled jellyfish.  We’ve used them daily since, remembering our love for the Oregon coast as we do.

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But a flurry of emails between us found Dorothy agreeing to construct a few more mugs for us with her signature grapevines, dragonfly and other garden motifs.  She offered to make several to give me a choice.  But, I loved them all. 

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Also a gardener, Dorothy uses cuttings from her garden in her work.  She presses ferns, leaves, vines and other natural objects into slabs of porcelain to create organic artworks which also happen to be functional.

I love using beautiful works of art every day, taking fresh pleasure in them with each sip of coffee.

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Dorothy and I share a love for beautiful pottery, which is enough to begin a transcontinental friendship.  But then we have both invested chunks of our lives teaching in public school and elsewhere, and we share a deep passion for our gardens and the natural world.  We both love making beautiful things with our hands.  And I admire her wonderful imagination for creating in clay and glaze.

Dorothy moved her studio home to Gresham Oregon in 2010, and from there supplies six galleries in Oregon, another in Washington, and participates in numerous juried shows, retail craft fairs and wholesale craft markets.  She and her potter colleagues also participate in ‘Empty Bowls’ to help feed the hungry in the greater Portland area.

These mugs are perhaps the tamest of her creations.  Most of her bowls, tea pots, candlesticks, sake and sushi sets take whimsical, organic forms as well.  If you have a moment, please follow the links to Dorothy’s site to see more of her pots.

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To make a long story longer, I couldn’t choose between the mugs Dorothy constructed for us and advised her to, “Send them all!”  One or two will find their way to loved ones at the holidays, and we will enjoy the rest.  I am beguiled by the dragonflies and curling vines; summer captured forever in clay.

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I’m using them as vases today, holding a few clippings of Oxalis, Coleus and Heuchera from pots by the door.  I squandered the cool early morning hours watering, weeding, planting and photographing; neglecting cuttings for a vase until after it was too hot to breathe.  I hope these few stems will do….

Cathy, at Rambling In the Garden always inspires with her floral creations.  And today her vase is expertly filled with Hydrangea and Cosmos, and many other delectable blossoms.  Please visit her to see what other gardeners around the planet snipped for their vases today.    You’ll find links in her comments to many wonderful garden sites. We all appreciate Cathy for hosting this tete a tete of flowers each Monday.

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Gardening friends in Oregon likely know Dorothy and her work already.  But I want to share her unique porcelain pottery with others, too.

My collection of Steele pots is destined to grow in the years ahead, and perhaps yours might, as well…..

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Email: steelepots@gmail.com

Email: steelepots@gmail.com

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Woodland Gnome 2016

 

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #4: Get the Light Right!

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Giving each plant the right amount of light, without burning it or starving it, determines how well that plant performs.  Because plants ‘eat’ light, they must have enough to power photosynthesis and to accomplish all of their life processes.

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Many flowering perennials, like Iris, Lavender, and Cannas, want full sunlight for at least 6-8 hours each day.

Many flowering perennials, like Iris, Lavender, and Cannas, want full sunlight for at least 6-8 hours each day.

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Give a plant too little light and it grows leggy and pale.  The stems between its leaves s t r e t c h, reaching for the light.  Flower production slows and it looks a bit ‘sickly.’ It grows more susceptible to pests and to disease, fungal infections and general rot.

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This Calla, grown in partial shade last summer, grows better in full sun. The elongated petioles of the leaves are reaching up for the light.

This Calla, grown in partial shade last summer, grows better in full sun. The elongated petioles of the leaves are reaching up for the light.  It was also crowded after several years growing in the pot.  I divided the tubers, after this photo, and had five separate plants to grow on in better light.

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But too much light can fry fragile leaves and delicate flowers; especially hot summer sun.  Even ‘full sun’ plants appreciate some shade during summer afternoons in the southern United States.  It is harder to keep plants hydrated in full sun and hot weather.

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White and light colored leaves often want more shade than dark green ones. Here, Caladium, fern and perennail Begonia grow in shade cast by a Dogwood tree.

White and light colored leaves often want more shade than dark green ones. Here, Caladium, fern and perennial Begonia grow in shade cast by a Dogwood tree.

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How do we navigate both the weather, and the needs of our many different plants?

The MOST important question to ask when acquiring a new plant is, ‘How much light does it need?

Most nursery grown plants and seeds now come with little informational tags which indicate: full sun, partial sun, partial shade or shade.    That bit of information provides a start, but most of us need the experience of trial and error to master getting the light right!

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Though most Canna lilies prefer full sun, this variegated C. 'Stuttgart' wants partial shade and lots of moisture. The more sun it gets, the more moisture it wants. Notice the burned leaves? It probably wants more shade than this spot offers.

Though most Canna lilies prefer full sun, this variegated C. ‘Stuttgart’ wants partial shade and lots of moisture. The more sun it gets, the more moisture it wants. Notice the burned leaves? It probably wants more shade than this spot offers.  The nursery sent a note of warning about its needs when I purchased it this spring.

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Like everything else about gardening, the light is ever changing from morning to evening and spring thorough winter.  And of course, these conditions change in our garden as trees and shrubs grow, perennials expand, and of course when plants are lost.  Good gardeners learn through observation, and remain flexible.

When trying a plant for the first time, especially an expensive one, I think it is wise to start it off in a pot.  Why?  Pots are portable.  Unless you are absolutely sure you know where to plant something for it to get proper light, like planting Daffodil bulbs in the sun, starting off with a pot allows for easy experimentation.

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Our 'bog garden' got more sun last year than it does this year. The plants all started in pots, though I moved a few into the soil as the summer progressed.

Our ‘bog garden’ got a little more sun last year than it does this year. The plants all started in pots, though I moved a few into the soil as the summer progressed.  Colocasia will grow in sun or shade, but want more moisture in full sun.

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Although gardening books can be helpful guides to knowing how much light or shade a particular plant requires, the latitude and altitude of one’s garden determines the ferocity of the sun.  Climate also plays an important part in knowing how much ‘full sun’ a plant needs and can endure.  If most days are cloudy and rain falls frequently, less shade from buildings and trees will be required.  But if it rarely rains and day after day passes hot and clear, anything but a cactus will likely need a little afternoon shade!

Providing more moisture can help a plant survive a spot that is a bit too sunny and hot for its liking.

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Foxtail ferns growing in an open area beside the path to Beverly Beach, OR.

Foxtail ferns growing in an open area beside the path to Beverly Beach, OR.  They grow in full sun in this cool, moist climate.

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A fern growing in ‘full sun’ in coastal Oregon might burn up in a day or two in my Virginia garden, if not given some afternoon shade.

That is one reason why many experienced gardeners give themselves at least a year to come to understand a new garden before starting renovations.  It takes a full year of observation to understand how light moves through the garden during the course of a day and from month to month.

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Older varieties of Coleus prefer partial shade, but these newer hybrids can take several hours of full sun each day.

Older varieties of Coleus prefer partial shade, but these newer hybrids can take several hours of full sun each day.

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Even a single year isn’t enough to understand the subtleties of microclimates and exposures relative to structures; the prevailing winds; where water flows during a rainstorm; and where heat  lingers during the winter.  That is why patient observation is a gardener’s best ally when placing plants.

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This first bloom on Canna 'Stuttgart' is an unusual color for a Canna. Still growing in a pot, I will look for a permanent spot with more shade since the leaves have scorched in this location.

This first bloom on Canna ‘Stuttgart’ is an unusual color for a Canna. Still growing in a pot, I will look for a permanent spot with more shade since the leaves have scorched in this location.  This variety enjoys moist soil.

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Here is an experiment for you:  If there is a new plant you want to introduce to your garden, begin with several.  Plant them in different spots in your garden, give each the best care you can, and observe how they grow.  Within just a few weeks you may notice some doing better than others.  Why?

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Echinacea grow well with a little afternoon shade in our garden. The Calla has much better color here than it did last year in its pot. All of these sun-loving perennials will have to be moved as the Star Magnolia grows into a tree over the next few years.

Echinacea grow well with a little afternoon shade in our garden.  It is planted in several different beds with varying degrees of sun.  The Calla has much better color here than it did last year in its pot. All of these sun-loving perennials will need to be moved as the Star Magnolia (right) grows into a tree over the next few years.

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I quickly noticed that two identical pots, one on either side of our front porch, grew differently.  Why?

One side of the porch has more sunshine each day than the other, more shady side.  I can trade out pots every few weeks to keep them even, or experiment to find plants indifferent to the subtle difference in light.

After learning about each plant’s needs and preferences, and understanding what resources each zone of a gardener can offer, it becomes clearer how to design successful plantings.  It takes time; maybe years; to earn this knowledge.  We all make mistakes along the way, and hopefully count them as part of our education.

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This tuberous Begonia grows in a pot 10 feet away from identical Begonias purchased the same day from the same nursery. They grow in a little more shade and have not yet bloomed. Although tuberous Begonias prefer partial shade, they need a filtered or morning sun to bloom well.

This tuberous Begonia grows in a pot 10 feet away from identical Begonias purchased the same day from the same nursery, and potted up with the same fertilizers. But the other plants grow in a little more shade, and have not yet bloomed. Although tuberous Begonias need partial shade, they still want plenty of  filtered light or morning sun to bloom well.  Moving the pot a little into more light might help the other Begonias bloom, too.

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And this is why observation and flexibility make the difference between great ‘green thumb’ gardeners and mediocre ones.

When we realize that a plant isn’t happy where it is growing, we must either move the plant, or somehow change the conditions.  Knowing a plant’s needs and preferences up front helps us make educated guesses about how to grow it well.  When it shows stress, we can give it more favorable conditions, or discard it.

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These Echinacea plants need a little bit more sun than they are getting. Their bed has grown shadier over the years. Though blooming, they look a bit 'ratty,' don't you think? I should move them.....

These Echinacea plants need a little bit more sun than they are getting. Their bed has grown shadier over the years. Though blooming, they look a bit ‘ratty,’ don’t you think? I should move them….. and plant something else which appreciates the shade…..

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Likewise, if we realize that we have very little sun in our garden, or very little shade; we choose only plants that can thrive in our conditions.  Why watch a tomato plant languish in a shady, tree filled garden?  Tomatoes like all the sun you can give them, and require 6-8 hours of full sun each day to produce good fruit.  If you garden in a forest, as we do, it pays to make friends with the local farmers and frequent their farm stands!

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These white Monarda are performing well in partial sun. A friend gave me several clumps last year, and I spread them around in different parts of the garden to see where they would do well. These in partial sun, near mature Lilac shrubs, have done the best.

These white Monarda are performing well in partial sun. A friend gave me several clumps last year, and I spread them around in different parts of the garden to see where they would do well. These in partial sun, near mature Lilac shrubs, have done the best.

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Shade gardeners learn to take pleasure in ferns and Hostas, Azaleas, Caladiums and Begonias.  Those with sunnier gardens have better experiences with most herbs and vegetables, flowers for cutting, conifers and fruit trees.  Sometimes we have to adapt our expectations and desires to the growing conditions our present garden can provide!

We were startled, a few years ago, to lose several mature oak trees in a summer thunderstorm.  In the blink of an eye, much of our shady garden was transformed to an open, sunny, mulch covered field.  What to do? 

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Bits of branch and bark form a foundation for the new raised bed.

Bits of branch and bark form a foundation for the new raised bed which became our ‘stump garden’ after losing our oaks.  Nearly full shade was transformed to ‘full sun’ in a moment, with the loss of three mature oak trees.

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Challenges grow into opportunities, don’t they?  But the available light in a garden determines everything else about plant selection and vigor.  Moving a plant just a foot or so one way or another may change the amount of sun it receives each day.

That is why it is crucial to ‘get the light right!’  when designing our garden, and protecting our investment in the plants we grow.

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Herbs hold the power to heal us. Our own garden in July-

Herbs hold the power to heal us. The ‘stump garden,’  two years later, planted with sun loving herbs and perennials.

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“Green Thumb” Tips:  Many of you who visit Forest Garden are amazing gardeners with years of experience to share.  Others are just getting started, and are looking for a few ‘tips and tricks’ to help you grow the garden of your dreams.

I believe the only difference between a “Green Thumb” and a “Brown Thumb” is a little bit of know-how and a lot of passion for our plants.  If you feel inclined to share a little bit of what YOU KNOW from your years of gardening experience, please create a new post titled: “Green Thumb” Tip: (topic) and include a link back to this page.  I will update this page with a clear link back to your post in a listing by topic, so others can find your post, and will include the link in all future “Green Thumb” Tip posts.

Let’s work together to build an online resource of helpful tips for all of those who are passionate about plants, and who would like to learn more about how to grow them well.

Many thanks to Peggy, of Oak Trees Studios, who posted her first tip:  ‘Green Thumb’ Tip:  Release Those Pot-Bound Roots!  Please visit her post for beautiful instructions on how to prepare roots for re-potting.

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #1:  Pinch!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #2:  Feed!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #3 Deadhead!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #5: Keep Planting!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #6: Size Matters!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip # 7:  Experiment!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #8  Observe

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #9 Plan Ahead

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #10: Understand the Rhythm

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015-2016

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“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches

is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum,

and that as long as the sun still shines

and people still can plan and plant, think and do,

we can, if we bother to try, find ways

to provide for ourselves

without diminishing the world. ”

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Michael Pollan

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WPC: Opposites

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“If we can stay with the tension of opposites

long enough —sustain it, be true to it—

we can sometimes become vessels

within which the divine opposites come together

and give birth to a new reality.”

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Marie-Louise von Franz

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“God created… light and dark, heaven and hell—


science claims the same thing as religion,

that the Big Bang created everything in the universe

with an opposite;

including matter itself, antimatter”


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Dan Brown

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Depot Bay, Oregon

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challege:  Opposites

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Caladium 'Miss Muffett' in a mixed planter with Heuchera 'Glowing Embers' and ferns.

Caladium ‘Miss Muffett’ in a mixed planter with Heuchera ‘Glowing Embers,’ ivy and ferns.

Nature Challenge Day 6: Light

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“Find the light. Reach for it. Live for it.

Pull yourself up by it.

Gratitude always makes for straighter, taller trees.”

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Al R. Young

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“Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.”


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F.T. McKinstry,

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“From whichever direction or

from whoever the light comes to you,

always welcome it!”

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Mehmet Murat ildan

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Blogging friend, Y., invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday from her new site, In the Zone.  For this sixth day of the challenge, I’ll invite you again to join in.

This challenge has been out there for a while, and many nature photographers have already participated.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you tomorrow.   I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours. 

The Road Home

The Connie Hansen Garden, Lincoln City, OR

The Connie Hansen Garden, Lincoln City, OR

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I found the way home, a few days ago, after spending a week in one of my favorite places on Earth, enjoying the company of my daughter and her family.

My heart always sings when the jet drops through the clouds low enough to catch my first glimpse of emerald green Oregon.  It is a place like no other; and I treasure every hour spent wrapped in its beauty.

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The Connie Hansen Garden

The Connie Hansen Garden

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Evergreen trees, grassy fields, budding moss cloaked hardwoods, ferns and countless Rhododendrons create a tapestry of every shade and hue of green.  The air is moist and cool. 

We dropped low over the green Columbia River on a final approach to Portland’s airport, finding the safe pavement of the runway just before our wheels touched the water.

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The garden at the Mossy Creek Pottery

The garden at the Mossy Creek Pottery

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My family was waiting, little one doubled in size since last I saw her.  Our drive home to the coast wound through towns and countryside, through the Willamette Valley, across mountains and beside rocky creeks.

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It was raining before we made it back, and cold.  Instant return to wintery weather.   The ocean below the condo roared and crashed, white caps breaking all along the beach at high tide.

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How much can one pack in to a few short days?  How many trips up and down Route 101?  How many walks on the beach?  How many wanderings through the gardens? How many cups of Starbucks?   How much shopping, and how much listening? 

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A wild cucumber vine growing at Cape Foulweather.

A wild cucumber vine growing at Cape Foulweather.

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There is never enough time for me to soak in my fill of Oregon.  There is always more I want to see and want to do.   And I was at a disadvantage this time, with allergies and a cold.

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The view from Cape Foulweather, 500 feet above the Pacific.

The view from Cape Foulweather, 500 feet above the Pacific.

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But the days passed, and all too soon we made the drive back north to Portland; back to the airport.  Roses were blooming around the parking lot of the shopping mall where we stopped, by the time we returned.  We had gone from 40’s to 90’s and back down again while I was there.  We all were suffering from the pollen laden air, even at the coast.

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The path down to Beverly Beach.

The path down to Beverly Beach.

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I enjoyed a small slice of Oregon’s spring; a few beautiful days while the landscape was still waking from it’s winter slumber.  Clumps of Zantedeschia bloomed in nearly every yard.

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The Connie Hansen Garden

The Connie Hansen Garden

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Rhododendrons as tall as trees were bursting with huge bright flowers.   Primroses carpeted the ground, and  ferns stretched their fronds from tiny fiddle heads to tall scapes.

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Azaleas bloomed in Crayola colors; Skunk Cabbages glowed golden yellow; and blue Lobelia grew lush and large, many times bigger than they possibly could at home.

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The Connie Hansen Garden

The Connie Hansen Garden

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One day I’ll return deeper into summer to enjoy a different view of the landscape.  But for now, I’ve tried to memorize every detail of April in Oregon.

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And still my own garden called across the miles.  An order of trees arrived earlier than expected.  The rhizomes and tubers planted weeks ago broke ground in the garage, reaching for the light.  Weeds took hold amongst the moss.  Our first Iris bloomed, Dogwoods lost their petals, and our ferns, too, are unfolding.

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The Mossy Creek Pottery Garden

The Mossy Creek Pottery Garden

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I got daily updates from my partner, who stayed behind at home to feed the cat and tend the garden in my absence.

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One of the earliest Irises in bloom at the Connie Hansen garden, perfectly matched to the Azalea behind it.

One of the earliest Irises in bloom at the Connie Hansen garden, perfectly matched to the Azalea behind it.

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And the day finally came for the long journey home to Virginia.  Begun before dawn, we finally pulled back into our own driveway in the wee early hours of the following morning.

Weather along the way delayed my final flight, making us last plane to land well after midnight, and just before Richmond’s airport shut down for the night.

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Beverly Beach, my last full day in Oregon.

Beverly Beach, my last full day in Oregon.

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The night air was sweet and moist.  Deer and raccoons congregated along the highway.  We sped through the early morning hours sharing stories and enjoying the empty road.

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Travelers always return with fresh eyes, and new appreciation for the comforts of home.   I have made this journey enough times now to have a sense of  ‘home’ on both ends of the trip, which is a tremendous blessing.  Loved ones wait for me on both coasts these days.  Both places hold their own special beauty.

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I’ve gathered a few fresh ideas to try in the garden,  and perhaps a few fresh perspectives from time spent with my daughter, too.  She is always teaching me, in her own wise and loving way.

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The Maidenhair fern native to Oregon isn't so very different from the Maidenhair fern we can grow in our garden. I will experiment with growing this beautiful fern.

The Maidenhair fern native to Oregon isn’t so very different from the Maidenhair fern we can grow in our garden.   I will experiment with growing this tough and beautiful fern, which looks so fragile.  This one grows in the Connie Hansen Garden.

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And Virginia ‘s greens are lovely, too.  I’ve spent a lot of time, since returning, lingering at the windows, reacquainting myself with our own familiar landscape.

There is much waiting for me to do, now that I’m home again.  After all, it is still only April…..

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Woodland Gnome 2016

One Word Photo Challenge: Dry

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“Well, if it can be thought, it can be done,

a problem can be overcome,”
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E.A. Bucchianeri

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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WPC: On The Way To The Beach

The path from parking to beach at Road's End.

The path from parking to beach at Road’s End.

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There is always a long, steep pathway down to the beach, along the Oregon Coast near Lincoln City.

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High cliffs march right up to the beach along much of this stretch of coast.

This path, at Road’s End, offers one of the easier access points in the area.  Everywhere there are flights of steps, pavement, and sometimes simply rocks to cross on the way from the parking areas to the sand and waves.

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The ramp I used most often was long, and allowed one to drive a car or pickup onto the beach.  This is a favorite spot for weekend parties staged around roaring driftwood bonfires.

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A beautifully made rock wall held back the cliff on one side, and all manner of wind-borne wildflowers grew from its cracks.

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It is a steep climb, and requires determination to climb back up;

but oh, what wonderful views, along the way!

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For The Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Along the Way

Woodland Gnome 2015

Back To My Garden

Siletz Bay, Oregon

Siletz Bay, Oregon

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I’m finally back to my own garden after a little more than a week enjoyed along the Oregon coast.

Arriving home this morning around 1 AM, I was delighted to find the Azaleas still vividly opening, the trees covered in bright new leaves, and the first of the golden bearded Iris in bloom.  Cannas have poked their first leaves up through the mulch, and the geraniums we brought out of winter storage just before I left have sprouted new leaves along their bare stems.

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"D" River State Park at sunset

“D” River State Park at sunset

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How wonderful to be back at home in my own garden!

The week in Oregon with family was a wonderful gift, and I enjoyed every minute of the trip.

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Siletz Bay, low tide

Siletz Bay, low tide

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Oregon is stunningly beautiful, especially along the coast.  This time, Ricki at Sprig to Twig  had tipped me off to visit the Connie Hanson Garden.

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You will see many of the photos I took there over the next few days.  What a treasure of gorgeous Iris, Rhododendrons, ferns, Columbine, and countless other perennials, bulbs, trees, and shrubs gathered in a peaceful setting maintained by volunteers.

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Some of you know the real reason for my trip, which centered on spending some extended quality time with a certain very little person who is happily learning to walk and do so many new things.

These precious first years are so special and fleeting.  Many of the photos I’ll share with you over the next few days were taken while also pushing a stroller and enjoying all of this amazing beauty with her.

~

Granddaughter and I enjoyed the Connie Hanson gardens together.

Granddaughter and I enjoyed the Connie Hanson gardens together.

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This was my first trip to Oregon in April.  Oregon’s spring came early this year, after a very mild winter.  Still, the gardens along the coast are only a week or so ahead of ours at this point.  We’ve caught up quickly. 

~

The garden across the street from our beach access stairs....

The garden across the street from our beach access stairs….

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Oregonians are tremendous gardeners.  The humblest little cottages have Rhododendrons and Callas, Azaleas, Iris, ferns and Rosemary in bloom in their tiny yards.  Abundant rain and a mild climate nurture such lush and vivid growth.  A simple drive to the grocery or the next town down the coast is filled with beautiful sights.

~

Another gardener's garden along the way of our walks...

Another gardener’s garden along the way of our walks…

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A week with spotty Wi-Fi, a hand held tablet, and very full schedule precluded much posting to Forest Garden; but I checked in to read comments and see others’ blogs as I was able.  I wasn’t there long enough to adjust to PDT, and kept thinking (and living) dually in EDT and PDT.

Sleep wasn’t high on the agenda for the week.  But I watched every sunset and walked the beach every evening that weather permitted, fully aware that friends and family back in Virginia were approaching midnight as the last rays of daylight drained from the sky over the Pacific.

~

Monday evening, at nearly 9 PM, but I was on the deck enjoying this sunset.

Monday evening, at nearly 9 PM, but I was on the deck enjoying this sunset.

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Bags unpacked, first dinner home cooked, cat groomed and photos downloaded; I’m settling in to home again.  My partner and I have admired the garden together, and my mental list of things to do in the garden keeps growing.

~

April 30, 2015 Oregon in  April 418

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But a tender part of my heart remains on the Oregon coast, with a certain little someone who is blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

~

April 30, 2015 Oregon in  April 610~

She can hear seals barking to one another from the beach, see whales swimming off the coast, fall asleep listing to the calls of sea birds, and grow up among the beautiful forests which cling to the mountains near her home.

~

April 30, 2015 Oregon in  April 443~

While away, I took about a hundred photos a day.  And my heart took more still.

~

April 30, 2015 Oregon in  April 511

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One of the most beautiful sights, which no camera could capture, was a golden sunset streaming through the clouds as we approached ORD last evening.  It was cool and rainy on the ground.  But on the approach, a tremendous vertical rainbow appeared in the clouds; a column of vivid color where the sun’s rays illuminated the interior of the clouds.

~

Along the walk to the kids' play area at the aquarium in Newport, OR.

Along the walk to the kids’ play area at the aquarium in Newport, OR.

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The week has been about light and shadow, growth, rain, and new beginnings.  I hope you will enjoy sharing a bit of it with me.

~

April 30, 2015 Oregon in  April 662

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Furry Trees?

Do you see a "Green Man's" face in this mossy tree?

Do you see a “Green Man’s” face in this mossy tree growing in the garden surrounding the aquarium in Newport, Oregon?

*

I fell in love with Oregon during my first visit back in 2006. 

That visit allowed us to explore the beautiful Willamette Valley from Eugene in central Oregon north to Washington’s Puget Sound.

September 17, 2014 Oregon 384

Abundant rainfall and mild temperatures make this a nearly perfect region for growing gargantuan, gorgeous plants of all types.

Newport Aquarium garden.

Newport Aquarium garden.

 

Farms and orchards here are prolific.  Vivid flowers bloom through a long season late into autumn.

 

Curbside planting in Lincoln City, OR.

Curbside planting in Lincoln City, OR.

 

Fields, forests, and vineyards form a patchwork of green across the hills and valleys.

 

A foggy mid-day along the coast on Highway 101.

A foggy mid-day along the coast on Highway 101.

 

And nearly all of the trees are “furry.”

 

September 17, 2014 Oregon 387

 

It was an early spring visit, a few years later, which highlighted Oregon’s “furry trees.”

Hardwood branches grow cloaked in several varieties of moss and fern.

 

September 17, 2014 Oregon 386

High humidity and frequent rain showers encourages lush moss to grow along trunk and branches.

(Actually, lush Oregon moss grows on wood, stone, brick, concrete…  buildings…  One dare not sit still outside for too long, if you get my meaning….)

 

September 17, 2014 Oregon 358

 

Some trees grow dressed in several different sorts of mosses, lichens, and also have walking ferns growing along their horizontal branches.

It is an unusually beautiful sight!

 

September 17, 2014 Oregon 310

 

This summer’s heat and drought has taken a toll on the usually lush and green landscape.  Nearly the entire state, even along the coast, has experienced a drought over the last year.

However, I still found some “furry trees” in the lovingly tended gardens at the aquarium in Newport.

 

Ferns in the gardens at the aquarium in Newport.

Ferns in the gardens at the aquarium in Newport.

 

Now that I’m back home in Virginia, rain has returned to the Pacific Northwest.  It is raining there today, as it is here, along much of the Atlantic coast.

The Earth is renewed with this welcome moisture.

September 17, 2014 Oregon 357

Before the rain…. Oregon’s drought.

I hope the ferns and mosses are soaking up this rain and will bounce back, green and vibrant, lush and beautiful;  all thoughts of drought washed away in the autumn rain.

My own garden is responding to today’s rain, and I expect the “furry trees” of Oregon are loving it as well!

Oregon's beautiful coast, just south of Depoe Bay.

Oregon’s beautiful coast, just south of Depoe Bay.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

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