Sunday Dinner: Curious

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“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds,
the first passion and the last.”
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Samuel Johnson

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“Enjoy every step you take.
If you’re curious, there is always something new
to be discovered in the backdrop
of your daily life.”
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Roy T. Bennett

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“I set out to discover the why of it,
and to transform my pleasure
into knowledge.”
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Charles Baudelaire

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“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existence.
One cannot help but be in awe
when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life,
of the marvelous structure of reality.
It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend
a little of this mystery each day.
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Albert Einstein
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“Study hard what interests you the most
in the most undisciplined, irreverent
and original manner possible.”
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Richard Feynman

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“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.
Try to make sense of what you see
and wonder about what makes the universe exist.
Be curious.
And however difficult life may seem,
there is always something you can do and succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.”
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Stephen Hawking

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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“The mind is not a vessel to be filled,
but a fire to be kindled.”
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Plutarch

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Sunday Dinner: Complex

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“Abandon the urge to simplify everything,
to look for formulas and easy answers,
and to begin to think multidimensionally,
to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life;
not to be dismayed by the multitude
of causes and consequences
that are inherent in each experience –
– to appreciate the fact that life is complex.”
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M. Scott Peck

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“This is the time for every artist in every genre
to do what he or she does loudly and consistently.
It doesn’t matter to me what your position is.
You’ve got to keep asserting the complexity
and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it,
and the facets of it.
This is about being a complex human being in the world,
not about finding a villain.
This is no time for anything else
than the best that you’ve got.”
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Toni Morrison

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“Today the network of relationships
linking the human race to itself
and to the rest of the biosphere
is so complex that all aspects affect all others
to an extraordinary degree.
Someone should be studying the whole system,
however crudely that has to be done,
because no gluing together of partial studies
of a complex nonlinear system
can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole. ”
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Murray Gell-Mann

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“Simplicities are enormously complex.
Consider the sentence “I love you”.”
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Richard O. Moore 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“Complexity is the blending of perfect symmetry and pure randomness.
This is where the arrow of time lives.
I think these two extremes are elusive ideals.”
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R.A.Delmonico

Spring’s Happy Faces

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“There are souls in this world
who have the gift of finding joy everywhere,
and leaving it behind them when they go.”
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Frederick William Faber

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Bright yellow Narcissus x odorus ‘flore pleno’, also called ‘Queen Anne’s double jonquil,’ blooms with a clump of N. ‘Thalia’ this week,  within a clump of evergreen Arum.  Arum grow from fall until early summer,  forming a beautiful ground cover around spring bulbs.

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Watching spring’s flowers unfold, day by day as the season warms, brings us happiness.  Sharing these beautiful flowers, that are popping up so extravagantly this time of year, allows us to share the happiness with friends.

What a joy to have enough flowers to cut and bundle into bouquets for a vase and to share with visiting friends.

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Double Narcissus ‘Albus Plenus Odoratus’ is an heirloom variety, and has brought happiness each springtime since at least the mid-Nineteenth Century.

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There is a language of flowers.  Their colors and forms, fragrance and presentation allow us to convey meaning through gifts of floral beauty.

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Narcissus ‘Thalia’ is another heirloom Narcissus, dating to at least 1916. It is one of the few pure white daffodils, and shines like a beacon from sunrise until well past sunset in the garden.  Here, it is planted with lambs ears and Scilla.

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Filling the garden with spring blooming bulbs remains the easiest and most reliable way to fill the garden with waves of flowers from late winter until May.

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Narcissus ‘Tahiti’ is one of the brightest and warmest of the double Narcissus.  It grows here with N. ‘Katie Heath.’

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Spring bulbs appear reliably once the weather has warmed enough for them to thrive.  They give a long season of bloom, and most are perennials.

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This split corona Division 11 Narcissus may be N. ‘Smiling Twin,’ hybridized by Brent Heath in Gloucester, VA.

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Many bulbs, like Narcissus, divide and form ever expanding clumps over the years.  Some will spread by seed if you leave the flowers in place to mature.   They appear for only a few months each spring. Their foliage dies back and disappears by early June, when summer flowers have taken center stage.

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Ipheion uniflorum, star flower,  bloom in our front lawn each spring.

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Even small, insignificant spring flowers naturalized in the lawn, like Ipheion uniflorum, bring a smile.  They join whatever spring time wildflowers crop up to create a floral carpet on the lawn as we greet April.

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Spring flowering trees also fill our garden with early flowers.   While a bulb may give us only a single flower, a tree may give us thousands.

Flowering trees cover themselves in flowers, often before their first leaf unfolds.  We enjoy their ephemeral beauty for a few weeks until the petals blow away on the wind, to live on only in our memories until next spring.

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Native dogwood, Cornus florida, has been name ‘Wildflower of the Year’ by the Virginia Native Plant Society.  The swelling buds of our dogwood trees are just beginning to open this week.

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Our garden fills with more flowers each day.  The earliest daffies have begun to fade, while the late season daffodils are just showing their first leaves poking up through the soil.  Cool weather means that each stem lasts a few days longer, and they never mind a good rain.  They are joined now with Hyacinths, Muscari, Leucojum and other early flowers.

Vinca minor weaves and evergreen ground cover, studded with periwinkle blue flowers beneath them all.

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Our woody shrubs and trees come along in their own sequence of spring flowers, too.  From the earliest Forsythia and Camellia we enjoy new flowers every week; now the dogwoods will soon fill the garden with clouds of white flowers.

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Dogwood just coming into the fullness of its beauty.

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May this springtime bring you happiness, too, unfolding in beauty and wonder all around you.

Woodland Gnome 2018

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“Those who wish to sing always find a song.”
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Swedish Proverb

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Magnolia liliiflora ‘nigra’

 

 

Reliable Beauty: Ferns

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Once the first few fronds of our hardy ferns poke through the warming soil, and begin to unfurl themselves, I finally trust the change of season to spring.  Tight fiddleheads are appearing in pots and beds, under shrubs, and along the bank, and we always celebrate their appearance.

Emerging fronds show up so subtly; one might not even notice them at first.

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Japanese painted fern emerges deep red, and lightens to show some green with silver markings as the season progresses.

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Especially those coming along under larger plants, or in secluded corners of the garden, may escape my notice until I go in search of them.  But like a child hunting Easter eggs, I make my rounds of the garden in search of my favorite ferns, re-emerging after their winter’s rest.

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Christmas ferns emerge among Hellebores in our back garden.

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Some hardy ferns remain evergreen.  The Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides; holly fern, Cyrtomium falcatum; and our Autumn Brilliance fern, Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’,  maintain a presence through the winter.  They are growing a bit raggedy by April and I sometimes cut off their old fronds as they break or fall.  But you never lose track of them.

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D. ‘Brilliance’ emerges a beautiful copper, but its fronds eventually fade to medium green.

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While D. ‘Brilliance’ is a hybrid, the Christmas fern is one of our most common native ferns.  D. ‘Brilliance’ can be found easily in most garden centers each spring.  It can be a little harder to locate starts of the Christmas fern, however.  This spring I found them, bare root, at a big-box store and stocked up.  I have about a dozen of them started in little pots, ready to plant out when I find a spare hour for planting.

Holly fern is also easy to find at garden centers and big box stores either bare root in late winter, or already growing in a pot in the spring.

These are all clumping ferns.  While they will grow a bit wider and taller over the years, they won’t go wandering through your garden without your assistance.

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D. ‘Brilliance’ in June

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Like other perennials, ferns have their own sequence for when they first appear each spring.  One of the earliest ferns to emerge is the beautiful hybrid Athyrium niponicum, ‘Pictum.’ 

Known as the Japanese painted fern, there are now several beautiful hybrids with various color patterns and with beautifully curled and divided fronds.  These are such a dark shade of burgundy as they emerge, you might not even notice their fiddleheads at first.

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I keep a clump growing in a low trough by the kitchen door, and watch it daily each spring, waiting for the first signs of life.  These fronds have often fallen away by early spring, and unless you remember where they are planted, they will surprise you as they unfold.

The Athyriums, known as ‘lady ferns,’ may spread year by year.  They have good manners, however.  Chances are you will divide them before they move beyond where you want them to grow.  I particularly enjoy the hybrid A. ‘Ghost,’ which is a lovely silver grey.

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There are many beautiful ferns that grow well in coastal Virginia.  We have an interesting selection of native ferns here, and we grow several of them.  Maidenhair fern, royal fern, cinnamon fern and sensitive fern are a few easily grown natives.

But we also collect several imported ferns, hybrids and cultivars, as well.  Can one grow too many ferns?

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Although ferns generally appreciate at least partial shade and consistently moist soil, they are much tougher than they appear.  Once established, many varieties can stand up to some sun and survive, with mulch and a little supplemental water, during drought.

Do your homework before you plant, however, and keep in mind the gardener’s mantra, “Right plant, right place.”

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It is easy to grow most ferns, if only you site them to meet their needs.  Given good soil, a bit of shade, and sufficient moisture, they happily grow on year after year.  In fact, if they are sited in their ‘happy place,’ you will see new ferns crop up nearby from either spore or spreading.

If a fern seems to be struggling, then simply dig it up and move it.  Often, a fern will go into dormancy during summer’s heat in order to survive if it is getting too dry or too much sun.

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September 2017

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I tend to buy the smallest pots of ferns that I can find.  In  our wooded garden, with so many roots everywhere, I like to start ferns small and let them grow and find their own way among the already established plant community.  This nearly always works. 

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It is also kind to build a raised bed for your fern installation, as long as you keep it hydrated.  I also grow some in pots, and keep them going year to year.

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Hardy ferns can stay outside in their pots all winter.  I bring the tender ferns in to the house each fall and set them out again when the weather has settled in spring.

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Emerging holly fern in early March.

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Ferns are beautiful just by themselves, and I am cultivating a collection of them on a steep bank in the shade in our back garden.  But they also add a graceful note when grow with bulbs and perennials or under shrubs.  Medium sized ferns are a good ‘shoes and socks’ ground cover in the front of a shrub border and under trees.

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Ferns lend a peacefulness and serenity to the garden.  These easy plants hold the soil against erosion, require minimal fuss or maintenance, and have a long season of beauty.  Deer and rabbits rarely touch them.

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They make me happy, and I keep planting more with each passing year.

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Athyrium ‘Branford Beauty’

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rise/Set

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With my back to the sunset, I watch the moon rise.

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The nearly full moon, a blue moon in March; Easter moon rises into the twilit sky. 

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Buds swell on still bare trees; skeletons waiting to rejuvenate themselves in springtime’s warmth.

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We loop again through our dance around the sun:  Equinox, solstice, equinox, solstice. 

Turning, turning, always returning….

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 Woodland Gnome 2018

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For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Rise/Set

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“The deep roots
never doubt spring will come.”
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Marty Rubin

Blossom XXXVII: Daffodils, Variations On A Theme

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A daffodil is such a simple flower.  Most bloom yellow or white, or some combination of these colors.  They have six petals, or perianth, and a corona in the middle.  Each grows on a long, slender herbaceous stem alongside long narrow leaves. Yet nature has made thousands of variations from these simplest of elements.

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It is March, and our garden blooms in daffodils.  Newly planted singles emerge from the Earth alongside clumps planted some years ago.

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These simple, charming flowers greet us as we venture out on cool windy days to get on with the springtime chores.  Their toughness and tenacity encourage us as we prepare for the season ahead.

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Through sleet and rain, and springtime snow, daffodils nod cheerfully in the wind.  They shrug off late frosts and spring storms, remaining as placidly beautiful as on a warm and sunny afternoon.

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Narcissus is a delightful genus to collect and celebrate.  From the tiniest miniature to the largest trumpet daffodil, each blooms with beauty and grace.  They come on, one cultivar after another, as the garden beds warm and the other perennials oh so slowly wake from their winter slumber.

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Early, middle, and late season; single or double; white or pink, cream or golden, orange or pure white; I want to grow them all.

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Each autumn our catalog comes.  And I sit down with a fresh mug of coffee and a pen to begin making selections.  I study them all, and note which ones we already grow.  Order more of these…  Try these this year…. Which to order of the new ones?  And where to plant them this time?

One can only choose so many in a season, and the choosing may take a while.

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We are a community of daffodil lovers here, and most neighbors grow at least a little patch somewhere near the street. Some of us collect them, filling our gardens with magical flowers that pop up under the huge old trees, through the duff of leaves, as winter fades into spring.

Roadsides are lined with them, and they even crop up in the wild places near the creeks and in the woods.

Patches of golden daffodil yellow catch our eye on the dullest days, reminders that at some time, someone cared enough to drop their bulbs in the moist soil.

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Our neighbors plant a few more bulbs each year, as do we.  We share this camaraderie and high hope each autumn.

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And when it’s spring again, we celebrate the waves of flowers from first to last.

Beautiful daffodils fill our gardens and remind us that life is sweet.   It takes such little effort to bring such joy

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“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    “Winter is dead.”
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A.A. Milne

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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Blossom XXXVI: Crocus

Blossom XXXV: In The Forest

 

Sunday Dinner: Energized!

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“If you want to find the secrets of the universe,
think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
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Nikola Tesla

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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.”
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John Muir

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“Earth, water, fire, and wind.
Where there is energy there is life.”
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Suzy Kassem

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“I define connection as the energy that exists between people
when they feel seen, heard, and valued;
when they can give and receive without judgment;
and when they derive sustenance and strength
from the relationship.”
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Brené Brown

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“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”
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Aristotle

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“…The human perception of this energy
first begins with a heightened sensitivity to beauty.”
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James Redfield

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“Rage — whether in reaction to social injustice,
or to our leaders’ insanity,
or to those who threaten or harm us —
is a powerful energy that, with diligent practice,
can be transformed into fierce compassion.”
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Bonnie Myotai Treace

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
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“Never forget that you are not in the world; the world is in you.
When anything happens to you, take the experience inward.
Creation is set up to bring you constant hints and clues
about your role as co-creator.
Your soul is metabolizing experience
as surely as your body is metabolizing food”
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Deepak Chopra

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WPC: Favorite Place

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My favorite place is one of magic and mystery, comfort, peace and ever expanding potential.

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It changes minute to minute, day to day.  Yet it always remains constant in its beauty.

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There are infinite layers to this place.  What the eye can see, and what the camera perceives, are sometimes different.

The air is filled with song from creatures seen and unseen.

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And the light infuses all. 

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Photos By Woodland Gnome 2018

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For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Favorite Place
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Within the mystery of life
there is the infinite darkness of the night sky
lit by distant orbs of fire,
the cobbled skin of an orange that releases its fragrance to our touch,
the unfathomable depths of the eyes of our lover.
No creation story, no religious system
can fully describe or explain this richness and depth.
Mystery is so every-present
that no one can know for certain
what will happen one hour from now. 
It does not matter whether you have religion
or are an agnostic believe in nothing,
You can only appreciate
(without knowing or understanding)
the mysteries of life.

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Jack Kornfield
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“Those loving and most loved lights do not leave this world.  They remain among us, the stuff of sunbeams and whispers; always as close as thought, as real as dream.  Light and love bind us one to another, beyond the bounds of space and time. ” WG

Transitions: Spring Equinox

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“How strange that the nature of life is change,
yet the nature of human beings is to resist change.
And how ironic that the difficult times
we fear might ruin us
are the very ones that can break us open
and help us blossom
into who we were meant to be.”
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Elizabeth Lesser
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May spring bless you with happiness
and fresh possibilities…
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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
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“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.”
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Teresa Tsalaky
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Sunday Dinner: Expansion

Redbud, Cercis canadensis

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“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every
small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birds’ wings.”
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Rumi

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“We become aware of the void as we fill it.”
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Antonio Porchia

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Clematis

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“Sometimes we know in our bones
what we really need to do, but we’re afraid to do it.
Taking a chance and stepping beyond
the safety of the world we’ve always known
is the only way to grow,
and without risk there is no reward.”
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Wil Wheaton

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“Life can take so many twists and turns.
You can’t ever count yourself out.
Even if you’re really afraid at some point,
you can’t think that there’s no room for you to grow
and do something good with your life.”
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Portia de Rossi

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“If we don’t change, we don’t grow.
If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
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Anatole France

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
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“This life therefore is not righteousness,
but growth in righteousness,
not health, but healing,
not being but becoming,
not rest, but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it,
the process is not yet finished, but it is going on,
this is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory,
but all is being purified.”
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Martin Luther
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“Physicists have yet to find anything
capable of exceeding our known speed of light.
The Tao cannot be named,
and so I say there is one thing
that out-paces all things: we call it “thought.”
I can fill a room a with light
before I’m anywhere near the switch.”

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Laurie Perez
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Lilac, Syringa vulgaris

 

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