Mindful of Seeds

~

“Remember to be conscious of what seeds you plant,

as the garden of your mind is like the world.

The longer seeds grow,

the more likely they are to become trees.

Trees often block the sun’s rays

from reaching other seeds,

allowing only plants that are acclimated

to the shadow of the tree to grow—

keeping you stuck with that one reality.”

.

Natasha Potter

~

~

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy

is in the eyes of others only a green thing

that stands in the way.

Some see nature all ridicule and deformity…

and some scarce see nature at all.

But to the eyes of the man of imagination,

nature is imagination itself.”

.

William Blake

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

~

“Sentinels of trees
breathe life into bodies of earthly flesh
As their mighty arms reach to the stars
we join in their quest for Helios’s mighty power
Like sentinels, we seek our place
in the forest of nature’s gentle breath”

.

Ramon Ravenswood

~

 

 

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Sunday Dinner: Color My World

~

“Let me,
O let me bathe my soul in colours;
let me swallow the sunset
and drink the rainbow.”
.
Khalil Gibran

~

~

“The world is exploding in emerald, sage, and lusty chartreuse
– neon green with so much yellow in it.
It is an explosive green that,
if one could watch it
moment by moment throughout the day,
would grow in every dimension.”
.
Amy Seidl

~

~

“Why do two colors,
put one next to the other, sing?
Can one really explain this? no.
Just as one can never
learn how to paint.”
.
Pablo Picasso

~

~

“Red was ruby,
green was fluorescent,
yellow was simply incandescent.
Color was life. Color was everything.
Color, you see, was the universal sign of magic.”
.
Tahereh Mafi

~

~

“Each day has a color, a smell.”
.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

~

~

“Color directly influences the soul.
Color is the keyboard,
the eyes are the hammers,
the soul is the piano with many strings.
The artist is the hand that plays,
touching one key or another purposefully,
to cause vibrations in the soul.”
.
Wassily Kandinsky

~

~

“Love was a feeling completely bound up with color,
like thousands of rainbows
superimposed one on top of the other.”
.
Paulo Coelho
~
~
“Life is a sea of vibrant color.
Jump in.”
.
A.D. Posey

~

~
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
~

Fabulous Friday: Timing is Everything

~

A common topic of conversation among gardeners this time of year resolves to timing.   We try to gauge where we are in the annual rite of spring, and guess what the weather might still do in the weeks ahead.  Of course, we’re eager to get a jump on the new season.  We want to clean up the beds and begin planting.  We want to get the season off to a good start and enjoy the fruits of our efforts as early as possible.

~

~

Yet, we have all experienced the disappointments that come with beginning too early…

Many favorite plants won’t grow until the soil has warmed enough, and until night time temperatures remain reasonably warm, too.  It’s not just the rare late freeze that worries us, either.

A long list of plants, from tomatoes to Caladiums want night time temperatures above 50F.   Begin too early, and a plant’s growth may be stunted for the entire season.

~

~

I just shake my head when I see tomatoes shivering on grocery and big-box store plant racks in March or early April.  The soil is still too cold here, for summer vegetables, and we can still have a freeze or late snow deep into April.

And every year unfolds differently.  We ride a metaphorical meteorological roller coaster through this most changeable of seasons.  Today, we had warm southwest winds ahead of a line of thunderstorms and it was nearly 80F by 2 PM.

~

Edgeworthia chrysantha blooms abundantly in late winter, filling the garden with sweet fragrance.

~

We have several nights of freezing temperatures forecast for the coming week.  There was mention of the ‘S’ word for Tuesday, and I am hoping that is rubbed from the forecast before frosty flakes can touch our Magnolia blossoms.

~

~

We were just amazed to notice our neighbor’s tulip Magnolia tree in full, glorious bloom yesterday afternoon.  When did that happen? It only takes a few hours of warmth to wake up the garden, when the dormant time is nearly done.

~

~

I believe that most of us are as interested in phenology as we are in the actual weather forecast.  Especially in this time when our climate patterns seem to be shifting, we need  a better compass to navigate the seasons.

Phenology, literally, is the study of appearance.  In other words, studying when things in the natural world appear or disappear; when various things happen in relation to other things.  Phenology is the study of how biological changes in plants and animals correspond with changes in climate and seasons.

~

Magnolia stellata buds are opening this week, in our garden.

~

“You may delay,
but time will not.”
.
Benjamin Franklin

~

~

This is very old wisdom, dating to long before most folks had computers, watches, or even reliable calendars.  How do you know when to plant corn?  When oak leaves are as big as a mouse’s ears.

Noticing the arrival of the first robins is a sign of spring.  Watching geese gather and fly overhead in large flocks is a sign of approaching winter.

~

~

As our climate warms, spring continues to arrive a bit earlier, and fall lingers a bit later each year.  But we still look for indicators of these changes in real time, and try to adjust our gardening schedules to make the most of the growing season.

~

An approaching storm darkened our skies, even as temperatures soared here this afternoon.

~

I’m feeling pretty confident about spring, finally.  Confident enough to do a bit of shopping for perennials yesterday.  Our friends at The Homestead Garden Center got in their annual shipment of 2″ perennials this week, and we went for a visit to celebrate the opening of another spring season with them.  Sweetness filled the air from rows of blooming bulbs, shelves of primroses, , flats of bright pansies and an impromptu alle’ of Camellia shrubs covered in huge pink flowers.

~

~

I went straight for the shelves of plump green perennials, fresh out of their greenhouse, to match up my wish-list with the bounty of the offerings.

It may be a little premature to plant them… After a conversation with a Master Gardener friend, yesterday morning, about whether or not the soil has warmed enough to plant; I disciplined my urge to plant yesterday afternoon.  It certainly was warm enough to enjoy every moment out of doors.

~

N. ‘Katie Heath,’ one of Brent Heath’s most beautiful introductions, and named for his mother.

~

But I recalled the forecast for next week, and left the little perennials snug in their flat, in the shade and shelter of a hedge.  Better to bring them indoors should cold come calling once again, than to let them get frost kissed outside.  Oh, I chafe against the indecision of it all!

~

~

But I did buy carrots today.  No, not for roasting or soup… for flowers It has become an annual tradition to seek out the most beautiful organic carrots I can find to plant in the garden.

~

~

I experimented with planting carrots for the first time in late winter of 2017.  We enjoyed them so much, that I planted carrots again last spring.  For only pennies per plant, we enjoy months of flowers.  More importantly, Daucus carota, or common carrot, proves a useful host plant for our Black Swallowtail butterflies.

~

Daucus carota subsp. sativus attracts many beneficial insects to the garden.

~

I sorted through the bag of colorful carrots from Trader Joe’s today to find the best ones for planting.  I was looking for a reasonable length of healthy root with the promise of fresh leaves from an intact crown.  I have those resting on the counter in a shallow pan of water, and will plant them out in the coming days.

~

Our little Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar was growing fast, happily munching on the Daucus carota last summer.

~

It is simple:  open the earth with a spade and slip the carrot, vertically, into the opening.  Leave the crown just at ground level, and mulch lightly.

I know we lost a fair amount of the carrots I planted last year, probably to rabbits or voles.  I plan to give these a good squirt with Repels All before I plant them, just as I protected some of our bulbs last fall,  as a bit of insurance.  I expect that it is warm enough now that these carrots will send out new feeder roots in short order, and we’ll see new growth by mid-April.

~

The garden is moist and ready for planting….

~

Have you started any seeds yet?  It’s that time of year. 

Puzzling out the best time for each step towards our summer garden takes a bit of planning, a fair bit of remembering past years, and also a bit of trust that our efforts will flourish.

~

~

 Woodland Gnome 2019

~

~

“It’s being here now that’s important.
There’s no past and there’s no future.
Time is a very misleading thing.
All there is ever, is the now.
We can gain experience from the past,
but we can’t relive it;
and we can hope for the future,
but we don’t know if there is one.”

.

George Harrison

~

~

Fabulous Friday:
Happiness is Contagious; Let’s Infect One Another!

Sunday Dinner: Complex

~

“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.”
.
M. Scott Peck

~

~

“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.”
.
Toni Morrison

~

~

“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. ”
.
Murray Gell-Mann

~

~

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

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“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.”
.
R.A.Delmonico

Sunday Dinner: Foolishness

~

“I have great faith in fools –
self-confidence my friends will call it.”
.
Edgar Allan Poe

~

~

“Any darn fool can make something complex;
it takes a genius to make something simple.”
.
Pete Seeger

~

~

“If you are not willing to be a fool,
you can’t become a master.”
.
Jordan B. Peterson

~

~

“The first thing every mage should learn
is that magic makes fools of us.
Now you may call yourself a mage.
You have learned the most important lesson.”
.
Tamora Pierce

~

~

“Every man is a divinity in disguise,
a god playing the fool.”
.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

~

~

“If it is ones lot to be cast among fools,
one must learn foolishness.”
.
Alexandre Dumas

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

*

Happy April!  Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!

~

~

“Dare to be a fool in the face of impossibilities.”
.
Temit Ope Ibrahim”

~

~

April Fool’s Day 2018

In Bud

Edgeworthia chrysantha, Chinese Paperbush

~

January promises limitless potential.  At the time of year when so little appears to be growing in the garden, a closer look shows us evidence of coming attractions.

~

Mahonia aquifolium will soon bloom, feeding hungry pollinators through the winter months.

~

Another gardening season stretches ahead of us; everything we hope for feels absolutely possible.  The first green tips of daffodil foliage poke up from the muddy soil, reminding us where clumps and drifts will soon begin the year’s progression of flowers.

~

~

And every woody tree, shrub and vine is covering itself with plump, swelling buds.  Like colorful eggs, their protective shells shield the tiny leaves and petals within from winter’s harshness.

~

Aesculus pavia, red buckeye buds contain both flowers and new leaves.

~

A quick walk about reminds us how incredibly varied something even as simple as a woody bud can be.  Their colors, texture, placement on the stem, shape and form prove as varied as the flowers and leaves which will burst into growth in the months to come.

~

Dogwood, Cornus florida sports round onion shaped flower buds from fall through until spring.  Leaf buds grow long and narrow.

~

Even in these spare wintery months, the garden holds such a variety of interesting things to see.  Without spring’s fragrant distraction, these beautiful buds, and the stems and twigs which hold,  them claim my attention.

~

Last year’s seed heads mix with next summer’s buds on crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia species.

~

Next spring’s garden lives in these shivering buds today.  They are more fragile than any other exposed part of the plant when our temperatures dive and winter’s winds blow.   At times they may hold small mounds of snow, or rest encased in an icy skin.

~

Magnolia stellata will be one of our first trees to burst into bloom next month.  The large bud at the end of the branch holds the developing flower, while the smaller buds along the stem will unfold as leaves.

~

With luck, they will survive the elements to finally unfold into new life, at the perfect moment for their growth to accelerate.  Rapid growth at the buds will elaborate on what is already here, creating new woody growth as the weeks go by.

~

Magnolia liliiflora  will bloom a few weeks later, with deep purple flowers.

~

Even if a swelling bud is lost, those further down the stem will respond with accelerated growth of their own.  There is always a plan, even if an entire stem succumbs to the cold.  We will watch for shoots and buds to emerge from the roots.

~

Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia  is a native shrub hardy to Zone 5.  New growth from late opening autumn buds was frozen in our recent cold snap.  New growth will emerge next spring, and new shoots will also grow from the roots.

~

Even as we celebrate our successes when the garden is fully clothed in vegetative growth; in January, we celebrate our garden’s potential.

~

~

These are the days when we feel appreciation for every woody branch and twig, for every evergreen leaf, and especially for all of the healthy, swelling buds which sparkle in the winter sunshine.

.
Woodland Gnome 2018

~

Forsythia buds show color early, often blooming by mid-February.  In an especially cold winter, they may not open until early March.

~

For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Variations on a Theme

~

 

Expect the Best

On March 1, 2017  it hit 82F, and our Magnolias were already in full bloom.  Temperatures plummeted later that week, and frost hit them a few days after this photo.

~

Our Magnolias were in full bloom when spring morphed back into winter last month.  Unusual, early warmth teased them into bloom weeks ahead of their usual awakening.  But 80 degree days in February will tease all sorts of things into early awakening, won’t they?

~

Magnolia liliiflora

~

As much as we enjoyed the early spring blossoms, we held our breath, wondering whether the nice weather would hold out.  And of course, it didn’t.  Quite suddenly, the temperatures plummeted back to ‘normal.’

We had a string of nights in the 20s which brightened into frosty mornings and cool grey days.  That slowed down the progression of spring in our garden, a bit; but devastated the Magnolias blossoms.

~

April 3, and our Magnolia is blooming once again.

~

What had been hundreds of richly purple delicate blossoms one day were reduced to these sad, drooping brown husks of their former beauty the next.  If I’m getting too personal here, forgive me, please.  It is one of the ironies of our lives here on this Earth that such things can happen, and so quickly.

We wondered what the prolonged cold would do to our Magnolias.  They are well established, but we wondered whether their frozen buds would recover.

~

Our Magnolias have finally grown both leaves and new blossoms.

~

When that happened last spring, to our emerging Ficus “Silver Lyre,’ most of the stems died, too.  We had to wait for new growth from the shrub’s roots.  It recovered, but very slowly; they didn’t make much new growth and remained a bit stunted all last year.

But our 2017 cold snap ended about a week ago.  Our temperatures have been moderate, near normal, and we’ve had no nights in the 30s for about 10 days.  And so we see spring progressing in our garden, despite the frosty hiccup in mid-March.

~

Azaleas fill our garden this week, but the Hydrangea macrophylla also took a hit from the cold last month.  They are slowly trying again with fresh leaves.

~

I’m still holding my breath a bit, quite honestly.  Our frost free date remains two weeks into the future, and I’m working to restrain my natural urge to plant and move our pots and baskets back out to their summer spots in the garden.

~

Acer palmatum

~

I moved the hanging baskets out of our garage early last week, and massed them against the foundation, on the backside of our home, near the spigot.  I gave them all a good drenching and left them out during the torrential rains last week.

I worry a little about the afternoon sun there, but am reluctant to rehang them in the trees until I’m sure we won’t need to move them back inside for shelter should we get a rogue snowstorm.  More likely, hail and wind, from the week’s forecast!  Tornadoes ripped through southern Virginia on Friday.

~

Columbine, ready to bloom.

~

I finally fed the roses their breakfast of Rose Tone and Epsom salts last week, just before the rains came.  I’ve done a little pruning, and need to do more.  Prune too early, and the new growth you encourage will die back in a hard freeze.  That happened to a few of our roses last month.

The roses are ready to grow!  All sport new red leaves, and I know that the longer I wait, the harder it will be for me to do the necessary spring shaping.  Our first roses bloomed in April last year.  It was another early spring….

~

~

Gardening, like any good board game, leaves a lot to chance.  And we gardeners must swallow our feelings, sometimes, and just be good sports.  Whoever wrote the “Serenity Prayer” must have been a gardener.  There are always things in our control that we can change, do, not do, encourage, or ignore.

And then there are those things that we can’t change:  like the small herd of deer we found grazing in our garden when we returned home yesterday afternoon from our day at the Daffodil Festival in Gloucester.  I saw the back of one, calmly grazing our butterfly garden, as I climbed out of the car.  I was off, laden with bags and my coffee cup, in hot pursuit.  Seven brown little heads turned and magically ran right through the deer fences.

~

The Oakleaf Hydrangeas made it through March just fine. The cold slowed their leaves opening, but there was no damage. Autumn Brilliance ferns emerge this week.

~

And we can’t necessarily change the weather, either.  We can remain mindful of the calendar and the forecast and do our best to work with the changing of the seasons.  But storms will come and the mercury will dance when it should remain slow and steady.  Which brings us back to our frozen Magnolias….

~

~

Which, I’m happy to tell you, recovered.  What joy to notice both green and purple emerging from their tolerant stems.  New flowers are blooming, and leaves continue to emerge.  I expect they will fully recover from their trauma this spring.

~

~

My parents always taught me, growing up, to “Expect the best.”  That has been good advice.

Oftentimes, our attitude, our expectations, our thoughts and even our feelings will influence how things will turn out.  Yes, there are exceptions.  But in general, we can find a silver lining when we go looking for one.

And even through the inevitable disappointments and challenges we encounter along the way; a hopeful, joyful attitude makes the journey a lot more pleasant.  When we expect the best, the best inevitably comes our way.

~

We discovered this beautiful Heron in a wetland near the York River yesterday. We stopped to enjoy the beach near VIMS as we left Gloucester, and he was wading nearby.

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“At times what you expect and what happens don’t match.
The faster you accept and adapt to what happened
and work towards creating what you believed,
that what you expected gets created
in a whole new way..!”
.
Sujit Lalwani

Fabulous Friday: Flowers From Wood

Native Dogwood, Cornus florida

~

There is something totally magical about flowers blooming on woody stems.  Flowers, so fragile and soft, breaking out of weathered bark as winter draws to a cold and windy close will always fascinate me.

~

~

Since I was a child, these natural wonders have held my attention.  Now, living in a Forest Garden, we have surrounded ourselves with flowering shrubs and trees.  They are sturdy yet beautiful, easy to maintain, and remain a lasting presence from year to year.  Their early flowers feed hungry pollinators when there is little else available.

~

“Double Take Scarlet” Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’ in its second year in our garden. It has proven hardy and deer resistant, so I am watching the local garden centers for more of these shrubs to appear.  I would like to plant at least one more.

~

After a cold and wintery week, we are happy to greet the sun and its warmth today.  We have uncovered the Hydrangeas again, lifted sheltering pots off of our new perennials, assessed the damage wrought by nearly a week of nights in the 20s, and done a little more pruning. 
But mostly, we have admired the many flowers opening now in the garden on this Fabulous Friday.
~

The peach blossoms weathered the cold without damage.

~
Although the Magnolia blossoms and Camellia blossoms turned brown in the cold this week, there are still buds left to open.  The damaged flowers will drop away soon enough.  And the fruit trees are just getting started! 

~

Redbud flowers erupt directly from the trunk and branches of the tree. This is the species, Cercis canadensis, which grows wild here. Newer cultivars offer flowers in several shades of pink and lavender or white. Some also offer variegated or burgundy foliage.

~

If I were asked for advice by someone just starting in their garden, I would steer them towards flowering woodies. 
The shrubs, or trees, themselves provide great garden structure year round.  They provide a permanent presence over decades, with little input from the gardener once they are established.  
And when they bloom, Wow!  What amazing ‘bang for your buck’ when a flowering tree covers itself with thousands of perfect blossoms.  It may last for a few weeks only, but what ‘gorgeosity’ in the garden when they bloom! 
Even when the blooms are finished, there is still much to enjoy from their beautiful bark, leaves, fruits and berries.  Many flowering trees return with gorgeous fall color to end the season.

~

March 1, when the flowering Magnolia trees were covered in blossoms.

~

There are great flowering woodies to enjoy in a mid-zone garden (6-9) through  the entire year.  When you might expect a short break in late January through mid-February, while even our hardy Camellias stop blooming, the Mahonia, Forsythia and Edgeworthia fill the garden with fragrance and color.
Now that the annual show has begun, we await the Azaleas and Rhododendrons; Lilacs; several species of Hydrangeas; Mountain Laurel; Rose of Sharon; Roses;  Crepe Myrtles, which easily bloom here for 100 days; until we finally return to our fall Camellias.

~

From Left: Mahonia aquifolium, Edgeworthia chrysantha, and Magnolia stellata blooming in late February in our front garden.

~

This garden was already planted, by the original gardeners, with wonderful flowering trees and shrubs which we continue to enjoy. We have added many more, and continue to plant more flowering trees and shrubs each year.  I just received a new Sweet Bay Magnolia from the Arbor Day Foundation, and have potted it up to grow in a protected place for its first year or two.
Most flowering shrubs perform well in partial sun to shade and can tolerate many types of soil and moisture conditions;  which makes them good candidates for forested and shaded gardens. 
Flowering woodies remain truly fabulous in our garden!

~

Magnolia stellata, March 1 of this year

~

I am setting an intention to find some wonderful, beautiful, and happiness inducing thing to write about each Friday. 

Now that the Weekly Photo Challenge has moved to Wednesdays, I am starting  “Fabulous Friday” on Forest Garden. 

If you’re moved to find something Fabulous to share on Fridays as well, please tag your post “Fabulous Friday” and link your post back to mine. 

Happiness is contagious!  Let’s infect one another!

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

Magnolia stellata

 

Sunday Dinner: Abiding Light

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-027

~

“Winter teetered on the verge of succumbing

to the returning sun,

but today the breeze still preferred

the touch of snowflakes”

.

Rue

~

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-041

~

“The breath of life is in the sunlight

and the hand of life is in the wind.”

.

Kahlil Gibran

~

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-026

~

“An awake heart is like a sky that pours light.”

.

Hafiz

~

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-012

~

“Moonlight is sculpture;

sunlight is painting.”

.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

~

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-034

~

“The world is larger and more beautiful

than my little struggle.”

.

Ravi Zacharias

~

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-030

~

“Who would then deny

that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom

I am swallowing the whole universe with it

and that this very moment

of my lifting the bowl to my lips

is eternity itself transcending time and space?”

.

D.T. Suzuk

~

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-050

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

“Might we begin then to transform

our passing illuminations into abiding light?”

.

Huston Smith

~

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-003

 

Wednesday Vignettes: Confidence

february-28-2017-magnolia-033

~

“We either make ourselves miserable,

or we make ourselves strong.

The amount of work is the same.”

.

Carlos Castaneda

~

february-28-2017-magnolia-007

~

“I am only one, but I am one.

I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

And because I cannot do everything,

I will not refuse

to do the something that I can do.”

.

Edward Everett Hale

~

february-28-2017-magnolia-022

~

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment;

that if one advances confidently

in the direction of his dreams,

and endeavors to live the life

which he has imagined,

he will meet with a success

unexpected in common hours..”

.

Henry David Thoreau

~

february-28-2017-magnolia-025

~

“Human spirit is the ability to face

the uncertainty of the future

with curiosity and optimism.

It is the belief that problems can be solved,

differences resolved.

It is a type of confidence.

And it is fragile.

It can be blackened by fear, and superstition. ”

.

Bernard Beckett

~

february-28-2017-magnolia-029

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

Magnolia liliiflora

Magnolia liliiflora

~

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

Marty Rubin

~

march-1-2017-in-bloom-016

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