Fabulous Friday: Timing is Everything

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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The garden is moist and ready for planting….

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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.

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 Woodland Gnome 2019

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“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.”

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George Harrison

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Fabulous Friday:
Happiness is Contagious; Let’s Infect One Another!
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WPC: Faces in the Crowd

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The garden explodes with flowers this week.   Buds open so quickly that we watch their progress over the course of a few hours.  Warmth will do that, you know.

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It is nearly impossible to see and appreciate them all at once.  Crowds of daffodils appeared in drifts beneath the shrub border.  Their buds pop open in an anonymous sea of gold and white.

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The star Magnolia has cloaked itself in white couture, and Edgeworthia flowers swell, wafting a startlingly sweet perfume onto the warm, humid breezes.

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Hellebores uncurl themselves languidly, ever elegant as buds and leaves unfold.  Whole clumps expand in a jumble of uncounted blossoms.  Faces shyly averted,  they radiate feminine strength in their insistence to blossom and fill such a grey and brown February garden with softest shades of cream and pink.

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Forsythia shrubs burst into bright yellow flames as thousands of tiny flowers radiate their promise that the relentless tsunami of spring is upon us.

The sky was ominous with low churning clouds, these last few days; and frequent showers, or the threat of showers, discouraging us from lingering too long in the garden.

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We were still drawn outside to witness this beauty unfolding.  Planting, pruning, spreading mulch; clearing away the remains of last season’s browned and shriveled growth; we took our turn as stage hands in the this spectacle of spring.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  A Face in the Crowd

 

Sunday Dinner: Wonders

Magnolia stellata

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“A man should hear a little music,
read a little poetry,
and see a fine picture every day of his life,
in order that worldly cares
may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful
which God has implanted in the human soul.”
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
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Socrates

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“It is a happiness to wonder; –
– it is a happiness to dream.”
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Edgar Allan Poe

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“When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else
in the universe.
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John Muir

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“The invariable mark of wisdom
is to see the miraculous in the common.”
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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“When you don’t cover up the world
with words and labels,
a sense of the miraculous returns to your life
that was lost a long time ago
when humanity, instead of using thought,
became possessed by thought.”
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Eckhart Tolle

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“Incidentally, the world is magical. 
Magic is simply
what’s off our human scale…
at the moment.”
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Vera Nazarian

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In Bud

Edgeworthia chrysantha, Chinese Paperbush

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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

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

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Fabulous Friday: Flowers From Wood

Native Dogwood, Cornus florida

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.
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The peach blossoms weathered the cold without damage.

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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! 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!

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Magnolia stellata, March 1 of this year

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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!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Magnolia stellata

 

Wednesday Vignette: Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

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“Peace has to be created, in order to be maintained.

It is the product of Faith, Strength, Energy, Will,

Sympathy, Justice, Imagination,

and the triumph of principle.

It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism.”

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Dorothy Thompson

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“I say to you all, once again –

– in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return,

we are only as strong as we are united,

as weak as we are divided.

Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord

and enmity is very great.

We can fight it only by showing

an equally strong bond of friendship and trust.

Differences of habit and language

are nothing at all if our aims are identical

and our hearts are open.”

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J.K. Rowling

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“Your brothers are the foolish ones

for not seeing the strength in beautiful things.”

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Kristin Cashore

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“Where I was born and where and how I have lived

is unimportant. It is what I have done

with where I have been

that should be of interest.”

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Georgia O’Keeffe

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Commemorating International Women’s Day 2017

“Be Bold for Change”

Blossom XXI: Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

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“Don’t be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.”

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Jalaluddin Rumi

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february-27-2017-magnolia-stellata-008

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“Others have seen what is and asked why.

I have seen what could be and asked why not. ”

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Pablo Picasso

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february-27-2017-magnolia-stellata-002

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“To be creative means to be in love with life.

You can be creative only if you love life enough

that you want to enhance its beauty,

you want to bring a little more music to it,

a little more poetry to it,

a little more dance to it.”


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Osho

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february-27-2017-magnolia-stellata-011

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“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy,

a quickening that is translated through you

into action, and because there is only one of you

in all time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist

through any other medium and will be lost.”

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Martha Graham

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february-27-2017-magnolia-stellata-001

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“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
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Sylvia Plath

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“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”

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Pablo Picasso

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“Vulnerability is the birthplace

of innovation, creativity and change.”


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Brené Brown

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february-27-2017-magnolia-stellata-009

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“Thank you!” to everyone who visits Forest Garden, everyone who has followed this site over the years, and especially to everyone who leaves a comment and opens a conversation. 

Because of your kindness and interest, today is a special day for us.   Today we have surpassed 200,000 views on Forest Garden. 

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Magnolia lili

Magnolia liliiflora

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This journey  began in the summer of 2013, while a crew of arborists cleaned up the three oak trees which fell across our front garden, unexpectedly, in a June thunderstorm. 
I was alone in the house trying to make peace with the devastation in our garden while my partner was out there with the crew, making sure it was all handled to suit him. 
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June 13 storm damaged trees 001
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It was the second time in three years that we had old growth oaks fall across our yard, and heavy equipment driving through the garden to clean up the mess!  We were determined to rebuild our garden, and to make it better than it had been before. 
This Forest Garden Blog took root in our spirit of determination to create a garden in this unpredictable forest community; and to help others who might be struggling with the same challenges that we face here.
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The nearly finished bed. More compost will be added to cover the remaining wood on the border, and eventually I'll install some edging material to hold it all together.

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I appreciate every single individual who visits us. 
We hope you always find a spot of beauty here, an idea to inspire you, the information you may be seeking, and warm encouragement to grow a garden of your own!

Happy Spring!

The Woodland Gnome 2017

Woodland Gnome

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Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom III
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII
Blossom IX
Blossom X
Blossom XI
Blossom XII
Blossom XIII
Blossom XIV
Blossom XV
Blossom XVI
Blossom XVII
Blossom XVIII
Blossom XVIX
Blossom XX

 

Wednesday Vignettes: Winter Beginnings

Helleborus argutifolius 'Snow Fever' offering its first flowers of the season.

Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’ offering its first flowers of the season.

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“Those who love much, do much

and accomplish much,

and whatever is done with love is done well….

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january-24-2017-garden-in-winter-020

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“… Love is the best and noblest thing

in the human heart, especially

when it is tested by life

as gold is tested by fire. …

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Magnolia stellata in bud

Magnolia stellata in bud

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“… Happy is he who has loved much,

and although he may have wavered and doubted,

he has kept that divine spark alive

and returned to what

was in the beginning and ever shall be….

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Mahonia aquifolia

Mahonia aquifolium coming into bloom with Magnolia liliiflora in bud

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“… If only one keeps loving faithfully

what is truly worth loving

and does not squander one’s love

on trivial and insignificant and meaningless things

then one will gradually

obtain more light and grow stronger.”

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Vincent Van Gogh

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Helleborus

Helleborus

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Cercis canadensis seedpod left by the wind

Cercis canadensis seedpod left by the wind

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“Go out in the woods, go out.

If  you don’t go out in the woods

nothing will ever happen

and your life will never begin.”

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Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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“Imagination makes the world
and all the wonders in it.
The seed of every dream unfurls
as you with love begin it!”

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Eric Micha’el Leventhal

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january-24-2017-garden-in-winter-019

 

 

Wednesday Vignette: Dreaming Trees

Ficus afghanistanica 'Silver Lyre' 2014

Ficus afghanistanica ‘Silver Lyre’ planted 2014

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“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world

would go to pieces,

I would still plant my apple tree.”

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Martin Luther

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Star Magnolia 2015

Star Magnolia planted 2015

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“My own heroes are the dreamers,

those men and women who tried to make the world

a better place than when they found it,

whether in small ways or great ones.

Some succeeded, some failed,

most had mixed results…

but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it.

Win or lose,

I admire those who fight the good fight.”

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George R.R. Martin

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Crepe Myrtel 2015

Crepe Myrtle planted 2015

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“Most of the important things in the world

have been accomplished

by people who have kept on trying

when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

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Dale Carnegie

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Do you plant trees?  Planting a tree, whether for yourself or someone else, is one of the most powerful gestures one can make to assure a happy and healthy future.  Here are just a few of the trees we’ve planted over the last five years.

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The Arbor  Day Foundation sponsors several worthwhile programs to ensure that more community trees are planted each year.  The one which has my interest right now is “Neighborwoods Month.” October is a great time of year for planting trees in our region.   

Perhaps you will consider planting a tree or two of your own between now and the end of October. 

Here is the child’s tree dedication prayer recited in Philadelphia at the planting of a new community tree: 

” We dedicate this tree to beauty, usefulness, and comfort. 

May our lives grow in beauty, usefulness, and comfort to others

even as these trees expand their leafy boughs. 

Let us strive to protect and care for them

and they may so be enjoyed by all people…”

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september-21-2016-trees-009

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Growth

March 25, 2016 sunset 003

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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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“The only way that we can live, is if we grow.

The only way that we can grow is if we change.

The only way that we can change is if we learn.

The only way we can learn is if we are exposed.

And the only way that we can become exposed

is if we throw ourselves out into the open.

Do it. Throw yourself.”

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C. JoyBell

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 065

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“An authentic and genuine life grows like a sturdy tree.

And like a tree, it grows slowly.

Every time you make a different and better decision,

it grows a little.

Every time you choose to do the right thing,

even when nobody would find out otherwise,

it grows a little.

Every time you act with compassion,

relinquish your right to strike back,

take a courageous stand,

admit fault or accept responsibility,

it grows a little.”

.

Steve Goodier

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 062

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 29, 2016 early flowers 078

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“Whenever you should doubt your self-worth,

remember the lotus flower.

Even though it plunges to life

from beneath the mud,

it does not allow the dirt that surrounds it

to affect its growth or beauty.”

.

Suzy Kassem

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