Blossom XXXVIII: Akebia quinata

Akebia quinata

~

Chocolate vine, Akebia, grows joyfully in a corner of our garden.  It springs back to life early in the season, when many of our other woodies are still resting.  First, the delicate spring green leaves emerge, clothing the long and twisting stem with fresh growth.  Compound leaves emerge in groups of five leaflets, which is how it earned its species name, ‘quintata‘.  And then its beautiful rosy flower buds appear, opening over a long season of several weeks.

~

~

I mail-ordered this ‘chocolate vine’ several years ago to clothe a new arbor we were installing.  I’d never grown it before, and never admired it growing in another’s garden.  But I’m always interested in trying new things; especially unusual fruits.    This vine is supposed to produce an edible pod that tastes like chocolate.

And I only ordered one, not the two necessary for pollination, to first determine whether it would grow well for us.  Does it like our climate?  Will the deer eat it?

Yes, and no.  And from that first bare root twig, it has taken off and begun to take over this corner of the yard!  Yes, I could prune it into better manners.  But I rather like its wild sprawl through the neighboring trees.

~

~

But as much as the vine extends itself, it doesn’t appear to pollinate itself.  We’ve not yet found any edible pods to taste.  I could plant another vine to see if I can make them produce fruit, but that would be unwise. 

Akebia grows so robustly that it can smother out other nearby plants.  It is considered invasive in the mid-Atlantic region and has made the list of regulated invasive species in Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia.

~

~

We enjoy this vine for its flowers.  It is simply stunning in bloom, filling its real estate with bright flowers.  There are plenty of little dangling stems to cut to add to flower arrangements.

I’ve never noticed this vine growing in the wild in Virginia, and have not heard of it being a problem in native habitats in our area.  It is something of a novelty to us.

~

~

In its native Asia, where both the pulp and the husk of the fruit are enjoyed in cooking, the vines are cut and woven into baskets.  The vines wrap themselves in neat spirals around their supports, laying themselves in parallel layers like a living sculpture.  Akebia was first imported to the United States as an ornamental vine around 1845.

Akebia is a beautiful plant, and you can find it from several good mail order nurseries in the United States and the UK. You will even find named cultivars.   It tolerates shade, is drought tolerant, and grows in a variety of soils.  This deciduous, woody vine is hardy in Zones 4-10.  The color of its flowers blends well with other springtime flowers in our garden.

Ironically, the more resilient and adaptable a plant, the more likely it will eventually make it on to a list of ‘invasive’ plants.   Although this spreads and roots at the nodes, I feel confident that the birds won’t spread it elsewhere, since our vine isn’t producing fruits and seeds.

~

~

I would plant Akebia again, given the opportunity.  It is a useful  vine to cover a trellis, pergola, fence or wall.  But use it with caution, and do keep the secateurs handy.

I’ll need to give ours a trim this spring, when the flowers have faded, to keep it in bounds.  That said, some of those trimmings will be rooted and shared with gardening friends.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

*

Blossom XXXVII: Daffodils, Variations On A Theme

Blossom XXXVI: Crocus

Blossom XXXV: In The Forest

Advertisements

Blossom XXXVII: Daffodils, Variations On A Theme

~

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.

~

~

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

~

~

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.

~

~

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.

~

~

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.

~

~

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

~

~

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.

~

~

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.

~

~

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

~

~

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

~

~

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

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

~

 

*

Blossom XXXVI: Crocus

Blossom XXXV: In The Forest

 

Blossom XXXVI: Crocus

~

“There is something infinitely healing
in the repeated refrains of nature –
the assurance that dawn comes after night,
and spring after winter”
.
Rachel Carson

~

~

“Many children… delight in the small and inconspicuous.”
.
Rachel Carson

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
Another March Story

 

 

 

 

Blossom XXXV: In the Forest

 

~

“Having a place means that you know what a place means…
what it means in a storied sense of myth, character and presence
but also in an ecological sense…
Integrating native consciousness with mythic consciousness”
  .
Gary Snyder

~

Magnolia stellata

~

“A forest ecology is a delicate one.
If the forest perishes, its fauna may go with it.
The Athshean word for world
is also the word for forest.”
.
Ursula K. Le Guin

~

~

“For the forest, the shared purpose is life itself, existence;
everything extraneous stripped away by its necessity.
Perhaps the goal of the spiritual life
is to strip away everything frivolous as well,
to pare it all back to the necessity of connection with the other.
If we worship in the sincere presence of that power
that takes away our forever-unmet need of things superfluous,
we enter the real ecology of the meeting,
where all is web.”
.
James W. Hood

~

~

“The most effective way to save
the threatened and decimated natural world
is to cause people to fall in love with it again,
with its beauty and its reality.”
.
Peter Scott

~

Helleborus orientalis

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

~

Blossom XXXIV: First Iris

~

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful,
full or wonder and excitement.
It is our misfortune that for most of us
that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct
for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring,
is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.
If I had influence with the good fairy
who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children,
I should ask that her gift to each child in the world
be a sense of wonder so indestructible
that it would last throughout life,
as an unfailing antidote
against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…
the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
.
Rachel Carson

~

~

“It is a wholesome and necessary thing
for us to turn again to the earth
and in the contemplation of her beauties
to know the sense of wonder and humility. ”
.
Rachel Carson

~

Dwarf Iris riticulata open the season for Iris blooming in our garden.

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“In nature nothing exists alone.”

.
Rachel Carson
Blossom XXXIII:  October Blues

 

Hellebores: Winter’s Flowers

~

Even before the first snowdrop emerges, we enjoy abundant winter flowers in our garden.  Perennial Hellebores fill our pots, beds and borders with their sturdy evergreen leaves year round.

Buds emerge in late December or early January, and their flowers begin to open during that long stretch of cold when little else can bloom.  Often called “Christmas rose” or “Lenten rose,”  these tough, beautiful flowers continue blooming through late spring.

I’ve just re-edited my 2014 post, Hidden Jewels: Hellebores, with additional information and updated photos.  I hope you will enjoy it!

~

H. argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’ February 9, 2017

~

Woodland Gnome  2018
*     *     *
Hidden Jewels: Hellebores
The Beauty of Hellebores
Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’
Why I Love Those Plants of Ill Repute
Plan Now For Winter Flowers

Sunday Dinner: Early Gold

~
“I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold.
I have seen a little of it.
I know that it is very malleable,
but not so malleable as wit.
A grain of gold will gild a great surface,
but not so much as a grain of wisdom.”
.
Henry David Thoreau
~
~
“Hidden in the glorious wildness like unmined gold.”
.
John Muir
~
~
“Everyone can get the gold of the Sun.
(Tout le monde cueille – L’or du soleil)”
.
Charles de Leusse
~
~
“Lords of blue and Lords of gold,
Lords of wind and waters wild,
Lords of time that’s growing old,
When will come the season mild?
When will come blue Madoc’s child?”
.
Madeleine L’Engle
~
~
“This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere;
the dew is never all dried at once;
a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset,
eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands,
each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
.
John Muir
~
~
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
*     *     *
“It is spring again.
The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
.
Rainer Maria Rilke
~

Sunday Dinner: Winter Blossoms

~
“The mind can go in a thousand directions,
but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, the wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
~
~
“Beauty is no quality in things themselves:
It exists merely in the mind
which contemplates them;
and each mind perceives a different beauty.”
.
David Hume
~
~
“Live quietly in the moment
and see the beauty of all before you.
The future will take care of itself……”
.
Paramahansa Yogananda
~
~
“All the diversity,
all the charm,
and all the beauty of life
are made up of light and shade.”
.
Leo Tolstoy
~
~
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
~

Schlumbergera- first blossom  grown from a rooted cutting gifted to me last December.

 

Allow for Success

Alyssum maritimum

~

Truth be told, I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in fragile little annuals like sweet Alyssum these days.  They come in such tiny cell packs each spring, bright and full of promise, but oh so tender looking.  Once summer’s heat sets in, it is anyone’s guess which annuals planted with such hope in early spring will survive through until the heat fades again in September.

I’ve lost quite a few to summer drought and distracted neglect over the years.  This spring, I didn’t even buy any sweet Alyssum until they went on sale in late May.  I’m partial to this purple variety, and planted four to dress this pot holding a Clematis vine.  The pot sits by our kitchen door and was looked after all summer.  When the first frosts came last month, I made no move to either save these little plants, or pull them out.  And look at them now!

~

~

Here we are in the second half of December, and the sweet Alyssum still blooms in its pot by the door.  You have to smile at that, and admire this hardy little plant that not only survived our Virginia summer, but also hung on through a few nights that have  dipped down into the 20s.

These tiny purple flowers blooming this morning inspire me beyond what words can convey.

~

~

How often do we let our low expectations snuff out the possibility of success?  How often do we choose not to make the effort, or allow for someone else’s effort, when stunning success is within easy reach?

I will try to always remember these tiny, fragile purple blossoms greeting us this December morning.  We must allow for success before we can savor the pleasure it brings.

~

June, when the Clematis vine first bloomed, and the Alyssum was in its prime

~
Woodland Gnome 2017

Happiness This Thanksgiving: Transformation

~

“Remember to give thanks

for unknown blessings

already on their way”

.

Valentina Giambanco

~

~

“Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit;

we must open our hearts to love more,

we must open our arms to hug more,

we must open our eyes to see more and finally,

we must live our lives to serve more.”

.

Farshad Asl

~

~

“Gratitude is the seed of gladness.”

.

Lailah Gifty Akita

~

~

“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.”

.

W.J. Cameron

~

~

May the beauty of this day find you,
May joy bubble up in your heart,
May you know everyone near you as family,
May you feel the love  which surrounds you,
and may you enjoy the blessings of peace,
always.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2017
~

Our garden is ablaze in color today! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

 

For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Transformation

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

Join 580 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest