Six on Saturday: Flowers from Wood

Dogwood, Cornus florida, as its buds begin opening to mark another spring.

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Flowers are such soft, fragile, ephemeral things.  We wait for them for months and months, enjoy them as they bloom, and then watch them drop their petals all too quickly.

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Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata

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Flowers that emerge from wood amaze me.  Hard, woody branches magically bud and blossom, opening their bark to allow such soft perfection to manifest.

What a beautiful miracle!

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Camellia japonica

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Thousands of flowers may open all at once, completely covering the bare, woody skeleton of a tree.  Their perfume drifts on the slightest breeze.

What a celebration of life and living to walk under a blooming cherry tree, watching stray petals floating through the air to carpet the path beneath.

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Here in coastal Virginia, we celebrate the dogwoods and Azaleas as they bloom each April.  But we have already enjoyed Magnolias and hybrid pears, and we’re watching the redbuds and all of the fruit trees come into bloom this week, too.  Our roads are lined with budding and flowering trees, welcome signs of spring.

As the years go by, I appreciate woody flowers ever more.  So little effort, so much beauty…

The annual extravaganza of flowering trees is something to anticipate, reliable and always satisfying.

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Dogwood

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I came home this evening to discover buds opening on our dogwood trees.  The warmth these last few days awakened them.  The flowers will stretch and grow, each petal turning pure, glossy white as they reach their fullness.

Flowers bursting into bloom from woody wisteria vines, trees and many shrubs transform the drab winter landscape into a fantasy of flowers.  Everything is new again; soft, bright and buzzing with life.

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Magnolia liliflora

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Woodland Gnome 2019
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“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
.
Albert Einstein
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Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator.

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Pieris

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Six On Saturday: Six Beautiful Things

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“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.”
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Thich Nhat Hanh

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“Strangeness

is a necessary ingredient

in beauty.”
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Charles Baudelaire

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“Beauty is no quality in things themselves:

It exists merely in the mind

which contemplates them;

and each mind perceives a different beauty.”
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David Hume

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“Live quietly in the moment

and see the beauty of all before you.

The future will take care of itself……”
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Yogananda

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“All the diversity, all the charm,

and all the beauty of life

are made up of light and shade.”
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Leo Tolstoy

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“Though we travel the world over

to find the beautiful,

we must carry it with us,

or we find it not.”
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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

 

 

Blossom XIX: First Snowdrops

The first Snowdrops of spring.

The first Snowdrops of spring.

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We were delighted, and a bit surprised, to discover these pretty snowdrops blooming on the bank behind our house today.  Sheltered, and facing the afternoon sun, these tiny Galanthus emerged to brighten our day with their pristine flowers.

Our bulbs have been popping up all over the garden during the last fortnight.  But these are the first bulbs to bloom in our yard this year.  The premier act, we expect others soon to follow.  Galanthus nivalis lead the season, closely followed by the Crocus and early Daffodils.  I’m happy to see a little clump forming here where the original bulbs have matured and multiplied.  One of the nicest things about many spring bulbs is that they naturalize over time, making spreading patches of  color to delight my gardener’s heart.

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february-6-2017-flowers-013~

We enjoyed a sunny afternoon in the mid 60s today, and used it productively.  I made the tour and spread a bag of Milorganite around the perimeter of our garden, watching for signs of spring.  I”m still pruning, cutting back spent perennials, replenishing mulch and noticing buds swelling on many shrubs and trees.

We can’t get overly confident just yet.   We expect wintery weather to return by the end of this week.   Williamsburg often endures winter storms right through March or even early April.

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february-6-2017-flowers-011

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But with that said, we feel spring in the air.  The Heaths opened their  Bulb Shop up for the season at their Gloucester gardens last week.  I find it satisfying somehow that the first of our spring bulbs has blossomed within a week of their spring opening!  We will make a trip later this month to enjoy their display gardens, see what is new, and perhaps pick up a bag or two of something nice for this summer’s display.

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These lovely evergreen Arum italicum are from Brent and Becky's bulbs. This clump in its second season, growing with Violas.

These lovely evergreen Arum italicum are from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. This clump in its second season, growing with Violas.

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So for my gardening friends snowed under this week, please let these little snowdrops cheer you with their promise of spring to come!  It won’t be long now until your gardens will also burst into the beauties of springtime!

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Camellia japonica opened its first blooms of the season this weekend. These are our 'winter roses.'

Camellia japonica opened its first blooms of the season this weekend. These are our ‘winter roses.’

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Woodland Gnome 2017

 

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 XX

 

Sunday Dinner: Imagine

February 26, 2016 sun and sky 023

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“Imagination is the beginning of creation.

You imagine what you desire,

you will what you imagine

and at last create what you will.”


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George Bernard Shaw

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February 28, 2016 Camellia 004

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“Imagination is everything.

It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

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Albert Einstein

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February 26, 2016 sun and sky 022

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 28, 2016 Camellia 003

Sunday Dinner: Emergence

February 21, 2016 spring 008

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“Only keep still, wait, and hear, and the world will open.”

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Richard Powers

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February 21, 2016 spring 009

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 21, 2016 spring 001

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“And suddenly you know:

It’s time to start something new

and trust the magic of beginnings.”

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Meister Eckhart

 

Camellias

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The beautiful Camellia sasanqua has chosen this stretch of wet, cool grey days to burst into bloom.  I was taken by surprise this morning to see the shrub by the drive beginning to show its delicate white blossoms.  These spring like blossoms look almost out of place beside the falling leaves.

Camellia sasanqua begins its season of bloom in autumn.  It likes cool weather and appreciates a spot of protection from wind and heavy weather.  When freezes come, all open blooms may turn brown, but in a few weeks, new ones generally follow.   Various cultivars will come into bloom over a long season between now and early January in Zones 7-9.  Several species, like C. “Yuletide” and C. “Jingelbells” are enjoyed for their red blossoms in late December.

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These evergreen shrubs are grown for their leaves as well as their blossoms in their native China and Japan.  Extremely common in Japan, tea is made from the leaves, and oil is rendered from the seed pods.  In the United States we grow them as ornamentals.   Camellia sasanqua grow to various heights from fairly small plants topping out at only 4″ to small trees, growing to 15′, depending on the cultivar.

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December  11, 2014 cold 011

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Older Camellias, limbed up to show their trunks, are especially lovely when in bloom.  This is another plant where it is important to read the  label carefully when selecting a cultivar. Be mindful that the plant you select will have enough room in the spot you’ve chosen.  Some cultivars will also branch out into wide canopies over the years.  They are much more beautiful when allowed to grow into their potential with pruning to shape, but not to stunt their growth.

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Our latest Camellia to bloom is a lovely shade of deep pink.

Our latest Camellia to bloom in early November is a lovely shade of deep pink.

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Camellia sasanqua have slightly smaller blossoms and leaves than the Camellia japonica.  They are also more likely to have single or semi-double flowers, but all of the many Camelllia flower forms and colors are available.  In addition to white and red flowers, there are many shades of pink, and  some cultivars with mixed shades within the same flower.

 

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Newly planted C. "Yuletide" will bloom in this pot near the front of the house in December. It can grow on here for a year or two, and then go out into the garden in partial shade.

Newly planted C. “Yuletide” will bloom in this pot near the front of the house in December. It can grow on here for a year or two, and then go out into the garden in partial shade.

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Plant new shrubs now.   They are easy to find in the garden centers, and are not particularly expensive.  I prefer small shrubs in a small 1 gallon pot, and can generally find them for between nine and fifteen dollars, depending on the cultivar and the nursery.  These shrubs prefer to be planted slightly high; an inch or two above the surrounding soil line in acidic soil.

Camellias are a wonderful understory shrub, and  grow especially well under pines.  I plant with plenty of compost, mounding the compost around the exposed top of the root ball.  Daffodils can be planted around the shrub to protect its roots from voles.

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november-7-2016-garden-013

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I also plant Violas in the mounded compost for a lovely winter time “skirt” of protective flowers.  Camellias do well in partial sun to partial shade.  They can tolerate far more sun than the spring blooming Camellia japonica.  Fertilize in late summer with Espona’s Holly Tone, which is an organic fertilizer formulated for acid loving shrubs.

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A newly planted Camellia in 2011 has extra protection against the squirrels from large shells over the mounded compost.

A newly planted Camellia in  October of 2011 has extra protection against the squirrels from large shells over the mounded compost.

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Older Camellias, especially taller ones, tend to be deer resistant.  Newly planted shrubs, especially when covered in buds, can become deer candy if left unprotected.  We learned that the hard way during our first autumn on this property.  We planted a line of  Camellias along the front edge of the property, all covered in buds.  Within a week the deer discovered them, ate all of the buds, and many of the leaves.  The shrubs eventually  set bloom again.

I’ve fertilized them and mulched with compost every spring, keep them watered during dry spells, and have enjoyed seeing them recover, grow, and bloom.  The high nitrogen content in shrubs fresh from the grower makes the plant taste salty to deer.  Newly purchased and planted shrubs need special protection from hungry herds of deer for the first year or so in the garden.  We’ve learned that applying Milorganite, also a fertilizer, helps protect tasty shrubs from grazing deer.

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Camellia sasanqua blooming in late December of 2011.

Camellia sasanqua blooming in late December of 2011.

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If you enjoy 365 days of flowers in your garden, the Camellias fill an important niche.  Beautiful in the landscape, and cut for the vase; Camellias are healthy, hardy, easy to grow, and a beautiful addition to a forest garden.

All photos by Woodland Gnome

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January 29 Cotton candy describes these lovely Camellias, blooming in late December before snow found our garden.

January 29 Cotton candy describes these lovely Camellias, blooming in late December before snow found our garden.

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