In Bloom

Camellias bloom on November 30 after a rainy day in our garden

Camellias bloom on November 30 in our garden

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Flowers still open in our garden as another year melts into December’s grip.  The gardening year has already come to a frosty close over much of the country.  And although today brought cold rain, yesterday was a perfect day for planting bulbs and re-doing pots for the coming months.

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This beautiful double Camellia opened its first blossoms last week, and will bloom off and on through early spring. Golden Forsythia leaves linger nearby.

This beautiful double Camellia opened its first blossoms last week, and will bloom off and on through early spring. Golden Forsythia leaves linger nearby.

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Camellias and roses bloom high above newly planted Violas.  A few stubborn Rudbeckia still open their golden petals despite the cold.  Summer’s beauty lingers even during this relentless march towards winter.

Most of our trees have been swept clean of their dying leaves, while woody shrubs stand naked now against a chilling wind.  And yet, the relative warmth of our front patio harbors olive, pomegranate and fig trees; potted Violas and a few lavender plants.  It stays a few degrees warmer there, nurturing the willing through long winter nights.

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Most of these late bloomers will continue blessing us with flowers until hit by ice and snow.   When?  It could be any time now.  The first hard freeze will hit on Friday night.

But even as we enjoy these last few blossoms of the season, so trees and shrubs around town are sprouting bright Christmas lights.

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As we enter this darkest part of the year, dusk falls earlier each day.  It was nearly dark tonight well before 5 PM; well before our beloved mail carrier found us through the fog and rain.

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Roses linger despite a few early frosts. These bloom on November 30, but there are still roses this lovely today in the front garden.

Roses linger despite a few early frosts. These bloom on November 30, but there are still roses this lovely today in the front garden.

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If you are looking for a great winter time read, please take a look at Noel Kingsbury’s newest work, Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden.

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This encyclopedic work comes at plants from an historical perspective, describing how various genus came into cultivation and trade.  Its fascinating illustrations are mostly historical reproductions of various drawings, advertisements, paintings and scientific illustrations of various plants.

This newest treasure from Timber Press, published this past October, describes 133 different plant groups over nearly 400 pages.  There is something interesting to learn on every page.  It is organized to allow ‘dipping in’ as time and curiosity allows. Noel’s chatty but authoritative voice rings true as he describes our wonderful palette of garden plants as though they were his personal friends.

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We found this hawk hunting in our garden as we returned home on Sunday afternoon.

We found this hawk hunting in our garden as we returned home on Sunday afternoon.

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If you want to grow your gardening expertise this winter while snuggling inside with a cup of something warm and the company of something warm and furry; this book is your ticket so you might end the winter a bit more clever than you began it.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Wednesday Vignettes: Resilience

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“Step into the center of the center of the center –

right into your Now – and see:

how elegant and honest this moment is.

Just being yourself, a world to hold your feet,

a universe to lift your gaze, a heart beating –

constant, in the center of it all.”

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Laurie Perez

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Mahonia, Oregon Grape Holly

Mahonia, Oregon Grape Holly

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“I did not tell you that it would be okay,

because I have never believed it would be okay.

What I told you is what your grandparents

tried to tell me: that this is your country,

that this is your world, that this is your body,

and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Arum itallicum

Arum itallicum

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“In life you find pleasure.

In life you find pain.

Pain and pleasure is an example

of the duality in life. Enjoy them both,

they are part of the ride.

The key is to not turn the pain

into something else – regret.”

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J.R. Rim

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“If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.”

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Shane Koyczan

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Camellia

Camellia

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“For many years a tree might wage a slow and silent

warfare against an encumbering wall,

without making any visible progress.

One day the wall would topple-

-not because the tree had suddenly

laid hold upon some supernormal energy,

but because its patient work of self-defense

and self release had reached fulfillment.

The long-imprisoned tree had freed itself.

Nature had had her way.”

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Lloyd C. Douglas

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A Forest Garden 2017 garden calendar is now available.

Sunday Dinner: Anticipation

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“And I will never again underestimate

the power of anticipation.

There is no better boost in the present

than an invitation into the future.”


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Caroline Kepnes

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Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Making Our Blessings Count

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“Cultivate the habit of being grateful

for every good thing that comes to you,

and to give thanks continuously.

And because all things

have contributed to your advancement,

you should include all things

in your gratitude.”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Happy Thanksgiving day to you.  I hope it has been a good day, spent in a way that makes you happy and with folks you love.   Thanksgiving is a gentle holiday, and one that I especially enjoy.  I try to avoid travel and keep the day as low key as possible.

Whether at home with family, or gathered elsewhere with family, I’m always one of the cooks.  And I find satisfaction in creating a warm and satisfying meal filled with the flavors and memories which knit our years together into a seamless fabric of loving.

While we celebrate gratitude and appreciation on Thanksgiving Day, most of us are also gearing up for Christmas this time of year.  For many, that means sharpening up our shopping skills and compiling a list of holiday plans and desires.  Ironic, isn’t it?

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August's white flowers are transformed to seed heads, ready to begin again the life cycle of culinary chives.

August’s white flowers are transformed to seed heads, ready to begin again the life cycle of culinary chives.

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“We should certainly count our blessings,

but we should also make our blessings count.”

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Neal A. Maxwell

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Thanks-giving is not a passive thing.  It isn’t about leaning back in our comfy chairs and thinking happy thoughts.

It begins with awareness; progresses to acknowledgement;  stops for a moment to express appreciation and love to others; and then gets down to the real business of using those blessings for the greater good.

Having a blessing isn’t enough.  We find ways to  make use of the goodness it brings to our lives, to make our lives count for something.

I’ve always thought of appreciation as an active thing; an investment in more joy and productivity.  What good are seeds left in an envelope?

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“Great things happen to those

who don’t stop believing, trying,

learning, and being grateful.”

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Roy T. Bennett

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Which brings us back to those holiday desires, which can wake us up and move us forwards.

Whether we’re formulating birthday wishes, sharing a Christmas list, planning a Christmas celebration, or pondering new year’s resolutions; we harness our imagination, our desire, and our personal energies to create a new reality for ourselves.

Gratitude and growth go hand in hand.  We appreciate the blessings we enjoy already, and then multiply that sense of happiness and well being into the next step.    We express appreciation to a loved one, in hopes they will use that good feeling as fuel for their own growth and evolution.

There is always more to accomplish, more to experience, more to learn, more to do for the benefit of others.  We just have to imagine it, and then fuel it with faith and confidence until it materializes in our lives.

Wisdom teachers tell us that our gratitude and appreciation attract more of the same into our lives.

But the reverse is also true:  when we complain and focus on what is lacking, when we criticize loved ones and take them for granted; we lose that rocket fuel called ‘love’ which feeds our happiness.  When we overlook the tiny miracles and blessings of each day, we put blinders on our hearts and imagination.  Eventually, we close ourselves off to the possibilities around us.

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“You probably have the ability

to get what you want.

And you likely have everything you need

to be completely satisfied.

But do you also have the ability

to want what you’ve got?

That just may be one of

the most important questions you will ever answer.”

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Steve Goodier

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But we all find obstacles in our path from time to time.  Perhaps a loved one’s illness or depression makes us put our own lives on ‘hold’ for a while.  We lose jobs we need, see the storms of chance change our lives in unexpected ways.  Things just don’t go according to plan….

Obstacles become detours, but the path stretches before us for as long as we live.  And meeting every obstacle with an open mind, a grateful heart, and determination to find the most benevolent outcome in each circumstance is how we keep moving towards a brighter, happier, more fulfilling life.

“Attitude is everything…”  We learn this as children, but practice it always.  Our attitude of gratitude serves us well, as we appreciate each and every day of our lives.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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A Forest Garden 2017 garden calendar is now available

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“Thankfulness is an attitude of possibilities,

not an attitude of liabilities.”

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Craig D. Lounsbrough

Changes

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We treasure these fragrant autumn roses, still opening in our garden.   Our ‘Indian Summer’ has begun its inevitable shift towards winter.  The trees here grow more vibrant with each passing day; scarlet, orange, gold and clear yellow leaves dance in the wind and ornament our windshields and drive.  Finally, autumn.

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We’re engaged in the long, slow minuet of change, sped along by storms and cold fronts sweeping across us from elsewhere.  It hit 80 here yesterday as I worked in our garden.  I planted the last of our stash of spring bulbs, and moved an Hydrangea shrub from its pot into good garden soil.  The sun shone brightly as butterflies danced among the Pineapple Sage and flower laden Lantana in the upper garden.

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We had a good, soaking rain over night, waking up to winds from the north and temperatures a good 25 degrees lower than yesterday’s high.  From here on, our nights will dip back into the 40’s again, and I worry about our tender plants.  When  to bring them in?

Last year I carried pots in, and then back out of the garage, for weeks as the temperatures danced up and down.  This year, I”m trying to have a bit more faith and patience, leaving those precious Begonias and ferns in place as long as possible.

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Most of our Caladiums are inside now, but not all.  I’ve left a few out in pots, and am amazed to see new leaves still opening.  Warm sunshine and fresh breezes day after day seem a reward well worth the slight risk of a sudden freeze.

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This is how ‘climate change’ looks in our garden.

We were well into December before our first freeze last year.  It was balmy on Christmas, way too warm to wear holiday sweaters.  One felt more like  having a Margarita  than hot cocoa.  But why complain when the roads are clear and the heat’s not running?

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And I expect more of the same in the weeks ahead.  Our  great ‘pot’ migration from garden to house is delayed a few weeks, with the Begonias and Bougainvillea blooming their hearts out in the garden, still.    The autumn Iris keep throwing up new flower stalks, the Lantana have grown to epic proportions, and the Basil and Rosemary remain covered in flowers.

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But the garden, flower filled as it may be, grows through a growing blanket of fallen leaves.  Heavy dew bejewels each petal and leaf at dawn.  Squirrels gather and chase and chatter as they prepare their nests for the cold coming.

And the roses….

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Their flowers concentrate the last bits of color and fragrance into every precious petal.  They’ve grown sweeter and darker as the nights grow more chilled.

I”m loathe to trim them, this late in the season, and so hips have begun to swell and soon will glow orange, a reminder both of what has passed, and what is yet to come…

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Blossom XVII: Samhain Magic

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes

the whole world around you

because the greatest secrets are always hidden

in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

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Roald Dahl

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“We do not need magic to transform our world.

We carry all of the power we need

inside ourselves already.”

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J.K. Rowling

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“I want to be magic.

I want to touch the heart of the world and make it smile.

I want to be a friend of elves and live in a tree.

Or under a hill.

I want to marry a moonbeam

and hear the stars sing.

I don’t want to pretend at magic anymore.

I want to be magic.”

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Charles de Lint

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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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
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Blossom XV
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Blossom VXIII

Blooming In November

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The garden still invites birds and pollinators, all sorts of hopping and buzzing insects, and even the occasional snail.

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We had night time temperatures dip into the upper 30’s over the weekend; but still no frost and certainly no deep freezes.  Our garden remains filled with flowers.

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The Salvias and Iris are especially nice this week.

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But so are the ginger lilies.  There is even a Canna blossom or two waving in the cooling breezes.

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We still have new roses opening daily.

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Some of the hardy Begonias remain in bloom.

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One special Clematis vine has bloomed non-stop since late March. It must be getting a bit tired, but it still sports a few dozen blue flowers today.

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Our two Bougainvillea vines have happily covered themselves in rose pink bracts framing their tiny white flowers.

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All of the Lantana continue pumping out prolific flowers, much appreciated by the few moths and butterflies still here.

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Their color just intensifies as temperatures cool.   Pentas and Geraniums also remain, and show their most concentrated color of the season.  Their vivid petals pop.

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Our garden remains a bright and happy place.

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A neighbor visited our garden this afternoon.  She hadn’t seen Iris which re-bloom in the autumn before.

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We wandered around talking about the plants, enjoying the scented herbs, and enjoying one another’s company.  I’m looking forward to her return visit when we can dig and divide a few things for her to transplant to her end of the street.

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It is always fun to share with other gardeners who will help spread the beauty around even further.

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The garden is surprisingly full of flowers for mid-November.  So many summer flowering plants are still going strong, even as our autumn flowers bloom.   And we are planting Violas and bulbs for winter and early spring.

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Novembers weather like this makes us very grateful to live in a spot where we have  long autumns to enjoy our garden before winter blows in.

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I am joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens to celebrate what is blooming in our garden this November.  Many of us are fortunate to have something in bloom every day of the year, with a bit of planning.  Finding such a variety of flowers still perfuming the garden this late in the season  brings tremendous joy as we watch it unfold anew each day.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

 

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Sunday Dinner: Peacemakers

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“-We need more love, to supersede hatred,

-We need more strength,  to resist our weaknesses,
-We need more inspiration, to lighten up our innermind. …

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“-We need more learning,  to erase our ignorance,
-We need more wisdom, to live longer and happier….

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“… -We need more truths, to suppress deceptions…

… We need more peace, to stay in harmony with our brethren…

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 …-We need more humility to be lifted up,
-We need more patience and not undue eagerness …

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“… -We need more sympathy, not apathy …

… -We need more focus, to avoid distraction …
 …-We need more optimism,  not pessimism …

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“-We need more peacemakers, not revolutionaries…

with these, we create an heaven on earth.”
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Michael Bassey Johnson

from, The Infinity Sign

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

 

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Heads Up!

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Camellia shrubs eventually grow into small trees.

These beautifully neat, evergreen creatures hold their own in the border all year.  And then, when the days grow short, and every other tree is dropping its summer foliage, Camellias break out into hundreds of crisp, bright flowers.  Every opening bud makes us smile.

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And they invite us to look up to enjoy their particular beauty.  Even against a heavy grey sky; even against the living sculpture of bare limbs; Camellia flowers offer an optimistic greeting.

Old Camellias poke out over garden walls in historic Virginia neighborhoods.  They stand alongside Azaleas in our parks and botanical gardens.  They grow in churchyards and hug front porches, stalwart in their faithfulness from year to year.  Their woody limbs grow symmetrically, with strength and vigor.  Their romantic flowers can be found in many sizes and forms, but mostly in shades of pink, white, and red.

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A potted Camellia shrub is one of the best investments a gardener in our region can make.  For under $15.00, one can buy a lifetime of amazing beauty.  These Camellias were planted by the first owner of our garden, about 40 years ago.  And they bring us such pleasure all these years later.  Four different varieties grow side by side, and they bloom, one after another, from October until spring.

Like most woody shrubs, they are pretty self-sufficient once established.  These grow in the shade of tall deciduous trees, among a few Dogwoods, Azaleas, and a Gardenia shrub. Nothing fancy, but what a beautiful combination of congenial friends sharing this narrow strip between two driveways.  Our neighbor recently added a few Rhododendrons to the mix on his side.  So we enjoy nearly continuous blooms from October until June along our shared border.

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Heads up!  If you have a shady bit of land with average moisture, and you garden in Zone 7, 8, or 9; you, too, can grow Camellias.  Buy Camellia sasanqua in bloom from September through December.  Camellia japonica will come on the market, in bloom, next spring.  They require very little of the gardener, but give so much, year after year.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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November, Peace

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“When I say it’s you I like,

I’m talking about that part of you

that knows that life is far more than anything

you can ever see or hear or touch.

That deep part of you that allows

you to stand for those things

without which humankind cannot survive.

Love that conquers hate,

peace that rises triumphant over war,

and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”

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Fred Rogers

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“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty:

to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves,

more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others.

And the more peace there is in us,

the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”

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Etty Hillesum

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“May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values,

and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most,

those who have no voice,

those who have no choice.”

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Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

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“Make peace with silence,

and remind yourself that it is in this space

that you’ll come to remember your spirit.

When you’re able to transcend an aversion to silence,

you’ll also transcend many other miseries.

And it is in this silence

that the remembrance of God will be activated.”

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Wayne W. Dyer

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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