Sunday Dinner: Imagination

Caladium ‘Peppermint’


“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”
Jonathan Swift




“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
Robert Fulghum


Begonias with Caladium ‘Moonlight’


“Imagination does not become great
until human beings, given the courage and the strength,
use it to create.”
Maria Montessori


Caladium ‘Berries and Burgundy’


“Logic will get you from A to Z;
imagination will get you everywhere.”
Albert Einstein


Begonia ‘Flamingo’


“Consciousness, unprovable by scientific standards,
is forever, then, the impossible phantom
in the predictable biologic machine,
and your every thought a genuine supernatural event.
Your every thought is a ghost, dancing.”
Alan Moore


Caladium ‘Sangria’


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018  
*  *  *
“Everything you can imagine is real.”
Pablo Picasso



“An idea is salvation by imagination”
Frank Lloyd Wright


Caladium ‘Summer Breeze’


“When I start a new seminar
I tell my students that I will undoubtedly contradict myself,
and that I will mean both things.
But an acceptance of contradiction is no excuse for fuzzy thinking.
We do have to use our minds as far as they will take us,
yet acknowledge that they cannot take us
all the way.”
Madeleine L’Engle




Leaf VI: Perpetuation


The garden starts looking a bit tired, by late August; and I’m certainly feeling a bit tired, too.  After all, we’ve been at this now since February when our gardening season began a bit prematurely, with a string of days in the 80s.  And we have a few more good months of gardening still ahead this year. 

The garden is getting a good, deep drink today.  It began raining here sometime after midnight, and I was awakened several times in the night, listening to the heavy rain pounding on our roof and on the trees.  And we needed this rain to soften and re-hydrate our summered out soil.

A storm is moving up the coast.  The forecast keeps shifting, of course, but we’ll harvest a few inches of rain before this low moves away from us and out into the Atlantic.



This is the time when some might give up for the year.  After all, things look a bit overgrown and shabby after weeks of heat and too little moisture.  A lot of plants in the garden have pretty much finished up for the season, or are taking an untidy nap.

Things might have gotten a little out of hand while we were traveling this summer, or while it was too hot to reasonably work outside.


Joe Pye Weed takes center stage in the morning sunlight last week.


September, almost upon us, offers a reprieve and a fresh opportunity for us all.  Students get a new semester.  Adults return from vacation, refreshed.  And gardeners get a beautiful autumn in the garden.

Autumn may be the best gardening season of the year.  Many perennials have matured into their full potential for size.  The garden’s silhouette may be more full and lush than at any other time of the year.  Colors in both flowers and foliage are rich and intense.

The air is cooler, the sky bluer, and the sun less intense.  This is the best season to give new shrubs and perennials a chance to establish and grow their roots out into the surrounding soil during the cool of the year.


Pokeweed has overgrown the Salvia, Colocasia and Hibiscus that have grown here for the last several summers. They are just holding on beneath its shade.


I’ve been refreshing our garden, preparing for the change of seasons. I’ve been cutting back browned leaves and stems, lifting mats of grass growing into my beds, deadheading, and replacing dying annuals with something fresh.

It is a good time to visit your local garden center again, with an eye towards investment in your garden’s future.  Many are cutting prices on summer stock to make way for their fall chrysanthemums and other seasonal items.  I have scored some wonderful deals recently on clearance herbs, perennials, ferns and a few salvageable annuals.  I’ve also invested in several bags of my favorite ‘Leaf Grow’ compost.  I plan to buy a few bags of hardwood mulch later this week.

Most nurseries will mark down their summer stock by 30%- 60%, depending on the plant’s desirability and how late it is in the season.   A nursery I visited on Saturday was actually giving plants away for free, with a purchase.


Persian Shield grows as an annual in our climate. I found this one on clearance last weekend, and have  taken cuttings from it to spruce up late summer pots.


As you cut back spent perennials, or remove fried annuals, replenish the soil with some fresh compost and plant something that will look good for another few months.  I’ve planted small pots of bronze fennel, Echinacea, and Lantana ‘Bandana’ in full bloom, over the past week.  Earlier in the month, I planted a half dozen Mexican bush sage, Salvia leucantha, all of which are growing well.  I expect the Lantana and Salvia to grow enough to fill in empty spots with bright flowers until frost.

I also purchased a huge, overgrown Persian Shield, Strobilanthes dyerianus, for about $2.00.   I love the bright purple foliage of this striking plant.  It is sturdy, drought tolerant, and can tolerate sun.  After cutting it back, I re-potted it to replace an expiring annual.

But all of those branches I removed will root in a glass of water!  As each cutting roots, I’ll plant it into a potted arrangement that needs a bit of freshening.  You can perform this bit of garden magic with many of the blooming and foliage plants available now on clearance.


Our cane Begonias are covered in blooms this week. Canes root easily in water.


Although it is still way too early to plant winter annuals, you might find some good evergreen perennials or ferns mixed into the clearance at the garden center.  I have just planted two ‘Epimediums,’ saved from a jumble of pots marked down by half.  These usually pricey perennials have tough, leathery evergreen leaves.  Their early spring flowers look like sprays of tiny fairies dancing on the breeze.  I’ve planted them where I know Daffodils will emerge next February.

Perennial ferns were mixed into the same clearance sale.  Crowded, I was able to cut the clump of fern into several pieces, planting them a foot or so apart to spread the ferny joy in a shaded bed.


My new ferns went into this shady bed where daffodils will emerge next spring.  Potted up are Alocasia ‘Stingray’ and Begonia ‘Gryphon.’  They will return next summer, after a long winter snoozing in the garage.


Fall is a good time to divide growing clumps of perennials you already have growing in pots.  Knock the plant out of its pot, gently pull a few sections away, and pack the now empty spots with fresh soil.  Water well, and let your mother plant keep on growing.  You can pot up or plant each division elsewhere, and let it grow on.  You may want to shelter the new potted division in a shady spot for a few days to let it establish, before moving it on to its destined spot.

Use this same trick with perennials, like Colocasia, spreading by runners.  Moving offsets now will give them a few months to establish before the leaves are killed by frost.


Colocasia ‘Mojito’ produces many offsets, which can be pulled off of the mother plant and potted up to grow quickly into mature plants like this one.


I learned a new trick, last week, too.  Admiring a friend’s kitchen windowsill garden, I noticed her Caladium leaf had grown both roots and new leaves in a glass of water.  Her leaf had fallen over in a storm.  When she pulled it, it came with a bit of the tuber attached at the base of the petiole.  From that tiny beginning, a new plant was forming.  When she pots up the rooted leaf, a tiny tuber will grow from these new roots.

This is one way to increase your Caladium collection; though one shouldn’t do it with any new patented Caladium variety.

All sorts of bits of plants, trimmed away in a late summer clean-up, may be rooted.  My kitchen windowsill, and the bright space around my sink, is full of  cuttings rooting in bottles of water this week.  I plant these out into small pots of soil as their roots form.



Pruning away spent flower clusters from many perennials and woodies will likely earn you fresh flowers before frost.  Keep those butterfly bushes, crape myrtles, Salvias, Dahlias, roses, and even Joe Pye weed dead-headed, and the new flower buds will keep forming.  You can extend your season of bloom for many more weeks with this attention to detail.

Always remember:  plants want to grow! It requires just a little effort on our part to assist them.


Dead head spent flowers from woody shrubs, like this crape myrtle, to keep new flowers coming. Joe Pye Weed will also continue to produce flower buds if regularly trimmed of its old flowers.  Newly planted yellow Lantana and  bronze fennel now fill the empty spaces in the bed at left, where I’ve also added a bit of compost. The white flowers are self-seeding garlic chives.


Once the rain has finished, I’ll head back out to the garden to top-dress many of our beds with an extra inch of compost.  And I’ll follow that with an inch or so of fresh mulch over the next week.  This will offer a little nutrition to the soil, and help lock in the moisture we’re receiving from this storm.  Our cadre of earthworms will appreciate the effort.

Gardeners learn many tricks to perpetuate the beauty of their garden year to year, and through the changing seasons.  We learn to multiply and nurture what we already have, and minimize what we might need to purchase season to season.


Late planted Caladiums have struggled with heat and drought this summer. (photographed last Thursday, when I was keeping them watered by hand.)  Now that we’ve had significant rain, they will surely shine through the next few months.


Woodland Gnome 2017
“Many of life’s failures
are people who did not realize
how close they were to success
when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison
“A wise man
will make more opportunities
than he finds.”
Sir Francis Bacon




Fabulous Friday: B. ‘Sofia’ Blooms


The first blooms of the season just appeared on our most stunning cane Begonia, ‘Sophia.’  This Begonia has the largest, most dramatic leaves of all the Begonia‘s we grow.

When I originally ordered it several years ago from Garden Harvest Supply Com., it was advertised as having dark purple leaves, with splashes of silver, that can appear almost black on top. The undersides of the leaves are a beautiful maroon.  Little mention was made of its flowers.  The leaves are the main attraction on this Begonia, and they are lovely year round whether the plant is grown indoors or outside.



What the catalog description didn’t warn me about was this plant’s size!  It grows enthusiastically, with huge leaves and towering  canes.  When I cut back the canes to prevent the plant from falling over, and put those canes in water, they quickly root.  Which means, that we have a growing collection of pots of this beautiful, but gargantuan, Begonia. 


A potted B. ‘Sophia’ grows between an oakleaf Hydrangea and Edgeworthia, lit by the early morning sun.


We enjoy this Begonia in our home from late October through early May.  Once it comes outside, it loses some of its winter leaves, but quickly replaces them with larger, more intense ones.  Now, after nearly three months of brighter light and moist heat, it is ready to cover itself in sprays of small, pink flowers.  Cane Begonias flower generously once they get going!


B. ‘Sophia’ beginning to bloom.  Its canes look much like bamboo.  New side shoots can grow from each leaf node.  Pinching out the growth tip encourages new side shoots to form.


This was the last Begonia cultivar we have been waiting for to bloom this year.  It joins our many other varieties filling pots and baskets in the shady areas of our forest garden.  These large plants use a tremendous amount of water each day.  In hot weather, they may need watering every day. Water twice a day if the plants look stressed.


Another cane Begonia, ‘Arabian Sunset’ blooms continually from May through October.  I originally purchased this variety from a farmer’s market, and gave it to my dad for Father’s Day.  We have kept it going from cuttings for nearly 20 years.  I’ve not seen it offered for sale, since.


They will have better color and more flowers if you feed them regularly, too, with enriched soil, timed release fertilizer such as Osmocote, and also a boost from a liquid feed from time to time.  I use Neptune’s Harvest in a watering can several times a month during summer for Begonias kept out in the garden.  Begonias kept indoors, or on our deck, get a very diluted drink of a water soluble fertilizer formulated for orchids. It certainly isn’t organic; but it doesn’t have a a strong odor and the plants respond with abundant growth.



Large cane Begonias give our garden a rich texture.  Grow them in a large pot, and consider underplanting them with miniature Hosta, low growing ferns, ivy, Heuchera, Dichondra,  small Caladiums, or other, lower growing Begonias.  If you don’t cover the soil with a companion planting, then mulch the soil with moss or fine gravel to both conserve moisture and make a more finished presentation.


Begonia ‘Richmondensis’ is an angel wing Begonia which performs well in a hanging basket.


Just keep in mind, as summer draws to a close, that cane Begonias, like ‘Sophia’ are tropical plants and hate to be cold.  Bring them indoors before night time temperatures drop into the 40s in your garden.


Another large cane Begonia that I’ve grown for many years, I’ve lost track of the cultivar name for this one.


But we still have several months to enjoy these fabulous plants out in our garden.

If you’ve not yet tried growing cane Begonias, be confident that you can manage their simple needs.  These are long-lived companion plants which will grow, and multiply, for many years to come.



Woodland Gnome 2017
“Wait for that wisest of all counselors, Time.”

Begonia “Sophia” blooming in March of 2014


Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is Contagious, Let’s infect one another!

Blossom XXVI: Angel Wing Begonia


Clusters of tiny dangling heart shaped flowers in soft pink, white, or cherry red burst into bloom on our cane Begonias in June.

New leaves have emerged over the last few weeks to replace those lost last winter.  Now that they have adjusted to their summer spots, our Begonias are coming into bloom.   Although simple, these lovely flowers create drama in their abundance.



Often called ‘Angel Wing Begonias,’ there are so many hybrids and cultivars that it is nearly impossible to keep up with proper names for these beautiful plants. Their oddly shaped leaves in beautiful colors, often with silvery markings, are even more beautiful than their flowers.

These Begonias are sturdy plants, enjoying heat and humidity, filtered light, generous feeding when in bloom, and tight pots.

Their almost woody canes can grow to prodigious lengths when left to their own devices.  Pruning keeps the plants bushier, and those pruned canes root easily in water and filtered light.



This plant is one of many I’ve started from rooted canes.  Bits of this cultivar, whose name I lost track of years ago, grow in dozens of pots and baskets in our summer garden.

I planted it up last summer, in a pot where I’d also planted divisions of Hosta ‘Mouse Ears.’  It outgrew that pot over winter, and was moved into this new pot in April.  I like the combination of miniature Hosta and cane Begonia, and will remember this pleasing combination for future plantings.



Cane Begonias prove a good ‘pass along plant.’  I nearly always have canes rooting in vases of water, ready to give to willing garden visitors.  They root easily, grow easily, and mature into impressive plants.

Too tender to overwinter outdoors, they easily withstand the limited winter light indoors.  Sometimes, in a sunny spot, they can even be coaxed back into bloom in January or February.

If you’ve not grown cane Begonias, you might enjoy giving them a try.  Their blossoms, when they appear, are almost magical.



Woodland Gnome 2017


The Gift: H. ‘Lemon Lime’ In Bloom

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“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them,

not the merits of who receives them.”

  Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Last July, Michael Laico offered to trade plants with those who follow his woodworking blog.  Michael maintains a lovely woodland garden on his mountain in South Carolina, and listed the plants he could offer as divisions.


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I was interested, and soon we moved from his comments to emails negotiating our trade.  Michael sent me a division of his yellow Japanese Iris along with a bonus gift of his Hosta ‘Lemon Lime.’


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I learned that Michael loves Hosta, and grows many varieties in his garden.  I also love Hosta, but discoverd early on that those I plant out in this garden are subject to grazing by rabbits and deer.

I now grow some Hostas in  pots on the deck to protect them.  And Michael promised me these H. ‘Lemon Lime’ are miniatures, and perfect for culture in a pot.


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We exchanged plants in late July, with an eye to the weather.  I planted both Iris and Hosta in containers to protect them while they established.  The Iris went into a garden bed this spring and are growing on well.

The Hosta still grow in their original pots.  And their growth this spring has been spectacular!


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Hosta make a good ground cover.  When not in bloom, they often recede into the background of a planting scheme.  These miniature Hostas, especially, don’t scream for your attention, like my Begonia Rex and showy Coleus.

But now that they have bloomed, I see they are truly stunning in their own way. Hostas attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.  I expect to see hummingbirds hovering around these blossoms any day now.


June 23, 2015 013


Their delicate flowers show exquisite markings.

Michael sent enough divisions that I divided them between two pots.  After putting as many as I dared in the decorative glazed pot, the remainder went into a spare nursery pot with a rooted Begonia cutting.  Somehow a bit of hardy Begonia grandis found its way into the pot as well.

I like the Hosta on its own merits, but also as a ground cover under a larger potted plant.  Both pots of Hosta would probably benefit from division after they bloom, they’ve grown so well.


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“Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion.

Do not concern yourself with how much

you receive in return,

just know in your heart it will be returned.”

Steve Maraboli


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This post is to thank Michael once again for his gift of healthy plants, and to reinvigorate the notion of garden bloggers sharing plants with one another.

Gwennie recently made the generous offer to send me a start of her Begonia, ‘Muddy Waters,’ which I covet.  As much as I would love to accept her offer, I believe border inspections might prevent it from reaching me from her home in Belgium.  I’ve thanked her and continue my search to locate this stunning Begonia in the United States.


This cane Begonia has been with us for many years now.  It roots easily in water, and I've shared cuttings with many friends.

This cane Begonia has been with us for many years now. It roots easily in water, and I’ve shared cuttings with many friends.


But I enjoy sharing plants with blogging friends and neighbors.  The Pelargonium cuttings Eliza recently shared continue to root on my kitchen counter.  I planning to send her some of our re-blooming German Iris when this heat finally breaks!

Neighborhood friends pass plants among ourselves routinely, and always learn something interesting as we share.  My garden is populated with beautiful living gifts, constant reminders of loved ones and friends.


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“A gift consists not in what is done or given,

but in the intention of the giver or doer.”




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Deb, at Unexpected In Common Hours,  passed on another gift of sorts, yesterday, when she asked me to participate in the ” Three Days Three Quotes” blogging challenge.  I enjoy sharing quotations in my posts, so this challenge is a pleasure to accept.

I’ve learned that when sharing plants with someone, it is important to make sure they can accept the plants, first. Can they provide the conditions a plant needs to thrive?  How much space is needed?  Is this a plant they will enjoy growing?

A surprise gift can become a burden, especially when that gift is alive.  As with any other gift, there has to be a certain “fit” between the gift and the one who receives.


These odd 'Under the Sea' Coleus may be an acquired taste.  I love them, but would not offer a cutting unless a friend admired them first.  They grow here with Oxalis triangularis, which I've shared with many friends.

These odd ‘Under the Sea’ Coleus may be an acquired taste. I love them, but would not offer a cutting unless a friend admired them first. They grow here with Oxalis triangularis, which I’ve shared with many friends.


Which brings us back to this latest blogging challenge.  I’ve recently read some interesting essays by fellow bloggers  about these awards and challenges which make the rounds.  To some, they have the icky feel of chain letters.

Maybe there are just too many lately.  Maybe they pressure bloggers to reveal more about themselves than they wish, or to post more frequently than they comfortably can.  I don’t want to pass on something which makes another uncomfortable.

That is why I have decided to participate in this three day challenge, but not to pass it on this time.

However, if you would like to take part in this simple three day challenge, please let me know and I will be delighted to invite you.  I’m happy to pass on the invitation to those happy to receive it!

Let gifts always be those things which bring our loved ones joy, like this beautiful Hosta, and so many other beautiful creatures growing in our garden.


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“It is a tremendous gift

to simply and truly listen to another.

  Bryant McGill


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Woodland Gnome 2015



Mystery Begonia

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Do you know her name?

I would love to know, although she is wonderful whether named or not.

I found this lovely Begonia in a farmer’s market plant stall nearly 10 years ago, and bought her on sight… as a gift for my dad.

He loved her, and kept her over winter in his solarium.  He gave me cuttings, and he and I have both grown those cuttings on and taken more ever since.


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We both grow this lovely Begonia now,  and I’ve passed on cuttings to many Begonia loving friends over the years.

This cane Begonia can grow fairly tall; to at least 3′.    Both stems and leaves are sumptuous red, and the generous bracts of  flowers rose pink.  She blooms year round, taking short breaks between outbreaks of loveliness.


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I keep this cane Begonia watered but not wet, and feed with dilute fertilizer monthly.  Cane Begonias have harder, waxier stems than the tuberous Begonias, and so don’t rot easily at the soil line when the soil is too wet.  These are sturdy, forgiving plants.

I  also sprinkle Osmocote on the soil two or three times each year, and trim back long canes from time to time when they get too lanky.   I always plop those pruned canes into a jar of water to allow them to root.

Cane Begonias prefer partial shade, but appreciate time out of doors in the summer.  When we first move them out, they often lose leaves for a few weeks.  These are quickly replaced with sturdier, brighter leaves ready to process the stronger light available in summer.

They don’t like cold or drafts and so come back inside before the weather turns cold.

Deer normally leave cane Begonias alone.  However, they will nibble leaves from time to time when especially hungry.  We’ve had deer somehow sneaking into our garden too frequently in recent weeks.  And they have grazed some of our cane Begonias.  Such a waste….

The remedy is to throw a few whole cloves of garlic into each pot.  Deer hate the aroma of garlic.  Although unsightly, the garlic will protect the plants from grazing.


This is one of my favorite Begonias from cuttings.  I bought one plant a decade ago, and continue to start new ones from it.  I've given cuttings from this special Begonia to many friends.


My father asked me to re-pot his red Begonia last weekend.  I think it might be the original plant…

We moved her up to a 14″ coir lined basket, gave her some fresh soil and a sprinkle of Osmocote; and hung her back in her shady summer spot.

Oh, the joy of a basket of cane Begonias in the summer.


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She will cover herself in flowers through all of the warm months to come.

Do you know her name?  After many attempts to find this plant online, I’m finally asking for help.  Surely someone else has grown her, too, and can add a bit of information to aid my quest.


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Woodland Gnome 2015

Unusual Leaves: More Texture

'Silver Lyre' Afghan Fig

‘Silver Lyre’ Afghan Fig

Unusual leaves bring a wonderful texture, as well as interesting colors, to the garden.




The variety available to an adventurous gardener feels infinite… and probably is infinite when one considers how many interesting new cultivars of plants like Coleus,   Heuchera, Begonia, Hosta, fern, and Caladium come on the market each year.




In addition to these perennials, there are a few new introductions of trees and shrubs with interesting variegation or unusual leaf color each season.

‘Black Lace’  Eldeberry, Sambucus nigra; ‘Ruby Falls’ Redbud, Cerceis canadensis; and ‘Maculata’ Lacecap Hydrangea come to mind immediately.

‘Black Lace’ Elderberry is on my “wish list” at the moment.


A variegated Lacecap Hydrangea

A variegated Lacecap Hydrangea


Some of these perennials, trees, and shrubs also offer beautiful flowers.

But the flowers are just a little something “extra,” compared to their beautiful leaves.

And while the flowers may add interest in their season, the fabulous foliage brings beauty to the garden month after month.


Buddleia, "Harlequin" sports beautiful variegated foliage all season long.

Buddleia davidii, “Harlequin” sports beautiful variegated foliage all season long.


Do you experiment with unusual  foliage in your garden?

So many residential gardens rely on a few standard, well known plants commonly available in “big box” shops.

This Begonia, purchased from The Homestead Garden Center several seasons ago, is similar to Plant Delight's "Pewterware" Begonia, hardy to Zone 8B.

This Begonia, purchased from The Homestead Garden Center several seasons ago, is similar in appearance  to Plant Delight’s “Pewterware” Begonia, hardy to Zone 8B.


These commonly used plants are easy to find, and we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from them.

They bring their own beauty, but overuse can also dull our appreciation of them.  Like white paint on a wall, we hardly ever notice them after a while.


A Begonia Rex, with fern.

A Begonia Rex, with fern and other Begonias.


Searching out a variety of plants with interesting foliage adds novelty and a touch of the unexpected to our garden.


Scented Pelargonium

Scented Pelargonium graveolens


Most any gardening “need” can be filled, whether we are creating a drought tolerant garden nourished only by a few inches of rain each  year, or a Forest Garden, unappetizing to deer and rabbits!


Collection of succulents.

Collection of succulents.

Small local nurseries, web nurseries, and specialty nurseries offer the most interesting varieties.

( I’m writing this within just a day or so of receiving Plant Delights Nursery’s fall 2014 catalog!  Yes, I’ve been closely studying it!)



It is the thrill of the hunt, and the fun of curating a collection, which fuels my search for unusual foliage plants.


This interesting Sedum, which I've not noticed before this year, was purchased at The Homestead Garden Center.

This beautiful Sedum, which I’ve not noticed before this year, was purchased at The Homestead Garden Center.  It will grow much like an Autumn Sedum, but with more interesting leaf color.

Plants with unusual leaves often grow best in  shady gardens.

Heuchera, ferns, Hosta, and Hydrangeas generally perform best in partial shade.


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Newer cultivars can often withstand more direct sun than older varieties; but shade, especially during the heat of the day, is lit up by the outrageous foliage of these  flamboyant plants.


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Layering them creates interesting and complex compositions; dynamic living sculpture in the garden.


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But wonderful foliage plants grow in full sun, also.


Siberian Iris, a gift from a dear friend, in a sunny garden

Siberian Iris, a gift from a dear friend, grow in a sunny garden area with Lavender, Comfrey, variegated iris, Eucalyptus, Artemisia, and other herbs.  Planted this season, the area is still filling in.


All of the amazing varieties of succulents enjoy sun to partial shade.


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Variegated  Cannas, Hibiscus cultivars like ‘Kopper King” and nearly all of the herbs thrive in sunny beds.


Sage Officinallis, "Tricolor"

Sage Officinalis, “Tricolor”


Whether you search out the most interesting varieties of a particular group of plants, like Hostas or Ferns; or amass a collection of silver foliage plans, variegated plants, or purple leaved plants; you may discover that the more you work with foliage in your own garden, the more satisfied you feel with your efforts.

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.

Author Unknown


Staghorn Fern with Begonia

Staghorn Fern with Begonia


As for any artist, an expanded palette of plant possibilities inspires new ideas and presents novel solutions to site based problems.


Caladiums and other poisonous plants can grow mostly in peace in gardens plagued by deer.

Caladiums and other poisonous plants can grow mostly in peace in gardens plagued by deer.


It helps me to remember that,  “Gardening is the slowest art form.”

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Wonderful effects can be created in the garden using just foliage; and they just keep getting better and more fully developed over time.


I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.

Georgia O’Keeffe


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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The first every buds opening on a "volunteer" Crepe Myrtle which has finally grown large enough to bloom this season.

The first ever buds opening on a “volunteer” Crepe Myrtle which has finally grown large enough to bloom this season.

Hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into seasons;  as we drift through the unfolding year something new  always opens up for us, even as something spent is crumpling and falling away.



The first week of July, well into the summer, hosts a fresh round of openings and beginnings here in our forest garden.

Buddleia, "Harlequin" has come into bloom.

Buddleia, “Harlequin” has come into bloom this weekend.

Hibiscus and Buddleia, Dill and Crepe Myrtle are all opening and unfolding the first of their flowers at the moment.

The first bud of the season ready to open on our hardy Hibiscus, H. moscheutos moscheutos

The first bud of the season ready to open on our hardy Hibiscus, H. moscheutosJapanese beetles have been active eating its leaves this summer.

I love to find a plant covered in buds; full of potential and beauty, ready to open itself to the garden.

Tiny grapevines have sprouted from the Muscadine seeds I planted last fall.

Tiny grapevines have sprouted from the Muscadine seeds I planted last fall.


July, as flower-filled as May in our garden, also offers up an incalculable array of shades and hues of green.


Canna, gift from a friend's garden, survived our harsh winter.

Canna, gift from a friend’s garden, survived our harsh winter.


When rain has been plentiful, as it is this year, greens are fresh and vibrant.


Redbud "volunteer" has grown well this season.  Perhaps next spring it will bloom.

Redbud “volunteer” has grown well this season. Perhaps next spring it will bloom.

Greenness generates the energy needed for growth; and one may almost hear the whispers of unfolding leaves and lengthening stems on a warm summer evening.


Joe Pye Weed planted about a month ago is growing well now.

Joe Pye Weed planted about a month ago is growing well now.

Change comes minute upon minute in the garden during deep summer.

Abundant moisture and  constant heat provide the hothouse for outrageous growth.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

Vines stretch and new seeds germinate.

Shrubs magically expand and ferns fill in the open spaces.

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Buds constantly opening fill every breeze with sweetness.

First Crepe Myrtle blooms of the season open on this favorite tree>

First Crepe Myrtle blooms of the season open on this favorite tree>


Every part of the garden glows with color.


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A garden serves as a reliable text book for life.


Fungus are key to opening the fertility of soil to plants.

Fungi  are key to opening the fertility of soil to plants.


Lessons trivial and profound are written daily in the sky and soil.

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Pruned hard exactly a year ago, this beautiful old oak shows strong new growth.


Every creature and plant is a willing tutor to those who engage with them with mind and heart open to their wisdom.


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The changing light weaves a new story each day; a faithful Scheherazade for those who will listen and take pleasure in the tale.


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In July, the garden’s theme is abundance and profound love.

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Source is generous with its gifts, nourishing through its fruits, and rich in its beauty.


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Nature is ever at work building and pulling down,

creating and destroying,

keeping everything whirling and flowing,

allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion,

chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

John Muir


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Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014


Hypertufa Pots Planted For Summer

This hypertufa potted herb garden will be sold this Saturday.

This hypertufa potted herb garden will be sold this Saturday.

Our hypertufa pots have dried, cured, and been planted for summer

The pots are inlaid with bits of glass, and potted with mostly shade loving plants

The pots are inlaid with bits of glass. They are planted with mostly shade loving tender perennials.

The first great effort at pot-making completed, every minute this week is devoted to preparation for an upcoming art festival this weekend.

Caladiums and a cane Begonia, which will have white blooms fill this pot.

Caladiums. Peacock Spikemoss, and a cane Begonia, which will have white blooms,  fill this pot.

Working on it with some very creative and patient friends for the last five months, we are in the final preparations for Saturday.

Although my post will be in the kitchen on Saturday, a friend’s daughter is running our booth for us.

Polkadot plant grows here with Caladiums.

Polkadot plant grows here with Caladiums.

We will offer note cards, miniatures, jewelry, glass sun catchers, gnome gardens, and these interesting hypertufa pots.

It will be bright, colorful, and alive.

Peacock Spikemoss will soon be joined by the Caladiums, which are just emerging from the soil.

Peacock Spikemoss will soon be joined by the Caladiums, which are just emerging from the soil.

A photo made it into our local Virginia Gazette today, we are on the Williamsburg Community calender, and emails are flying around our community.

If you live in the area I hope you will come and join us for the fun.

These pots are planted with mostly shade loving plants.  The Caladiums came so late from the grower, that they are barely showing their colors yet.  They will be fully open by next week, and will grow beautiful all summer.

The Caladiums got a late start this year, and are just beginning to grow.  With the warmth we're now enjoying, they'll come out quickly.

The Caladiums got a late start this year, and are just beginning to grow. With the warmth we’re now enjoying, they’ll come out quickly.

We also have pots with Peacock Spikemoss, an interesting plant which is technically a fern, although it looks more like moss.  Many of the pots also have cane Begonias, from my collection, planted with the Caladiums.

Peppermint spilling over the side, Tricolor sage, Thyme, and Basil fill this pot of culinary herbs.  All of these may be snipped for cooking.

Peppermint spilling over the side, Tricolor sage, Thyme, and Basil fill this pot of culinary herbs. All of these may be snipped for cooking.

My favorite pot is the herb garden, which will thrive in full sun.  Tricolor Sage, Basil, Thyme, and Peppermint will weave themselves into a fragrant and delicious planting for summer.

All but the Basil are perennial, and will grow happily in this pot for years to come if kept watered and trimmed.  I hope this one goes to a good cook’s home… to someone who will enjoy it and use the herbs to created delicious summer meals.

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So all of these pots, and several more which I didn’t photograph, will be offered for sale on Saturday at our art festival.

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If you would like more information on our art festival, please contact me in the comments section and I’ll send you specifics.

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I’m so pleased with how they all turned out. 

A raised bed, bordered with hypertufa pots, is actually “under construction” around a Dogwood tree in our garden.

Once we get past Saturday, there will be time to finish the pots for this garden, bring in the soil, and plant  it.

Photos to follow….

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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Hypertufa Pots, Ready For Action

Hypertufa in the Stump Garden


B. “Sophia” Has Bloomed!

Begonia "Sophia"

Begonia “Sophia”

“Sophia” came to our garden about this time last year in a tiny little pot, through the mail.

I was intrigued by her description at Garden Harvest Supply.  I wanted to see the dark purple, almost black leaves, covered in silvery markings; and believed this beautiful Begonia would light up a corner of the patio.

When the little start came, I potted it up with an Alocasia, and set it on the patio as soon as the weather settled.  The Begonia grew beautifully all summer, and produced strikingly beautiful foliage.  But no matter how well I cared for it, or how often I fed it, no flowers appeared all summer.

B. “Sophia” was one of the first plants we brought in this autumn to over winter, and we gave her a prominent spot in the living room.  At nearly 4′ tall now, some of her leaves are a foot long.  Other than dropping a few leaves during those first few weeks indoors, which is normal during the adjustment process, B. “Sophia” has kept right on growing.  She is in a spot where she gets morning sun.  But still no flowers .

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So, after Christmas, I decided to encourage her a little.  When watering the orchids, with a cocktail of orchid fertilizer, I decided to share a little of that magical elixer with B. “Sophia” as well.  Just a few sips from time to time were enough to stimulate her to bloom.  And how lovely her blooms are!

This Begonia is beautiful enough to grow just for her foliage, but the soft pink flowers are so worth waiting for, and encouraging. 

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I’ve begun to cut back some of the longer stems to root.  I would like for “Sophia” to branch out a bit more as she grows this coming summer.

Cane Begonias grow extremely large.  In fact, another one grew so top heavy that she turned over last week, pot and all.  I had resisted giving the needed pruning to B. “Cracklin Rosie,” and ended up with quite a few broken canes and lost leaves, now all rooting.  There is a lesson in there for those of us reluctant to cut a a plant back.

And the gifts in the lesson, are all those beautiful new Begonia plants, which will soon be ready to share.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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A new site allows me to continue posting new content since after more than 1700 posts there is no more room on this site.  -WG

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