Aged Beauty

~

Most trees don’t have an easy time growing older in our area.  There is snow and wind, summer hurricanes, torrential rain, January ice storms and mid-summer drought.  Trees rooted near the water, like the old native redbud tree growing along the bank of the James River, are   marked by the storms they have  weathered.

Few survive long decades without scars to mark their resilient survival; yet there is beauty in the aged.

~

~

“Wisdom comes with winters”
.

Oscar Wilde

~

~

Redbud trees prove hardy and strong in our area, and many still bloom this week despite being broken and aging.

December’s heavy snow pushed over the largest redbud in our garden; yet its roots held strong.  It leans now up the slope of our ravine, as though reaching out to us as we come into the back garden.  And yes, it has covered itself in buds.

~

~

“How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.”
.

William Butler Yeats

~

~

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old,

you grow old when you stop laughing.”
.

George Bernard Shaw

~

~

Aging always invites new growth. Pruning away the old stimulates new wood to grow from a latent bud.  So long as the roots hold firm and the trunk can transport water from roots to branches, and sugars from leaves to roots, life goes on.

The frame may age, but fresh branches continue to grow with vigor, reaching for the sunlight.  And the aging trunk generously harbors vines and moss.  Grasses grow above the roots, and many insects find homes in the thickened bark.  Birds nest and shelter in the branches even as pollinators come to drink the tree’s sweet nectar.

All these boarders share in the tree’s generous largess.  Its continued presence acts as a magnet, drawing life, even as it fills its niche in the web of life.  Some boarders sap the tree’s strength, each in its own way.  But somehow, the tree manages to keep going season after season, year after year.

The tree’s generosity, and its beauty, only increases with time.

~

~

“There is a fountain of youth:

it is your mind, your talents,

the creativity you bring to your life

and the lives of people you love.

When you learn to tap this source,

you will truly have defeated age.”
.

Sophia Loren

~

Cercis canadensis grow along the Colonial Parkway near Jamestown Island.

~

Woodland Gnome 2019

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Sunday Dinner: Expansion

Redbud, Cercis canadensis

~

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every
small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birds’ wings.”
.
Rumi

~

~

“We become aware of the void as we fill it.”
.
Antonio Porchia

~

Clematis

~

“Sometimes we know in our bones
what we really need to do, but we’re afraid to do it.
Taking a chance and stepping beyond
the safety of the world we’ve always known
is the only way to grow,
and without risk there is no reward.”
.
Wil Wheaton

~

~

 

“Life can take so many twists and turns.
You can’t ever count yourself out.
Even if you’re really afraid at some point,
you can’t think that there’s no room for you to grow
and do something good with your life.”
.
Portia de Rossi

~

~

 

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow.
If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
.
Anatole France

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
~
~
“This life therefore is not righteousness,
but growth in righteousness,
not health, but healing,
not being but becoming,
not rest, but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it,
the process is not yet finished, but it is going on,
this is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory,
but all is being purified.”
.
Martin Luther
~
~
“Physicists have yet to find anything
capable of exceeding our known speed of light.
The Tao cannot be named,
and so I say there is one thing
that out-paces all things: we call it “thought.”
I can fill a room a with light
before I’m anywhere near the switch.”

.
Laurie Perez
~

Lilac, Syringa vulgaris

 

Blossom XXII: “…and Spring After Winter.”

Redbud

~

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth

find reserves of strength

that will endure as long as life lasts.

There is something infinitely healing

in the repeated refrains of nature –

– the assurance that dawn comes after night,

and spring after winter.”

.

Rachel Carson

~

~

“Live in each season as it passes;

breathe the air, drink the drink,

taste the fruit,

and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

.

Henry David Thoreau

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“I only went out for a walk

and finally concluded to stay out

till sundown,

for going out, I found, was really going in.”

.

John Muir

~

~

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 XIX
Blossom XX
Blossom XXI

Fabulous Friday: Flowers From Wood

Native Dogwood, Cornus florida

~

There is something totally magical about flowers blooming on woody stems.  Flowers, so fragile and soft, breaking out of weathered bark as winter draws to a cold and windy close will always fascinate me.

~

~

Since I was a child, these natural wonders have held my attention.  Now, living in a Forest Garden, we have surrounded ourselves with flowering shrubs and trees.  They are sturdy yet beautiful, easy to maintain, and remain a lasting presence from year to year.  Their early flowers feed hungry pollinators when there is little else available.

~

“Double Take Scarlet” Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’ in its second year in our garden. It has proven hardy and deer resistant, so I am watching the local garden centers for more of these shrubs to appear.  I would like to plant at least one more.

~

After a cold and wintery week, we are happy to greet the sun and its warmth today.  We have uncovered the Hydrangeas again, lifted sheltering pots off of our new perennials, assessed the damage wrought by nearly a week of nights in the 20s, and done a little more pruning. 
But mostly, we have admired the many flowers opening now in the garden on this Fabulous Friday.
~

The peach blossoms weathered the cold without damage.

~
Although the Magnolia blossoms and Camellia blossoms turned brown in the cold this week, there are still buds left to open.  The damaged flowers will drop away soon enough.  And the fruit trees are just getting started! 

~

Redbud flowers erupt directly from the trunk and branches of the tree. This is the species, Cercis canadensis, which grows wild here. Newer cultivars offer flowers in several shades of pink and lavender or white. Some also offer variegated or burgundy foliage.

~

If I were asked for advice by someone just starting in their garden, I would steer them towards flowering woodies. 
The shrubs, or trees, themselves provide great garden structure year round.  They provide a permanent presence over decades, with little input from the gardener once they are established.  
And when they bloom, Wow!  What amazing ‘bang for your buck’ when a flowering tree covers itself with thousands of perfect blossoms.  It may last for a few weeks only, but what ‘gorgeosity’ in the garden when they bloom! 
Even when the blooms are finished, there is still much to enjoy from their beautiful bark, leaves, fruits and berries.  Many flowering trees return with gorgeous fall color to end the season.

~

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

~

There are great flowering woodies to enjoy in a mid-zone garden (6-9) through  the entire year.  When you might expect a short break in late January through mid-February, while even our hardy Camellias stop blooming, the Mahonia, Forsythia and Edgeworthia fill the garden with fragrance and color.
Now that the annual show has begun, we await the Azaleas and Rhododendrons; Lilacs; several species of Hydrangeas; Mountain Laurel; Rose of Sharon; Roses;  Crepe Myrtles, which easily bloom here for 100 days; until we finally return to our fall Camellias.

~

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

~

This garden was already planted, by the original gardeners, with wonderful flowering trees and shrubs which we continue to enjoy. We have added many more, and continue to plant more flowering trees and shrubs each year.  I just received a new Sweet Bay Magnolia from the Arbor Day Foundation, and have potted it up to grow in a protected place for its first year or two.
Most flowering shrubs perform well in partial sun to shade and can tolerate many types of soil and moisture conditions;  which makes them good candidates for forested and shaded gardens. 
Flowering woodies remain truly fabulous in our garden!

~

Magnolia stellata, March 1 of this year

~

I am setting an intention to find some wonderful, beautiful, and happiness inducing thing to write about each Friday. 

Now that the Weekly Photo Challenge has moved to Wednesdays, I am starting  “Fabulous Friday” on Forest Garden. 

If you’re moved to find something Fabulous to share on Fridays as well, please tag your post “Fabulous Friday” and link your post back to mine. 

Happiness is contagious!  Let’s infect one another!

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

Magnolia stellata

 

Wednesday Vignette: Living Geometry

~

“The geometry of the things around

us creates coincidences, intersections.”


.

Erri De Luca

~

~

“Philosophy [nature] is written in that great book

which ever is before our eyes –

– I mean the universe –

– but we cannot understand it

if we do not first learn the language

and grasp the symbols in which it is written.

The book is written in mathematical language,

and the symbols are triangles, circles

and other geometrical figures,

without whose help it is impossible

to comprehend a single word of it;

without which one wanders in vain

through a dark labyrinth.”

.

Galileo Galilei

~

~

“You don’t see something

until you have the right metaphor

to let you perceive it”

.

James Gleick

~

~

“The harmony of the world is made manifest

in Form and Number,

and the heart and soul

and all the poetry of Natural Philosophy

are embodied in the concept of mathematical beauty.”

.

D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson

~

~

“Number rules the universe.”

.

Pythagoras

~

~

“Maths is at only one remove from magic.”

.

Neel Burton

~

~

“A circle has no end.”

.

Isaac Asimov

~

“Seed of Life” Mandala designed and stitched in cotton thread by the Woodland Gnome 2016.  Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

More on Geometry:

Sacred Geometry, Flower of Life…. (additional links at the end of the post)

 

In A Vase On Monday

April 13, 2015 spring flowers 007

~

The vase today reflects what is happening in the garden:  an abundance of fresh, colorful flowers set against the somewhat ragged remainders of last year’s garden.  Winter’s remnants form the backdrop to all of our blooming trees, budding shrubs, vibrant daffodils and Hellebores, and the emerging perennials.

~

April 13, 2015 spring flowers 009

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The Hellebore in today’s vase is a special favorite of mine with its dark and dusty double flowers.  It lives at the very bottom of the garden, in deep shade.  Its abundant blooms don’t show very well where it grows, and so I was happy to cut two stems for today’s vase.

~

April 13, 2015 spring flowers 003

~

More white daffodils, larger ones from a different patch, offer the stark contrast found in the changing seasons.

Spent, spore covered fronds of D. ‘Brilliance’ autumn fern, rescued from where they were lying around the crown of emerging fronds, form the backdrop and help support the soaring branches of blooming redbud, Cercis canadensis.

Also supporting today’s arrangement is a bare, lichen covered branch from an Azalea and two branches of lacy Artemisia.  The Artemisia overwintered, and has just begun to send out fresh leaves.

~

April 13, 2015 spring flowers 010

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This post comes late in the day.  I’ve spent the entire day working out in the garden, stopping only when the sun grew low in the sky and my energy was spent.  Many more pots came out of storage in the garage today, and most of the hanging baskets have moved out of the shade and into their permanent locations.

~

See the little guy who hitchhiked indoors on the flowers?

See the little guy who hitchhiked indoors on the flowers?

~

I’ve been watching for unfurling fern fronds and photographing them, planting new perennial plugs, cutting back winter damage on the Rosemary, and doing an awful lot of sweeping and raking.

~

Leaves have just begun to appear on the redbud trees.  This little branch looked so elegant with its tiny leaves, I had to include it.

Leaves have just begun to appear on the redbud trees. This little branch looked so elegant with its tiny  heart shaped leaves, I had to include it.

~

There was lots of company outside today.  Bumblebees, doves, our cardinals, and our cat were all nearby.  My partner appeared from time to time to offer encouragement, open the doors, and lend a hand.

There is just a lot of heavy lifting involved in opening the season in the garden.  I know you know, and are probably in the midst of your own spring chores.

And what happy work to clear the way for a new season of beauty and wonder.  The first bud has appeared on a Fuchsia we’ve carried into its fourth spring.  Japanese painted fern fronds uncurl from another basket beside the tiny maroon leaves of an awakening Oxalis triangularis.

~

Trimmings from the Artimesia look so nice against the dusky purple Hellebores.  Do you think they might root in the vase?

Trimmings from the Artemisia look so nice against the dusky purple Hellebores. Do you think they might root in the vase?

~

I took a short break after lunch to pull together this little arrangement today, and photograph it, before returning to the work at hand.  The vase was an antique when I bought it thirty odd years ago.  It held Begonia cuttings all winter long.  Now they are planted out in pots, and the vase is free again for flowers.

~

April 13, 2015 spring flowers 018

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The first series of photographs, outside, are in front of our Hydrangea border.  We’ve left the grass to grow as it is full of bulbs and wildflowers.  It will likely get its first trim while I’m away next week.

I added an amethyst cluster and a blown glass plate when the vase came inside.  The amethyst matches the Hellebores so nicely.

~

April 13, 2015 spring flowers 016

~

Appreciation, as always, to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, who generously sponsors A Vase on Monday.  You’ll find links to many wonderful arrangements of spring flowers in her comments.   I find it fascinating to see what is in bloom in other gardener’s gardens across the country and across the sea.

I hope you will find joy in the beauty of your own garden this week, and perhaps clip a few stems to enjoy inside, with a cool drink and your feet up!

~

April 13, 2015 spring flowers 005~

Woodland Gnome 2015

Our Native Redbud Tree

April 12, 2015 flowers 077

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A redbud tree in full bloom grabs my attention like no other spring blooming tree.  They just light up suddenly, like a neon beacon in the edge of the tree line; transforming from non-descript to gorgeous in the space of a day.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 089

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This North American native, Cercis canadensis, grows wild in our woods.  Although there are a few cultivars available, including a white variety, the species pleases me just fine.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 078~

And unlike many of the spring blooming fruit trees which show visible buds for weeks, waiting for the winter to pass; the blossoms of a redbud tree simply break directly out of the bark, anywhere and everywhere.  It is an amazing sight to see in early spring.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 093

~

Never particularly large, these trees survive to an advanced age.  And as they age, they keep growing and blooming year to year despite all manner of scars, injuries, and chaotic growth.  They have that courageous spirit of perseverance which expresses the heart and soul of springtime’s beauty.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 083~

The redbud remains a quintessentially American tree.  They grow from The Hudson Bay south to the Gulf coast in eastern North America.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 081

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I’ve grown up loving them every spring of my life, save one when I was in Europe in April and missed them.  They bloom soon after the Forsythia each year, but several days before the Dogwood’s buds open.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 085

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Their flowers appear days before their leaves.  They bloom when the forest remains mostly bare, with just a hint of green haze as the leaves of larger trees break bud.  Their flowers feed bees and other nectar loving insects in early spring when there are few flowers in bloom.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 014

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Mature redbud trees may grow wider than they grow tall.  Never growing more than 20 to 30 feet, redbud remains an understory tree, growing in the partial shade of the forest’s edge and around homes.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 076

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After their flowers fade, beautiful heart shaped leaves appear, followed by seed pods which look like Asian pea pods. The leaves turn gold in autumn before they fall.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 095

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The redbud is a member of the pea, or Fabaceae family.  The flowers and seedpods are edible, and parts of the redbud tree were used by our Native Americans for food.  I’ve heard that their seedpods are good in salad, but can’t say I’ve tried them myself…

Every flower, once pollinated, forms a seed pod.  You can imagine that in a few months time the pods hang thickly from the branches.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 097

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And every pod contains several seeds, tasty to wildlife.  So many seeds form, that many survive to germinate.  The trees grow very quickly.  They shoot up in just a few years to get their branches high enough to catch the sunlight through the surrounding growth.  Slowly, they begin to fill out their rounded canopies as the years go by.

Redbud trees also help improve the soil and nourish other plants.  As legumes, members of the pea family, they can fix nitrogen, taken from the air, in the soil around their roots.  Their fallen leaves and seed pods also feed the soil as they decompose each winter.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 123

~

We were happy to find several redbud trees in our garden here.  We have one very large old one in the back near the ravine, and several much younger ones along the street.  We spot a new one in bloom every year or so, and I’ve planted at least two over the past few years.  One was a seedling sprouted in the wrong place, which I moved.  The other was a gift, which I grew on in a pot for a few years, before putting it into the ground earlier this spring.  Now it has just come into bloom for the first time.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 016

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Mid- April, when the redbuds are in full bloom, the Dogwoods are opening, and the Azalea buds have begun to swell, is one of my favorite times of the year.  The bare woody bones of winter burst into vivid flowers and cover themselves with tender green leaves.  What astounding beauty manifests all around us each April.

~

April 9, 2015 planting 015

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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April 12, 2015 flowers 090

Silent Sunday

Forest Garden, Williamsburg, VA

Forest Garden, Williamsburg, VA

~

“Let go of certainty.

The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness,

curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox,

rather than choose up sides.

The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves

exactly as we are,

but never stop trying to learn and grow.”

.

Tony Schwartz

~

April 9, 2015 planting 001

~

“A farmer is helpless to grow grain;

all he can do is provide the right conditions

for the growing of grain. He cultivates the ground,

he plants the seed, he waters the plants,

and then the natural forces of the earth

take over and up comes the grain…

~

April 9, 2015 planting 002

~

This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines –

they are a way of sowing to the Spirit…

By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing;

they can only get us to the place

where something can be done.”

.

Richard J. Foster

~

Brent and Becky Heath's display garden, Gloucester, VA

Brent and Becky Heath’s display garden, Gloucester, VA

~

“Why stay we on earth except to grow?”

.

Robert Browning

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Let The Planting Begin!

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 010

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We had a taste of spring here yesterday and this morning.  We actually hit 70 F yesterday afternoon!  It was the perfect day for a drive out to the country, and so some loved ones and I took off for destinations west after lunch.

Just over the county line, in the eastern edge of Amelia, Clay Hudgins of  Hudgins Landscape and Nursery, Inc., is preparing for his first spring in his new location. We had visited last fall and been impressed with the excellent condition of the plants and friendliness of his staff.

What else to do on the first 70 degree day of the new year, but go wander through a nursery?  Although I was in search of potted Hellebores, Clay interested me in shrubs instead.   Many of his shrubs were on sale, and most of his Espoma products.  So I stocked up on Holly Tone and Rose Tone; and adopted a gorgeous Rhododendron.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 001~

Our neighbors have successfully grown Rhododendron, even without fencing out the deer; and so we are going to try this one in a spot where a Camellia failed this autumn.  The poor Camellia had been nibbled by deer multiple times during its short life.  Sadly, most of its roots had also been eaten by the voles.  It was too abused to even take a photo of it.

But I’ve learned a trick or two to protect new shrubs since that Camellia went into the ground in 2011.  Today I planted both the Rhodie, and a potted dwarf  Eastern Redbud tree, Cercis canadensis, which was already growing with Heuchera ‘Caramel,’ spring bulbs, and an Autumn Brilliance fern.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 003

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This is a cool and partially shaded area, part of our fern gardens behind the house.  These plants will get afternoon sun, and should grow very happily here.

The first line of defense to protect a shrub’s roots from vole damage is gravel in the planting hole.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 004

~

I dug this hole about 4″ deeper than needed, and about 6-7″ wider.  You may notice a clam shell stuck to the side of the planting hole in the photo.  That is plugging up the main vole tunnel, which is now back-filled with gravel behind that shell.

Like earthworms, voles dig and tunnel through the soil.  My job is to make that as difficult and hazardous as possible.  In addition to gravel, I like to surround the new shrub with poisonous roots.  There were already a few daffodil bulbs growing in front of the deceased Camellia.  You can see their leaves just poking through the soil in the bottom left corner of the photo, if you look closely.  I’ve added a few more daffodils now, planted near the new Redbud, a few feet behind the Rhodie.

~

These roots are beautiful; not potbound at all.  I still scored vertical lines in several places around the rootball with the tip of a knife to stimulate growth and prevent any 'girdling' of the roots .

These roots are beautiful; not pot bound at all. I still scored vertical lines in several places around the root ball with the tip of a knife to stimulate growth and prevent any ‘girdling’ of the roots as they grow .

~

I’ll plan to plant more daffodils in this area when they come on the market again in fall.  But, until then, I’ve surrounded the Rhodie with seedling Hellebores, spaced about 12″ apart.  Hellebores are one of the most toxic plants we grow.  Every part, including the roots, is highly poisonous.  Once these roots begin to grow and fill in, they will form a poisonous “curtain” of plant matter around the Rhodie’s roots, protecting the root ball as the shrub establishes.  Just for good measure, I’ve laid a light ‘mulch’ of the old Hellebore leaves we pruned this morning.  They will quickly decompose into the soil, and their toxins will offer this area additional protection.

~

From top left: Yucca leaves, Heuchera, 'Caramel," a tiny Redbud tree, emerging bulbs, seedling Hellebores, Hellebore leaves, Rhododendron Purpureum Elegans, daffodil leaves, and a mature Autumn Brilliance fern.

From top left: Yucca leaves, Heuchera, ‘Caramel,” a tiny Redbud tree, emerging bulbs, seedling Hellebores, Hellebore leaves, Rhododendron Purpureum Elegans, daffodil leaves, and a mature Autumn Brilliance fern.

~

Japanese Painted Ferns are already established in this area.  Their first fronds will unfurl over the next six weeks.  I’ll add additional ferns, and most likely some Wood Anemones to this planting.  It is mulched in pea gravel and some shells at the moment, to further thwart creatures who might want to dig here.

A little Holly Tone is mixed into the bottom of the planting holes and is also dusted over the mulched ground.  Mushroom compost is mixed with the soil used to fill in around the root balls.  Finally, I watered in all of the plants with a generous wash of Neptune’s Harvest.  It smells so foul that hungry creatures give it wide berth.  Just for good measure, I also sprayed the Heuchera and Rhododendron with deer repellent just before going back inside.

Overkill?  Not at all!  I want these plants to get off to a good and healthy start!  I’ll show you the progress here from time to time.  This gorgeous Rhodie is absolutely covered in buds, which will open in a beautiful shade of lavender later in the spring.   I’m so pleased with this shrub, having seen its beautiful roots and abundant growth, that I’m seriously considering purchasing a few more Rhododendrons from this same lot while they are available, and still on sale.

~

February 9, 2015 Rhodie 013

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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Hellebore with a bud emerging in another part of the fern garden.

Hellebore with a bud emerging in another part of the fern garden.

A Four Season Pot In the Springtime

April 16, 2014 dogwood 001

A Four Season Pot changes seasonally, remaining attractive throughout all four seasons of the year.

It requires a little thinking ahead to pull this together, but is well worth it.  I prefer to begin a Four Season Pot in the autumn, when spring bulbs come on the market.

Bulbs are an important part of this ever changing display.  Ephemeral spring bulbs keep the arrangement fresh and interesting from late winter through early summer as the bulbs develop, bloom, and then begin to fade.  when the foliage is finished and begins to brown, it can finally be removed as the pot settles into summer.

A Four Season Pot can be designed to last for several years with only minor changes.  Begin with a large pot, of at least 18 inches, in a material which may stay outside year round in all sorts of weather.

The primary element of the planting is a shrub or small tree.  This is where the design gets interesting. 

You may choose an evergreen or a deciduous shrub.  You may select for interesting foliage, flowers, or both.  This primary plant stays in the pot as annuals come and go throughout the next several seasons.

Oct. 6 pots 020

The Four Season pot in autumn, very soon after it was planted. Notice the Heuchera leaves are a different color here than in the spring photos.

When the shrub outgrows the pot you may choose to prune it, pot up to a larger container, or plant the shrub out into the garden and begin again with a new shrub.

Within the potting philosophy of , “thriller, filler, spiller;”  your shrub will usually be the  “thriller” or largest and tallest element.

Although I’ve done this scheme with evergreen shrubs, I prefer to create a Four Season planting design using a deciduous, spring blooming shrub or small tree.

Bringing attention to a lovely shrub, up close to daily traffic, so it can be observed as it transforms itself season to season is far more interesting to me than watching geraniums bloom.

April 16, 2014 flowers 005

New spring Heuchera leaves are touched with copper, as will be the new fronds of the Autumn Brilliance fern when new growth begins.

This little design, constructed last autumn, is built around a tiny hybrid Redbud tree , Cercis canadensis, which Jonathan Patton and Dustin  gave me at the end of the season last year.  Homestead  Garden Center was closing out its deciduous stock and they didn’t want to store this little shrub over the winter.  A tiny little shrub in a small pot,  with its golden fall leaves still clinging to its branches, it was perfect for my needs.

Underplanted with a combination of daffodil and grape hyacinth bulbs,  I filled the pot with a perennial Heuchera and annual Violas.  The Violas have bloomed all winter long, bringing color to the pot long after the Redbud’s leaves blew away.  The Heuchera also kept its color all winter, escaping the deer who found other Heuchera  plants around the winter garden.

April 16, 2014 flowers 003

The only plant in the pot which has not yet filled in is the Autumn Brilliance fern planted from a tiny 2.5″ pot.  It didn’t get established before cold set in, and its few leaves are rather bedraggled from winter yet.   New fronds will unfurl any day now, and will grow perhaps as tall as 18″.

Oct. 6 pots 021

So the total expenditure on plants for this pot was a little under $15.00. Constructed in late autumn, the pot has been  attractive for a little more than six months already.

The only plant I’ll remove and switch out will be the Viola, when the heat gets too much for it.

April 16, 2014 flowers 002

I could replace it with an Ajuga division from the garden; a small annual like Ageratumn from a six-pack, or even a Caladium tuber or rooted cutting.  For a little or no additional investment, this pot will keep growing and changing throughout the remainder of the season.

My hope was to see the Redbud bloom this year before its leaves emerged.  It seems it is too young to bloom.  Even without blooms, its tiny chartruese heart shaped leaves are still a lovely addition to the pot.  This arrangement can survive at least one more winter in place.  The annual will get switched out for a fresh Viola next November, and this pot will continue growing in partial sun, with only regular watering and light feeding, into 2015 and beyond.

April 16, 2014 dogwood 002

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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