CYW: What Color is February?

Sunset over College Creek this evening

February 16 ‘Indigo’ clouds over College Creek this evening

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What colors do you associate with February? 

My partner and I went out in search of color this afternoon, and found the world showing mostly shades of grey, brown, green, blue, and light.  I’m counting ‘light’ as a color as it was so wonderful to see the sun this afternoon!

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February 16,2016 sunset 040

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Yesterday was snow, sleet and freezing rain.  So we can add white and silver grey to our February color palette, too.  I wandered out in the late afternoon, when the storm had passed, thinking I might cut a stem of something, anything, for a vase.

I made a wet and sloppy circuit around the front garden, too disheartened by the thawing slush to even cut a tightly closed Daffodil bud.    I decided to wait for a better, warmer day when it felt ready to open on its own.  It was far too icy wet to explore further up the drive or down the hill in search of Hellebores.  That vase yesterday sadly went unfilled…..

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Our garden, yesetrday

Our garden, yesterday

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This is that time in February when we search for color. 

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February 16,2016 sunset 011

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Yes, one notices the thousand shades of green in pines, hollies, Magnolias and Ligustrum braving the cold.  One sees the first leaves of bulbs shouldering their way up through the frozen soil.

But where are the warm reds and oranges, yellow, pinks, lilac and blues of summer’s garden?  February feels so drab by comparison.

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February 15 'Inchworm' green and February 17 'Jazzyberry Jam' shine in this bit of turf beside the pond.

February 15 ‘Inchworm’ green and February 17 ‘Jazzyberry Jam’ shine in this bit of turf beside the pond.

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Jenny’s colors this week reflect a much more lively palette than this February day can provide.  We may find tints in the sunset sky, but the intensity of ‘Hot Magenta,’ ‘Laser Lemon’ and ‘Jazzberry Jam’ remain a distant memory in the depths of a Virginia winter.  Maybe we’ll take a rain check until May…..

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February 18 'Jungle Green' shadows surround this Great Blue Heron meditating on Halfway Creek.

February 18 ‘Jungle Green’ shadows surround this Great Blue Heron meditating on Halfway Creek.

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A neighbor’s wild Crocus patch along the road often blooms in February.  Perhaps those soft shades of lavender petals and bright orange stamens will break ground soon.  Our souls need color to see us through this next bit of cold and muck!

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February 20, Lavender Crocus which bloomed this day two years ago.

February 20, ‘Lavender’    Crocus which bloomed this day two years ago in the edge of a neighbor’s yard.

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But the sun shone brightly by this afternoon, and the clear sky reflected deep, brilliant shades of blue.   We drove out of the woods and spotted a pair of swans feeding along the edges of Jones Mill Pond.

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February 16,2016 sunset 033

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Our brilliant winter sun slid ever so slowly down the sky, playing hide and seek behind clouds heralding the next cold front slipping through here tonight.  We watched those purple tinged clouds grow fiery red, orange, pink and yellow as the sun sank towards the horizon.

Each day grows noticeably longer in February; one of this month’s few blessings.

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College Creek at Archer's Hope

College Creek at Archer’s Hope

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So Jenny, we weren’t entirely successful in our hunt for this week’s CYW color challenge colors.

But here is what we did find, and we find it lovely enough for this mid-February Virginia day.

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Wait, Could that be 'Laser Lemon' in this evening's sunset? February 19, scored.....

Wait, Could that be ‘Laser Lemon’ in this evening’s sunset? February 19, scored…..

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Thank you, Jenny, for sponsoring the Color Your World photo challenge this spring.  I’m happy to participate in Jennifer Nichole Wells’s new “Color My World: One Hundred Days of Crayola” photo challenge.

Jenny is working from the Crayola Crayon chart of colors, and offers a new color challenge each day for 120 days, beginning January 1.

I’ll aim for one post each week, sharing photos of as many of that week’s colors as I’m able.

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And finally, February 14, 'Hot Magenta' Hellebores give us that shot of color we crave so badly....

And finally, February 14, ‘Hot Magenta’ Hellebores give us that shot of color we crave so badly….  These, blooming in our garden before this latest snow…

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 16,2016 sunset 024

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Color Your World: Perseverance

The Star Magnolia wants to break into bloom in the depths of our Virginia winter. February 11 Grey

The Star Magnolia wants to break into bloom in the depths of our Virginia winter. February 11 Grey

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“Begin doing what you want to do now.

We are not living in eternity.

We have only this moment,

sparkling like a star in our hand-

-and melting like a snowflake…”

.

Francis Bacon

We woke this morning to the unexpected beauty of our garden covered in snow.  An inch fell sometime between midnight and morning.  The clouds were long gone by the time I wandered to the window to look out on this new day; a day bathed in warm golden sunshine, reflecting off that brilliant and sparkling snow.

We are in those depths of a Virginia winter when one must expect the unexpected.  We’ve more snow on the way, and we are preparing for night time temperatures to grow ridiculously cold by Saturday night.  These are the days and nights a gardener dreads, when those tiny bits of life one tries to nurture through till spring finally might succumb to winter’s frigid touch.

Knowing this, we moved the olive trees into the garage at sunset yesterday.  Now nearly 4 feet tall, they have made it through three winters in their very portable pots.  Hardy to Zone 8, I have left them out longer this winter than ever before.  But now they are situated in the garage to survive these next few frosty nights.

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Sedum rupestre 'Angelina' shrugs off the cold without a single leaf withering. They may turn a bit rosy in the cold, but always recover. February 13 'Yellow Green' and February 7 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown.'

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ shrugs off the cold without a single leaf withering. They may turn a bit rosy in the cold, but always recover. February 13 ‘Green Yellow’ and February 7 ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown.’

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“You never know what’s around the corner.

It could be everything.

Or it could be nothing.

You keep putting one foot in front of the other,

and then one day you look back

and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

.

Tom Hiddleston

I’m always a bit restless in February.  I want to keep on gardening, but most of the garden has gone dormant.  I wander around looking for signs of change and growth.  Perhaps I’m looking for reassurance that things are still alive.

While it is fine to have a rest from weeding and watering, I miss the dynamic change of watching plants grow and develop into the fullness of their beauty.

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Selaginella with a new Amaryllis

Selaginella and Strawberry Begonia with a new Amaryllis bulb. February 10 ‘Granny Smith Apple Green.’

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This time of year challenges our spirit of perseverance.  

We plan, we order, we clean, we prune, and we wait.   I fiddle endlessly with those plants wintering indoors, too; taking cuttings, watering, and admiring those in bloom.

I planted up the last of our autumn Amaryllis bulbs today with some beautiful Selaginella adopted from The Great Big Greenhouse last week.   Understanding how February affects us all, they compassionately have a full month of special events to promote tropical houseplants.  I made it for the last day of their sale on ferns, but  will miss the Orchid presentation next Saturday….

The little Strawberry Begonia has been growing outside in a pot since last summer.  Today I finally rescued it,  and brought it inside for this arrangement.  Maybe it will respond to the warmth by sending out runners and ‘baby’ plants some week soon.

There are rarely immediate results from those tasks we tackle in winter.  We have to bide out time and wait for our efforts to bear fruit sometime further along in the season.   We wait and watch for those first tiny signs of spring’s awakening, ready to celebrate each unfolding.

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The first tiny green tips of awakening bulbs break ground in this pot by the back door. February 8, 'Gold.'

The first tiny green tips of awakening bulbs break ground in this pot by the back door. February 8, ‘Gold.’

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I am happy, this February, to participate in Jennifer Nichole Wells’s new “Color My World: One Hundred Days of Crayola” photo challenge.  Jenny is working from the Crayola Crayon chart of colors, and offers a new color challenge each day for 120 days, beginning January 1.   I’ll aim for one post each week, sharing photos of as many of that week’s colors as I’m able.

This week’s colors include:  Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown, Gold, Goldenrod, Granny Smith Green, Grey, Green, and Green Yellow.  These colors were easy to find in the garden today, even in a February garden.  There are abundant signs of life in our Forest Garden, and we appreciate finding each and every one.

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Goldenrod yellow shines in the face of this tiny Viola. February 9, "Goldenrod."

Autumn’s ‘Goldenrod’ yellow shines in the face of this tiny Viola. February 9, “Goldenrod.”

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“God has, in fact, written two books, not just one.

Of course, we are all familiar with the first book

he wrote, namely Scripture.

But he has written a second book

called creation.”

.

Francis Bacon 

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Our Forsythia continues slowly breaking bud in the garden. We didn't enjoy Forsythia until mid-March in 2015. Here it blooms by the drive.

Our Forsythia continues slowly breaking bud in the garden. We didn’t enjoy Forsythia until mid-March in 2015. Here it blooms by the drive.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Our pond at sunset last Saturday. February 12, 'Green"

Our pond at sunset last Saturday. February 12, ‘Green”

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“Even in the mud and scum of things,

something always, always sings.”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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February 10, 2016 winter growth 030

Color Your World: Mandala

February 2, 2016 flowers 037

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“Whoever uses the spirit

that is in him creatively is an artist.

To make living itself an art,

that is the goal.”

.

Henry Miller

It has been many years since I first heard of a bit of sacred geometry called, “The Flower of Life.” It is demonstrated and explained in detail in books by philosopher Drunvalo Melchizedek. This design is based on simple, but profound geometry and has been in use for millennia.  I believe it appeals to me because it is a floral design.  It reminds me of our Clematis flowers which bloom each summer.

But there are many levels of understanding in this design, which shows the interconnectedness of life.  It illustrates patterns of growth and change.

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Clematis

Clematis

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I’ve wanted to work with this design for a very long time, and finally began,  back last summer, experimenting with translating it onto a grid to make a counted cross stitch pattern.  My design is not a strict interpretation of The Flower of Life.  I’ve taken some liberties with the geometry to make the design more ‘floral.’

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February 2 and 6: Eggplant and Fuschia

February 1, 2 and 6: Desert sand, Eggplant and Fuchsia

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This is one of the first stitched mandalas I’ve designed without drawing out the whole pattern, first.   I drew just the center flower, and three petals of an adjacent flower, before selecting colors and beginning to stitch.  The rest of this piece grew organically from that small beginning as I’ve worked.

It has taken a little more than six months to bring it to completion.  I was so happy to make the last stitches in the frame on Sunday evening.

We love the vibrant colors of these stitched mandalas.  I’m showing you this one today in part because it reflects many of the colors of Jennifer Nichole Wells’s “Color My World” challenge this week.

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This week’s colors include Denim, Desert Sand, Eggplant, Electric Lime, Fern, Forest Green and Fuschia.

I was quite happy, last week, discover Jenny’s new “Color My World: One Hundred Days of Crayola” photo challenge.  She is working from the Crayola Crayon chart of colors, and offers a new color challenge each day for 120 days, beginning January 1.   I am happy to tag along once again, and will aim for one post each week, sharing photos of as many of that week’s colors as I’m able.

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Jan. 1: Denim This pot lives on the front porch, except during the coldest winter months.

Jan. 1: Denim This pot lives on the front porch, except during the coldest winter months.

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Please visit Jenny and explore links to other photographers participating in this Color Your World challenge.

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Feb. 1: A Hellebore flower nearly the color of Desert Sand

Feb. 1: A Hellebore flower nearly the color of Desert Sand

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Today dawned clear and brilliantly sunny.  The sun was so strong, pouring in through our southern windows, that it felt like May or early June rather than February 2.

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Feb. 3: Electric lime describes the fresh green at the heart of this Amaryllis blossom

Feb. 3: Electric lime describes the fresh green at the heart of this Amaryllis blossom

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I captured photos of some of our plants overwintering in the house before heading out to the garden for more pruning.  Some of our photos today are of our indoor garden, others from the garden outside.

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Feb. 4 Fern green on the buds just opening today on our Autumn Olive shrubs.

Feb. 4 Fern green on the buds just opening today on our Autumn Olive shrubs.

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Most years, I would consider this first week of February too early to prune back our woody shrubs.  But the warmth is already waking up many plants which should still be dormant.

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Feb 5 So many greens in this wonderful pot near the street, surely Forest Green is among them?

Feb 5 So many greens in this wonderful pot near the street, surely Forest Green is among them?

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I’m taking my chances and beginning with the latest budding trees and shrubs, like our Crepe Myrtles and Rose of Sharon first.  I don’t dare touch the roses for at least another two weeks, just in case we get another winter storm.

They are already throwing out new leaves, ready to begin another cycle of growth.

We find growth and budding everywhere in our February garden.

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Here is a cutting of my favorite Begonia of the moment. Stems root quickly in these tiny bottles.

Here is a cutting of my favorite Begonia of the moment. Stems root quickly in these tiny bottles.  There will be plenty of rooted cuttings for hanging baskets by April.

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“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

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Another view of this wonderful Begonia.

Another view of this wonderful Begonia.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Another favorite Begonia enjoying our living room windowsill this winter.

Another favorite Begonia enjoying our living room windowsill this winter.  Aren’t the colors in its leaves wonderful?

Color Your World

January 24: Cerise

January 24: Cerise tinged Hellebore buds

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There was a time, not so long ago, when Tuesdays found me visiting Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge,and scrambling to find or create photos to fit her chosen color of the week.  For a very long time, Jennifer’s word of the week described a color. And what wonderful words she chose! Shamrock,‘ ‘Eigengrau,‘ ‘Teal,’ and Saffron.’ 

It was always an interesting challenge to find the photos, and often it evolved into an afternoon drive as we set out in search of the week’s color.

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January 25, Cerulean blue sky

January 25, Cerulean blue sky behind our mistletoe laden tree limbs

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  In addition to Jenny’s rules, I tried to always use current photos and also remain true to my ‘Forest Garden’ themes.  But sometime last year, when Jenny moved from color in her photo challenges to weather, I drifted away.

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January 26: Chestnut bark of our Crepe Myrtles glows against the snow.

January 26: Chestnut bark of our Crepe Myrtles glows against the snow.

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And so last night, when I stumbled across Cee’s blog featuring “Cerulean,” I was quite happy to click back and discover Jenny’s new “Color My World: One Hundred Days of Crayola” photo challenge.

Now Jenny offers a new color challenge each day for 120 days, beginning January 1.  Although we are already 26 days into the challenge, I am happy to tag along once again, and hope you will visit Jenny and explore links to other photographers participating in this Color Your World challenge.

But I will switch things up a bit and clock in only on Tuesdays, with current photos featuring as many of the week’s colors as I’m able.  I’m featuring Jenny’s challenge  colors from January 24: ‘Cerise’ through January 30: ‘Dandelion‘ in today’s post.

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January 26: Chestnut colored leaves nearly hiding an owl, sheltering in the tree from heavy snowfall.

January 27: Copper colored leaves and catkins nearly hide an owl, sheltering from heavy snowfall at the edge of our ravine.  This owl, and its mate, often appear here in the trees, keeping watch on our comings and goings.

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I have always enjoyed Jenny’s color challenges because they guide me in focusing on the changing color palette of the garden, as the seasons progress.

While our garden sleeps under its snow cover this week, we find breathtaking shades of blue in the sky; wondrous ever-greens in the shrubs, ferns and other perennials; every shade of grey and brown in the woody stems of our trees; and other interesting neutral shades in our hardscaping.  These are the colors which fade into the background during much of the year.  But we see them clearly now.

Although January remains a quiet time of year, color wise, we’re only a breath away from late winter’s flowers and the bright buds of early spring.

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January 28 Cornflower fills the sky behind bare limbs

January 28 Cornflower blue fills the sky behind bare tree limbs

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Color always tickles our emotions.  Whether we feel sheer delight in a bunch of crimson roses or relax peacefully in a shady green garden, the colors surrounding us also color our moods.

Our clear blue skies, present since the snow  crept away early Sunday morning, fill me with energy and optimism.  I look out across our snowy garden and feel gratitude for every green leaf, shining in the afternoon sun.

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

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

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What a pleasure to notice the range of colors living in our garden, even in the midst of winter.  I am happy to take part in this new color challenge; and through it; celebrate our journey through winter and into spring 2016. 

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January 30 Dandelion yellow perfectly describes the bright stamens at the heart of a Hellebore

January 30 Dandelion yellow perfectly describes the bright stamens at the heart of a Hellebore

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Shadows also bring color to a snowy January day.

Shadows also bring color to a snowy January day. Rabbits left their footprints here in the snow.

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