Six on Saturday: Purple Garden Magic

Mexican petunia, Ruellia simplex, has finally covered itself with purple flowers. Hardy only to Zone 8, it needs special care or a mild winter to survive here year to year.

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Purple has a long and regal cultural history, extending back into ‘pre-history’ when early artists sketched animals on cave walls with sticks of manganese and hematite.  Discovered in modern times at French Neolithic sites, these ancient drawings demonstrate an early human fascination with the color purple. These same minerals, combined with fat, created early purplish paints.

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Purple Buddleia davidii, butterfly bush, brings many different species of butterflies to the garden.

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The ancient Egyptians used manganese in glaze for purple pottery.  Elsewhere around the Mediterranean world, purple fabric dyes were stewed from certain mollusks.

Difficult to obtain, purple fabrics originally were reserved for royalty, rulers, and the exceptionally wealthy.  Purple is still used ceremonially by royal families and Christian bishops.

Later purple dyes were made using lichens, certain berries, stems, roots and various sea creatures.  Synthetic shades of purple dyes were first manufactured in the 1850s, when ‘mauve’ made its debut.  Creating just the right shade can be both difficult and expensive.

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Native purple mist flower, Conoclinium coelestinum,  returns and spreads each year.

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Considered a ‘secondary color,’ shades of purple range between blue and red.  Artists mix various reds, blues and white to create the tint they need.   As a secondary color, purple has come to symbolize synthesis, and the successful blending of unlike things.  It is creative, flamboyant, magical, chic and ambiguous.  Lore tells us that purple was Queen Victoria’s favorite color.

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Rose of Sharon varieties offer many purple or blue flowers on long flowering shrubs.

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Violet and indigo form part of the visible spectrum of light, but not purple.  Purple glass is made with minerals, like hematite, melted in the mix to create its rich hues.

Purple flowers, leaves, stems, fruits and roots indicate the presence of certain pigments, known as anthocyanins, that block harmful wavelengths of light.   Purple leaves can photosynthesize energy from the sun.  The rich pigment attract pollinators to flowers and may offer purple parts of the plant some protection from cold weather.  These deep colors are often considered to enhance flavor and increase the nutritional value of foods.

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Tradescantia offers both purple foliage and flowers.  A tender perennial, it can be overwintered in the house or garage.  Here it shares its space with an Amythest cluster.

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I love purple flowers and foliage for their rich and interesting contrast with all shades of green.  Ranging from nearly pink to nearly black, botanical purples offer a wide variety of beautiful colors for the garden.  Add  a touch of yellow or gold, and one can create endless beautiful and unusual color schemes for pots, baskets and borders.

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Verbena bonariensis blooms in a lovely, clear shade of purple from late spring until frost.

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Woodland Gnome 2019

And one more:

A new Classic Caladiums introduction this season, C. ‘Va Va Violet,’ offers the most purplish violet Caladium color to date.

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Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator.

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Color My World

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“Let me,
O let me bathe my soul in colours;
let me swallow the sunset
and drink the rainbow.”
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Khalil Gibran

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“The world is exploding in emerald, sage, and lusty chartreuse
– neon green with so much yellow in it.
It is an explosive green that,
if one could watch it
moment by moment throughout the day,
would grow in every dimension.”
.
Amy Seidl

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“Why do two colors,
put one next to the other, sing?
Can one really explain this? no.
Just as one can never
learn how to paint.”
.
Pablo Picasso

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“Red was ruby,
green was fluorescent,
yellow was simply incandescent.
Color was life. Color was everything.
Color, you see, was the universal sign of magic.”
.
Tahereh Mafi

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“Each day has a color, a smell.”
.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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“Color directly influences the soul.
Color is the keyboard,
the eyes are the hammers,
the soul is the piano with many strings.
The artist is the hand that plays,
touching one key or another purposefully,
to cause vibrations in the soul.”
.
Wassily Kandinsky

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“Love was a feeling completely bound up with color,
like thousands of rainbows
superimposed one on top of the other.”
.
Paulo Coelho
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“Life is a sea of vibrant color.
Jump in.”
.
A.D. Posey

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
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Another Peek: Autumn Sunset

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Colors in the sky,

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Colors spreading across once green leaves,

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And colors saturating the still waters of the pond.

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Drink it all in deeply; every glorious red and gold, green, orange, russet and blue.

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Soon enough November will close in around us. 
Bare branches will reach up towards heavy, white skies. 
Our gardens will fade to browns and greys.

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Celebrate color while we still can!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2017

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For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Peek
 

Fabulous Friday: Color!

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I look forward to September when colors take on that specialty intensity of early autumn.  They sky turns brilliantly blue and the roadsides turn golden with wild Solidago and Rudbeckia.

I planted a little extra splash of color to enjoy this month in our front perennial garden.  While the Rudbeckia were still small, last spring, I interplanted several different Salvias, some perennial mistflower and some gifted Physotegia virginiana divisions.  I wanted bright splashes of blue and violet to emerge through their golden flowers.

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We are just beginning to enjoy the show as these late summer flowers come into their own.  The Rudbeckia grew taller this summer than I remember them in years passed.

We’re still waiting to see whether all of those Salvias will muster the strength to shoulder past the Black Eyed Susans and raise their flowers to the autumn sun.  Life and gardening are always an experiment though, aren’t they?

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It is fabulous to see the sea of gold highlighted with other richly colored flowers.  Soon, the bright red pineapple sage and bright blue Mexican bush sage will burst into bloom, filling the entire garden with intense color.  September is a fabulous time of year, full of promise and energy.

May your last weekend of summer be a good one.

Our hearts are heavy from the many troubling events this summer has precipitated.  We remember those struggling with flood water and wind damage; those seeking peace and justice in the wake of this summer’s violence; those who have lost dearly loved ones; and all those who still hold the hope and promise our country offers to the world, as a living flame in their heart.

In these dark and troubling days, may your world be filled with the colors of hope.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
*
“Love was a feeling completely bound up with color,
like thousands of rainbows
superimposed one on top of the other.”
.
Paulo Coelho
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Fabulous Friday! 
Happiness is Contagious; let’s infect one another!
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Caladium ‘Desert Sunset’

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“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing?
Can one really explain this? no.
Just as one can never learn how to paint.”
.
Pablo Picasso

 

Golden February

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Have you noticed that certain colors predominate in the landscape each month?  August here is always very green.  January is a study in brownish grey.  April is awash with Azalea pinks and reds.

And February is golden.

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Yes, there are white snowdrops and rosy Hellebores in our garden now.  Purple and blue Violas bloom in pots and baskets.

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Mahonia aquifolium

Mahonia aquifolium, blooming through our winter, provides nectar for early pollinators.  By summer each flower will have grown into a plump purple berry, loved by our birds.  These tough shrubs, native to western North America, have naturalized across much of Virginia.

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But the flowers highlighting our garden now, blooming fiercely against a still wintery brown backdrop; are the first golden Daffodils of spring, showering cascades of yellow Mahonia flowers, the occasional sunshiny Dandelion, and hundreds of thousands of yellow Forsythia buds.

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Forsythia greets each spring with thousands of tiny yellow flowers.

Forsythia greets each spring with thousands of tiny yellow flowers. An Asian native, Forsythia naturalized in North America more than a century ago.  An important source of nectar, these large, suckering shrubs provide shelter for many species of birds and insects.

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Forsythia and Daffodils line many of our public roads, too.  We found a huge stand of blooming yellow Daffodils in the median of Jamestown Road, near the ferry, last week.  Their cheerful promise of spring feels almost defiant as we weather the last few weeks of a Virginia winter.

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Edgeworthia chrysantha, or Chinese Paperbush, fills our front garden with fragrance now that its blossoms have opened. We found happy bees feeding on these flowers on Sunday afternoon.

Edgeworthia chrysantha, or Chinese Paperbush, fills our front garden with fragrance now that its blossoms have opened. We found happy bees feeding on these flowers on Sunday afternoon.

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Touches of gold may also be found in the bright stamens of Hellebores, the warm centers of Edgeworthia flowers, and the bright Crocus which will bloom any day now.

These golden flowers of February prove a perfect foil to bare trees, fallen leaves and late winter storms.

What a lovely way for our garden to awaken to spring.

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Woodland Gnome 2017

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Wordless Wednesday

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“Color is the melody of light.”
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Joyce Wycoff

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november-2-2016-halloween-020

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“Color directly influences the soul.

Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers,

the soul is the piano with many strings.

The artist is the hand that plays,

touching one key or another purposely,

to cause vibrations in the soul.”

.

Wassily Kandinsky

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november-2-2016-halloween-022

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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november-2-2016-halloween-016

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“Red was ruby, green was fluorescent,

yellow was simply incandescent.

Color was life. Color was everything.


Color, you see, was the universal sign of magic.”

.

Tahereh Mafi

 

 

 

Crimson

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf  Hydrangea

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Crimson berries, leaves and flowers bring excitement to the garden in October.  As the weather cools, a little visual heat excites.

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Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage

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Shades of red in the autumn and winter garden liven up a fading landscape, infusing fresh energy at the end of the season when we most need it.

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Mixed Caladiums with Begonia.

Mixed Caladiums with Begonia “Arabian Sunset’.

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We appreciate these flashes of crimson red as days grow shorter and colder.  Soon, only the holly berries will shine brightly  in the snow.  But what a show along the way!

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Geranium

Geranium

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Caladium, 'Cherry Tart'

Caladium, ‘Cherry Tart’

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Crimson, cherry, rosy bright;

Melon, scarlet, screaming light.

Tomato, pepper, fiery hot;

Berry, rhubarb, sweet and tart.

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Sunday Dinner: The Key

August 2, 2016 Crepe Myrtle 014

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“The meaning of life is to find your gift.

The purpose of life is to give it away.”

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Pablo Picasso

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“I do not seek. I find.”

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Pablo Picasso

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“He can who thinks he can,

and he can’t who thinks he can’t.

This is an inexorable, indisputable law.”

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Pablo Picasso

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“Action is the foundational key to all success. ”

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Pablo Picasso

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“Go and do the things you can’t.
That is how you get to do them.”

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Pablo Picasso

Shades of Brown

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Do you know anyone whose favorite color is brown? 

Can’t say that I do, either….

We gardeners often remain partial to green, or possibly to colors in our favorite flowers.  But brown?  Why not?

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We certainly look at it for much of the year! 

Brown is woody skeletons of trees, fallen leaves, peat, seeds, mushrooms, stems, and the debris waiting for me to clear from perennial beds. 

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But brown is also rotten apples, faded flowers, insects, compost, bare Earth.

 

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Brown generally presents a challenge.  It invites effort.  It signals something coming or going in the garden.

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But I am at least at peace with brown. 

I wear khaki shirts and skirts and brown leather belts. We love polished wooden furniture, rattan, and hardwood floors. 

Brown can be restful when polished up, and made useful. 

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Brown colors  our garden today.  Sodden mulch, rotting leaves, bare stems, and wet trees dominate the picture.

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But oh, when those brown stems pop open to release a flower, what delight!

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Brown is the color of pure potential, and holds its own silent promise. 

Beautiful brown….

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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January 27, 2016 Parkway 045

 

One Word Photo Challenge: Bittersweet

February 27, 2015 Bittersweet 001

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Light remains the magical ingredient which colors our perception.

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Light clothes our world with beauty.

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It penetrates; it reflects.

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It animates both form and shadow.

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Light illuminates what is bitter and what is sweet.

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With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her

One Word Photo Challenge:  Bittersweet

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

 

February 26, 2015 Begonia and Ferns 006

 

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