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.”
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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.”
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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.”
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Tahereh Mafi

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“Each day has a color, a smell.”
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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.”
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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.”
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Paulo Coelho
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“Life is a sea of vibrant color.
Jump in.”
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A.D. Posey

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
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Sunday Dinner: Curiouser and Curiouser…

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“I set out to discover the why of it,
and to transform my pleasure
into knowledge.”
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Charles Baudelaire
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“Children, be curious.
Nothing is worse (I know it)
than when curiosity stops.
Nothing is more repressive
than the repression of curiosity.
Curiosity begets love.
It weds us to the world.
It’s part of our perverse, madcap love
for this impossible planet we inhabit.
People die when curiosity goes.
People have to find out,
people have to know.”
.
Graham Swift
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“Remember that things
are not always as they appear to be…
Curiosity creates possibilities
and opportunities.”
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Roy T. Bennett
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“Thinkers aren’t limited by what they know,
because they can always increase what they know.
Rather they’re limited by what puzzles them,
because there’s no way to become curious
about something that doesn’t puzzle you.”
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Daniel Quinn
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“The days on which one has been the most inquisitive
are among the days on which one has been happiest.”
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Robert Lynd
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“The whole art of teaching
is only the art of awakening
the natural curiosity of the mind
for the purpose of satisfying it
afterwards.”
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Anatole France
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“When you sneak into somebody’s backyard,
it does seem that guts and curiosity are working together.
Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times,
maybe even get them going.
But curiosity usually evaporates.
Guts have to go for the long haul.
Curiosity’s like a fun friend you can’t really trust.
It turns you on and then it leaves you
to make it on your own-
with whatever guts you can muster.”
.
Haruki Murakami
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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
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“Learning is by nature curiosity…
prying into everything, reluctant to leave anything,
material or immaterial,
unexplained.”
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Philo
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“Curiosity is the hunger of the mind.”
.
Lance Conrad
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Pot Shots: Early Spring Bulbs

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Planting up pots with spring blooming bulbs has become an autumn ritual for me.   I consider how the bloom will unfold around the perennials, ferns and woodies included in the design.   I plant with a sense of anticipation and caution.  I am excited by the potential while also mindful of the many pitfalls that can damage bulbs between autumn and spring.

I’ve lost bulbs in recent years to hungry squirrels, bacterial infection on some of the bulbs planted, extreme cold and dry soil.

Some variables we can anticipate and plant to avoid. 

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Newly planted on September 25, 2018

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I’ve learned to order and pick my bulbs up as early as possible, before they can get old or contaminated in the the shop.  This year, I learned to spray the bulbs with a repellent, like Repels All, just before I plant them to discourage rodents.  I use the largest pots possible and try to shelter them against the worst weather.

Now, I make a point to water bulb filled pots throughout the winter when the ground isn’t frozen, and to mulch each pot with rocks or moss to minimize damage and bulb loss.

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November 6, 2018 Autumn blooming Colchicum was the first bulb to bloom in this fall planted pot. Cyclamen leaves have already emerged, and moss has begun to establish. 

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This four season pot’s main occupant is a native Oakleaf Hydrangea, which doesn’t look like much at the moment in its dormancy.  The pot is filled with an assortment of bulbs, roots, corms and tubers to unfold gradually over the long months between late autumn and early summer.

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We are currently enjoying Tommies, better known as Crocus Tommasinianus, known to rarely attract rodents.  This Crocus species simply smells differently from most species and cultivars, which can actually attract squirrels and mice because they smell nut-like.  Tommies are some of the earliest Crocus to bloom each spring, multiply well and can thrive in partial shade.

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We also have another snowdrop blooming and the first bloom of our Cyclamen coum, which will open in another day.  I planted a mix of fall blooming Cyclamen hederifolium and C. coum for a longer season of delicate blooms.

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It isn’t cheating to begin adding plants in early spring.  Pots are stages, and the players come and go to keep the show lively.  I added the panola last week, to fill a small hole left by a curious squirrel.

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I love bulbs in pots precisely because I’m curious, too.  I want to watch spring unfold in miniature, up close; in a choreographed microcosm of what is writ large around us.

Moss mulch elevates the entire experience for me because it provides that splash of vivid, living green on even the coldest, dullest winter days.  It protects and insulates the bulbs while also protecting whatever is in growth from splashing soil during rains.  And, quite honestly, I’m curious to watch every tiny plant that sprouts from the moss.

Left untended, the grass would grow in little clumps through the moss until unplanned plants (read: weeds) overwhelmed the planting.  But no:  We have little snips to keep everything tidied up.  That is a lesson learned from hard experience, too.

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You never got around to planting bulbs this year?  No worries. 

You can still create a beautiful pot of blooming bulbs now.  I’ve found bulbs in growth at nurseries and the grocery store for the past few weeks.

Grab a pot or basket and fresh potting mix, plan your arrangement, and just take those bulbs already in growth and slip them out of their nursery pot as you tuck them into your arrangement.  Add a pansy or primrose, if it makes you happy.  There is no shortage of moss after all the rain these past few weeks.

All sorts of interesting things have begun to turn up at local nurseries, and your creative ideas will lead you to just the right components for your own spring pot.

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Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.

Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”
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Hal Borland

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February 15, 2019

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Spirit

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“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous,
the cheerful, the planners, the doers,
the successful people with their heads in the clouds
and their feet on the ground.
Let their spirit ignite a fire within you
to leave this world better
than when you found it…”
.
Wilferd Peterson

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“Human spirit is the ability to face
the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism.
It is the belief that problems can be solved,
differences resolved. It is a type of confidence.
And it is fragile.
It can be blackened by fear, and superstition.”
.
Bernard Beckett

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“My religion consists of a humble admiration
of the illimitable superior spirit
who reveals himself in the slight details
we are able to perceive
with our frail and feeble mind.”
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Albert Einstein

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“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth,
how much money you have gathered
or how much attention you have received.
It is the amount of positive vibration
you have radiated in life that matters,”
.
Amit Ray

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“Age has no reality except in the physical world.
The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time.
Our inner lives are eternal,
which is to say that our spirits remain
as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.
Think of love as a state of grace,
not the means to anything,
but the alpha and omega.
An end in itself.”
.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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“Great spirits have always encountered
violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
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Albert Einstein

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“The first peace, which is the most important,
is that which comes within the souls of people
when they realize their relationship,
their oneness with the universe and all its powers,
and when they realize at the center of the universe
dwells the Great Spirit,
and that its center is really everywhere,
it is within each of us.”
.
Black Elk

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Sometimes that
which we fear
strengthens our
spirit and gives
us a splash
of hope.”
.
Harley King

Blossom XXXVI: Crocus

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“There is something infinitely healing
in the repeated refrains of nature –
the assurance that dawn comes after night,
and spring after winter”
.
Rachel Carson

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“Many children… delight in the small and inconspicuous.”
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Rachel Carson

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
Another March Story

 

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Emergence

February 21, 2016 spring 008

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“Only keep still, wait, and hear, and the world will open.”

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Richard Powers

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February 21, 2016 spring 009

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 21, 2016 spring 001

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“And suddenly you know:

It’s time to start something new

and trust the magic of beginnings.”

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Meister Eckhart

 

Awakening

Columbine begins its annual growth in our garden.

Columbine begins its annual growth in our garden.

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Warmer days this week drew us outside to begin cutting back the dead branches of perennials, pull mouldering leaves out of planting beds, and look for the many tiny signs of spring.  Autumn leaves have found lodging everywhere, it seems.  Too wet to shred, we will leave them to mulch the soil a bit longer.

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Catmint has reappeared in the stump garden.

Catmint has reappeared in the stump garden.

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I was a little surprised to see abundant growth of new leaves on the catmint once last summer’s stems were cleared away.  Tiny green shoots of Comphrey poke a few inches above the moist soil.  New daffodil leaves emerge each day.

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Tete-a-Tete daffodils bloom in a pot with a budding Clematis vine.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils bloom in a pot with a budding Clematis vine.

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A single bright yellow daffodil blossom magically appeared over night on Tuesday in a pot near the drive, and a spray of tiny Tete-a-Tete daffodils opened the following day in the pot where a Clematis vine has already budded out.  Their cheerful golden trumpets brighten up this soggy Saturday.  Mid-March is muddy here in Williamsburg.

We are happy for the mud, however, as it shows us the ground has thawed.  Our last snow-pile finally melted by Thursday morning.

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March 14, 2015 spring flowers 011

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Now little bits of fresh growth have begun to emerge in the oddest places.  Bright moss shines along the front walk.  Deep rosy red buds appeared this week on the roses, beckoning me to finally trust that the worst of winter has passed and cut them back.

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March 14, 2015 spring flowers 006

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We’re walking around, taking stock; cleaning up what winter left behind.

Somehow a box of bare root Siberian Iris came home with us from Sam’s Club, and I scooped out moist holes for their roots yesterday.  I love their deep purple flowers waving in the warm May breeze.  They spread and multiply rapidly, making thick stands of saturated color as the Azaleas fade each year.  A bare root white Clematis from the same package now grows along a fence.

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March 14, 2015 spring flowers 004

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A fitting surprise waited for me in the old bag of potting soil which has lingered beneath the wheelbarrow these last frozen months.  I opened it to fill a pot for the second Clematis yesterday, and found little shoots of green already growing in the mix.  Apparently, this was soil I had scooped out of a pot at the end of the season to save, forgetting there were tiny bulbs mixed in from another spring.  The bulbs sprouted anyway, and their leaves were poking out of the moist soil.  I rescued them from the bag and tucked them into pots where they can prosper in the sun.

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Crocus emerge beneath a woody web of Lantana stems.  We want to wait until the weather settles a bit more before cutting the Lantana back for spring.

Crocus emerge beneath a woody web of Lantana stems. We want to wait until the weather settles a bit more before cutting the Lantana back for spring.

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Always filled with interesting surprises, spring cheers me like no other season.  As each perennial emerges from its winter rest, as each bulb breaks the Earth with its brilliant green leaves and each fruit tree bursts into flowers; I am reminded again that life is full of beautiful surprises.

Our gardens, like our own lives, remain perennially capable of new growth.  Although we don’t find it in every season, the potential remains.

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March 14, 2015 spring flowers 019

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When the soil is warm  and moist, things always grow.  Whether that growth is what we planned or whether it ends up a straggler which blew in from elsewhere; the soil covers itself with interesting leaves, spreading stems, and sometimes a delicate flower.

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I've transplanted Hellebores seedlings to grow beneath this Camellia shrub.  They will make a lovely ground cover in a few years.

I’ve transplanted Hellebores seedlings to grow beneath this Camellia shrub. They will make a lovely ground cover in a few years.

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The sun beckons, even as rain clouds mute its life giving rays.

March: the month when our garden awakens to spring.  May all of its verdant possibilities inspire you.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 004

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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March 14, 2015 creek 041

One Word Photo Challenge: Beaver (Brown)

March 10, 2015 brown 005

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Some might call it ‘mole-skin’ or ‘cafe au lait,’ but Jenny calls it ‘beaver.’

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March 10, 2015 brown 006

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By whatever moniker, it proves a dull and washed out shade of brown.  Or perhaps a dark faded khaki?

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March 10, 2015 brown 008

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This color looks to me as though it has been through the washer a time or ten too many.

It is the color still most prominent in our garden: the color of winter bleached leaves and long dead stems; spores, and cold scorched foliage.

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March 10, 2015 brown 007

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But from such as this is the newness of spring nurtured.  It holds life, potential, promise.

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March 10, 2015 brown 010

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And so as always, I want to thank Jenny for choosing the perfect color again this week.

In searching for ‘beaver brown’ I was able to look beyond it and find more signs of change; more promises of  spring’s return.

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March 10, 2015 brown 012

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owpc-logo-21One Word Photo Challenge:  Beaver

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

“There are times to stay put,

and what you want will come to you,

and there are times to go out into the world

and find such a thing for yourself.”
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Lemony Snicket

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March 10, 2015 brown 002

One Word Photo Challenge: Saffron

Daffodils blooming at the end of March 2014

Daffodils blooming at the end of March 2014

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Saffron may also be described as “pollen yellow.”  Saffron, the spice, comes from the stamens of a particular cultivar of Crocus.

One of the most expensive of all of the spices, it has been cultivated and treasured for many centuries.  Such a rich warm color!

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Crocus in bloom, with their "saffron" stamens covered in golden pollen.  This photo from February 16, 2014

Crocus in bloom, with their “saffron” stamens covered in golden pollen. This photo from February 16, 2014

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How nice it would be if I were posting more photos of our own early saffron yellow Crocuses today, but that will have to wait.  Ours are resting under 6 inches of fresh snow.

The yard is beautiful, but there will be no ‘saffron’ photos taken in the garden today!  This winter has been so long and cold that no part of me want to show you photos of the snow.  I’ll stick with photos of flowers, if you don’t mind.

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Our front border last March 22.  We had a cold, late spring last year.  I wonder when we'll see these appear again?

Our front border last March 22. We had a cold, late spring last year. I wonder when we’ll see these appear again?

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I’ve looked back into the photo files from last spring to find a bit of golden yellow saffron for Jenny’s challenge today.  Have you ever noticed that the very first flowers each spring are usually golden yellow?  Yellow Crocus, Forsythia, Witch Hazel, Dandelions, and Daffodils usher in each spring.

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March 23, 2014 parkway and flowers 055~

I hope you enjoy them, and know that this year’s saffron yellow flowers will emerge from the thawing ground any time now.

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Our yellow crocuses are currently under the snow.  This photo of them was taken March 2, 2014.

Our yellow crocuses are currently under the snow. This photo of them was taken March 2, 2014.

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One Word Photo Challenge:  Saffron

See more photos of Saffron here.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014 

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Forsythia

Forsythia

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