Sunday Dinner: April Fools

Narcissus ‘Thalia’

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“Children and fools always speak the truth.”

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Mark Twain

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Left: Narcissus ‘Mary Gay Lirette’, a Heath hybrid   Right: Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’

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“The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever

than the men who laugh at them.”

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George R.R. Martin

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“There are two ways to be fooled.

One is to believe what isn’t true;

the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

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Søren Kierkegaard

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Narcissus ‘Cragford’

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“Fools put trust in promises;

The wise in action.”

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A. Spencer

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“The greatest lesson in life

is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

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Winston S. Churchill

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Narcissus ‘Telamonius plenus’

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

In Celebration of

The Gloucester Daffodil Festival 2017 

“The Daffodil:  A Golden Dream Come True”

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Leucojum vernum, Spring Snowflake

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“The whole problem with the world

is that fools and fanatics

are always so certain of themselves,

and wiser people so full of doubts.”

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Bertrand Russell

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Narcissus ‘Acropolis’

 

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“The world is full of fools,

and he who would not see it

should live alone and smash his mirror.”

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Claude Le Petit

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Narcissus, ‘Katie Heath’ named for Brent Heath’s mother.

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Order these beautiful daffodils, and more,
from Brent and Becky Heath’s own bulb shop.

 

 

Fabulous Friday: The Urgency of Spring

Narcissus ‘Cragford’

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It’s warm enough again to spend a little time in the garden again.  It didn’t freeze last night, for the first night in several, and I spent a happy hour planting a few more perennials, cleaning up around the Siberian Iris, and generally tidying up in the front garden yesterday afternoon.

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Narcissus ‘Thalia’

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We feel very content as we watch the garden spring back to life.  Fiddleheads and perennials push through the soil, announcing their presence once again.  Like out of state relatives you rarely see, unless they want to vacation in your area; these beautiful bits of plant life fill our hearts with happiness at their arrival.

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A seedling Columbine, grows in the driveway.

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Of course, the spring clean up presses now with even more urgency as we try to pluck the early weeds and drying leaves out of the way.   Branches, fallen in the wind; almost forgotten perennial stems left in autumn; and a few winter casualties must all be cleared away.

And this is the time to do it, while it is comfortably cool and relatively bug free!

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Helleborus

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There is another job needing attention now which might surprise you:  deadheading.  While your garden may be still covered with snow, ours has been re-energized long enough now that the earliest daffies have faded.  And so my last several tours around the garden have included both deadheading faded blossoms, and plucking those still vibrant flowers knocked over by the wind.

There is something immensely sad about these elegant flowers lying face down on the ground, and so I rescue them to a vase.  My vase, a friend’s vase; either is good.

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Now, there is a running debate over whether to deadhead daffodils.  And so I turned to the experts, Brent and Becky Heath, of Gloucester daffodil fame, for an informed opinion.  I’ve been reading their book, Daffodils for North American Gardens, this week.

As with so many gardening questions, the answer is complicated.  First, they advise that most hybrid daffodils can’t set seed.  Therefore, there is no reason to leave the spent blossoms and they advise removing them for neatness sake.  Emerging daffies just look more beautiful if those spent ones near them aren’t crumpled and brown.

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Some of the older varieties, and certainly the species daffodils which can set seed, will pour energy into those seeds at the expense of storing energy in their bulb for next year’s blossoms.  So one must consider whether it is more important to produce seeds at the expense of bloom size or quantity next spring, or whether one can skip the chance of the daffies reseeding in the interest of neatness and next year’s crop.

With that guidance in mind, I’ve been more attentive to deadheading the spent daffies this spring than ever before.  It’s easy enough to snip them off with scissors, but I’m usually equipped with little more than a thumbnail when I notice them….

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A further bit of advice from the Heaths is to snip the fading flower, but leave the stems.  The stems will stay green, like the leaves, for many weeks to come;  making food each day and building up the bulbs for the coming season.

After the blossoms die back, each bulb calves new bulbs from its basal plate.  So the single bulb you planted last fall may have morphed into a small cluster of bulbs by early summer.

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That is why patches of daffodils grow and spread over the years.  After four or five years, you might decide to dig your clump, then divide and replant the bulbs to spread them around a bit.

Do this after the flowers fade, and as the leaves are browning in early summer.

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Even the very small bulbs, known as ‘chips,’ will grow leaves next year.  It may take a year or two of growth before they flower, but a single bulb may grow into thousands when given good care and enough time.

That is pretty fabulous, when you think about it!

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I’ve  set 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!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Narcissus, ‘Katie Heath’

 

Imperfect

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“I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect-

-they are much more interesting.”
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Marc Jacobs

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For all we might celebrate spring, in reality it often appears rather ragged.  Especially when the weather is a bit off, as it has been this year, there are scars here and there where we might hope for more beauty and less brown…

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Helleborus ‘Snow Fever’ now fully in bloom

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We have such hopes for spring.   The ‘catalog perfect’ images of bud and flower live in our imaginations through the long months of winter.  We watch for those first signs of color to break the white/grey/brown/ green monotony a new year brings.

But stems fall over in the wind, dropping daffodil flowers to the ground.  Frost bites, brown leaves lodge in unwelcome spots, and even winter bugs gnaw through leaf and petal.

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It’s the transition which remains a bit rough around the edges.  The garden beds sprouted some lively weeds, perhaps.  There are newly fallen leaves to rake.  A few dead stems remain in beds and pots from last year’s growth.  There is so much still to tidy up when one takes a good look around in mid-March!

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Ajuga with just emerging Muscari

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And there’s the mud.  Perhaps your garden is perfectly mulched or paved.  Ours is not…  and perennials and ferns have begun to re-appear from the wet earth.  The photos aren’t so picture perfect as perhaps they’ll be a few weeks on.

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A newly emerged Japanese fern unfurls beside HelleboresIt may be Athyrium niponicum ‘Burgundy Lace.’

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We visited a garden Friday, and felt a bit relieved to find the same flaws there we find at home:  Toppled, frost kissed daffodils; spent perennials; broken twigs on shrubs; and copious blooming weeds feeding deliriously happy bees.  Somehow, the imperfections added charm.

We were just so very happy to be there, and to feel the sun through our coats, and to count the reassurances of spring’s victory over another winter.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“The question isn’t whether the world is perfect.

The real question to consider is:

If it were, would you still be in it?”

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Eric Micha’el Leventhal

Tiny Treasures

Narcissus Canaliculatus

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Earliest spring produces  some of our tiniest of garden treasures.

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When beds and pots stand nearly empty, these tiny flowers and vibrant leaves shine.

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Muscari, Grape Hyacinths

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“Life wants you to have gratitude

for the gift of living.

Treasure every second.”

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Bryant McGill

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Ipheion uniflorum

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“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.

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Lao Tzu

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Narcissus

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“You can either be a victim of the world

or an adventurer in search of treasure.

It all depends on how you view your life.”

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Paulo Coelho

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Fabulous Friday: Daffodils

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Daffodils simply sing happiness as they nod and wave in the early spring breeze.

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Sometimes that breeze is a little more lively, and the nodding and waving make a clear photo next to impossible.  But I still find it satisfying to try and capture their beautiful faces with as much clarity as conditions allow.

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march-2-2017-road-traveled-004

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We watch for patches of bright Daffodils as we drive around town.  And we find Daffodils in abundance around Williamsburg.

As much as we enjoy the daffies blooming along the roadsides and in others’ gardens, we agree the very best Daffodil display greets us on our own street.

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Our close neighbors love Daffodils, too, and have thousands blooming in their yards.  A golden sea of daffies welcomes us home.

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Our combined collection grows from year to year.  In autumn, we plant everything from ‘big box store’ mixtures to named hybrids.  Our neighbor lends his bulb planter as we confer about how many we each plan to buy and plant before winter halts our efforts.

I pore over the catalogs in late summer, selecting which new daffies we will plant that year.   Together, my partner and I  plan where to extend the new Daffodil plantings in our garden.

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We see this annual Daffodil planting as an investment in happiness.

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And these are just the opening act!  These early daffies have opened since the second week of February.  Many more will follow…..

Walking through our garden, and admiring the Daffodils together, has made this Friday Fabulous!

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What is more happiness-inducing than to watch the daffies emerge and bloom each spring?   They are a sure herald of better times ahead!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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february-28-2017-magnolia-004

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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!

~

march-2-2017-daffies-013

 

 

Golden February

february-15-2017-yellow-002

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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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Sunday Dinner: “Just For a Second…”

March 29, 2016 garden 029

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“Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things,

just sit still and let the world exist in front of you –

sometimes I swear that just for a second

time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt.

Just for a second.

And if you somehow found a way to live in that second,

then you would live forever.”

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Lauren Oliver

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March 29, 2016 garden 027

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“It is looking at things for a long time

that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”

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Vincent van Gogh

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

 

WPC: Half-Light

March 25, 2016 Daffodils 014

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Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
Praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.

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Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass.

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 033 ~

Mine is the sunlight,
Mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning,
God’s recreation of the new day.

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Morning has broken…

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lyrics by Chris Hazell and  Eleanor Farjeon

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This beautiful song, performed by Cat Stevens, has been a life-long favorite.  It speaks not only to morning, but also to the morning of the year:  spring.  It is the perfect lyric to accompany these photos taken in our garden today.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Sunset

Sunset

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light

“Share a photograph inspired by a favorite poem, verse, story, or song lyric.  See if you can capture the beauty of morning or evening half-light in your corner of the globe.”

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 016

 

Wednesday Vignettes: Questions

March 11, 2016 gardens 038

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“A much more interesting, kind,

adventurous, and joyful approach to life

is to begin to develop curiosity,

not caring whether the object

of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet.”

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Pema Chödrön

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March 11, 2016 gardens 017

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“Judge a man by his questions

rather than by his answers.”


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Voltaire

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“No matter how knowledgeable you are,

respect your parents for their experience

and your children for their curiosity.”

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Amit Kalantri

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March 11, 2016 gardens 034

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“The scientist is not a person who gives

the right answers, he’s one

who asks the right questions.”

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Claude Lévi-Strauss

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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All photos taken at Brent and Becky Heath’s display gardens

outside their Bulb Shop in Gloucester, Virginia March 11, 2016

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“Most misunderstandings in the world

could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask,

“What else could this mean?”
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Shannon L. Alder

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March 11, 2016 gardens 008

 

Opening

March 15, 2015 flowers 018

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Once again the miracle: soft, bright buds open into the warmth of spring.  What was closed and hard breaks open, allowing new life to emerge.

I never tire of the beauty of it all.

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Tender green sprouts push up through barren soil.  Vines sprout tiny green buds along their length.  And everywhere, flowers unfold in every color you might imagine.

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This opening of each new gardening season reminds me of the inherent goodness of our lives.  There is always hope. 

There can always remain the expectation that something beautiful and joy-filled will emerge right as we need it most.

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You may notice the many scars on the Edgeworthia branches below these golden flowers.  How sweetly these flowers fill our garden with perfume as they open!  Their fragrance is like honey; the first fragrant flowers to perfume the garden each year.  The scars mark where leaves have grown and fallen.  And yet they add to the beauty of the shrub.  They give a certain character, even as the branches age and the scars begin to fade.  By early April new leaves will cloak the shrub in bright green, and the golden flowers will have fallen away.

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These cycles instruct us if we pause to reflect.

All life is beautiful.  All is re-newed in its time.

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These past few weeks have found us out working happily in the garden once again after winter’s long break.  Early spring tasks may not be glamorous, but accomplishing each in its time prepares the way for what is to come.  There is compost to spread, leaves to rake and shred, weeding, pruning, planting and the daily journey of discovery in search of new developments.

We listen to the excited calls of many birds returning to the garden.  We admire awakening perennials and emerging buds.

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We have begun moving hanging baskets outside for deep watering, fresh air, and brighter light, grateful for every one which survived its winter vacation indoors.  I’m planting cuttings, re-potting geraniums and watching for new leaves.

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So much to do!  And so much more light each day to accomplish each task still waiting for attention!

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This spring feels stuck in ‘fast forward.’  Early warmth speeds the unfolding.  With an eye ever on the forecast, we press on with delight, hoping to elude a late frost.

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With appreciation to Carol for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the fifteenth of each month.  Please visit her for more beautiful spring flowers.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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