Sunday Dinner

March 20, 2016 spring flowers 013

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“Today expect something good to happen to you

no matter what occurred yesterday.

Realize the past no longer holds you captive.

It can only continue to hurt you

if you hold on to it.

Let the past go.

A simply abundant world awaits.”


.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

~

March 20, 2016 spring flowers 017

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“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.”


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Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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March 20, 2016 spring flowers 005

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“Excellence is the Result of Caring

more than others think is Wise,

Risking more than others think is Safe,

Dreaming more than others think

is Practical, and Expecting more

than others think is Possible.”


.

Ronnie Oldham

~

March 20, 2016 spring flowers 020

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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March 20, 2016 spring flowers 031

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“Our brightest blazes of gladness

are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”

.

Samuel Johnson

~

March 20, 2016 spring flowers 004

 

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Wordless Wednesday

April 17, 2015 spring garden 007

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“Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love;

it will all come back to you in abundance.

This is the law of nature.”

.

Steve Maraboli

~

April 17, 2015 spring garden 011

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

 

 

Silent Sunday: Early Bird

April 19, 2015 plant shipment and sunrise 025

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“We went down into the silent garden.

Dawn is the time when nothing breathes,

the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed,

only the light moves.”

.

Leonora Carrington

~

April 19, 2015 plant shipment and sunrise 035

~

“Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted,

and by degrees the forms and colours of things

are restored to them, and we watch

the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.”


.

Oscar Wilde

~

April 19, 2015 plant shipment and sunrise 028

~

“When you arise in the morning,

think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-

– to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love”

.

Marcus Aurelius

~

April 19, 2015 plant shipment and sunrise 033

~

“It’s a new day.

Yesterday’s failure is redeemed at the sunrise”
.

Todd Stocker

~

April 19, 2015 plant shipment and sunrise 027

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In response to The Daily Posts’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Early Bird

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

What’s Blooming Now?

Magnolia liliiflora on April 12

Magnolia liliiflora on April 12

~

What is blooming now in your garden? 

Spring comes in its own time to each garden.  It fascinates me that whenever the process finally begins, the unfolding is absolutely beautiful no matter how far north or south you may live; how elevated… or not… your garden.

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 008

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Here in coastal Virginia, we live just a few feet above sea level.  I can drive a few hours west into the foothills of the Blue Ridge  and travel back by several weeks  into an earlier springtime.  When it comes to climate, altitude, and latitude, are everything!

~

Dogwood on April 12

Dogwood on April 12

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It might be interesting to look at what is blooming from day to day.

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The lilacs in bud, and beginning to open on April 12

The lilacs in bud, and beginning to open on April 12

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These photos were actually taken over the last several days, but everything remains in bloom today.

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We’ve had a rainy and warm day here.  We can see a difference in the garden from hour to hour as leaves swell to cover the branches of nearby trees, and as the Azalea buds begin to open and cover our shrubs in color.

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Our wild wood violets have opened over the last several days, carpeting the 'lawns' in vivid color.

Our wild wood violets have opened over the last several days, carpeting the ‘lawns’ in vivid color.

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I’m sure that tomorrow morning the garden will feel even more vibrantly colorful than today, or yesterday.

It is all part of the magic of spring!

~

April 12, 2015 flowers 019

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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

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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

Holding the Bank, or, The Dogwood is Free!

March 14, 2015 creek 025

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It was a harmless little thing when we moved here…. barely knee high.

We debated at the time whether to keep it or cut it.

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Dec. 27 snow 018~

We both know, firsthand, the problems with white pine trees growing near a home:  fallen branches, pine cones, tons of needles, and the ever present danger of the whole thing falling in a strong wind.  If any tree might be considered a ‘weed’ in Virginia, the white pine comes close.

But it was so cute and green; and its root system held a very steep bank.  I made the argument to leave it be.  And we did.

But that isn’t to say we haven’t reconsidered that decision seasonally.  We have trimmed off branches and headed back others in our efforts to keep it in bounds for its space.  And even I had to admit that the cute little pine had grown large and rangy.

What finally convinced me to ‘sign off’ on removing the pine, was seeing that the Dogwood seedling, which has been growing beside it, needs space to grow.  It is over 6′ tall this spring.  Its roots will help hold the bank, and it needs room to develop symmetrically.

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April 6, 2015 vase 011

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Beloved partner was tactful enough to get the task completed while I was away for the day.  I came home to the stump; the happy Dogwood, and a huge mess now visible on the bank.

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April 6, 2015 vase 010~

This was an inaccessible area we mostly ignored in the garden; until now.  With the pine gone, I raked back the pine straw and gathered leaves to find a seriously eroded clay bank much in need of attention.

Our garden tumbles and rolls down a fairly steep hill from street to ravine.  There is no naturally flat surface on the entire lot.  We’ve invested a lot of effort and materials in reinforcing the steeper areas of the garden to control erosion.  In fact, the guys at our local garden center know that I’ll need them to load gravel and compost on most every visit.

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April 6, 2015 building 001~

My prescription for these areas is simple:  soil, gravel and perennial plants.

Monday afternoon found me on hands and knees rebuilding the bank around where the pine once stood.

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April 6, 2015 building 003~

Interestingly, I found a very old, hollowed out stump and a smaller solid stump beside the newly cut stump of our pine.  It appeared that the roots of the pine have battled valiantly over the years to maintain a presence here!

Once all of the accumulated needles had been raked away, I pulled the weeds, filled in the creature tunnels with small stones, and then packed the bank firmly with moist compost.  A  Carex plant, salvaged from a potted arrangement several years ago, was still alive near the base of the bank.  I had planted it and a deciduous fern two years ago in an earlier attempt to work with this area.  I simply reinforced the area around and below it with more compost.

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April 7, 2015 spring chores 001

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I also re-cycled pieces of a broken planter, and its gravely soil, at the base of the bank to further hold the new compost in place and to add a little interest.

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April 8, 2015 spring garden 037

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I plan to extend the existing fern garden across to this new planting area.  A variety of ferns, daffodils,  Hellebores and Lamium maculata already grow east of this new bed.

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April 8, 2015 bank 007

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And so I selected Lamium maculata ‘Aureum,’  Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ ferns, a golden leaved Hypericum, and Tiarella cordifolia, or foam flower, for the initial planting.  I plan to add some additional ferns and Hellebores before considering this area finished.  I’ve already added a strawberry begonia, Saxifraga stolonifera, and a table top fern, to the pockets created by the planter.

~

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All of these plants have proven unappealing to our herd, even if they could now find a way into the garden through our deer fences.

After the initial planting, I packed gravel over the entire area both to hold and mulch the compost and to discourage digging from the wild things.

It is only a start.  Newly developed beds always take a while to settle in and begin growing together. The white gravel will gradually ‘disappear’ as time goes by.  The plants will grow to cover it, and weather will dull it.

But we believe this spot is already infinitely better than it was a before the pine came down.

~

April 7, 2015 spring chores 004

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Once the nearby trees grow their leaves, this bank will remain in deep shade most of the time.  I hope the golden leafed perennials will brighten a previously dark and forgotten area.

Part of the pleasure of creating gardens is in re-doing an unappealing area to make it beautiful.

~

April 8, 2015 bank 001~

 

Woodland Gnome 2015

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The Dogwood tree has responded dramatically in the four days since the pine was cut.  It is ready to fill this space with its beauty.

The Dogwood tree has responded dramatically in the four days since the pine was cut. It is ready to fill this space with its beauty.

~

Postscript:

Several hours of thunderstorms with heavy rain rolled through here in the wee early morning hours today.  Listening to it, I wondered whether this newly reinforced bank would hold.  The plants haven’t had an opportunity to take hold yet and they haven’t grown to cover the newly laid compost.  We were so happy to see, in the morning’s light, that everything held.  There was absolutely no damage from all of the rain.  Success!

~

After last night's heavy rain... no damage to be seen at all.  The bank held.

After last night’s heavy rain… no damage to be seen at all. The bank held.

Weekly Photo Challenge: NEW

Weekly Photo Challenge:  NEW

 

January 1, 2015 sunrise 013

 

This is one of my first photos of the new year, taken soon after sunrise on New Year’s Day.

I am happy to see the many plump buds on the tips of these Dogwood branches.

Each bud will open into a delicate white flower in early April.  There will be a billowy white profusion of flowers here in a few short weeks.

But on this January morning we see only the fine lacework of the Dogwood’s branches, and a profusion of buds.

And through them, the sky is fresh and new, deeply blue, and giving us good omens for the new year ahead.

 

In response to the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  New

 

January 1, 2015 sunrise 006

*

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

*

 

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives,

room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done,

cracks to be patched.

Maybe this year, to balance the list,

we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives

…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
 

Ellen Goodman

*

 

January 1, 2015 sunrise 012

A Touch of Scarlet

October 19, 2014  autumn 010

What is your favorite autumn color? 

A preposterous question, I know.  Sort of like, “Which is your favorite child?” or “Where is your favorite beach?”

Each autumn color has its own place in the progression, and its own astounding beauty.

October 19, 2014 fall color 026

Just as the bare branches against a winter sunset display an elegance all their own.

But,  early in the season, I am always delighted to find a touch of scarlet amidst the still mostly green forest.

Euonymus alatus, known as Burning Bush, begins to turn scarlet in late summer.

Euonymus alatus, known as Burning Bush, begins to turn scarlet in early autumn.  These shrubs, common in our community, crop up as “volunteers” in wooded areas.  Originally imported from Asia, it is considered an invasive species in many areas along the East Coast of the United States.

 

Scarlet jumps out from the masses with its invitation to revel in the pleasures of autumn:  Fresh apples, freshly pressed cider, pumpkins, and woodsmoke on the evening breeze.

Birds enjoy the Euonymus berries, and we enjoy its scarlet leaves.

Birds enjoy the Euonymus berries, and we enjoy its scarlet leaves.

 

And much of the scarlet in our early fall landscape appears from the incidental “wild” things we might not even plant in our gardens:  Virginia  Creeper and other vines, Staghorn Sumac, “The Devil’s Walking Stick” tree, and native Dogwoods.

Dogwood

Dogwood berries feed migrating birds over many weeks.

 

I believe it is in some way a reward for allowing these wild native plants space in our gardens.

Even Poison Ivy turns scarlet each autumn.

Even Poison Ivy turns scarlet each autumn.  Although it creates a terrible rash when we touch it, Poison Ivy is an important plant for birds and nectar loving insects.

 

We  watch for these gorgeous reds as we drive around Williamsburg, deeply satisfied with every sighting of scarlet.

Virginia Creeper lights up this tree on the Colonial Parkway

Virginia Creeper lights up this tree on the Colonial Parkway

They preview the beauty about to unfold as our forests blaze into color.

We heard, earlier this week on the Weather Channel, that our  forecast for  peak fall color has been pushed back to early November this year.

That would be the latest ever for peak color in central Virginia; at least in modern times.

Staghorn Sumac sports scarlet leaves and burgundy berries.

Winged Sumac,  Rhus copallina, sports scarlet leaves and burgundy berries.

 

A friend and I discussed the strange autumn weather  as we inspected her Passiflora vine, showing new growth and tiny flower buds, this afternoon.

There are Paperwhite flowers already in full bloom on our street.  A strange sight indeed, this early in the season, before our first frost. 

October 19, 2014 fall color 038

What has caused the strange timing of our seasons this year?  Is it the  pole shift?  Climate change?   Radiation in the atmosphere?

We are both keen observers of the unfolding seasons.

 

Pineapple sage lights up our garden in October.

Pineapple sage lights up our garden in October.

 

And we’re wondering whether it is still too early to plant our daffodil bulbs this year.  There’s talk of some afternoon temperatures close to 80 degrees for us next week….

October 19, 2014 fall color 039

But some of the Sumacs have already dropped their leaves.  And the trees across the creek get a bit brighter with each passing day.

Looking across College Creek this morning, watching it get a bit brighter each day.

Looking across College Creek this morning, watching it get a bit brighter each day.

 

The Dogwood berries shine scarlet in the sunshine, and I have faith that this touch of scarlet will soon spread far and wide as autumn comes suddenly upon us once again.

October 19, 2014 fall color 082

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Paperwhites in bloom on October 15.

Paperwhites in bloom on October 15.

 

A Fellow Traveler On The Path

April 16, 2014 dogwood 007

 

Easter weekend is one of the few times each year when we are invited to step out of our routines to contemplate the larger themes of life. 

Although Easter, as it is known throughout the world today, grows from events in the Christian religion; the springtime festival is a fixture of most religions world wide.  The dates fluctuate.  Some commemorate the spring equinox, and others, like the Jewish Passover, are fixed by the phases of the moon.

The theme is joy, celebration; and resurrection and renewal of life from what appeared to be dead.  We celebrate the realization that life is eternal.

The Easter eggs and bunnies are symbols of fertility: another aspect of new life.  Humans have marked their spring time festival with flowers, pastries, eggs, and rabbits for thousands of years.  There is a language of symbols which transcends our narrow categories of culture and tradition to speak to the larger truths of life.

When I was a child we celebrated Easter with new clothing and shoes, Easter baskets, fragrant lilies, family meals, and lots of church services.

No longer a child, there are no new Easter outfits hanging in my closet.  I’m not buying chocolate bunnies or dying eggs.

I believe the  newness must move from outside to inside to properly celebrate this season.  And in that spirit, I would like to offer three quotations from a fellow traveler on the path.

Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor at one time, set out on a path of growth and transformation.  His path has been a very long and twisted one, and he has quite a story to share with those who will pull up a chair to listen to him share his journey.  Along the way he was given a new name:  “Ram Dass,” which means, “servant of God.”

In the spirit of springtime, new life and new beginnings;  here are three quotations from Ram Dass, which you might wish to contemplate during this special time.

 

April 16, 2014 dogwood 009

“You and I are the force for transformation in the world.

We are the consciousness that will define

the nature of the reality we are moving into.”

Ram Dass

 

April 16, 2014 dogwood 011

“Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment,

whether we mean to or not.

Our actions and states of mind matter,

because we’re so deeply interconnected with one another.

Working on our own consciousness

is the most important thing

that we are doing at any moment,

and being love is the supreme creative act.”

Ram Dass

April 16, 2014 flowers 007

“The quieter you become,

the more you are able to hear…”

Ram Dass

 

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

April 13 hypertufa pot 033

Watching for Red

Watching the turn of the seasons is always about color.   We watch for things to green up in early summer, and in autumn, I watch for red.    As lovely as yellow Tulip Poplars and orange Crepe Myrtle leaves may be,   I love the vibrant scarlet tones of autumn,   popping out against … Continue reading

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