Six On Saturday: Six Beautiful Things

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“The mind can go in a thousand directions,

but on this beautiful path,

I walk in peace.

With each step, the wind blows.

With each step,

a flower blooms.”
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Thich Nhat Hanh

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“Strangeness

is a necessary ingredient

in beauty.”
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Charles Baudelaire

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“Beauty is no quality in things themselves:

It exists merely in the mind

which contemplates them;

and each mind perceives a different beauty.”
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David Hume

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“Live quietly in the moment

and see the beauty of all before you.

The future will take care of itself……”
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Yogananda

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“All the diversity, all the charm,

and all the beauty of life

are made up of light and shade.”
.

Leo Tolstoy

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“Though we travel the world over

to find the beautiful,

we must carry it with us,

or we find it not.”
.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

 

 

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Blossom XLV: First Snowdrops

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“In the oddity or maybe the miracle of life,
the roots of something new
frequently lie in the decaying husks
of something old.”
.
Craig D. Lounsbrough

Once the rain finally stopped, the clouds blew out to sea, and the sun shone golden as it dropped towards the west, I finally felt moved to head out of doors to putter a little in the garden.  How could I not?  It was a rare warmish afternoon and the sun was shining.

It was only after planting out some potted Cyclamen, and a few odd things  that had been languishing in a corner of the garage, that I wandered up to the top of the garden to see what there was to see.  There is always something to see, even if it is nothing more than a swelling bud or a few more green leaves shyly poking up through winter’s mud.

And so it was that I braved the squishy paths and found myself wondering at the bit of fresh whiteness at my feet.  Snowdrops!  The first blooming bulbs of the season!

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What a quiet, special moment that creeps up so unexpectedly, to see the first flower of  a new spring while still  in the midst of winter.   It is like a sigil  for what is yet to come.

The old year has passed away, but the remains of those former days remain.  And out of the decaying leaves and soggy ground something pristine and fresh and bright emerges, as if by some old magic.  Snowdrops are simple things, tiny and meek.  They shyly nod just inches above the soil, ephemeral and fragile.  And still they exhibit the sheer life force to survive and carry on irregardless of the forces of winter.

Who would not be inspired and encouraged by such a sight?  Even though we have several weeks of freezing cold and winter storms ahead, spring began to stir in our garden today.  In our garden, and in this gardener’s heart.

Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Perhaps that is where our choice lies –
– in determining how we will meet the inevitable end of things,
and how we will greet each new beginning.”
.
Elana K. Arnold

Spring’s Happy Faces

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“There are souls in this world
who have the gift of finding joy everywhere,
and leaving it behind them when they go.”
.
Frederick William Faber

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Bright yellow Narcissus x odorus ‘flore pleno’, also called ‘Queen Anne’s double jonquil,’ blooms with a clump of N. ‘Thalia’ this week,  within a clump of evergreen Arum.  Arum grow from fall until early summer,  forming a beautiful ground cover around spring bulbs.

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Watching spring’s flowers unfold, day by day as the season warms, brings us happiness.  Sharing these beautiful flowers, that are popping up so extravagantly this time of year, allows us to share the happiness with friends.

What a joy to have enough flowers to cut and bundle into bouquets for a vase and to share with visiting friends.

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Double Narcissus ‘Albus Plenus Odoratus’ is an heirloom variety, and has brought happiness each springtime since at least the mid-Nineteenth Century.

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There is a language of flowers.  Their colors and forms, fragrance and presentation allow us to convey meaning through gifts of floral beauty.

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Narcissus ‘Thalia’ is another heirloom Narcissus, dating to at least 1916. It is one of the few pure white daffodils, and shines like a beacon from sunrise until well past sunset in the garden.  Here, it is planted with lambs ears and Scilla.

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Filling the garden with spring blooming bulbs remains the easiest and most reliable way to fill the garden with waves of flowers from late winter until May.

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Narcissus ‘Tahiti’ is one of the brightest and warmest of the double Narcissus.  It grows here with N. ‘Katie Heath.’

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Spring bulbs appear reliably once the weather has warmed enough for them to thrive.  They give a long season of bloom, and most are perennials.

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This split corona Division 11 Narcissus may be N. ‘Smiling Twin,’ hybridized by Brent Heath in Gloucester, VA.

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Many bulbs, like Narcissus, divide and form ever expanding clumps over the years.  Some will spread by seed if you leave the flowers in place to mature.   They appear for only a few months each spring. Their foliage dies back and disappears by early June, when summer flowers have taken center stage.

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Ipheion uniflorum, star flower,  bloom in our front lawn each spring.

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Even small, insignificant spring flowers naturalized in the lawn, like Ipheion uniflorum, bring a smile.  They join whatever spring time wildflowers crop up to create a floral carpet on the lawn as we greet April.

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Spring flowering trees also fill our garden with early flowers.   While a bulb may give us only a single flower, a tree may give us thousands.

Flowering trees cover themselves in flowers, often before their first leaf unfolds.  We enjoy their ephemeral beauty for a few weeks until the petals blow away on the wind, to live on only in our memories until next spring.

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Native dogwood, Cornus florida, has been name ‘Wildflower of the Year’ by the Virginia Native Plant Society.  The swelling buds of our dogwood trees are just beginning to open this week.

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Our garden fills with more flowers each day.  The earliest daffies have begun to fade, while the late season daffodils are just showing their first leaves poking up through the soil.  Cool weather means that each stem lasts a few days longer, and they never mind a good rain.  They are joined now with Hyacinths, Muscari, Leucojum and other early flowers.

Vinca minor weaves and evergreen ground cover, studded with periwinkle blue flowers beneath them all.

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Our woody shrubs and trees come along in their own sequence of spring flowers, too.  From the earliest Forsythia and Camellia we enjoy new flowers every week; now the dogwoods will soon fill the garden with clouds of white flowers.

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Dogwood just coming into the fullness of its beauty.

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May this springtime bring you happiness, too, unfolding in beauty and wonder all around you.

Woodland Gnome 2018

*

“Those who wish to sing always find a song.”
.
Swedish Proverb

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Magnolia liliiflora ‘nigra’

 

 

Blossom XXXIV: First Iris

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“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful,
full or wonder and excitement.
It is our misfortune that for most of us
that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct
for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring,
is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.
If I had influence with the good fairy
who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children,
I should ask that her gift to each child in the world
be a sense of wonder so indestructible
that it would last throughout life,
as an unfailing antidote
against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…
the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
.
Rachel Carson

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“It is a wholesome and necessary thing
for us to turn again to the earth
and in the contemplation of her beauties
to know the sense of wonder and humility. ”
.
Rachel Carson

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Dwarf Iris riticulata open the season for Iris blooming in our garden.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“In nature nothing exists alone.”

.
Rachel Carson
Blossom XXXIII:  October Blues

 

Sunday Dinner: Determination

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“Achieving your goals depends more

on the way you manage to push through

the bad days, than shine on the good ones.”

.

Lorri Faye

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“An invincible determination

can accomplish almost anything,

and in this lies the great distinction

between great man and little man.

.

Thomas Fuller

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“The foolish man seeks happiness

in the distance.

The wise grows it under his feet.”

  .

James Oppenheim

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Fabulous Friday: Flowers From Wood

Native Dogwood, Cornus florida

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There is something totally magical about flowers blooming on woody stems.  Flowers, so fragile and soft, breaking out of weathered bark as winter draws to a cold and windy close will always fascinate me.

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Since I was a child, these natural wonders have held my attention.  Now, living in a Forest Garden, we have surrounded ourselves with flowering shrubs and trees.  They are sturdy yet beautiful, easy to maintain, and remain a lasting presence from year to year.  Their early flowers feed hungry pollinators when there is little else available.

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“Double Take Scarlet” Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’ in its second year in our garden. It has proven hardy and deer resistant, so I am watching the local garden centers for more of these shrubs to appear.  I would like to plant at least one more.

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After a cold and wintery week, we are happy to greet the sun and its warmth today.  We have uncovered the Hydrangeas again, lifted sheltering pots off of our new perennials, assessed the damage wrought by nearly a week of nights in the 20s, and done a little more pruning. 
But mostly, we have admired the many flowers opening now in the garden on this Fabulous Friday.
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The peach blossoms weathered the cold without damage.

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Although the Magnolia blossoms and Camellia blossoms turned brown in the cold this week, there are still buds left to open.  The damaged flowers will drop away soon enough.  And the fruit trees are just getting started! 

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Redbud flowers erupt directly from the trunk and branches of the tree. This is the species, Cercis canadensis, which grows wild here. Newer cultivars offer flowers in several shades of pink and lavender or white. Some also offer variegated or burgundy foliage.

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If I were asked for advice by someone just starting in their garden, I would steer them towards flowering woodies. 
The shrubs, or trees, themselves provide great garden structure year round.  They provide a permanent presence over decades, with little input from the gardener once they are established.  
And when they bloom, Wow!  What amazing ‘bang for your buck’ when a flowering tree covers itself with thousands of perfect blossoms.  It may last for a few weeks only, but what ‘gorgeosity’ in the garden when they bloom! 
Even when the blooms are finished, there is still much to enjoy from their beautiful bark, leaves, fruits and berries.  Many flowering trees return with gorgeous fall color to end the season.

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March 1, when the flowering Magnolia trees were covered in blossoms.

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There are great flowering woodies to enjoy in a mid-zone garden (6-9) through  the entire year.  When you might expect a short break in late January through mid-February, while even our hardy Camellias stop blooming, the Mahonia, Forsythia and Edgeworthia fill the garden with fragrance and color.
Now that the annual show has begun, we await the Azaleas and Rhododendrons; Lilacs; several species of Hydrangeas; Mountain Laurel; Rose of Sharon; Roses;  Crepe Myrtles, which easily bloom here for 100 days; until we finally return to our fall Camellias.

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From Left: Mahonia aquifolium, Edgeworthia chrysantha, and Magnolia stellata blooming in late February in our front garden.

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This garden was already planted, by the original gardeners, with wonderful flowering trees and shrubs which we continue to enjoy. We have added many more, and continue to plant more flowering trees and shrubs each year.  I just received a new Sweet Bay Magnolia from the Arbor Day Foundation, and have potted it up to grow in a protected place for its first year or two.
Most flowering shrubs perform well in partial sun to shade and can tolerate many types of soil and moisture conditions;  which makes them good candidates for forested and shaded gardens. 
Flowering woodies remain truly fabulous in our garden!

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Magnolia stellata, March 1 of this year

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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!

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Magnolia stellata

 

Fabulous Friday: Muscari

Muscari armeniacum

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Snowdrops, Crocus, Narcissus, Muscari…..

That is the usual order of early spring bulbs unfolding in our garden.  By the time the Muscari bloom, we feel that spring has arrived.

Our odd 2017 roller coaster weather has the usual order of things disrupted a bit.  We’ve found precious few Crocus flowers thus far, and we have a standard Dutch Hyacinth in full bloom, already, in a pot on the patio; while others are just crowning through the soil.  Most of the Daffodils are a month ahead of their 2016 appearance.

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Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Chicago’ in full bloom last Monday

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“Location, location, location!” as the realtors say.

Bulbs kept in pots often bloom a bit earlier than those in the open garden.  Anything which holds heat, like stones and paving, speed the unfolding, too.  This one has extra protection because we pulled its pot right up against the house, in full sun, during the last cold snap.

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We search, each spring, for the emerging Muscari, or ‘Grape Hyacinths,’ like a toddler searches for Easter eggs.  We love their bright perfection as winter fades into early spring.  These tiny perennial bulbs, originally from Europe, naturalize easily.  They crop up in unexpected places in the lawn, always giving a moment of pure joy as we discover them.

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After blooming, Muscari’s leaves grow on for several weeks as offset bulbs grow around the original.  We lift them in clumps as we replant their pots for summer, planting the Muscari  ‘in the green’ elsewhere in the garden.

Potted Muscari sometimes begin their growth in late fall. Their leaves grow on for months before their flowers bloom, persisting through winter.  Sometimes they turn brown around the tips and edges from the cold.  A more fastidious gardener would likely trim them up for spring, but I let them be, knowing the leaves fuel the flowers.

Hardy in Zones 4-9, Muscari always emerge early, well before the season has settled.

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Muscari armeniacum ‘Venus,’

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Muscari remain one of my favorite bulbs to tuck into potted arrangements each fall.  They are so tiny that they can be planted with one finger poking a little hole into the potting mix.  Drop one in, smooth the soil, and you’re done.

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This pot holds white Muscari, too. The leaves emerged in January, and white flowers will appear any day now. Grown in partial shade, this pot is a little behind the others.  Creeping Jenny spills over the front edge.

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Once the winter shrubs and perennials, Violas, ivy and moss have been settled into the pot, little Muscari bulbs can still be added, weeks later.

I’ve been wanting to grow white Muscari for a few years now, but they are hard to find.  I finally picked up these M. ‘Venus’ on a late trip to the Heath’s bulb shop last fall.

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These white Grape Hyacinths appeared yesterday, just in time for the wintery blast coming this weekend. They should do fine in the cold. But our Hydrangeas, already in leaf, will have their first leaves frozen without some protection.  We wrapped the smallest of the Hydrangea macrophylla in plastic bags first thing this morning.

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We nearly forget about our bulbs  over winter.  Their appearance in February and March comes as a little bit of a surprise.

We believe that is the appeal of spring bulbs, anyway.  “Plant them and forget them.”   Bulbs are one of the few things you plant with absolutely no expectation to enjoy them for the next several months.

When they finally emerge, often from the bare ground with little  warning, they feel like a special gift of nature.

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Muscari with Ajuga ‘Black Scallop,’ which turns a beautiful shade of burgundy in winter’s cold.  The Ajuga will bloom, soon, with flower stalks of about the same height in blue.

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Seeking out, and photographing the Muscari early this morning, got our Friday off to a fabulous start!

We went out first thing, knowing the temperatures would drop throughout the day.  It was already drizzling as we began covering the Hydrangeas and sliding empty pots over the little perennial starts I’ve been planting this week.

We’re taking precautions since we have some nighttime lows forecast in the 20’s over the weekend, and the “S” word lingers in the forecast for the days ahead.  A winter storm may form up off the coast and touch us with its icy fingers early next week.

That said, we decided to photograph the many flowers blooming in our garden this morning.  We’ll keep spring in our hearts even with wintery winds blowing around the doors and windows.

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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!

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 Woodland Gnome 2017

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We invested  yesterday in creating a new garden feature. Warm and sunny, we enjoyed another perfect day working  in the garden.

 

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.

.

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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Sunday Dinner: Abiding Light

march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-027

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“Winter teetered on the verge of succumbing

to the returning sun,

but today the breeze still preferred

the touch of snowflakes”

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Rue

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“The breath of life is in the sunlight

and the hand of life is in the wind.”

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Kahlil Gibran

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“An awake heart is like a sky that pours light.”

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Hafiz

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“Moonlight is sculpture;

sunlight is painting.”

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Nathaniel Hawthorne

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“The world is larger and more beautiful

than my little struggle.”

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Ravi Zacharias

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“Who would then deny

that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom

I am swallowing the whole universe with it

and that this very moment

of my lifting the bowl to my lips

is eternity itself transcending time and space?”

.

D.T. Suzuk

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march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-050

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“Might we begin then to transform

our passing illuminations into abiding light?”

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Huston Smith

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march-5-2017-frost-in-sunlight-003

 

Fabulous Friday: Daffodils

february-28-2017-magnolia-020

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

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february-28-2017-magnolia-006

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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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march-1-2017-in-bloom-023

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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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march-2-2017-road-traveled-003

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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

 

 

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