Sunday Dinner: From Your Point of View

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“The cosmos is within us.
We are made of star-stuff.
We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
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Carl Sagan

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“When you have once
seen the glow of happiness
on the face of a beloved person,
you know that a man can have no vocation
but to awaken that light
on the faces surrounding him.
In the depth of winter,
I finally learned that within me
there lay an invincible summer.”
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Albert Camus

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“One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.”
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Tim Burton

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“What we do see
depends mainly on what we look for.
… In the same field the farmer will notice the crop,
the geologists the fossils,
botanists the flowers, a
rtists the colouring,
sportmen the cover for the game.
Though we may all look at the same things,
it does not all follow that we should see them.”
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John Lubbock

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“Nothing is really work
unless you would rather be doing something else.”
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J.M. Barrie

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“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then
to hang a question mark
on the things you have long taken for granted.”
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Bertrand Russell

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“It is a narrow mind
which cannot look at a subject
from various points of view.”
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George Eliot

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“If we are always arriving and departing,
it is also true that we are eternally anchored.
One’s destination is never a place
but rather a new way of looking at things.”
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Henry Miller
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Geometry

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What elegant geometry is this,

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that builds itself day by day, cell by cell,

from the common elements of Earth? 

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What innate intelligence puts every leaf,

petal and stem in its proper place? 

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Such perfection bears witness

to the innate beauty of our universe. 

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The Architect knows the structure of every cell,

every atom of existence;

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consciousness permeates all that is or ever will be. 

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As we look ever more closely,

observing the crystallization of energy into matter,

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water into cellulose, thought into form;

we see the Artist’s guiding hand bringing life to all.

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What elegant geometry is this,

growing by the roadside and in the garden;

a joyful expression of aliveness.

 

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Woodland Gnome 2016
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In A Vase: E. ‘Green Jewel’

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Today’s vase is a celebration of green; particularly the Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ new to our garden.

I was extremely fortunate to find Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ offered on Brent and Becky Heath’s end of season perennial sale a week ago.  I bought two pots, already in flower.  I finally cut two of the flowers for today’s vase, with the intention of helping the plants establish a little better without their flowers setting seed.

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That set the color note, and I added various shades of green with Apple Mint and Coleus ‘Gold Anemone’ for the background foliage.

My offering today features a smattering of favorites, including some a friend especially admired on our impromptu garden tour this morning.  I love the opportunity to deepen a friendship while sharing a garden.  It was her first visit to ours, and now I’m looking forward to visiting the garden she and her husband have designed.

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She was interested in the mints and the Coleus especially.  Of course, the ‘Under the Sea’ line of Coleus are so unusual they really don’t resemble normal Coleus very much.  I love the fern like fringe of these leaves.

There are a few stems of flowering Basil in the vase today, along with a a handful of our happy Black Eyed Susans and a few roses.

I’ve walked past the roses in recent weeks, trying, like Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, to feature a few of our more unusual flowers.  But I love the roses and they bring us such pleasure each day.  I relented and cut a few for today’s vase.

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I especially like how the mostly green arrangement sets off the peachy tones of these ‘Lady of Shalott’ roses from David Austin’s collection of English shrub roses.

This is one of my favorite green glass vases, acquired second or third hand many years ago.  The green egg is Malachite and so is the tiny green frog.  This stone frog reminds me of the tiny frogs we find hopping around the garden in August.

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It has been very hot here again today, and we are truly dry for the first time in months.  I spent much of yesterday watering the garden and pulling grass and weeds from around thirsty perennials.

The jewel like green surrounding us a few weeks ago looks a bit faded today, showing the growing distress of our trees and shrubs.  We still hope for some rain tonight and tomorrow.  In fact, clouds were gathering from the west as I went out late this afternoon to cut stems for today’s vase.

I didn’t make it out to the garden this morning before the heat set in, and so waited for the blazing sun to fade behind the gathering clouds before cutting this evening.

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I hope you are still finding beautiful and interesting stems in your garden to cut and bring inside to enjoy.

Preparing a vase each week, or two or three; gives us the opportunity to appreciate the garden’s offerings at leisure and up close.  The flowers look different, more special somehow, trimmed, arranged, and placed just so indoors.  I appreciate Cathy encouraging garden bloggers to cut and arrange each week by allowing us to share with one another through her posts.

Please try your hand at it if you haven’t already.  This is one of summer’s simple pleasures and is not to be missed.

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One of our new Echinacea 'Green Jewel' before I cut for today's vase.

One of our new Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ before I cut for today’s vase.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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Return of the Butterflies

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Our garden is alive with butterflies once again.   

We spotted at least five different individual butterflies enjoying their Sunday dinner in the garden today.

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We have been watching for them for several weeks now, and are so happy to find our garden animated with their bright fluttering wings this morning.

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on Paw Paw Trees.  We have several in the ravine at the back of our property, and so are blessed with these beautiful butterflies in the garden.

Zebra Swallowtail butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on Paw Paw Trees. We have several in the ravine at the back of our property, and so are blessed with these beautiful butterflies in the garden.

The banquet is spread from shrub to pot to bed to border.

The garden blossoms anew each morning with fresh nectar filled flowers, awaiting their visit.

And now we watch them enjoy it all, and hope they choose this garden as an adequate nursery for their next generation.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Butterfly Garden Plants

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Serenity, and Joy

The hardy Begonias are finally blooming.

The hardy Begonias are finally blooming.

Walking around the garden this morning the first few lines of Karl Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer came to mind.  It is the first time in a few days I’ve had time to simply wander around, camera in hand, and I had been wondering what I would find. August 21 2013 garden photos 020

The Butterfly Tree is almost finished blooming, and is now forming seeds.  When the seedpods open, they will be bright blue, and as beautiful as the flowers.

The Butterfly Tree is almost finished blooming, and is now forming seeds. When the seedpods open, they will be bright blue, and as beautiful as the flowers.

The garden is never the same, even one day to the next.  What is blooming today may be gone to seed in another day, or may be gone- into the stomach of a hungry deer.  I was amazed to find deer droppings all around the garden, and evidence of their ripping and chewing on so many shrubs and perennials.  All of our efforts to fence them out and repel them for naught; much of the conventional wisdom of plants the deer will ignore proven wrong.

Autumn Brilliance fern

Autumn Brilliance fern

It has been a good growing season as we’ve had no drought.  The rain has been consistent and abundant.  The new ferns have gotten off to a good start in this moist summer.   It has been a difficult season for all those summer plants which need days and days of sunshine and heat to produce well.  Geraniums, tomatoes, basil, squash, lavender….  So many plants are either sulking with very little new growth, or have just molded and dissolved. The cool, overcast and wet weather has put a damper on things.  Not a single daisy has broken bud yet, though they are sitting there at the ends of lush green branches.  Perhaps in September they will give a glorious show.

On the other hand, some plants have grown so much that pathways are nearly closed off by their luxuriant growth.  Roses and Rose of Sharon reach out to join hands across the path.  Echinacea and Monarda, fallen over from their own weight, spill into the walkway.August 21, 2013 close up garden 014

Our new fig has quadrupled in size since it went into the ground last autumn.

This fig came home in a 1 gallon pot last summer.

This fig came home in a 1 gallon pot last summer.

And so I’ve come to understand that there are things I simply must accept and expect to maintain my peace of mind tending this particular bit of land.  Despite chigger bites, snakes, and ticks, I’m not going to give up and live inside.  It is long since time to mentally evolve a bit and apply the concepts of the Serenity Prayer to working with the reality of this garden.   So here is the short list of principles I have embraced:August 21 2013 garden photos 009

Nature will surprise me.  Every day.  It is up to me to get up, suit up, get outside, and see what is there with fresh eyes.

A "surprise", volunteer vine, growing in the shade, is making a surprise squash.

A “surprise”, volunteer vine, growing in the shade, is making a surprise squash.

August 21, 2013 close up garden 006The wild things and I share this garden.  It is teeming with birds, lizards, frogs, butterflies, squirrels, dragonflies and bees.  It will also always be home to mosquitoes, chiggers, deer, bats, voles, and other furry things which visit only under cover of darkness.  I will never completely eliminate the deer, or the biting bugs, and will stop expecting to be successful in doing so.August 13 2013 vines 020

This will always be a wild forest garden.  I have given up any illusion of taming it into neatness or manicured tameness.  The plants will do what they will do, and my efforts or expectations have very little impact.August 21, 2013 close up garden 009Sun and shade, wet and drought are completely unpredictable.  Shade becomes full sun when a tree falls.  Sun becomes shade when a shrub grows beyond its expected size.  Rain will come when it comes, and often too much at once.

Garlic chives, now shaded, still bloom.

Garlic chives, now shaded, still bloom.

Gardening magazines and nursery catalogs are full of plants I can’t grow and techniques which won’t work here.  I will simply erase the Parrot Tulips and Toad Lilies from my mind and plant the few reliable plants I have learned to count on.  Purchasing new plants is enjoyable, but too often counterproductive; when they soon get eaten, drowned, or burned by the sun.

This hydrangea has been grazed by the deer more than once, even in this protected area in a pot.

This hydrangea has been grazed by the deer more than once, even in this protected area in a pot.

Record the triumphs in photos.  If a rose blooms today and is eaten tonight, at least I can enjoy it in the photo.  Looking back at photos from other years, I can see how much growth and progress has been made since the beginning.  It is encouraging to have a photo record of successes and beautiful moments.August 21 2013 garden photos 019Buy gravel and compost on every trip to the garden center.  A new hole will always need to be filled, and the beds need regular gifts of compost.  A bag of compost must be purchased along with every new purchase of plants.  Any plant worth planting is worth caring for.August 21, 2013 close up garden 025

Never give up or lose hope for more beauty to follow tomorrow.  After months of trying to overwinter and save a Rex Begonia, I finally gave the sad empty pot of soil to the Earth to fill a hole near the foundation of the house.  And today, miraculously, I found the Begonia growing again, under a shrub, just as beautiful as it ever was last summer.August 21, 2013 close up garden 002This garden is full of surprises.  So long as my eye settles on the beauty and wonder of it all, this forest garden is full of joy and possibility.

All photos by Woodland Gnome

Begonia Rex, given up for dead, is alive and well in this forest garden.

Begonia Rex, given up for dead, is alive and well in this forest garden.

Butterflies Everywhere….

What a wonderful sensation to wander out into the butterfly garden and stand in the midst of dozens of butterflies flying around from flower to flower sipping nectar. Sometimes four or five butterflies are all drinking from the same plant, shoulder to shoulder with the bumblebees. What joy to be a butterfly in July when … Continue reading

Butterfly Close Ups

More butterfly photos here  and here Butterflies and hummingbird moths need trees and shrubs for shelter.  Most lay their eggs on the upper sides of the leaves of common shade trees.   Although the caterpillars enjoy dill, parsley, Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, and Butterfly Weed, they most often feed on the leaves of trees.  In … Continue reading

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