Sunday Dinner: Bathed in Light

~

“It is not we who seek the Way,

but the Way which seeks us.

That is why you are faithful to it,

even while you stand waiting,

so long as you are prepared,

and act the moment you are confronted

by its demands.”

.

Dag Hammarskjöld

~

~

“True morality consists not in following the beaten track,

but in finding the true path for ourselves,

and fearlessly following it.”

.

Mahatma Gandhi

~

~

“Does the walker choose the path,

or the path the walker?”

.

Garth Nix

~

~

“Water is the most perfect traveler

because when it travels

it becomes the path itself!”

.

Mehmet Murat ildan

~

~

“Don’t keep forever on the public road,

going only where others have gone.”

.

Alexander Graham Bell

~

~

“As one gets older

one sees many more paths that could be taken.

Artists sense within their own work

that kind of swelling of possibilities,

which may seem a confusion, or a freedom.”

.

Jasper Johns

~

~

“Who said it was a path?

It could have just been artfully strewn cookies.

You made it a path by following it,

and assuming it had any intention.”

.

Roshani Chokshi

~

~

“Let the path that you follow

be bathed in light.”

.

Anthony T. Hincks

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020

~

~

“They aren’t roadblocks.

They’re signposts.”
.

Richie Norton

Please visit my new website, Illuminations, for a daily photo from our garden.

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Souvenirs

~

“We are all the pieces of what we remember.

We hold in ourselves the hopes and fears

of those who love us.

As long as there is love and memory,

there is no true loss.”

.

Cassandra Clare

~

~

“Memory believes

before knowing remembers.

Believes longer than recollects,

longer than knowing even wonders.”

.

William Faulkner

~

~

“Remember my friend,

that knowledge is stronger than memory,

and we should not trust the weaker”

.

Bram Stoker

~

~

“Every man’s memory

is his private literature.”

.

Aldous Huxley

~

~

“Different people remember things differently,

and you’ll not get any two people

to remember anything the same,

whether they were there or not.”

.

Neil Gaiman

~

~

“Your memory feels like home to me.

So whenever my mind wanders,

it always finds it’s way back to you.”

.

Ranata Suzuki

~

~

“Memory’s truth, because memory has its own special kind.

It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes,

glorifies, and vilifies also;

but in the end it creates its own reality,

its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events;

and no sane human being ever trusts

someone else’s version

more than his own.”

.

Salman Rushdie

~

~ 

“Ten long trips around the sun

since I last saw that smile,

but only joy and thankfulness

that on a tiny world in the vastness,

for a couple of moments in the immensity of time,

we were one.”

.

Ann Druyan

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020

. . .

“Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.”
.

Kahlil Gibran

~

~

Please visit my new website, Illuminations, for a daily photo from our garden.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: Flowers for Mother’s Day

Rosa ‘Crown Princess Margareta’

~

Many years ago now, when my daughter was still at home, I was asked one May what I would like for Mother’s Day.  My wish that year was for a rose bush to plant beside the front porch.  I knew that a rose bush would give me roses each and every year in May; the Mother’s Day gift that returns year after year.  We went together as a family to my favorite garden center and I came home with a beautiful rose covered with  large, red flowers.

And my Mother’s Day rose grew into a beautiful, tall shrub that bloomed extravagantly every year after.   It was a climber, and I got these special, soft little metal attachers that I could hammer into the mortar between the bricks to permanently anchor it to the front of the house.

~

~

I left that garden and that Mother’s Day rose behind more than a decade ago, to move to this Forest Garden.  But our first year here, once again  I was seeking out roses.  I love roses.  I particularly love heirloom roses, climbing roses, and deliciously scented roses.  The English Shrub Roses bred by David Austin’s team are among my all-time favorites.

Roses have been a real challenge to grow in this garden, between the weather, the surrounding forest and the deer.  I’ve lost more than I’ve kept alive, which makes every blossom on every surviving rose shrub that much more special to me.

Rosa ‘Crown Princess Margareta’ is a climber bred by the Austin family.  Its rich apricot color and warm fruity fragrance remind me every spring why I love roses so much.  This one has grown up through a rose of Sharon shrub and it has blessed me this Mother’s Day weekend with more than two dozen blossoms.

The climbers are able to scramble up tall enough that the deer can’t munch the blossoms and prune all of the new growth.  Those that stay smaller have little chance to survive, but one I thought was a gonner last summer has come back from its roots and has already given us several flowers.  Every spring I read the new David Austin catalog wistfully, admiring the new introductions and old friends I’ve grown in the past.

~

An heirloom peony planted by an earlier gardener in this space.

~

I don’t give much time to such nostalgia, though.  And I certainly won’t even try to establish any new rose shrubs in this very wild garden.  This garden has ‘allowed’ me to expand my gardening tastes to include beautiful plants the deer will leave alone.  Some, like our Iris, are long-time favorites I’ve grown everywhere I’ve lived.  But I’ve learned to appreciate lots of other plants that I might not have tried, if necessity hadn’t inspired me to try new species.

~

Iris pseudacorus, the yellow flag Iris, also left here by a previous gardener.  Deer leave our Iris alone.

~

Mother’s Day is a moment to pause and remember the long line of strong women who have loved us and made our lives possible.  Some of these women might be special aunts and grandmothers, others family friends, teachers, neighbors, and others who have helped us along the way.  This year many of us are connecting with our mothers through phone calls and video chats.  Our greeting cards may be digital and our gifts delayed.

~

Siberian Iris, a gift from a friend.

~

But it is the remembering and expressions of love that matter, not the form they take.

Just as a rose shrub will give us a special Mother’s Day gift year after year, into an uncertain and often transformed future; so a garden helps us put down our own roots and grow into something new.  Each of us is growing and transforming, too.  Let us grow stronger each year; more generous and more appreciative of all life gives us.

~

Iris ‘Rosalie Figge’

~

Woodland Gnome 2020

Happy Mother’s Day to all of those who mother others

 

Please visit my new website, Illuminations, for a photo from our garden and a thought provoking quotation each day.

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator

Sunday Dinner: Walking Through My Garden, Forever

~

“If I had a flower

for every time I thought of you…

I could walk through my garden forever.”

.

Alfred Tennyson

~

~

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

.

William Shakespeare

~

~

“We love the things

we love for what they are.”

.

Robert Frost

~

~

“The world is indeed full of peril,

and in it there are many dark places;

but still there is much that is fair,

and though in all lands

love is now mingled with grief,

it grows perhaps the greater.”

.

J.R.R. Tolkien

~

~

“When I despair,

I remember that all through history

the way of truth and love have always won.

There have been tyrants and murderers,

and for a time, they can seem invincible,

but in the end, they always fall.

Think of it–always.”

.

Mahatma Gandhi

~

~

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone,

it has to be made, like bread;

remade all the time,

made new.”

.

Ursula K. Le Guin

~

~

“There is always some madness in love.

But there is also always some reason in madness.”

.

Friedrich Nietzsche

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020

~

~

“And, in the end
The love you take
is equal to the love you make.”
.

Sir Paul McCartney,

~

 

 

Six On Saturday: When Wood Breaks Into Bloom

Redbud is the earliest tree in our garden to bloom, followed within another week or two by the dogwoods.

~

When stark woody limbs suddenly burst open to liberate soft, fragrant flowers, we live, once again, the mystery play of spring.

We witness sudden and transformative change initiated by some small fluctuation in the status quo.  Days grow a few minutes longer; temperatures rise.  The Earth tilts a bit more in this direction or that, and the winds bring a new season as every branch, bulb, seed and root respond.

It is natural magic, and needs no assistance.  Every tree responds to its own cue of light and warmth while the gardener sits back with a cup of tea to appreciate the spectacle.

~

Redbud flowers emerge directly from woody stems.  A member of the pea family, redbud, Cercis, trees store nitrogen on their roots, directly fertilizing the soil where they grow.  The nitrogen is filtered out of the air by their leaves, along with carbon.  Other plants can draw on this nitrogen in the soil for their own growth.

~

I’m becoming more aware, with each passing season, of the silent cues leading me on my own journey as a gardener.  I’m looking for value when I invest in planting some new thing in the garden.  How many seasons will it grow?  How much return will it yield for my investment in planting?

A potted geranium will give six or eight months of interest, perhaps another season or two if you are both lucky and skilled.  A potted Camellia will outlive the gardener, assuming it survives its first seasons of hungry deer and unexpected drought.  The Camellia can produce hundreds of flowers in a single season, and more with each passing year.  A dogwood or Magnolia tree fills the garden with even more flowers, then feeds the birds months later as their seeds mature.

Gardening, like all transcendent pursuits, may be neatly reduced to mathematics when choices must be made.

~

From left: new leaves emerge red on this hybrid crape myrtle; small Acer palmatum leaves emerge red and hold their color into summer; red buckeye, Aesculus pavia is naturalized in our area and volunteers in unlikely places, blooming scarlet each spring. In the distance, dogwood blooms in clouds of white.

~

Yesterday afternoon I planted the Hydrangea paniculata I bought one Saturday afternoon almost two years ago, while taking my mother shopping.  A dozen potted shrubs were piled in front of her Wal-Mart store that late summer afternoon, reduced by half to move them.  They were clearing out the nursery area in preparation for holiday stock and impulsively, I grabbed a nice one and piled it in my cart.

“What are you going to do with that?”  she asked, cautiously, maybe wondering whether I intended to plant it in her yard somewhere.  She is housebound now, and can’t get out to garden as she once did.

“I don’t know yet,”  I responded, “but I’m sure I’ll find a spot for it at home.”  And the place I found was in a sheltered spot behind the house while I figured out where to plant it.  And it seemed quite content there, though it didn’t bloom last summer.  And it lived through two winters in its nursery pot while I dithered about where to plant it.

And finally, with a twinge of guilt for not letting its roots spread into good earth and its limbs reach into the sunlight, I chose a spot this week on our back slope, near other Hydrangeas, where we lost some lilac shrubs and their absence left an empty space to fill.  The Hydrangea will appreciate our acidic soil and the partial shade that has grown in there, where the lilac shrubs did not.

~

Oakleaf Hydrangea also produces panicles of flowers in May, and the flowers persist into early winter. Many Hydrangeas bloom on new wood, while others set their buds in autumn. It pays to know your shrub.

~

And as I plant, I can see its spindly little branches growing stout and long, reaching up and out for light and air.  Since it blooms on new wood, not old, every summer it will have the opportunity to stretch, and grow, and fill its corner of the garden with large pale panicles of flowers for months at a time.  Its roots will hold the bank against erosion and its woody body will welcome birds and support heavy flowers.  Each branch has the power to root and grow into a new shrub, even as each flower will support a cloud of humming insects on summer days.

~

On March 1, 2017 our Magnolia liliflora trees were already in full bloom.

~

There is tremendous potential in every woody plant.  They weave the fabric of the garden as days become weeks and weeks knit themselves into years.  Knowing them closely allows one to choose wisely, creating a flowering patchwork of trees and shrubs that shine each in their own season, and ornament the garden, each in its own way, every day of each passing year.

When leaves turn bright, then brown, and begin to swirl on autumn’s chilling winds, leaving stark woody skeletons where our soft green trees swayed so shortly ago; we watch with confidence that spring is but another breath away.

The only constant is change, as they say.  And knowing that, we know how to plan and plant to enjoy every moment.

~

Mountain Laurel grows wild across much of Virginia on large shrubs, sometimes growing into small trees.  Its buds are already swelling to bloom by early May.

~

Woodland Gnome 2020

Fabulous Friday:  Flowers From Wood, Forest Garden, March 2017

Visit my new website, Illuminations, for a photo from our garden and a thought provoking quotation each day.

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator

Sunday Dinner: Finding the Energy

~

“…The human perception of this energy

first begins

with a heightened sensitivity to beauty.”

.

James Redfield

~

~

“If you wish to make anything grow,

you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense.

‘Green fingers’ are a fact,

and a mystery only to the unpracticed.

But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.”

.

Russell Page

~

~

“It takes as much energy to wish

as it does to plan.”

.

Eleanor Roosevelt

~

~

“We grow the aspects of our lives that we feed –

with energy and engagement –

and choke off those we deprive of fuel.

Your life is what you agree to attend to.”

.

Jim Loehr

~

~

“Energy is liberated matter,

matter is energy waiting to happen.”

.

Bill Bryson

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020

~

~

I now see my life, not as a slow shaping

of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes,

but as the gradual discovery of a purpose

which I did not know.”

.

Joanna Field

~

~

“I love the smell of rain and growing things.”
.

Serina Hernandez

~

~

Visit my new website, Illuminations, for a photo of something beautiful and a thought provoking quotation each day.  -WG

Six On Saturday: Meeting the Challenge

Cuttings taken this spring from a saucer Magnolia branch, and from my potted Ginko tree root on our deck.

~

As much as I love to shop for plants, and as much as I love the family who runs our local garden center,  I’m staying at home this spring.

Oh, it is so tempting to run out for a few trays of springtime happiness in the form of little geraniums and herbs, a few pots of perennials and a bag of fresh potting soil, or two.  In Virginia, garden centers and hardware stores are considered essential, and so they are open every day welcoming customers.

But every time I’m tempted to pick up those car keys and go, I think about all of the people I love and the very good reasons to stay at home and stay well , making sure that I don’t become a link in that chain of virus transmission.

But it’s April, and my fingers are itching to play in the dirt and grow something beautiful.  I’m sure you understand.

~

An oak seedling emerges from an acorn I picked up in December.

~

And so I’m challenging myself to work with what I have and keep purchases to a minimum.  And as I wander around our garden, I am filled with gratitude for each emerging perennial and fern, every seedling and living, growing cutting.

My neighbor shared a bag of Lycoris bulbs she had dug from her own garden.  I planted those today.  Another neighbor brought me packs of vegetable seeds, and I shared several tree seedlings I’d dug from ours.

I’ve been taking cuttings from some tender perennials we overwintered in the garage.  I’m rooting slips of scented geranium, Begonias and some coleus.  Last year’s plants may look a little tired, but the rooted cuttings will perform like new ones from the garden center.

~

This hanging basket springs back to life as last year’s herbs and ‘annuals’ re-emerge for another season.

~

We had a mild winter, and so I’ve been finding little plants emerging in pots and baskets on the porch and patio.  Thus far we have Verbena, Lantana, geraniums, scented Pelargoniums, some pineapple mint, Dichondra and lots of ferns!  I plan to divide some, and to take more cuttings from these, too.  I’m challenging myself to have a garden just as full and beautiful as ever, without needing to buy so much this spring.

I did succumb to plant lust and ordered some lotus seeds, Nelumbo nucifera, the sacred tropical lotus grown throughout Asia, to grow in pots on my patio this summer.  I’ve been reading a bit about how to grow these beautiful plants and studying the posts of lotus in pots and water gardens in Pinterest.

When my seeds arrived, they were already prepared to germinate.  They came with their shells already pierced so the warm water I soaked them in could penetrate.  I kept them in a jelly jar on the stove, changing their water a few times a day, as they began to grow.

~

Lotus seeds begin to grow as first stems emerge and stretch for the light.  Keep the seeds and plants in several inches of warm water as they grow.

~

Caring for baby emerging lotus plants is a lot like looking after little tadpoles, if you did that as a kid.  They grow so quickly!

After the first week, as their stems elongated, I moved them up into a deeper clear dish and let them grow on near a window.  Finally, I ‘potted’ up most of them into 24 oz clear plastic tumblers to give each lengthening stem more room to stretch and grow.  Most of them have a second stem emerging now, and soon they will put down roots into the soil and gravel at the bottom of each tumbler.  I expect to grow the lotus on in the tumblers for a few more weeks, at least until it warms up here enough to put them outside!

I actually ordered seed from two different vendors, hedging my bets, and every seed but one germinated.  So now I have quite a few lotus plants to tend…   another challenge.

Some of my gardening friends are finding a casual offer to share a lotus embedded in my email messages of late.  I am hoping to find adoptive homes for most of these lotus, and I hope they will prove as entertaining and happiness inspiring for friends as they’ve been for me.

~

Our tall Iris began blooming this week.  This is a species Iris pallida brought to Virginia from Europe during Colonial times .

~

We are enjoying a beautiful spring here in Virginia.  The dogwoods and Azaleas are blooming and the Wisteria drapes from tree to tree like lavender swag draperies.  Our first tall Iris of the season are opening and buds swell on the roses.  Late Narcissus stand tall and bright in the upper garden as trees clothe themselves in ever expanding leaves.

We are finding plenty to do here at home.  I expect that it will be our best garden yet, as we focus on gratitude for what we have.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2020

*

Visit my new website, Illuminations, for a photo of something beautiful and a thought provoking quotation each day.

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator

Sunday Dinner: Never Assume….

~
“Advances are made by answering questions.
Discoveries are made by questioning answers.
.
Bernard Haisch

~

~

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world.
Scrub them off every once in a while,
or the light won’t come in.”
.
Isaac Asimov

~

~

“It is useless to attempt
to reason a man out of a thing
he was never reasoned into.”
.
Jonathan Swift

~

~

“Assumptions are maintained by the hug of history.
Yet, history does not guarantee their validity,
nor does it ever reassess their validity.”
.
Michael Michalko

~

~

“You think you know this story.
You do not.”
.
Jane Yolen

~

~

“Don’t build roadblocks out of assumptions.”
.
Lorii Myers

~

~

“The surface of the earth is soft
and impressible by the feet of men;
and so with the paths which the mind travels.
How worn and dusty, then,
must be the highways of the world,
how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!
I did not wish to take a cabin passage,
but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world,
for there I could best see the moonlight
amid the mountains.”
.
Henry David Thoreau

~

~

“There was no Jedi so wise
that he could not be undone
by his own assumptions.”
.
Claudia Gray

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020

~

~

“Assumptions close doors.
Intrigue opens them.”
.
Sam Owen

~

~

“You find the magic of the world in the margin for error.”
.
Heart of Dixie

~

 

Six on Saturday: Evergreen

Helleborus

~

By January autumn’s leaves have mostly fallen and anything evergreen dazzles in the fleeting winter sun.  I anticipate this quiet time of the year when one can see deeply into the roadside woods, admiring the stands of pines, hollies, Magnolias and myrtles normally hidden from view by the leafy, growing forest.

~

American Holly surrounded by pines.

~

After the year’s many colorful extravagances, the restful simplicity of bared bark, buff leaf litter and glowing evergreens stands in elegant contrast to the other seasons’ beauties.

At home, too, evergreen perennials peek through the fallen leaves, a deep emerald green.  Pointy ivy leaves scramble across the ground and spill from pots on the patio.  Fresh, wrinkled Helleborus leaves emerge from the chilled earth embracing stems of unfolding flowers.

What a delight to see these winter treasures braving the worst weather of the year, unflinching under a frosty glaze.

~

Mahonia aquifolium

~

Our Mahohias stand crowned with golden flowers this week.  Filled with nectar, they feed native bees and other pollinators who venture out on warmish days.  As we admired a particularly lush stand of Mahonia this morning, a brilliant red cardinal dropped out of the sky to land on its uppermost branch.  Perhaps it was looking for its breakfast, too.

~

Camellia sasanqua

~

Yucca and German Iris, rosemary, parsley, thyme, Arum and tiny Cyclamen leaves soak up the sun and stand resolute in the face of winter.  A well planned garden needs these touches of evergreen to carry us through until spring.

~

Thyme

~

No blazing summer Dahlia will ever touch me in the same way as richly green Arum, melting the snow around itself, its leaves unmarred by ice.

These loyalest of garden plants remain with us through the difficulties of winter, inspiring us with their fortitude and blessing us with their beauty.

~

Arum italicum shines from late autumn into May, when it quietly fades away. This European native produces enough heat to attract insects and protect itself in freezing weather.  Here, with emerging daffodil leaves, Vinca minor and Saxifraga stolonifera.

~

Woodland Gnome 2020

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator

Sunday Dinner: Pass It On

~

“What are you planting today
to harvest tomorrow?”
.
Lailah Gifty Akita

~

~

“Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas.
Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection,
despite its ugliness.
I take it for granted that to create a tree
I condemn a seed to rot.
If the first act of resistance comes too late
it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless,
the awakening of resistance.
Life may grow from it as from a seed.”
.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

~

~

“Seeds have the power to preserve species,
to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity,
to counter economic monopoly
and to check the advance of conformity
on all its many fronts.”
.
Michael Pollan

~

~

“Plants do not speak,
but their silence is alive with change.”
.
May Sarton

~

~

“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds
and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim.
“When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe
that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds.
You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things,
some no bigger than grains of dust,
let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?”
.
L.M. Montgomery

~

~

“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution.
If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.”
.
Norman Vincent Peale

~

~

“Remember to be conscious of what seeds you plant,
as the garden of your mind is like the world.
The longer seeds grow, the more likely they are to become trees.
Trees often block the sun’s rays from reaching other seeds,
allowing only plants that are acclimated
to the shadow of the tree to grow—
keeping you stuck with that one reality.”
.
Natasha Potter

~

~

“Take the time to plant seeds
even if you’re unsure if they’ll grow; who knows,
maybe all it takes is for someone else
to come along and water it.”
.
Kai Mann

~

~

“Every gift from a friend
is a wish for your happiness.”
.
Richard Bach

~

~

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds that you plant.”
.
Robert Louis Stevenson
~

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