Fabulous Friday: Each Magical Moment

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The last of the daffodils have finally finished, and I’m feeling impatient for their foliage to fade.  The pansies are a bit overblown now and starting to flop in most of the pots.  I’m ready to move those out, too, in favor of summer treasures.

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The first roses of summer….

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We’re in that awkward transition when summer is ready to begin, but spring is still lingering here and there.  The heat hasn’t helped.  We suddenly find ourselves in ‘instant July’ with our daytime temperatures in the high 80s and nights staying humid and warm.

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Dutch Iris are in full bloom this week. Spanish lavender blooms behind them, mingling with the foliage of spent daffodils.

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I find myself the guardian of eight large boxes of sprouting Caladiums, and now all need the light.  I moved two more out onto the deck today and am trying to cluster the last three planted near an inside window.  There is only so much ‘bright shade’ available where they are also protected from the rain.

I moved nearly 20 Caladium plants into individual pots today and barely made a dent in a single box of sprouting bulbs.  I expect to be planting a lot of Caladiums over the next few weeks!

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But I finally got to work on the hanging baskets on our deck today.  I’ve been waiting to see whether any of the Lantana, Pelargoniums or Verbena from last summer survived the winter.  There is always hope, and a few plants in the pots on the front patio have growing survivors!

It may be a bit early to write off the Lantana, but I’m tired of looking at the sad remains of last summer’s beauty.  I didn’t plant up the baskets last fall with Violas, and the baskets have been looking a bit rough.

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I accomplished a gentle replanting, cleaning the baskets and removing only those remains I was sure had given up during the winter.  A few plants showed signs of life from their roots, and I left them to re-grow, tucking the roots of fresh Verbenas, Lantana and scented Pelargoniums around them.

I added some pineapple mint this year, some beautiful Dichondra, and a Cuban Oregano.  I believe in adding a few new touches, even while staying with tried and true plants for our full-sun hanging baskets.  The few that get some shade are planted in ferns, Begonia and a Caladium.

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Siberian Iris also began to bloom this week.  Our other perennials are growing so tall so fast!

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The sun is fierce these days, and once the heat builds it is hard to keep the hanging baskets hydrated and happy.  I toyed with the idea of planting only succulents this year.

Herbs do better than most plants.  In fact a gorgeous Spanish lavender that I planted last year grew all winter, bloomed last month and now fills its large basket in a beautiful display of deep purple flowers.  I couldn’t be more pleased with how it has performed.  Who would expect a sub-shrub like lavender to thrive in a hanging basket?

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Despite the heat today, I managed to accomplish a fair amount of my home ‘to-do’ list, and I’m satisfied we made good use of the day.  I moved another of our new Alocasias into its permanent pot and took time to admire (and dead-head) all of the beautiful Iris.  I try to guard against getting so busy in May that I don’t take time to simply enjoy the beautiful flowers and fragrances of the season.  It all happens so fast!

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Mountain Laurel is blooming in our garden this week.

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Even as spring draws to its inevitable close, summer sights and sounds fill the garden.  The Cannas are growing  inches each day and the hardy Colocasias appeared this week.  Birds begin their conversations before dawn and we listen to the mayflies whine whenever we step outside.

Daylight lingers deep into the evening.  I remind myself to breathe in the sweetness, relax a little, and enjoy each magical moment of our garden’s unfolding.

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Woodland Gnome 2019

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Lavendula stoechas ‘Otto Quast,’ planted last spring, survived our winter beautifully in its hanging basket.  Spanish lavender performs extremely well in our climate and is the first to bloom each spring.

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Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious; let’s infect one another
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Six on Saturday: Iris in Bloom

German Bearded Iris ‘Rosalie Figge’

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Iris perfectly blend color, fragrance, geometry and grace.

I’ve spent the last six months delving into the details of the genus and am delighting now in watching them unfold their perfect standards and falls.

The appearance of Iris each spring still feels like a bit of natural magic.  From a slender green stem, the intensely pure colors emerge as each flower unfolds.

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Iris tectorum, Japanese roof Iris, can be grown on traditional thatched roofs.  It was a status symbol in some Japanese communities to have a roof covered with blooming Iris.  This is a crested Iris, like our native Iris cristata.

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Watching an Iris bud open reminds me of how a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, ever so slowly stretching and unfolding its wings.  Both grow so large one wonders how they could have possibly fit into their sheath.  While a butterfly soon flies off in search of nectar and a mate, Iris blossoms remain anchored to their stems, hovering above the garden in motionless flight.

Our Iris continue to multiply in the garden.  I’ve been collecting them, dividing them, and have even received some as gifts.  Most bloom only once each year, and then for only a few weeks.  But what an amazing sight to anticipate through the long weeks of winter, knowing that spring will bring Iris blossoms once again.  Collecting different types of Iris extends the period of bloom, and planting re-blooming iris offers the tantalizing promise of an encore in autumn.

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Iris pallida, a European species Iris brought to Virginia by the colonists, is one of the species used in German bearded Iris hybrids.

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There is a fellowship of Iris lovers extending back through our recorded history.  We see Iris carved into bas reliefs in Egyptian temples, and Iris flowers were admired in ancient Greece.  The Babylonians grew them, and Iris grew wild across the hills of Turkey and meadows of Europe.  There are more than 150 species of Iris, and many of our garden Iris are hybrids of two or more species.

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Native Iris cristata

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Tough and persistent, Iris are easy to grow, once you understand what each variety needs.   It is easy to fall in love with Iris plants in bloom.  And that is the best way to buy them, so you know exactly what you are planting.  Since most are hybrids, gardeners rarely grow Iris from seeds.

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Some Iris grow from bulbs, most from rhizomes.  Some may come in the mail as bare-root plants.  You may have to wait a year or two for the first bloom when you buy divisions.

For immediate satisfaction, look for potted Iris plants in bloom.  You will know exactly what colors you are adding to your garden and know you have a healthy plant to start.

Then, just wait for the beauty to multiply with each passing year.

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Iris x hollandica ‘Silver Beauty’

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Woodland Gnome 2019
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Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator.

 

Sunday Dinner: Artistry

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“Art and love are the same thing:
It’s the process of seeing yourself
in things that are not you.”
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Chuck Klosterman

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Iris germanica ‘Secret Rites’

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“Everything you can imagine is real.”
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Pablo Picasso

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“If you ask me what I came to do in this world,
I, an artist, will answer you:
I am here to live out loud.”
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Émile Zola

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“Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist
once he grows up.”
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Pablo Picasso

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“Art washes away from the soul
the dust of everyday life.”
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Pablo Picasso

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“It would be possible to describe everything scientifically,
but it would make no sense;
it would be without meaning,
as if you described a Beethoven symphony
as a variation of wave pressure.”
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Albert Einstein

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“When words become unclear,
I shall focus with photographs.
When images become inadequate,
I shall be content with silence.”
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Ansel Adams

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

Vases by Bob Leek

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“Art is not what you see,
but what you make others see.”
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Edgar Degas

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“There are painters who transform the sun
to a yellow spot,
but there are others
who with the help of their art and their intelligence,
transform a yellow spot
into sun”
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Pablo Picasso

Fabulous Friday: In Bloom

Foxglove

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This time of year we linger along the drive, admiring the garden in bloom.  Stately Iris stand tall, their long bloom stalks clothed in fragrant blues and golds and purples and whites.

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The Siberian Iris bloomed yesterday… literally.  In the early morning there was a single bud unfolding.  By mid-day, there was a bouquet of intense blue.  The garden is unfolding so quickly this week that if you stand still for more than a few breaths, it has changed before your wondering eyes.

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Siberian Iris, a gift from a gardening friend.

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Imagine my surprise to notice the plump, unmistakable buds of an Amaryllis emerging from the Earth on Monday.

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Amaryllis, Hippeastrum SA ‘Graffiti’

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We enjoy Amaryllis in winter, when little else will bloom.  They comfort us through the dull wet days of February from their pot on the dining table.

And then, I like to plant the bulbs out into the perennial beds in March, and hope to see them again sometime, if they survive.  So it was that I planted out a half dozen bulbs the spring before last.  And I never remembered to dig them and bring them in last fall… a seasonal casualty of letting myself become distracted, perhaps…

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And the Amaryllis “Graffitti’ survived our very long, cold winter, rewarding our neglect with these beautiful blooms, this first week of May.  Sometimes unlikely pleasures feel the most satisfying.

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Azalea, some of the few buds left to us by the hungry deer, this spring.

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When you come to think of it, flowers erupting from plants frozen and dormant just a few weeks ago is a rather unlikely prospect.  After all they’ve been through, they’d be forgiven for sulking a bit and basking in this new-found warmth before performing.

But no, they are eager to get on with it!  Our garden woodies and perennials live to bloom, and then perhaps to set seeds.  We are all interested in the next generation, now, aren’t we?

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Mountain Laurel, one of our native shrubs

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Or is it just the pleasure of hosting bees and hummingbirds that motivates these outrageous blooms?  There is nothing particularly shy about an Amaryllis, or an Iris.   And for this, we are grateful as we celebrate their season of bloom.

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Iris, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (reblooming)

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And so we linger as we come and go on our daily errands.  And we find reason to wander in the garden, watering, trimming, planting; and dreaming of the many weeks of beauty still ahead as spring relaxes into summer.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Unlikely

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious… Let’s infect one another!

On the Eve of May

The first rays of morning sun fuel our garden this last day of April.

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May is already upon us.  The garden has filled with flowers, and there are more waiting each morning as we walk outside, to see what has changed overnight.

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Iris ‘Echo Location’

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This is Iris season, and Columbine season, and the grass is filled with wildflowers season.

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Native fleabane, probably Erigeron pulchellus, grow in our front lawn. A short lived perennial, this patch grows a bit larger each year. After it finishes flowering, we will mow this part of the ‘lawn’ once again.

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It all grows unbelievably fast in late April and early May, and I am busily trying to work with the season.

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Erigeron is a native wildflower in our area.  Too pretty to cut back, we have let it have its real estate in the front yard.

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That said, it was only 41F when I followed the sun out of bed this morning.  Neighbors in nearby towns had temperatures near freezing over night, and so I don’t yet trust the weather with so many of our tender, tropical plants.  I am crossing my fingers and toes, and planting out as much as I dare, just as quickly as I can.

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I was a bit surprised to notice the trellis filled with blooming Clematis this morning.

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Spring rolls over us like a wave, before cresting into full on summer.  And I am working to ride that wave as the garden awakens.

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This is the time to set things right; to establish what will grow where, and how, for the next six months.

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Columbine

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But everywhere I look, I see something new.  I see opening leaves, emerging perennials, and unfolding buds.

May’s magic lives in our garden, and I hope it lives in yours, as well.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

After experimenting for the past several days with my new Canon Power Shot Elph 180, I am back to my Nikon Coolpix S3500.  Trying to focus in on the fleabane flowers proved the utility of my little Nikon, which lives in the inside pocket of my gardening vest.  It has crossed the country with me a couple of times now, and is officially obsolete in the world of pocket cameras.  But it still takes a great photo and leaves me satisfied.

 

 

Portraits: May Flowers

R. 'Crown Princess Margareta'

R. ‘Crown Princess Margareta’

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“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in-

-what more could he ask?

A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”

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Victor Hugo

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The first of summer's perennial Geraniums bloom alongside the last of winter's Hellebores.

The first of summer’s perennial Geraniums bloom alongside the last of winter’s Hellebores.

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Photographing flowers in the garden, for me, is like taking photos of much loved children, favorite pets, and well loved vistas from one’s own front porch.  It is a gesture of love and appreciation; a desire to capture the magic of a  moment in time. 

These portraits transform a fleeting moment into something tangible to keep, to share, and to return to in the depths of winter.

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Are they fairies dancing at dusk? No, the strawberry begonias, Saxifraga stolonifera, have finally bloomed.

Are they fairies dancing at dusk? No, the strawberry begonias, Saxifraga stolonifera, finally have bloomed.  Their evergreen leaves persisted through every kind of weather this winter to cover themselves in flowers in May.

 

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“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!

I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.”

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Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Peony

Peony

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Edna expresses perfectly how I feel about our flowers.  Lovely as they are in the garden, I’m always sad to cut them and bring them indoors.  I still do it occasionally, and have posted photos of flower filled vases from time to time. 

As much as I admire flowers arranged and elevated as objects d’arte, I love them best still growing in the garden; pulsing with life, feeding the pollinators, and moving with the wind and sun.  I would rather photograph our flowers than cut them….

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Comphrey

Comphrey

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“People from a planet without flowers

would think we must be mad with joy the whole time

to have such things about us.”

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Iris Murdoch

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Iris 'Immortality' with Comphrey.

Iris ‘Immortality’ with Comphrey.

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“A weed is but an unloved flower.”

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Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Perennial Geranium is a North American native plant and oh so useful and reliable in the garden. What a perfect shade of blue!

Perennial Geranium is a North American native plant and oh so useful and reliable in the garden. What a perfect shade of blue!

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What is the difference between a flower and a weed?  Only how much it is valued, and whether it is welcomed by the gardener.  Some of Europe’s most admired landscape architects are showing us how native plants may be incorporated into our gardens as treasured ornamentals.  I’m thinking of Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury, whose book Planting:  A New Perspective I’ve been reading this month.  I’ll devote a post to this book one day soon, but now I’m still digesting it. 

Their book challenges all of us to take a fresh look at those shrubs, flowers and grasses we’ve mentally discarded as not being up to our horticultural standard for beauty.  Perhaps there is something there of value after all; something which allows us to create a new sort of garden which manages itself, remains beautiful through all the seasons, and requires less water, fertilizer, time and investment from the gardener…..

Something hardy, simple and beautiful to bring us joy….

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This Iris, 'Secret Rites,' is new to the garden this season. Certainly not a native plant, it is a tough and reliable perennial. Oudolph and Kingsbury rely on these tough German bearded Iris in many of their designs.

This Iris, ‘Secret Rites,’ is new to the garden this season. Certainly not a native plant, it is a tough and reliable perennial. Oudolph and Kingsbury rely on tough German bearded Iris in many of their designs.

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“Nobody sees a flower – really –

it is so small it takes time –

we haven’t time –

and to see takes time,

like to have a friend takes time.”

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Georgia O’Keeffe

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These yellow Iris grow wild along marshes and creeks in our area, as well as in our garden. They go on year after year with minimal care and maximum beauty.

These yellow  flag Iris grow wild along marshes and creeks in our area, as well as in our garden. They go on year after year with minimal care and maximum beauty. 

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Photography, like other art forms, is practiced as a joyful expression and as a discipline.  There is no harsh connotation to ‘discipline’ here; only that one takes photos intentionally, thoughtfully, and regularly.  Making photos on an almost daily basis allows me to slow down and see our garden in a particular way that I wouldn’t, if not through the camera’s lens. 

Working with the photos later at the computer:  cropping, adjusting the contrast and light, meditating on the captured forms; allows me to see each flower, leaf and horizon with a different focus that I do in daily passing.  I see more deeply perhaps.  Certainly with more concentration than when I’m distracted by a buzzing insect or by the tasks remaining on my daily list. 

Framing the subject, cropping out the extraneous, taking time to appreciate those small details builds appreciation and familiarity.  Like inviting a friend for tea, one takes the time to concentrate, appreciate, listen, and love.  The relationship transforms from acquaintance to co-conspirator in this mystery of life.

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Tea roses

Tea roses

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.”

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Claude Monet

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R., 'Lichfield Angel'

R., ‘Lichfield Angel’

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Perhaps Monet and I could have been friends, since I share his passion for beauty, flowers, and evolving gardens.  As passionate about gardening as about painting, Monet found happiness with both. 

Without his talent for painting, I content myself with making portraits of our garden with my little camera.  But like Monet, “I must have flowers, always, always…. “

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R. 'Lady of Shallott'

R. ‘Lady of Shallott’

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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May 13, 2016 Begonias 007

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“God will reward you,’ he said.

‘You must be an angel since you care for flowers.”

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Victor Hugo

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May 13, 2016 Begonias 040

 

Sunday Dinner: Mother Wisdom

May 6. 2016 garden 013

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“Gain strength. Suck up energy.

Make a point of appreciating the fragrance of the flowers

and the beauty of the sunset. It is like armor.

When you take a moment to practice my message

you can then be armed with an ability to be detached.

One is meant to forgive, to forgive and be compassionate.”

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Kuan Yin

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May 6. 2016 garden 014~

“The earth is trying to teach humans that everything is spirit…

Being human is an opportunity

to bring spirit into all that is material…

The quality and intensity of resonance emanated

from a given point is thus attracted back.

When one brings spirit into the human realm,

it can spiritualize matter.

Matter can then become lighter, (indeed liberated),

not as dense as before.”

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Kuan Yin

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May 6. 2016 garden 023~

There is nothing better that you can give

to a person that to be present with them.

When you are fully present, you become love,

and you share that becoming with others.

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Kuan Yin

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Depoe Bay, OR

Depoe Bay, OR

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Lincoln City, OR

Lincoln City, OR

One Word Photo Challenge: Periwinkle

Perwinkle flowers bloom on the Vinca minor vine in early spring.

Perwinkle flowers bloom on the Vinca minor vine in early spring.

Say, “Periwinkle” out loud,

and feel the smile slide on to your lips.

Happiness bubbles up through each syllable.

Violas

Violas

Soft pastel tint of  blue,

Cool morning sky color,

German Iris, "Stairway to Heaven"

German Iris, “Stairway to Heaven”

Lavender blue,

Shade of lilacs and seashells.

May 7 2014 garden 012

Named for the tiny spring flower of the Vinca vine,

Periwinkle ,

Appears only in the big Crayola Crayon boxes.

Rosemary in bloom

Rosemary in bloom

Good for coloring spring flowers,

And hair ribbons, little girls’ dresses,

And tea time petit fours frosting.

Perennial Ajuga

Perennial Ajuga

Tastes of lavender,

Smells of honey,

Feels like cool agates found in the surf,

Sounds like the passing of a moth at dusk.

May 3 2014 afternoon garden 059

Clematis “Arabella”

Periwinkle

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells  for hosting the Weekly One Word Photo Challenge

 

Salmon

Purple

Blue

Red

Black

Glitter

Turquoise

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