Six on Saturday: Spring Green

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“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. ”
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William Shakespeare

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The first greens of spring have a tender quality, a tentative yellow paleness born of cool and damp and cloudy days.  Even as shoots and fronds and vines and mosses boldly grow, obscuring the muddiness where their roots have rested since autumn, they still haven’t toughened up to their deeper summer tones.

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‘Chartreuse‘ is perhaps too harsh a word to describe this freshest shade of green.  ‘Viridescent’ has a bit more sparkle to it.  These newest uncurling leaves are the quintessence of naive inexperience; vigorous, pliable, and unblemished.

Their freshness reminds us that the Earth constantly re-news and re-youths itself.  Ever full of surprises, the garden allows us to take nothing at face value in April.

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“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew

over those brown beds,

which, freshening daily,

suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night,

and left each morning

brighter traces of her steps.”
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Charlotte Brontë

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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

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Six on Saturday: The Greening of the World

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“I can breathe where there is green.

Green grows hope.

It keeps my heart beating

and helps me remember

who I am.”
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Courtney M. Privett

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The first daffodils of spring opened in our forest garden yesterday.

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Watching the greening of the world each spring never fails to fill me with appreciation to live in such a beautiful place.  How many people live in cities or arid lands that remain clothed in shades of grey and brown throughout the year?

Without winter, I’m not sure that I would appreciate the living greens of February so much.  At the moment, every emerging leaf and stem excites me.

I want to photograph them and watch their daily progress as new growth emerges from woody stems and muddy earth.

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Green is the color of life, of growth, of change.  The simple chemistry of transforming sunlight into living bio-energy happens only in the green.  The alchemy of transforming polluted air into pure; the creation of oxygen to fill our every breath requires green leaves to filter every inhalation of breath we take.  Green sustains our lives even as it soothes our spirit.

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This is the season when the first tentative bits of green re-appear from the warming Earth.  Perennials re-awaken and stretch folded leaves and lengthening stems, reaching for sunlight and warmth.  Moss plumps and spreads,  tiny weeds and blades of grass sprout from patient seeds.

I am glad to find them all, encouraged at the stubbornness and determination of greening life to prevail over the forces of darkness.  The old and rotting will be swept away to return to the compost pile of history, releasing its remaining energy to fuel what is vital and new.

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“Pursue some path,

however narrow and crooked,

in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
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Henry David Thoreau

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Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Green is the soul of Spring.

Summer may be dappled with yellow,

Autumn with orange and Winter with white

but Spring is drenched with the colour green.”
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Paul Kortepeter

Wednesday Vignettes: Magical Green

December 28, 2015 green 013

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Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.

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Claude Monet

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December 28, 2015 green 008

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“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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December 28, 2015 green 023

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“It is good to love many things,

for therein lies the true strength,

and whosoever loves much performs much,

and can accomplish much,

and what is done in love is well done.”

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Vincent van Gogh

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December 28, 2015 green 014

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“The purest and most thoughtful minds

are those which love color the most.”

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John Ruskin

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December 28, 2015 green 017

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“You don’t see something

until you have the right metaphor

to let you perceive it”

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James Gleick

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December 28, 2015 green 022~

“It’s on the strength of observation

and reflection

that one finds a way.

So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

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Claude Monet

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December 28, 2015 green 018

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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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December 28, 2015 green 021

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“The most beautiful experience we can have

is the mysterious.

It is the fundamental emotion

that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

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Albert Einstein

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December 28, 2015 green 030

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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December 28, 2015 green 024

Color in the Garden

Forest

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Green is the color in the plant kingdom we think of first.  Green grass, green leaves, shrubs, and trees.  We’re told green vegetables are good for us, and encouraged to “think green” when buying a car or handling our trash.  We hope the grass is greener on our own side of the fence.

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A patch of hardy Begonia growing with Creeping Jenny, ivy, and ferns.

A patch of hardy Begonia growing with Creeping Jenny, ivy, and ferns.

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Green is the color of vitality, of growth and goodness. 

It is the color of abundance and self-sufficiency.

Plants can turn sunlight into sugar because of the green chlorophyll living in their cells.  And yet, many of us plan our gardens around the colors of flowers, and tend to ignore the rest of the plant.

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Hosta

Hosta and Autumn Brilliance Fern

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We think of a forest landscape as green and brown.

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July 2 2013 trees 005

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But it is so much more.

In elementary school, we needed only two crayons to draw a tree.  We may have colored in green grass underneath, and then what?

Did you add a pink tulip to the scene?  A red bird?  A blue pond? Or did you add some green balls as shrubs?

Look again.  Is a tree all one color of green?  And is the trunk just brown?  We must learn to see what really is – to look past our idea of what something might be, and see the multicolored reality before us.

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Forest

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Color in a landscape, in a garden, is a very personal subject.

Formal gardens are mostly green with wide expanses of lawn, hedges of box or yew, great oaks and ivy growing on a wall or tree.  Color comes in blocks, like a bed full of yellow tulips beside the walkway.  We associate a minimalist approach in the formal garden with sophistication and refinement.  These gardens have the feel of a public place, a garden for display, for entertaining guests, for showcasing our home and perhaps some sculpture.

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"Queen Lime" Zinnia growing with a FIg tree.

Queen Lime” Zinnia growing with a FIg tree.

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Cottage gardens are imagined in bold, kaleidoscopic color.   Pink roses grow by orange daylilies and purple sage.  Tall white phlox shimmies in the breeze near lavender irises, and huge white peonies.  Yellow daffodils welcome spring and pots of orange chrysanthemums celebrate the last days of autumn.

We imagine a free spirit planting every flower she loves- randomly, in a huge back yard garden, a very personal space.  But a cacophony of color can be too much in competition for attention.  Nothing flows smoothly or compliments its neighbor, and we’re left on edge.

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Chili Pepper

Chili Pepper

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We often take green as the given, the canvas on which we plant our garden.  We load our cart at the garden center with lots of colorful flowers.  The shrubbery and trees don’t grab our attention in the same way, and yet they are the “bones” of any good garden plan.

Where is the beauty, and the balance?

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June 21 Lanai 022

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had to learn to see, really see, green.

In a box of 64 Crayola crayons, how many greens do you get?  How many synonyms for green can you name?  Do you know the difference between chartreuse and lime?  Apple green and teal?  How many different shades of green can you find in your own garden?

Normally, we think of leaves as green, and flowers as colorful.  We’re drawn to big bright flowers, especially in summer.

That is fine, and I certainly love flowers, but as we create our gardens year after year, eventually there is a time to look beyond the flowers to the beauty of everything else in our landscape.

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August 3, 2014 butterflies 099

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We notice the wonderful shapes and textures of the leaves of things.  We see that leaves and stems come in grey, and white, and purple, and yellow, and burgundy and teal, and in a hundred different shades of green. Leaves can be solid, or variegated.  They change color as the season progresses.  Working with the shapes, the different sizes, and the different colors of leaves takes us to another level in creating our gardens.

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Oakleaf Hydrangea and oxalis

Oakleaf Hydrangea and Oxalis

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When our focus shifts away from the flowers a plant produces, and we focus on the foliage, real magic occurs.  Because flowers are ephemeral, and some may last for only a day.

Some plants may produce flowers for only a week or two out of an entire year.  Some flowers open beautifully, and then get destroyed by rain, or too much sun, and end up a soggy brown mess.

What is left standing in our pots or beds once the flowers have faded?  That is where our focus shifts when we move up a notch to the next level of creating our gardens.

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Lavender,  Autumn Brilliance fern, dusty miller, Sage, Lantana, and Dianthus blend many colors and shapes of foliage.

Lavender, dusty miller, Sage, and Lantana

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I like the approach of “green, and…”

In other words, when you select a tree, shrub, perennial, annual, or herb; what are you getting each and every day of the next year?   Do you get “green in summer and great bark in winter”?  Maybe you’re getting “green all year but orange berries in November”.  Or perhaps, you’re getting “blue green leaves all summer, a few weeks of outstanding flowers, and a repeat performance next year.”

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Begonia

Rex Begonia

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An interesting garden needs an interesting mix of plants which shift and evolve as the year progresses.  If you plant only evergreens and grass, the landscape changes very little from April to October, unless a drought comes in summer and the lawn turns brown.

If you plant only bright annual flowers, what do you look at all winter?  I want something in bloom every day of the year in my garden, and that is easy to do in Zone 7b, but I don’t need everything in bloom every day.  The garden needs to shift and change from week to week and season to season.

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August 3, 2014 butterflies 101

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Our plants need to look good even when they’re not in bloom.  And, I think flowers look better when they are accents, pops of color, against a beautiful background of foliage.

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Camellias in fall

Camellia Sasanqua and Dogwood anchor this border of shrubs and trees.

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Trees and shrubs need to turn bright colors in autumn.  Summer annuals need to bite the frost and be replaced with Violas.  Evergreen Camellias and hollies need to shine in the winter sunshine among the bare trees.

Moss needs to glisten in the winter rain, and ferns need to send up bronze and green fronds in spring beside the yellow daffodils. 

And mostly, my eyes need somewhere to rest.  After I’ve admired the red Monarda and yellow Lantana, I want a tranquil bed or border of a green, which is anything but boring.

Woodland Gnome 2013-2014

Variegated Lacecap Hydrangea

Variegated Lacecap Hydrangea

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