WPC: Layered

~

Our lifetime, like our environment, is built of uncountable layers. 

Ben Huberman reminds us of this in his weekly photo challenge today, and asks us to explore the various meanings of layers through our images.

While some of us may already be reaching for an extra layer of warmth when we head outside; there are also many of us still discarding as many layers as we safely can, when we muck through the humid heavy air of hurricane season to capture our images.

~

~

I found these images on Sunday afternoon, as Hurricane Jose swirled off the coast,  all at a single stop along the marshes of Jamestown Island.  I was wearing far too many layers for comfort that afternoon, yet wished for an extra layer or two after the first few mosquitoes had their way with me.  Invisible predators sipped from hand and ear as I worked.

Just as I crept towards the last dry edge of the marsh, a Great Blue Heron startled, taking off from his hidden sanctuary beyond the reeds.  It reminded me that there are always layers upon layers of life more than we may every perceive.

Senses tuned, listening, watching, smelling the brackish air;  his presence still escaped me until he burst into the air in a massive explosion of determined wings, only a few feet ahead.

~

~

Yet once he took flight, it wasn’t his presence which intrigued me, so much as the tiny crabs scuttling along on the muddy shore as the tide pushed back in.  These tiny crustaceans, each with one giant claw, make their lives and livings in our brackish marshes from south of Virginia Beach north throughout the rivers and estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Masses of them appear from the reeds as the tide recedes.

I have fond memories of watching them with my daughter when she was small enough that I held her in my arms, pointing and laughing with her at their antics.  We have changed so much; they, not at all. 

~

~

Maybe that is one of the comforts nature offers to us.  We can watch the same tree grow over our lifetime.  We can see the same birds and butterflies and even tiny crabs again and again through the decades of our lives.

We watch each season melt into the next; sunsets fade to reveal the star filled firmament above us.

~

~

And yet, for all of that lifetime of seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting; we never quite discover all of the intricate layers of our world.  There is always a little bit more out there to discover and to love.

What a wonderful challenge this life presents to us, to know and to feel and to grow.  Not that all of it is beautiful.  Not that all of it makes us happy.  Not that all of it is even pleasant.

But it is incredible in its complexity, its balance, its depth and its ability to still surprise us.

~

~

Yet to know it, we must be out there in the midst of it all, peeling back layer after layer of ourselves in our search for experience.

What lies beneath all of these layers?  What will we find if we can only watch long enough?

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Layered

~

Advertisements

Native Beauty

Virginia thistle growing with goldenrod and beautyberry on Jamestown Island, Virginia.

~

We headed out onto the Colonial Parkway yesterday afternoon, to see what we could see.   We were watching for signs of the changing season, and of course watching the sky for signs of the approaching storm.  Hurricane Jose was swirling out in the Atlantic, well away to our southeast.   Even so, the outer bands of this enormous storm were already creeping across our sky.

Once we reached  the ‘roads less traveled’ on Jamestown Island, we were delighted to see bright purple beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma , bright golden Solidago, yellowing marsh grasses and occasional reddening leaves.

The outer tips of branches on our native dogwoods, and some maples, have begun to change into their autumn finery.

~

~

Yellowed Poplar leaves have been falling for weeks now.  A few inky purple berries still cling to magenta stems on the many native Aralia spinosa trees lining the road.  Their leaves will soon turn golden, too.

We stopped in a few of the pull-offs on the island to read the signs yet again, and for me to hop out to take a few photos.   As we approached one pull-off in particular, along the longer Island Drive, I was intrigued by the bright wildflowers and purple berries right beside the road.

~

A pull off on the longer Island Drive on Jamestown Island.

~

In addition to the vivid beautyberries  which lined the whole of the road in abundance, and the stands of goldenrod, there was something uniquely different.  This had flowers like a thistle, but on a radically different tall and lanky plant that I’d never noticed before.  What was it?

~

~

The wild thistles we’d seen on Ocracoke Island, many miles to the south, were much stockier and shorter plants with larger blossoms.  I quickly ruled out perennial Cardoon, and every other ‘thistle-like’ plant I’ve known.

We have a passing acquaintance with most all of the native trees, ferns and perennials in the area.  And this one was new to us.

Perhaps we’d never visited the island at precisely this point in the seasonal progression before…  And so I took lots of photos, and determined to investigate the plant later, at home.

~

~

As it turns out, the plant we found is a native of the Southeastern United States, called Cirsium virginianum, or Virginia thistle.   A biennial, it prefers moister, sandier soils along the coast.  It has a dangerously thorny stem, long thin leaves, and had grown a bit taller than I stand.  In some areas along the Gulf coast, it is considered a ‘noxious weed.’  But in Virginia, it is still relatively rare, at least in my experience.

I enjoyed the natural combination of its lavender blossoms growing against a back drop of purple beautyberry, with a skirt of bright goldenrod.    For this forested, marshy island especially, this was a rare colorful sight along the road.

~

~

The beautyberry is rampant now in our garden, too.  In fact, so many volunteers have appeared that we often must cut them back throughout the season.  This is one of the plants I cut back hard in early spring to somewhat control its size.

~

One of the larger beautyberry shrubs in our garden, which we cut hard every spring, reaches up for the lower limbs of the dogwood tree which shelters it.

~

Solidago has self-seeded in sunny parts of our garden, too.   And we have a single berry-topped Aralia proudly presiding over it all.  A neighbor tipped me off to how badly the Aralia can sucker, and so I ruthlessly cut out the many small clones trying to grow up around the main stem this spring.  I suppose that will be an ongoing part of our garden routine from now on.

~

Our Aralia, in its first season of bloom, surrounded by native Phytolacca americana, or pokeweed, another rampant native plant.  The birds love these berry laden natives.

~

There are definite advantages and disadvantages to inviting native plants into one’s garden.  It is something to consider, especially for aging gardeners who want neat, easy maintenance landscapes around their home.

Native plants self-seed easily, and often grow and spread with enthusiasm.  It can take great effort to control them, especially if they establish on good garden soil, in areas tended and irrigated to keep them productive.  We are nearly overrun with the stunningly beautiful Rudbeckia hirta and Rudbeckia laciniata.  They both quickly claim far more real-estate than a gardener plans to give them.

~

Three natives growing together in our front garden: black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta; mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum; and obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana.  A Master Gardener friend gave us a large clump of obedient plant this spring. I divided it into several smaller clumps, and planted them in different areas to see where they perform best.  I am thrilled that this beautiful plant survived our summer drought and is blooming this first year.

~

The R. laciniata wasn’t even invited; a gardening friend gave me a clump of white Monarda passed on from her friend, and some R. laciniata roots just happened to be in the clump.  But these gargantuan, flower covered plants are now filling my former ‘butterfly garden.’  I must tend to their removal this fall, when the weather cools, and weed them out ruthlessly next spring.

~

Rudbeckia laciniata now fills what once was our butterfly garden, filled with various flowering shrubs and perennials.  I intend to weed most of this out over the next month, sharing it with a friend who wants it!

~

The Rudbeckia hirta I shared lavishly with all gardening friends who would accept a few this spring.  I dug up clump after clump, and still have the largest, lushest stand of it, ever.  There are worse things than a sea of golden flowers come August and September, I suppose.

The rich drifts of perennials one admires in public gardens are attainable with natives, without stretching the budget, I’ve learned.

~

~

This is the season for native plant sales, sponsored by local native plant societies.  This is a good service for communities and enables more of us to grow natives, if we choose.  While I support the effort in theory, I must admit that in general I prefer more curated, controllable cultivars.

~

Self-sown Solidago in our garden, a week and a half ago, nearly ready to bloom. It has just begun to show color, and will be fully in bloom by next weekend.  This huge perennial attracts many pollinators and provides late season nectar for our bees.  But, large natives often shade and crowd out the more desirable cultivars of perennials one has purchased for the garden….

~

Yes, I acknowledge the many and varied benefits native plants offer wildlife, and we absolutely grow our share of natives here.

That said, a word to the wise:  carefully research and observe any native plant you want to grow, before you invite it home to your garden.  Let  the natives you grow remain natural beauties, and may they never cross that line to become noxious weeds, overtaking your garden.

~

Obedient plant with black-eyed Susans

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

~

A waterway through the marsh on Jamestown Island

~

“In the rain forest, no niche lies unused. No emptiness goes unfilled.  No gasp of sunlight goes untrapped.  In a million vest pockets, a million life-forms quietly tick.  No other place on earth feels so lush.  Sometimes we picture it as an echo of the original Garden of Eden—a realm ancient, serene, and fertile, where pythons slither and jaguars lope.  But it is mainly a world of cunning and savage trees.  Truant plants will not survive.  The meek inherit nothing. Light is a thick yellow vitamin they would kill for, and they do.  One of the first truths one learns in the rain forest is that there is nothing fainthearted or wimpy about plants.”
.
Diane Ackerman

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Solitude

~
“Solitude is independence.
It had been my wish and with the years I had attained it.
It was cold. Oh, cold enough!
But it was also still, wonderfully still
and vast like the cold stillness of space
in which the stars revolve.”
.
Hermann Hesse

~

~

“We live, in fact, in a world starved
for solitude, silence, and private:
and therefore starved for meditation
and true friendship.”
.
C.S. Lewis

~

Jamestown Island, Virginia

~

“But your solitude will be a support
and a home for you,
even in the midst
of very unfamiliar circumstances,
and from it you will find all your paths.”
.
Rainer Maria Rilke

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
~

Crabs at low tide in the marsh

~
“If you’re lonely when you’re alone,
you’re in bad company.”
.
Jean-Paul Sartre

Wednesday Vignette: Take Care of Our Heart

~

“People ask: Why should I care about the ocean?

Because the ocean is the cornerstone

of earth’s life support system,

it shapes climate and weather.

It holds most of life on earth; 97% of earth’s water is there.

It’s the blue heart of the planet —

we should take care of our heart.

It’s what makes life possible for us.

We still have a really good chance

to make things better than they are.

They won’t get better unless we take the action

and inspire others to do the same thing.

No one is without power.

Everybody has the capacity to do something.”

.

Sylvia A. Earle

~

~

“There is such solace in the mere sight of water.

It clothes us delicately in its blowing salt and scent,

gossamer items that medicate the poor soul”

.

Sebastian Barry

~

~

“What begins at the water shall end there,

and what ends there shall once more begin.”

.

Doug Dorst

~

~

“Water records information,

and while circulating throughout the earth

distributes information.

This water sent from the universe

is full of the information of life…”

.

Masaru Emoto

~

~

“No one can know the infinite importance

of a tiny drop of water better than a thirsty bird

or a little ant or a man of desert!”

.

Mehmet Murat ildan

~

~

“To be fully alive

is to have an aesthetic perception of life

because a major part of the world’s goodness

lies in its often unspeakable beauty.”

.

Yukitaka Yamamoto

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome

For World Water Day 2017

~

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Late May

Late May

~

“I know I am but summer to your heart,

and not the full four seasons of the year.”

.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Living here surrounded by forests and wetlands, tides and seasons are the metronomes of our live.  We watch the passage of time in every budding branch, ripening berry, brilliant crimson leaf, and ice clogged marsh.

~

November

November

~

But time is cyclic here, like the tides.  The creatures come and go in their comforting rhythm as one month melts into the next.  We’ve learned where to watch for them, and when.

~

January

January

~

No rhythm escapes notice.  There is nothing subtle about the changing of the seasons in coastal Virginia.  Each carries its distinct beauties and its mood.  They may meld slowly one to the next, but there is time to savor and appreciate each in its fullness.

~

February

Late February

~

And these things remain constant: water flows,  trees glisten in the sunlight, birds call to one another, wind ripples across the creeks, and all things change.  We watch the rising and falling of the tides and see the currents flowing through our lives. 

We watch seedlings sprout, and see rotted trees fallen from the last storm.  But even the fallen serve their purpose,  holding sunning turtles this day, and herons in their meditations another.  Life goes on; nothing ever lost or wasted.

~

July

July

~

Seasons:  the changing costumes of the one creation.  Whether they pass as swiftly as spring, or as slowly as a glacier encrusted ice age; they demonstrate the dynamic life animating everything on our planet.

~

September

September

~

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

 

“Except. What is normal at any given time?

We change just as the seasons change,

and each spring brings new growth.

So nothing is ever quite the same.”

.

Sherwood Smith

~

Ice covers the marsh at Halfway Creek where Canada Geese gather in search of food.

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2016

Wednesday Vignettes: Wild

January 10, 2015 leaves 024

~

“Plants are also integral to reweaving

the connection between land and people.

A place becomes a home when it sustains you,

when it feeds you in body as well as spirit.

To recreate a home, the plants must also return.”

.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 007

~

“In the rain forest, no niche lies unused.

No emptiness goes unfilled.

No gasp of sunlight goes untrapped.

In a million vest pockets, a million life-forms quietly tick.

No other place on earth feels so lush.

Sometimes we picture it as an echo

of the original Garden of Eden—a realm ancient,

serene, and fertile, where pythons slither and jaguars lope.

But it is mainly a world of cunning and savage trees.

Truant plants will not survive.

The meek inherit nothing.

Light is a thick yellow vitamin they would kill for,

and they do. One of the first truths one learns

in the rain forest is that there is nothing

fainthearted or wimpy about plants.”

.

Diane Ackerman

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 011

~

“As dreams are the healing songs

from the wilderness of our unconscious –

So wild animals, wild plants, wild landscapes

are the healing dreams

from the deep singing mind of the earth.”

.

Dale Pendell

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 026

Appreciation, always, to  Anna at Flutter and Hum for hosting the Wednesday Vignette each week. Please visit her for links to other beautiful garden photos from around the planet.

Photos by Woodland Gnome

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 073

~

There are still a very limited number of A Forest Garden 2016 garden calendars left, if you wanted one and didn’t order it in December.  Please contact me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com to order.

~

January 10, 2015 leaves 009

Wild Beauty

A marsh on Jamestown Island

A marsh on Jamestown Island

~

The garden quickly grows a bit shaggy this time of year, looking like it needs a good haircut.

Abundant rain and steamy temperatures fuel growth so fast, you might think you can sit and watch it all expanding.

~

Native trumpet vine grows through trees, entangling with other vines.  This grows in Jamestown Island.

Native trumpet vine grows through trees, entangling with other vines, here  on Jamestown Island.

~

Vines creep inches a day.  Weeds spring up lush and thick overnight.  Grasses spread their rhizomes to claim fresh territory in the beds and mulch.  And everything grows green.

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 006

~

Everything.  A thin layer of algae or moss will grow in the most unexpected places.

~

Queen Anne's Lace grows near a pond on the Colonial Parkway.

Queen Anne’s Lace grows near a pond on the Colonial Parkway.

~

We can’t keep up with it all.   The world looks a little wild and unkempt in July.

But it is wildly beautiful.

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 016

~

Every trip around the garden to weed, trim and prune yields at minimum a wheelbarrow full of culled greenery.  Shade grows deep beneath the expanding canopy of vines, branches and leaves.

Such abundance!

~

Trumpet vine climbs over, around and through this sapling pine.  They will grow together for many more years to come on Jamestown Island.

Trumpet vine climbs over, around and through this sapling pine. They will grow together for many more years to come on Jamestown Island.

~

There is a tension between maintaining a neatly trimmed garden and letting the plants do what they will.

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 068

~

You see it along the roads where crews trim so far back from the pavement, and then let nature take the rest.  You see it along the Parkway, and at the edge of the woods, and anywhere a human hand neglects to bring order for more than a few days at a time.

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 020~

It remains a fine line to tread in the garden.  “What may grow, and what must go?”  the perennial question a gardener ponders in July.

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 001~

There is a certain tension in a newly trimmed lawn, swept hardscaping, pruned hedges, a well pruned bed of annuals.

And then there is the exuberant release of wildly blooming branches and top heavy perennials.  Day lily, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Salvia, Lantana, Achillea ... these have risen miraculously from the bed.

~

Wildflowers along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown.

Wildflowers along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown.

~

Buds open, stalks grow, leaves uncurl, color fills the spaces so recently blanketed in snow.

~

Native blackberrries grow through a native shrub we call Beautyberry.

Native blackberrries grow through a native shrub we call Beautyberry.

~

Every gardener must negotiate their own balance between the tension and the release; control and abandon.

~

Our garden, July 1

Our garden, July 1

~

And some gardeners live in awe of the artful hand of nature, left to tend the garden in her own, sublime style.

What surprises she offers!  What generosity and enthusiasm she brings to the design!

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 007~

Gardening in a living forest, by necessity I lean towards the wild side of beauty, towards allowing nature her hand in creating our garden.

~

Vines  climb through Rose of Sharon and scamper onto a Dogwood tree in our garden.

Vines climb through Rose of Sharon and scamper onto a Dogwood tree in our garden.

~

That hand has not always been gentle, or kind.  This is a dynamic collaboration; always evolving.

There are always surprises.  There are ongoing challenges.

But what beauty emerges in the process!

~

Our garden on the fourth of July:; a Salvia grows through Colocasia, punctuated with a dark leafed Canna.

Our garden on July 4; a Salvia grows through Colocasia, punctuated with a dark leafed Canna.

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

A wildflower growing on Jamestown Island

A wildflower growing on Jamestown Island

Bee-Friendly

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 087

~

“Once again…welcome to my house.

Come freely. Go safely;

and leave something of the happiness you bring.”

.

Bram Stoker

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 081

~

“There is no hospitality like understanding.”

.

Vanna Bonta

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 084

~

“Create inclusion – with simple mindfulness

that others might have a different reality from your own.”

.

Patti Digh

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 085

~

“It only takes one cat – or person –

to make another feel welcome and special.”

.

  Laura C. Monteiro

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 082

~

“But still – that is our vocation:

to convert the hostis into a hospes,

the enemy into a guest

and to create the free and fearless space

where brotherhood and sisterhood

can be formed and fully experienced.”

.

  Henri J.M. Nouwen

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 080~

We are all strangers in this strange land; all but the natives who greeted us in 1607 and their children’s children who live among us now.

The genius, the energy, and the stubborness of “Americans” comes from our identity as immigrants, as newcomers.  Every new wave of immigrants brings some special something with them, which woven into the fabric of our culture keeps us ever new and relevant.

America remains in a constant state of rebellion against what is outdated and stale.  We welcome the fresh breezes from the sea to clear away the smog and offer us a view of the infinite blue sky.

~

Jamestown Island, July 4, 2015

Jamestown Island, July 4, 2015

~

Happy Independence Day! 

May our Nation be always blessed by love.

~

Jamestown Island still bears sweet fruits for those who stop to gather them.

Jamestown Island still bears sweet fruits for those who stop to gather them.

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

~

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 043

Silent Sunday: Change

Jamestown Island, March 6, 2015

Jamestown Island, March 6, 2015

~

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
.

Lao Tzu

~

Jamestown Island, May 19, 2015

Jamestown Island, May 19, 2015

~

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.

Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
.

Rumi

~

May 19, 2015 hot 012

~

“I alone cannot change the world,

but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
.

Mother Teresa

~

May 19, 2015 hot 034~

“Change the way you look at things

and the things you look at change.”
.

Wayne W. Dyer

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

~

May 19, 2015 hot 035

Wordless Wednesday

 

Honeysuckle vines, growing wild on Jamestown Island.

Honeysuckle vines, growing wild on Jamestown Island.

~

“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!

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

.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

~

May 19, 2015 hot 025

 

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 654 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest