Sunday Dinner

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“Today expect something good to happen to you

no matter what occurred yesterday.

Realize the past no longer holds you captive.

It can only continue to hurt you

if you hold on to it.

Let the past go.

A simply abundant world awaits.”


Sarah Ban Breathnach


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“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.”


Jonathan Lockwood Huie


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“Excellence is the Result of Caring

more than others think is Wise,

Risking more than others think is Safe,

Dreaming more than others think

is Practical, and Expecting more

than others think is Possible.”


Ronnie Oldham


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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016


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“Our brightest blazes of gladness

are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”


Samuel Johnson


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Once again the miracle: soft, bright buds open into the warmth of spring.  What was closed and hard breaks open, allowing new life to emerge.

I never tire of the beauty of it all.


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Tender green sprouts push up through barren soil.  Vines sprout tiny green buds along their length.  And everywhere, flowers unfold in every color you might imagine.


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This opening of each new gardening season reminds me of the inherent goodness of our lives.  There is always hope. 

There can always remain the expectation that something beautiful and joy-filled will emerge right as we need it most.


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You may notice the many scars on the Edgeworthia branches below these golden flowers.  How sweetly these flowers fill our garden with perfume as they open!  Their fragrance is like honey; the first fragrant flowers to perfume the garden each year.  The scars mark where leaves have grown and fallen.  And yet they add to the beauty of the shrub.  They give a certain character, even as the branches age and the scars begin to fade.  By early April new leaves will cloak the shrub in bright green, and the golden flowers will have fallen away.


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These cycles instruct us if we pause to reflect.

All life is beautiful.  All is re-newed in its time.


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These past few weeks have found us out working happily in the garden once again after winter’s long break.  Early spring tasks may not be glamorous, but accomplishing each in its time prepares the way for what is to come.  There is compost to spread, leaves to rake and shred, weeding, pruning, planting and the daily journey of discovery in search of new developments.

We listen to the excited calls of many birds returning to the garden.  We admire awakening perennials and emerging buds.


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We have begun moving hanging baskets outside for deep watering, fresh air, and brighter light, grateful for every one which survived its winter vacation indoors.  I’m planting cuttings, re-potting geraniums and watching for new leaves.


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So much to do!  And so much more light each day to accomplish each task still waiting for attention!


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This spring feels stuck in ‘fast forward.’  Early warmth speeds the unfolding.  With an eye ever on the forecast, we press on with delight, hoping to elude a late frost.


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With appreciation to Carol for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the fifteenth of each month.  Please visit her for more beautiful spring flowers.


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Woodland Gnome 2016


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Japanese Magnolia

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The deep violet buds of our Japanese Magnolias are opening today, greeting the first day of April. 

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These shrubs amazed us when they opened early in our first spring in this garden.  And they continue to amaze us with their concentrated color so early in the season.

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Spring unfolds mostly in pastels.  We have yellows, creams, palest greens; perhaps a bit of orange in the center of a daffodil.

But then this amazing Magnolia’s buds swell so rapidly during the first stretch of warm days each spring, you can almost watch them grow hour to hour.

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So early that the leaf buds have barely even begun to swell, the flowers of these early Magnolias unfold in the opening acts of spring.

Originating in southwest China, Magnolia liliiflora has been in cultivation for centuries in many areas of Asia, including Japan.

It came into cultivation in English speaking countries from Japan, and so we often refer to these small deciduous trees as Japanese Magnolias.

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Also called Tulip Magnolias or Lily Magnolia, they are grown for their flowers.  Of slender and graceful habit, most cultivars remain small.  Some varieties form slightly larger trees, but most remain rather shrub like, growing to only 8-12 feet tall.

Grown in full sun to part shade, in Zones 5-8, these deciduous Magnolias enjoy moist soil.  We feed ours with Espoma Plant Tone or Holly Tone.  Ours grow in slightly acidic conditions among Azaleas, Camellias, and under mature Oaks.  While the deer freely graze the Camellias and Azaleas given the chance, they leave our Magnolias alone.

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We have never pruned these slow growing shrubs, but we have needed to stake one which blew partially over in a storm.  It is recovering well.

It was already growing towards the sun, and probably needs more sun than it routinely gets during the summer when the canopy fills in over our forest garden.

These shrubs are another of the many gifts left to us by previous owners.   The appearance of their flowers assures us that spring is settling into the garden, and always brings us joy.


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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Choosing a Tree For the Garden

Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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