Wildly Sweet

May 28, 2015 garden 034

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The sweetest smelling part of our garden remains the wildest.  We inherited a “hedge” of Ligustrum japonicum, overgrown for decades, growing between our home and our neighbors’.   At least 30′ tall, and supporting a healthy colony of wild honeysuckle, its perfume permeates the garden.

A whiff of blooming honeysuckle, a memory from childhood summers, announces summer in my heart.

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May 28, 2015 garden 035

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This elusive scent remains full of comfort and promise.  The flatter, heavier scent of the Ligustrum grows stronger as the weather heats up.  It penetrates body and soul as we step out into the garden on hot afternoons.

Trillions of tiny white flowers, blooming on this living wall, generate all of this perfume.  And, as you would imagine, they are positively dancing as bees and other tiny insects fly from flower to flower.   Gorging on this feast of nectar, the bees pay us little attention.

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But they have my attention as I work around them.  Of course, this area shades my plant nursery  This is where I store plants,waiting to be potted or planted, and gardening supplies.

This is the wildest part of our garden.  We do nothing here, save to leave it alone.  It had grown into this magnificence long before we arrived, and we leave it to its own outrageous beauty.

Flowers today will slowly grow into plump purple berries by late autumn.

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January 24 ice 008

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This wall of Ligustrum feeds our cardinals, and multitudes of other hungry birds, all winter long.  Birds  feast on  insects in the depths of these shrubs throughout the year.  Our overgrown hedge offers shelter for wildlife and provides a windbreak for the garden.

Its deep shade creates a microclimate for ferns and remains cool and welcoming on the hottest summer days. Ivy, Vinca,  and Virginia Creeper carpet the soil beneath it.

Wildly untended, it is not the beauty spot of our garden.  But it doesn’t need to be.  Its presence frames the life within.

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Woodland Gnome  2015

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For A Friend

This tree in Colonial Williamsburg always captures my interest.  A beautiful tree, I haven't yet been able to identify it.  Do you know this tree?

This tree in Colonial Williamsburg always captures my interest. A beautiful tree,  with an unusual branch structure; and I haven’t yet been able to identify it.   Do you know this tree?

This post is for a special friend who moved away from Williamsburg a few years ago, to return, in retirement, to a Zone 10A garden near where she grew up.

She was kind enough to write to me today, and share some memories of times we shared together here in Virginia.

May 24 2014 vines 034

She followed a link I sent her to Forest Garden, and has been enjoying a window into our Virginia spring through the photos she has found here.

Sheep living in a field at Colonial Williamsburg

Sheep living in a field at Colonial Williamsburg

And so these photos today are especially for Janet, although you are certainly welcome to enjoy them, also.  I am hoping to possibly lure her back for a visit….

Janet is a dedicated gardener, like most of my friends, and she  also holds the gardens of  Colonial Williamsburg in a special place in her heart.

Colonial Williamsburg allows horses to graze in fields near the historic area.

Colonial Williamsburg allows horses to graze in fields near the historic area.

My partner and I enjoyed a brief visit to Colonial Williamsburg earlier this week.

 

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You may enjoy seeing some of the sights we enjoyed.  Perhaps you will visit Williamsburg this summer, too.  If you enjoy natural beauty, history, and wonderful food, you’ll enjoy a visit here.

The flowering shrubs on the opposite shore are Mountain Laurel.

The flowering shrubs on the opposite shore are Mountain Laurel.

Our world here in Virginia looks and feels like summer now. 

A marsh on Jamestown Island.

A marsh on Jamestown Island.

We hit 90 degrees this afternoon, and some little starts still in their nursery pots wilted in the heat.  I came home from a picnic to find them sadly wilted, and gave them a little emergency watering.

Honeysuckle perfumes the air with sweetness.  It grows wild wherever it can get a foothold.  I've been pulling honeysuckle vines out of the fern garden this week.

Honeysuckle perfumes the air with sweetness. It grows wild wherever it can get a foothold. I’ve been pulling honeysuckle vines out of the fern garden this week.

I felt heartless to have been off having fun with friends with these poor little plants neglected and dry.  If tomorrow morning is cool, they will go into the ground first thing.

Wild bloackberries growing with honeysuckle.  In a few weeks, the berries will be ripe and delicious.

Wild blackberries growing with honeysuckle. In a few weeks, the berries will be ripe and delicious.

We are almost at the end of planting season now.  Our heat has arrived, and it is enough to keep everything watered and deadheaded.

Ligustrum shrubs, blooming now in our garden, add to the sweetness of the summer breezes.

Ligustrum shrubs, blooming now in our garden, add to the sweetness of the summer breezes.

Pools are open now,  school is almost over, and we’re in the lull between college commencements and high school graduations.

The air is thick with sweet scents from honeysuckle, Ligustrum, and box.  Oh, what bliss is this for all of us whose blood flows green…

These shrubs grow "like weeds" in our garden; yet their flowers are beautiful.  Our birds love these shrubs where they find food and shelter.

These shrubs grow “like weeds” in our garden; yet their flowers are beautiful. Our birds love these shrubs where they find food and shelter.

The fragrance of early summer always leaves me nostalgic.

It reminds of friends and good times we shared.  And it entices me out of the air conditioning, into the garden, to enjoy the wonder of it all.

Can you spot the bee visiting the purple milk vetch?

Can you spot the bee visiting the purple milk vetch?

Photos by  Woodland Gnome 2014

This summer's grapes have begun to form on the wild grapevines.

This summer’s grapes have begun to form on the wild grapevines.

Berries, Branches, and Flowers?

November 18 2013 WC and Parkway 005

When you click on this photo to enlarge it, you may be able to spot the yellow Forsythia flowers, blooming out of season in November.

Late yesterday afternoon, I wandered around the garden looking for branches to cut for this arrangement on our refreshment table ready for tomorrow’s gathering.  I wanted a mixture of branches with evergreen leaves, some interesting fall color, and bare branches.

After cutting some Southern Wax Myrtle, whose berries have all been eaten by the birds, sadly; and some  Ligustrum, still heavy with deep purple berries; I  wandered over to a stand of Forsythia to cut a few branches of beautiful gold and burgundy leaves.  And there, believe it or not, were tiny yellow flowers.  Now, I’ve seen Forsythia bloom in late January after an especially mild winter, but I’ve never seen it bloom in November.  Look closely at the arrangement, between the two cardinals and just above the purple berries. There… you’ll see the yellow Forsythia flowers.

Our refreshment table is set and ready for tomorrow's gathering.

Our refreshment table is set and ready for tomorrow’s gathering.

The branches with large yellow leaves are hazelnut. If you look closely you’ll see tiny male catkins hanging from the branches.  The catkins produce pollen, and are usually seen in early spring.  If you think you see gold branches in this arrangement, your eyes aren’t deceiving you.

The largest pieces are re-used from last Christmas’s mantlepiece, and are sprayed gold.  Normally they are covered in little blown glass birds.  There are three birds in this arrangement.  Can you spot them?  The two red cardinals are carved wood.  There’s also a little grey and white bird in the very center.  The blown glass birds are a bit much until after Thanksgiving, when we’ll gear up for the holidays…

For all of you fellow gardeners, who watch the seasonal movement of the wild things as I do, I thought you might be interested in Forsythia and Hazel blooming in November.  It ended up as a very rewarding walk around the garden yesterday.  Even after our first frosts, I was still able to find interesting and beautiful material for a bouquet.

November 18 2013 WC and Parkway 004

All Photos by Woodland Gnome

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”      

Stanley Horowitz

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