Sunday Dinner: Strength


“We’re built of contradictions, all of us.
It’s those opposing forces that give us strength,
like an arch, each block pressing the next.
Give me a man whose parts are all aligned in agreement
and I’ll show you madness.
We walk a narrow path, insanity to each side.
A man without contradictions to balance him
will soon veer off.”
Mark Lawrence


Clematis ‘Elizabeth’


“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength
that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Rachel Carson



“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance,
and have faith that in this love
there is a strength and a blessing so large
that you can travel as far as you wish
without having to step outside it.”
Rainer Maria Rilke




“With the new day
comes new strength and new thoughts.”
Eleanor Roosevelt


Rosa ‘The Generous Gardener’


“It will never rain roses:
when we want to have more roses,
we must plant more roses.”
George Eliot


Yellow flag Iris


“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance.
The wise grows it under his feet.”
James Oppenheim

Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’

Happiness to all on this beautiful Mother’s Day. 
May we all find the strength and determination
to nurture beauty, wisdom,
justice and resilience
in all we touch.
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018


Saxifraga stolonifera, Strawberry Begonia in bloom with ferns.


“Mastering others is strength.
Mastering oneself makes you fearless.”
Lao Tzu


Foxglove emerges from the shadows, from behind the oakleaf Hydrangea


Roses For Mother’s Day

May 10, 2015 Roses 003


“It is easier to tell a person what life is not,

rather than to tell them what it is.

A child understands weeds

that grow from lack of attention, in a garden.

However, it is hard to explain the wild flowers

that one gardener calls weeds,

and another considers beautiful ground cover.”


Shannon L. Alder


May 10, 2015 Roses 001


“We gardeners are healthy, joyous, natural creatures.

We are practical, patient, optimistic.

We declare our optimism every year, every season,

with every act of planting.”


Carol Deppe


May 10, 2015 Roses 004


“No one plants rosebushes for the thorns.”


Marty Rubin


May 10, 2015 Roses 007


“When tended the right way, beauty multiplies.”


Shannon Wiersbitzky



When my daughter was still very young, I decided I would rather be given a potted rose bush for Mother’s Day than a dozen cut roses. 

That simple wish was a defining moment for me.  It meant that no matter how life’s circumstances may shift from year to year, I am surrounded by soft, fragrant roses every May. 

Now I cut from my abundance to share with those I love.


May 10, 2015 Roses 012


Happy Mother’s Day!

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

To All Mothers, With Love

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Every nurturing soul, male or female, who has cared for another living being is celebrated at this special time.

Maybe you have raised a child, cared for animals, taught others, or even tended a garden.  That peculiar interest in, and concern for, the well-being and growth of another living being breathes in your heart.

Happy Mother’s Day to you.   -WG

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, each in our own way, here are some interesting thoughts to ponder:

"Golden Celebration," a David Austin English Shrub rose blooming today for the first time this season.

“Golden Celebration,” a David Austin English Shrub rose blooming today for the first time this season.

“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves,

allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway…

… let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”

C. JoyBell C.

Unknown Floribunda rose

Unknown Floribunda rose


“But kids don’t stay with you if you do it right.

It’s the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.”

Barbara Kingsolver

Rose, "Lady of Shallot" with Dutch Iris.

Rose, “Lady of Shallot” with Dutch Iris.

“In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess.

She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way.

I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.”

N.K. Jemisin

May 10, 2014 May roses 022

“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.”

―Robert A. Heinlein


An unkown Floribunda rose

An unkown Floribunda rose

“Mothers are all slightly insane.”

―J.D. Salinger

Columbine growing through the foliage of peonies.

Columbine growing through the foliage of peonies.

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own,

to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…

and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”

Donna Ball

"Lady of Shallot" English shrub rose by David Austin.

“Lady of Shallot” English shrub rose by David Austin.

“Motherhood is near to divinity.

It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

Howard W. Hunter

Japanese Iris, blooming in the frog pond.

Japanese Iris, blooming in the frog pond.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

R. "Lady of Shallot"

R. “Lady of Shallot”

The First Rose of Summer

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The first roses of summer were blooming when we came outside this morning.

I’m always happy to greet these first fragrant opening blossoms.

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 029

It is a sign that we are entering the most flower filled season of the year when spring has not quite yet melted into summer.

We are still enjoying cool nights, and the occasional cool day.  We made it to 90 in Williamsburg today, according to the thermometer in the car, as we drove out on afternoon errands.

Although it feels like “instant July,” we know more wonderfully cool days lie ahead before the heat settles in for high summer in late June.

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 022

Irises are in full bloom in many neighbors’ yards, and late blooming Azaleas are hitting their peak as the Rhododendron shrubs begin to bloom.

Our next door neighbors have a new Rhododendron growing near our Azaleas.   We noticed its buds opening this morning, and noticed that our shrubs match perfectly in a lovely, deep rosy pink.

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 026

Roses always bloom in coastal Virginia for Mother’s Day.

Their blossoms lend an extra, fragrant,  note of celebration during this special weekend.  The College of William and Mary holds its commencement on Sunday, and our community is full of visitors.

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 007

The air is sweet with the smell of flowers, and ripe with the love of families celebrating their special days together.  The aroma of freshly cut and trimmed grass wafts through our neighborhood.

But my attention is held, today, by the unfolding roses. 

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 009

One May, nearly 20 years ago now, I was asked to choose what I would like to receive for Mother’s Day that year.  I chose a climbing rose shrub to plant by the front door.

I knew that whatever else might be happening in my life, I would have a gift of fresh roses for Mother’s Day every year from then on.

That Mother’s Day gift was an “Eden” rose, still a favorite for its fragrance.  I literally filled that garden with roses over the years.

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 028

Antique Bourbon roses climbed up into the nearby Crepe Myrtle tree, and pegged themselves to put down roots and grow new shrubs throughout a large border filled with herbs, Irises, and more roses.

That garden has passed on to other hands, now, and I hope they enjoy the roses (and care for them) as I did.  That garden didn’t have deer visiting from time to time to graze on tasty flower buds.

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This one does, and so each rose which blooms holds a special gift.  Against all odds, it survived in this Forest Garden. 

All of my partner’s work on fences to keep out the deer, and all my efforts to improve the soil, plant and prune come together in the fragrance and beauty of each opening bud.

Our shrubs are full of buds at the moment, so we may enjoy roses for many weeks to come.

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 001

Or not.  I’ve learned to not count my roses before they bloom around here.  But for today, they are lovely, and I hope you enjoy sharing them with me.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has survived the joys and trials of parenthood. 

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 023

Remember, especially if your children are still quite young:  All of the effort, pain, hard work, sacrifice, and time will find their reward in those sweet moments when you, “Smell the roses.”

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 004

Whether at a kindergarten program, a first communion, an athletic triumph, a commencement ceremony, or a special weekend spent together; the fragrance of the rose allows us to overlook the thorns.

May 10, 2014 first roses of summer 008

The magic of unfolding  beauty is its own reward for the time and love invested in nurturing it.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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