Memorial

~

“Those we love never truly leave us, Harry.
There are things that death cannot touch.”
.
Jack Thorne

~

~

“People you love never die. That is what Omai had said,
all those years ago. And he was right.
They don’t die. Not completely.
They live in your mind, the way they always lived inside you.
You keep their light alive. If you remember them well enough,
they can still guide you, like the shine of long-extinguished stars
could guide ships in unfamiliar waters.”
.
Matt Haig

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~

“The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions
the night he passed on.”
.
Ray Bradbury

~

~

“Sadly enough, the most painful goodbyes
are the ones that are left unsaid and never explained.”
.
Jonathan Harnisch

~

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“And now the birds were singing overhead,
and there was a soft rustling in the undergrowth,
and all the sounds of the forest that showed that life was still being lived
blended with the souls of the dead in a woodland requiem.
The whole forest now sang…”
.
Terry Pratchett

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
*
“Write your dreams down, toss them into the sea,
and make a wish, Isabel.
Life is too short to live with regrets,
own today as if it was your last.”
.
A.M. Willard

~

~

“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night,
I have been anxious to improve the nick of time,
and notch it on my stick too;
I stand on the meeting of two eternities,
the past and future,
which is precisely the present moment;
to toe that line.”
.
Henry David Thoreau
~

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Fabulous Friday: In Bloom

Foxglove

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This time of year we linger along the drive, admiring the garden in bloom.  Stately Iris stand tall, their long bloom stalks clothed in fragrant blues and golds and purples and whites.

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The Siberian Iris bloomed yesterday… literally.  In the early morning there was a single bud unfolding.  By mid-day, there was a bouquet of intense blue.  The garden is unfolding so quickly this week that if you stand still for more than a few breaths, it has changed before your wondering eyes.

~

Siberian Iris, a gift from a gardening friend.

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Imagine my surprise to notice the plump, unmistakable buds of an Amaryllis emerging from the Earth on Monday.

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Amaryllis, Hippeastrum SA ‘Graffiti’

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We enjoy Amaryllis in winter, when little else will bloom.  They comfort us through the dull wet days of February from their pot on the dining table.

And then, I like to plant the bulbs out into the perennial beds in March, and hope to see them again sometime, if they survive.  So it was that I planted out a half dozen bulbs the spring before last.  And I never remembered to dig them and bring them in last fall… a seasonal casualty of letting myself become distracted, perhaps…

~~

And the Amaryllis “Graffitti’ survived our very long, cold winter, rewarding our neglect with these beautiful blooms, this first week of May.  Sometimes unlikely pleasures feel the most satisfying.

~

Azalea, some of the few buds left to us by the hungry deer, this spring.

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When you come to think of it, flowers erupting from plants frozen and dormant just a few weeks ago is a rather unlikely prospect.  After all they’ve been through, they’d be forgiven for sulking a bit and basking in this new-found warmth before performing.

But no, they are eager to get on with it!  Our garden woodies and perennials live to bloom, and then perhaps to set seeds.  We are all interested in the next generation, now, aren’t we?

~

Mountain Laurel, one of our native shrubs

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Or is it just the pleasure of hosting bees and hummingbirds that motivates these outrageous blooms?  There is nothing particularly shy about an Amaryllis, or an Iris.   And for this, we are grateful as we celebrate their season of bloom.

~

Iris, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (reblooming)

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And so we linger as we come and go on our daily errands.  And we find reason to wander in the garden, watering, trimming, planting; and dreaming of the many weeks of beauty still ahead as spring relaxes into summer.

~

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Unlikely

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious… Let’s infect one another!

Wednesday Vignette: Intricacies

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“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind:
Study the science of art.
Study the art of science.
Develop your senses-
especially learn how to see.
Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
.
Leonardo da Vinci
~
~
“The artist is the confidant of nature,
flowers carry on dialogues with him
through the graceful bending of their stems
and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms.
Every flower has a cordial word
which nature directs towards him.”
.
Auguste Rodin
~
~
“All sciences are vain and full of errors
that are not born of Experience,
the mother of all Knowledge.”
.
Leonardo da Vinci
~
~
“Patience is also a form of action.”
.
Auguste Rodin
~
~
“While human ingenuity may devise
various inventions to the same ends,
it will never devise anything more beautiful,
nor more simple,
nor more to the purpose than nature does,
because in her inventions nothing is lacking
and nothing is superfluous.”
.
Leonardo da Vinci
~
~
“If you paint the leaf on a tree without using a model,
your imagination will only supply you with a few leaves;
but Nature offers you millions, all on the same tree.
No two leaves are exactly the same.
The artist who paints only what is in his mind
must very soon repeat himself.”
.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
~
~
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
of Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia,
a  North American native shrub
~
~
“Details make perfection,
and perfection is not a detail.”
.
Leonardo da Vinci

Nature Challenge Day 7: In Motion

May 30, 2016 Parkway 014

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Everything we know, everything we dream, remains in motion. 

~

May 30, 2016 Parkway 022

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Never a second of stillness or rest; every particle of our lives from the most distant star to the tiniest electron in our heart, remains dizzily spinning its dance of life.

~

May 30, 2016 Parkway 017

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And so it is with every bird and fish, every drop of water, and everything green and growing. 

Our only response remains to dance along with life. 

~

May 30, 2016 Parkway 012

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Some may wish to grasp the moment and hold it still; to stop time, if only for a little while. 

But if we ever succeed, we find that moment opening into a doorway to the deeper layers of life.  We pass through to some wider knowing, some greater vision.  But we remain in motion along the winding path of our being.

~

May 30, 2016 Parkway 003

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And so we become ‘Lords and Ladies of the Dance,’ flowing along with the worlds we shape. 

~

May 30, 2016 Parkway 024

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We hear the humming of insects, the crashing of waves, the crack of thunder, the whistling of wind, the call of geese, and a newborn’s cry as echoes of our own voice; the sound of life in motion.

~

May 30, 2016 Parkway 018

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 025

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Blogging friend, Y., invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday from her new site, In the Zone.  I appreciate the invitation, as it has challenged me to find something to post each day over the last week.  I have enjoyed sharing some of the beauty of a Virginia May with everyone who visits Forest Garden.  And I’ve definitely enjoyed the daily exchange in comments with Y., and everyone else who has left a comment this week.

For this seventh day and last day of the challenge, I’ll invite you again to join in. This challenge has been out there for a while, and many nature photographers have already participated.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you in a follow up post.

~

May 29, 2016 white 002

 

 

Kaleidoscope World

May 21, 2016 garden 023~

We returned to Jones Mill Pond this afternoon.  The swans were nowhere in sight, but the far bank shone with pale pink Mountain Laurel in full bloom.

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May 21, 2016 garden 024~

May has remained cool and wet; those rare days when we see the sun luring us outside to enjoy a few hours in the garden.  Abundant rain feeds abundant growth.  Every tree and shrub has cloaked itself in verdant leaves; fresh, vibrant, and lush.

~

May 21, 2016 garden 028~

Wave after wave of spring blossoms linger in these moist and cool days, embellished with raindrops and growing to gigantic proportion.

~

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We feel surrounded by a Kaleidoscopic world of green.  Every stem and blade stretches itself from one hour to the next, as though this May will last forever.

Paths close with encroaching vegetation, all hard edges blurred by expanding green.

~

May 21, 2016 garden 026~

The opposite shore glowed even on this dull day between rain showers.  The spongy ground sank beneath my every step as I clambered around the near bank of the pond, taking photos down the coves and hoping to catch a glimpse of the swans at rest.

~

May 21, 2016 garden 032

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It was utterly silent; no croaking frogs or calling birds to break the spell.  We’d seen turtles along the way, driven from their usual spots by this morning’s torrential rains.

But none were visible at the pond.

~

Found along the way, near Jamestown, this wise old turtle held its ground as I took photos.

Found along the way, near Jamestown, this wise old turtle held its ground as I took photos.

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Asclepias stands ready to feed hungry Monarch larvae.  Hundreds of flowers offer up their nectar filled blossoms.

~

May 21, 2016 garden 021

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There is cover for every creeping, slithering, nesting and burrowing creature wanting a home.  But they did not show themselves this afternoon.  Maybe they had found other shelter, still waiting for the next shower they could feel drawing ever closer.

~

May 21, 2016 garden 034

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Woodland Gnome 2016

~May 21, 2016 garden 020

 

 

 

 

 

 

In A Vase On Monday: Summer Garden

May 18, 2015 roses 003

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Summer has settled over our garden.  We’ve had several sunny days where temperatures reached the upper 80’s.  A thunderstorm with heavy downpours roared through yesterday afternoon, and more rough weather remains in our afternoon forecast.

~

May 18, 2015 roses 015

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If you’ve not experienced a Virginia summer, you may not understand my point, here.  Those who garden even further south, along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, have had the heat, humidity, insects and afternoon thunderstorms as too frequent visitors to their gardens for a while now.

While spring is savored, summer it to be endured… and survived. 

~

May 15, 2015 roses 006

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Temperatures rise rapidly on sunny days.  This means any real efforts must be made in the garden in early morning or late evening.  One must avoid the unbroken sun, staying as much as possible in the shade.  Wide brimmed hats morph from fashion statement to survival gear.

The roses have no such flexibility.  Which means they begin to droop and wilt as the sun climbs.  Cutting must be accomplished in early morning, and the stems plunged into deep warm water in a shady place while they drink, before arranging them.

~

May 15, 2015 roses 010~

Their fragrance permeates the garden, mixed now with the familiar warm weather fragrances of box, mint and Magnolia.… and freshly mown grass.  Some one or another of the neighbors is cutting grass most every day now, and the fragrance carries on the summer breeze.

Today’s vase reflects early summer in our garden. 

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May 18, 2015 roses 001

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Cuttings of our native Mountain Laurel, which prefer partial shade, mix with today’s pick of roses.   Also in the vase the first of the white Sage; a stem of Spanish Lavender with its distinctive “rabbit’s ears” flowers; cuttings of perennial Geranium.

~

May 18, 2015 roses 012

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Nearly all of our roses have come into bloom now. 

The Lantana has awakened from its winter rest and is pushing out its new stems for the year.  Most of the figs are showing new growth, finally, and there are flower buds on many of the Hydrangeas.  As the Cannas grow taller our garden will recover its rich tropical, summer wildness.

But the roses, covered in thousands of buds, still rule the garden landscape.  The first of the Peonies bloomed on Friday, but the heat and rain took their toll before they even fully opened.  And so our vase is filled with roses today.

~

May 18, 2015 roses 014

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You may recognize this little antique silver sugar dish from earlier in the spring.  It is a family piece from my mother’s mother.  A little turtle carved from solid moonstone, which came home with me from Oregon last month, sits with the roses alongside a piece of polished rutillated quartz.  All rest on the fabulous board crafted by Michael Laico.

~

May 18, 2015 roses 011

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Please take a moment to visit Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden, who sponsors this Vase meme each week.  You’ll find links in her comments,  left by many other flower gardeners, to their floral creations today.  Cathy is gardening in the West Midlands of Great Britain, and her lovely tulips, and other spring flowers today, reflect that cooler climate.

I hope your garden is filled with spring or early summer flowers today, and that you’ll maybe cut a few stems to enjoy inside.

~

May 18, 2015 roses 017

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I’ve finally realized it is the flowers cut and brought in which are enjoyed the most.  Especially now that we have sequestered ourselves indoors away from the mid-day heat.  Flowers may bloom and burst in the garden without us ever giving them much notice.  But indoors, where we enjoy them at close range, we take time to appreciate their lovely colors and form…. in comfort.

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May 18, 2015 roses 019~

Woodland Gnome 2015

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May 18, 2015 roses 004

 

Enveloped In Light

May 15, 2015 roses 024

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Friends invited me to visit their garden today, to enjoy the beauty of their Mountain Laurel in bloom.

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The garden behind their home is filled with a forest of Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia, which is native to our area. These ancient woody shrubs line the steep banks of the pond we share behind our homes.

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May 15, 2015 roses 023

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Mountain Laurel grows along the edges of the woods, especially along the banks of the many waterways which snake through our part of coastal Virginia.  Hardly noticeable for most of the year, these evergreen shrubs burst into bloom each May.

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May 15, 2015 roses 027~

Our friends’ Mountain Laurel shrubs must be quite old, as they reach the second story deck behind their home and form a dense thicket all the way down their bank to the pond.

Their uncountable tiny blooms make the space feel enchanted, especially when illumined by the setting sun.

~

May 15, 2015 roses 016

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 Beautiful orbs of light show up from time to time in my photos.

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May 15, 2015 roses 022

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One frame will reveal them, while another photo taken seconds later will not.  This beautiful illumination has nothing to do with my lens.

Digital photography simply reveals what is there; often more than the human eye can discern unaided.

~

May 15, 2015 roses 016

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Perhaps they are a trick of the lighting, but I believe they are much more than that.

And I am always happy to find them hovering in my photos.  Our friends’ garden is filled with them, as it is enveloped in living light.

~

May 15, 2015 roses 042

With appreciation to our friends for inviting me to share the wonder of their garden with them today, and for allowing me to take photos at the peak of its beauty.

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The Weekly Photo Challenge:  Enveloped

Woodland Gnome 2015

 

More on Mountain Laurel

For the Love of May

Indica hybrid Azalea "Formosa"

Indica hybrid Azalea “Formosa”

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May brings perfume to the garden and joy to the soul. 

It is the happiest month of the whole year to me.  Spring’s warmth has settled comfortably over the garden so the last of the shrubs and perennials finally stir from their winter slumber to send out their first green leaves, which let you know they have survived winter.

~

Mayapples

Mayapples

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Taxes are completed and forgotten for another year.  The first fresh local strawberries ripen, tomatoes may be planted, songbirds are nesting, and school is nearly out.

May is for proms, graduations, Mother’s Day, births and weddings.  It is a month for successfully completing long lived goals.   Happiness is almost a tangible fragrance in the air.

~

May 7, 2015 garden 021

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Our roses always bloom by Mother’s Day, but our first bud opened in all of its warm beauty yesterday!

Our shrubs are absolutely covered in buds this year, by the way.  The air is soft and filled with the fragrance of sweet iris and freshly cut grass.  The mint has grown tall enough to harvest, and I’m finally planting this summer’s crop of Basil.

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May 7, 2015 garden 002

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I spotted a hummingbird for the first time today flitting from one Columbine blossom to another.  A snapping turtle chose a quiet area to dig a nest and lay her eggs this morning.

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May 7, 2015 garden 022

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The closing weeks of May serve as a “soft opening” for summer. 

May is for switching over to the summer wardrobe and buying new sandals.  We greet May with Cinco de Mayo and bid it farewell with Memorial Day and the opening of community pools.

May is for the first beach trips of the season, enjoying long twilit evenings on the deck, and catching up with the farmers who run the local farm stand.  We re-arrange the deck for a new season, re-plant the pots, and remember our summer routines.

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May 7, 2015 garden 009

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My summer routine finds me in the garden most mornings watering, observing, trimming, and taking photos.  Listening to the chatter of birds and the whirr of hummingbird wings, I take note of what needs attention that day.  And we celebrate each new wonder as it unfolds.

Yesterday brought the Mountain Laurel opening the first of its flowers.

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Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

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Today brought more roses opening and more Iris.  And today I finally installed that new planting bed that I’ve been contemplating since February.

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May 7, 2015 garden 017

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Of course May also brings Mayflies and sunburn, summer heat and higher gas prices.  Every month has its stresses, its true.

Yet May holds more happiness than most.  And I’m partial to any month which brings me iris and  roses…

~

May 5, 2015 garden 009

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

 

Woodland Garden By the Pond

A hummingbird keeps watch from the deck of our friends' garden.

A hummingbird keeps watch from the deck of our friends’ forest garden.

Our friends live “across the pond” from us. 

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We could reach their garden much faster by canoe than by foot or car. 

When I stopped in one morning recently, I was left speechless by the beauty of their Mountain Laurels.

May 27. 2014 Herons 020

It was the first time I had visited during this beautiful time in May when our community lights up with the blooms of Mountain Laurels, Rhododendrons, Ligustrum, and Hydrangeas.

May 27. 2014 Herons 008

Our friends invited me to return this week to take photos of the Mountain Laurel before they fade in our early summer heat.

May 27. 2014 Herons 014

The back garden drops steeply towards the pond in a series of terraces.

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Mature Dogwoods, Hollies, Mountain Laurels, and Hydrangeas gather under the taller hardwood trees to thickly carpet the bank.

May 27. 2014 Herons 005

Wild grapevines trace patterns across the tops of the shrubs, basking in what sunshine may be had.

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Ferns grow in dense shade near the house,

May 27. 2014 Herons 018

but a deck, overlooking this beautiful bank, and the pond beyond; holds a variety of beautiful potted plants which thrive in partial sun.

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When the Mountain Laurel bloom, their white and light pink flowers billow like waves; white water crests rolling down the hillside.

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Towering over my head, these mature shrubs have grown to become more tree than shrub.

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Their tops reach towards the sky as their trunks remain cloaked in shady undergrowth.

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This is a true woodland garden, inhabited by wild things. 

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The deck feels like the deck of a ship.

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It offers a secure place  for the human inhabitants to view the constant activity of all the wild things scampering through the garden below.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

May 27. 2014 Herons 011

 

Mountain Laurel

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Our mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, began blooming over Mother’s Day weekend.

Saturday afternoon I looked out of the window, up into the forest, and was surprised to see our shrubs covered in flowers.

These evergreen wild looking shrubs, almost small trees, simply blend into the fabric of the forest through much of the year.  It is only for a few weeks in May that they burst into bloom, suddenly elegant and beautiful.

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One of our most ornamental  native plants along the east coast of North America, early American  botanists first recorded Mountain Laurel, then called “Spoonwood,” in 1624.    Carl Linnaeus  named the shrub for Pehr Kalm, a Swede, who explored eastern North America in search of new and useful plants in 1748-49.  Mountain laurel was one of the plants Kalm collected to export to gardeners in Europe.

Mountain laurel grows from Maine all the way to Florida.  It even grows east along the Gulf Coast  from western Florida to eastern Louisiana.

Here in Williamsburg, the banks of our creeks and rivers are often covered in wild mountain laurel.  It is an understory shrub in our oak and pine forests.

South of Virginia, mountain laurel isn’t found near the coast.  It prefers the coolness of the mountains, and so its range is ever further west, at elevation, following the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains.

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Mountain laurel, part of the Ericacea family of plants, is related more closely to blueberries than to bay laurel, which is native to Europe.

It prefers moist, acidic soil and requires at least partial shade.  Although the shrubs flower more abundantly in bright shade than deep, Kalmia don’t like growing in full sun.

These plants are best mulched, and fertilized, with pine straw or pine bark mulch.  When we shred our leaves in autumn, and again in early spring, I empty the bags around the roots of our little mountain laurel grove.  They also get offerings of Espoma Holly Tone once a year or so, in late autumn or early spring.

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All parts of the mountain laurel shrub are poisonous, from root to nectar.  They have survived in our garden over the years because the deer won’t graze them.

Even honey made from Kalmia flowers in bitter and toxic for human consumption, although it will sustain a hive of bees.

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These shrubs don’t need pruning.  They are best left to grow in their own twisted, idiosyncratic way.

Their wood is very hard and brittle, much like the wood of azaleas, a relative.   I like using  branches of mountain laurel in winter floral displays.  They are sturdy enough to hold a string of twinkle lights, or small hung ornaments.

Although they can get very tall over many years in optimal conditions, most Kalmia won’t grow more than 20′ tall in one’s garden.

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Over time they form a thicket.  Their open structure near the ground makes intriguing little places in the garden for birds and small animals to seek shelter.

Kalmia may be grown alongside dogwood trees, native blueberries, azaleas, native hollies, and of course, pines, oaks, and  other native hardwood trees.

Mountain laurel in the wild have flowers of white or pink.  Some cultivars in the nursery trade have been selected for darker flowers of red or maroon.

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Ours are probably wild ones, since most of the flowers are white.

Loving mountain laurel as we do, I  purchased four little starts from a mail order nursery, and planted them at the edge of our forest near the drive in 2011.

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Growing slowly, they were growing , and were perhaps almost a foot tall when our trees fell last summer.

The heavy equipment had only one way in to deal with the mess, and no one noticed the little Kalmia starts under the mess of leaf litter when work began.  By the time I had presence of mind to look for them, they were gone.

Mountain laurel can be started from cuttings, but should never be dug from the wild.

Shrubs can be ordered, and are sometimes found at nurseries in regions where they will grow.  Plant Mountain Laurel a little “high” like an azalea, as planting too deeply may kill the shrub.

Found in zones 5-9, these shrubs will grow successfully if you can create the moist, shady, acidic forest environment they prefer.  The roots like to remain cool and moist, so it is important to keep the shrubs mulched.  Water the first few seasons as the shrubs are established, and then only in times of drought.

I love mountain laurel where it is growing in large masses in the wild.  One of our pleasures in May is to drive around in search of it, finding it peaking out of forested areas which haven’t yet been developed.   It is easily spotted from bridges, growing along the banks of our waterways; a lovely mass of light colored flowers, glowing softly in the forest.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2018

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