Sunday Dinner: Grateful

~
“I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual.
It is surprising how contented one can be
with nothing definite –
only a sense of existence.
… I am ready to try this 
for the next ten thousand years,
and exhaust it …
 My breath is sweet to me.
O how I laugh when I think
of my vague indefinite riches.
No run on my bank can drain it,
for my wealth is not possession
but enjoyment.”
.
Henry David Thoreau
~
~
“Be thankful for your allotment in an imperfect world.  
Though better circumstances can be imagined,
far worse are nearer misses
than you probably care to realize.”
.
Richelle E. Goodrich
~
~
“You have to be able to slow down enough
to switch your focus away from
all the ways things could be better,
to know how good they already are.”
.
Katherine Ellison
~
~
“One single gift acknowledged in gratefulness
has the power to dissolve the ties of our alienation.”

.
David Steindl-Rast
~
~
“It’s a funny thing about life,
once you begin to take note
of the things you are grateful for,
you begin to lose sight
of the things that you lack.”
.
Germany Kent
~
~
“Behind every creative act is a statement of love.
Every artistic creation is a statement of gratitude.”
.
Kilroy J. Oldster
~
~
“The single greatest cause of happiness is gratitude.”
.
Auliq-Ice
~
~
Photos By Woodland Gnome 2017
~
~
“Don’t ever stop believing in your own transformation.
It is still happening
even on days you may not realize it
or feel like it.”
.
Lalah Delia
Advertisements

Experimental: Sculpted Trees

~

Living in a forest, trees surround us.  We wake to the rising sun gilding the trees, and end the day watching the setting sun paint the sky behind a living lattice work of neighborhood forest.  We plant them, prune them, sweep up their leaves and measure the passing years by their growth.

~

~

Autumn’s approach brings our attention back to our garden’s trees as their leaves brighten and fall.  We watch for acorns; admire newly set buds and reddening berries.

~

~

This autumn, I’ve been inspired to explore trees in a fresh way:  by sculpting them. 

I’ve been working on a collection of trees for the past several weeks which will serve as table center decorations for a Christmas luncheon in our community.

~

~

A friend is sculpting a companion collection of small birds and other woodland animals which we will place in and around the trees to create little woodland scenes.  What you see here is an in-between stage of completed trees waiting for their bases to be blanketed in ‘snow’ and their branches to be filled with tiny birds.

~

~

Since I am a gardener, and not a trained artist, I began experimenting a few months ago with various types of wire to learn to make these trees.   I’ve learned a bit more with every tree that I sculpt.

My textbook has been a collection of images found on the internet, illustrating how others construct their wire trees.

~

My second attempt: ‘Oak in autumn.’

~

Late summer’s trees had chips of green quartz worked into their branches.  Lately, I’ve incorporated more copper wire, and have been experimenting with bundles of wires composed of different colors, weights and composition.  Each wire has its own properties; its uses and limitations.

~

~

Using only my hands and simple tools, I’m learning to transform coils of wire into an illusion of life and growth.

~

~

The trees are mounted on stones I’ve found either in rock shops, or picked up along the beach.  Each stone has a story,  just as each tree tells a story of endurance and perseverance.

Trees are our longest lived plants, living (when allowed) for centuries.  An oak may grow to live for 1000 years, and redwoods longer.  In this age when developers casually sheer forests and truck them off to paper mills, and desperate farmers burn acres of rain forest to grow a cash crop, we need to pause and take a moment to treasure our trees.

~

~

That is why I’ve been drawn to the trees, to live, to garden and now to sculpt.   I hope these little trees bring joy to those who see them, even as they remind us all that trees are one of our planet’s greatest treasures. 

Trees are Mother Earth’s lungs.   We depend on the trees for the air we breathe, some of the food we eat, and for their part in moderating our climate and our weather.  They capture carbon from the air even as they draw up moisture from the ground and release it to the clouds.  They shade us from summer’s broiling sun, and their burning wood warms us on cold winter nights. 

Trees remain an integral part of our lives.

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Experimental

~

This is one of my early experimental ‘practice’ trees, sculpted while I was traveling in Oregon last month.

Transformation

~

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”

.

Lao Tzu

~

~

There is sadness in wandering along our familiar garden paths in these first few days after frost touched our garden.    Withered leaves litter the ground.  Herbaceous stems droop, their once rigid cells irreparably broken when they froze.

What was once growing a bit more beautiful each day, is now clearly in decline.  Papery brown seedheads replace vibrant flowers.    Our trees grow more naked each day.

~

~

“Do you have the patience

to wait until your mud settles

and the water is clear?”

.

Lao Tzu

~

~

But as the graceful structure of our trees stands stark against the sky, we see that next spring’s buds are already forming.    When dried leaves drift away on the breeze, the magic is revealed:  new flowers and leaves have already begun to grow along every branch.

The buds will grow more plump and full through the wintery weeks ahead, waiting for conditions to signal them to unfold into new growth.

~

~

“The reason why the universe is eternal

is that it does not live for itself;

it gives life to others

as it transforms.”

.

Lao Tzu

~

~

Our sadness in watching the garden decay touches our hearts, even as we understand the familiar process of renewal and re-growth.

Like waves on the beach, things are always coming in, and flowing out.  Like our breath, we receive and we give continually.

Trees draw their life from the soil beneath their roots and the air surrounding their leaves.  And then, after a period of growth, they willingly drop their leaves to decay and feed the life of the soil.  There is balance.

Every root absorbs moisture, and every leaf allows those precious drops of water to evaporate back into the sky.

~

~

 

“If you realize that all things change,

there is nothing you will try to hold on to.

If you are not afraid of dying,

there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

.

Lao Tzu

~

~

Nothing is ever truly gained or lost; everything transforms.  The garden helps us see this truth, and another:  Life goes on. 

No matter the appearance in the moment, life continues; and we are a part of this beautiful flickering, flaming, raging dance of life.

Our sadness springs from our clinging to one beautiful form or another.  And even that sadness can transform to joy, when we see beyond the loss of one thing to welcome what comes back to us in its wake

~

~

Let’s dance the dance of life with joy in our hearts, and embrace the magic of each season of our lives.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

WPC: Temporary

~

Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:

as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;

a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,

a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

 

.

Buddha Shakyamuni, The Diamond Sutra

~

~

“Letting go gives us freedom,
and freedom is the only condition for happiness.
If, in our heart, we still cling to anything –
anger, anxiety, or possessions –
we cannot be free.”

.
Thich Nhat Hanh

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“…for you know that soft is stronger than hard,
water stronger than rock,
love stronger than force.”

.
Hermann Hesse
~
For The Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Temporary

Dichotomy, or, Courageous Gardening

~

“Success is not final,
failure is not fatal:
it is the courage to continue that counts.”
.
Winston S. Churchill

~

November isn’t for the faint of heart.

As chill winds blow and birds flock up to travel to gentler places, a season’s growth shrivels before our eyes, and blows away.  Much of what  we have nurtured and admired for the past several months perishes in the short span of a couple of weeks.

The changes come almost imperceptibly at first, and then overwhelming in their inevitability.

~

~

The trees in our garden transform themselves from green to scarlet to brown or bare.  More and more branches stand naked in the morning chill each day, and we know from our years of watching this that soon enough our garden will fall away to its barest bones.

Our lush landscape will soon be made mostly of brown and grey sticks, beige grass, bare beds.

~

~

November is when you feel deep gratitude for every vibrant green Camellia shrub you’ve planted, and wonder why you haven’t planted more.

You study the framework of evergreens; box and myrtle, Osmanthus, juniper, holly, Magnolia and hemlock.  These are the stalwart companions that sparkle in the winter sunshine, assuring us of the continuity of life through the gardens’ time of rest.

~

~

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time
and always one more time.”
.
Maya Angelou
~

We dig into the cooling Earth, placing our faith in dormant bulbs and tubers; trusting that they will eventually awaken and strike new roots and greet us with fresh growth and soft flowers and bright color when the days have grown longer and warmer once again.

We know those days will come, despite the wintery months ahead.

~

~

November shows its two faces in our garden.  Leaves fall as flowers bloom.  Birds gather and fill the air with music.  Buds swell on the Magnolias‘ newly bared branches, and berries redden among the prickly holly leaves.   One day the sky is low and white, the next it’s deepest blue.

~

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening,
or exactly where it is all going.
What you need
is to recognize the possibilities and challenges
offered by the present moment,
and to embrace them
with courage, faith and hope.”
.
Thomas Merton

~

~

Yet summer lives in all the seasons of a gardener’s heart.  We watch nature’s machinations in autumn, knowing that it is only a preparation for what is to come.  We take courage in the sure knowledge of vibrant life in every root and limb.  We look past the illusions of disillusion,  putting our faith in ripening seeds and and expanding rhizomes, hungry earthworms, mycelium, and moss.

We take courage from our own determination to cultivate beauty in every circumstance.  We trust November as surely as we trust May, and so breathe deeply; knowing that all is well.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

~

Change Is in the Air

This morning dawned balmy, damp and oh, so bright across our garden!

~

Brilliant autumn color finally appeared on our trees this past week, and we are loving this annual spectacle when trees appear as blazing torches in shades of yellow, gold, orange and scarlet.   We have been watching and waiting for this pleasure since the first scarlet leaves appeared on Virginia creeper vines and the rare Sumac in early September.  But summer’s living green cloaked our trees longer than ever before in our memories,  this fall.

~

~

I remember a particularly beautiful autumn in the late 1980s, the year my daughter was born.  I went to the hospital in the second week of October to deliver, with the still summery trees barely showing a hint or shadow of their autumn finery.  When we drove back home with her a couple of days later, I was amazed at the transformation in the landscape.  The trees were bright and gorgeous, as if to celebrate her homecoming.

Once upon a time, I believed that first frost brought color to deciduous leaves.  Our first frost date here in zone 7 is October 15.  We haven’t always had a frost by then, but there is definitely a frosty chill in the evening air by late October here.

But not this year, or last….

~

Bees remain busy in our garden, gathering nectar and pollen for the winter months ahead.

~

The annual Begonias are still covered with blossoms in my parents’ garden, and our Begonia plants still sit outside in their pots, blooming with enthusiasm, waiting for us to decide to bring them back indoors.  Our days are still balmy and soft; our evenings barely drop below the 50s or 60s.  There is no frost in our forecast through Thanksgiving, at least.

~

Our geraniums keep getting bigger and brighter in this gentle, fall weather.

~

It is lovely, really.  We are taking pleasure in these days where we need neither heat nor air conditioning.  We are happily procrastinating on the fall round-up of tender potted plants, gleefully calculating how long we can let them remain in the garden and on the deck.  I’m still harvesting herbs and admiring flowers in our fall garden.

~

~

Of course, there are two sides to every coin, as well as its rim.  You may be interested in a fascinating description of just how much our weather patterns have changed since 1980, published by the Associated Press just last week.  Its title, “Climate Change is Shrinking Winter in the US, Scientists Say,”  immediately makes me wonder why less winter is a bad thing.  I am not a fan of winter, personally.  Its saving grace is it lets me wear turtleneck sweaters and jeans nearly every day.

Just why is winter important, unless you are a fan of snowy sports?  Well, anyone who has grown apple, pear or peach trees knows that these trees need a certain number of “chilling hours,” below freezing, to set good fruit.

Certain insects also multiply out of control when there aren’t enough freezing days to reduce their population over winter.    Winter gives agricultural fields a chance to rest, knocks down weeds and helps clear the garden for a fresh beginning every spring.

~

~

But there are other, more important benefits of winter, too.  Slowly melting snow and ice replenish our water tables in a way summer rains, which rapidly run off, never can.  Snow and ice reflect solar energy back into space.  Bodies of water tend to absorb the sun’s energy, further warming the climate.

Methane locked into permafrost is released into the warming atmosphere when permafrost thaws.  And too much warmth during the  winter months coaxes shrubs and perennials into growth too early.  Like our poor Hydrangeas last March, those leaves will freeze and die off on the occasional below-freezing night, often killing the entire shrub.

~

By March 5, 2017, our Hydrangeas had leaves and our garden had awakened for spring.  Freezes later in the month killed some of the newer shrubs, and killed most of the flower buds on older ones.

~

The article states, ” The trend of ever later first freezes appears to have started around 1980, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data from 700 weather stations across the U.S. going back to 1895 compiled by Ken Kunkel, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

” The average first freeze over the last 10 years, from 2007 to 2016, is a week later than the average from 1971 to 1980, which is before Kunkel said the trend became noticeable.

“This year, about 40 percent of the Lower 48 states have had a freeze as of Oct. 23, compared to 65 percent in a normal year, according to Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private service Weather Underground.”

Not only has the first freeze of the season grown later and later with each passing year, but the last freeze of the season comes ever earlier.  According to Meteorologist Ken Kunkel, winter 2016 was a full two months shorter than normal in the Pacific Northwest.

~

Coastal Oregon, in mid-October 2017, had seen no frost yet. We enjoyed time playing on the beach and visiting the Connie Hansen garden while I was there.  Very few leaves had begun to turn bright for fall, though many were already falling from the trees.

~

I’ve noticed something similar with our daffodils and other spring flowers.  Because I photograph them obsessively each year, I have a good record of what should bloom when.  This past spring, the first daffodils opened around February 8 in our garden.  In 2015, we had a February snow, and the first daffodil didn’t begin to open until February 17.  In 2014, the first daffodils opened in our garden in the second week of March.  Most years, we never saw daffodils opening until early to mid- March.  We ran a little more than two weeks early on all of the spring flowers last spring, with roses in full bloom by mid-April.

~

March 8, 2014

~

Is this ‘shorter winter phenomena’ something we should care about?  What do you think?  Do you mind a shorter winter, an earlier spring?

As you’ve likely noticed, when we contemplate cause and effects, we rarely perceive all of the causes for something, or all of its effects.  Our planet is an intricate and complex system of interactions, striving to keep itself in balance.  We may simplistically celebrate the personal benefits we reap from a long, balmy fall like this one, without fully realizing its implications for our planet as a whole.

~

February 9, 2017

~

I’m guessing the folks in Ohio who had a tornado blow through their town this past weekend have an opinion.  Ordinarily, they would already be enjoying winter weather by now.

We are just beginning to feel the unusual weather patterns predicted decades ago to come along with a warming planet.  The seas are rising much faster than they were predicted to rise, and we are already seeing the extreme storms bringing catastrophic rain to communities all across our nation, and the world.  The economic losses are staggering, to say nothing of how peoples’ lives have been effected when they live in the path of these monster storms.

~

Magnolia stellata blooming in late February, 2016

~

Yes, change is in the air.  I’m not sure that there is anything any of us can do individually to change or ‘fix’ this unusual weather, but we certainly need to remain aware of what is happening, and have a plan for how to live with it.

My immediate plan is simple:  Plant more plants!  I reason that every plant we grow helps filter carbon and other pollutants from the air, trapping them in its leaves and stems.  Every little bit helps, right?  And if not, at least their roots are holding the soil on rainy days, and their beauty brings us joy.

~

Newly planted Dianthus blooms in our autumn garden.

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

Sunday Dinner: Remembrance

~
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
.
Thomas Campbell
~
~
“There is no death, daughter.
People die only when we forget them,’
my mother explained shortly before she left me.
‘If you can remember me,
I will be with you always.”
.
Isabel Allende
~
~
“Beauty exists not in what is seen and remembered,
but in what is felt and never forgotten.”
.
Johnathan Jena
~
~
“And even if we are occupied by most important things,
if we attain to honour,
or fall into great misfortune –
– still let us remember how good it was once here,
when we were all together,
united by a good and kind feeling
which made us…better perhaps than we are.”
.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
~
~
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’
I do not agree. The wounds remain.
In time, the mind, protecting its sanity,
covers them with scar tissue
and the pain lessens.
But it is never gone.”
.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
~
~
 
“You must learn some of my philosophy.
Think only of the past as its remembrance
gives you pleasure.”
.
Jane Austen
~
~
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
~

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

~
“I don’t want to be remembered for my work.
I want to be remembered for my love.”
.
Kamand Kojouri
~
 

Another Peek: Autumn Sunset

~
Colors in the sky,

~

~

Colors spreading across once green leaves,

~

~

And colors saturating the still waters of the pond.

~

~

Drink it all in deeply; every glorious red and gold, green, orange, russet and blue.

~

~

Soon enough November will close in around us. 
Bare branches will reach up towards heavy, white skies. 
Our gardens will fade to browns and greys.

~

~

Celebrate color while we still can!

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2017

~

For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Peek
 

Blossom XXXIII: October Blues

Can you help me identify this perennial? It is lovely, and I don’t know its name.

~

Blue-violet lends a snazzy counter weight to the warm yellows, oranges and reds of our October garden.  Blue flowers and foliage shine and draw my eye with their cool elegance.

~

Mexican sage, Salvia Leucantha

~

After weeks of Indian summer, cool colors help us forget how hot and muggy the garden still feels many afternoons.  They promise that  cooler weather will soon blow our way.

~

Agastache

~

Blue-violet flowers also promise a good meal of nectar to the pollinators still buzzing about the garden.

~

~

Salvias and Agastaches produce abundant nectar over a very long season.  Their generous natures support many creatures as the days grow shorter and nights grow cool.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

Blossom XXXII: Apple Scented Pelargonium

WPC: Rounded

The Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy, Lincoln City, Oregon

~

“As above, so below; as below, so above.”
.
The Kybalion

~

Sea anemones grow in a shallow pool beneath a barnacle covered rock on Oregon’s coast.

~

My eye is drawn to rounded, organic forms.  Living, growing, breathing, changing things tend to be more rounded than straight.

This week’s photo challenge invites us to explore round things and curving lines.  I’ll use the opportunity to share a few more of the photos captured while traveling along the Oregon coast.

~

Bowls and ceramic flowers are displayed in front of Mossy Creek Pottery, near Gleneden Beach

~

“Everything an Indian does is in a circle,

and that is because the power of the World

always works in circles,

and everything tries to be round . . .

The sky is round and I have heard

the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars.

The wind in its greatest power whirls,

birds make their nest in circles,

for theirs is the same religion as ours.

The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle.

The moon does the same and both are round.

Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing,

and always come back again to where they were.

Our teepees were round like the nests of birds.

And they were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop.”

.

Chief Black Elk

~

~

“This world has been changing from time immemorial.

But because it is “round”

(subject to cycle of cause-effect),

one cannot find an end to it.”

.

Dada Bhagwan

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“I live my life in growing orbits

which move out over this wondrous world.

I am circling around God,

around ancient towers

and I have been circling for a thousand years.

And I still don’t know

if I am an eagle or a storm

or a great song.”

.

Rainer Maria Rilke

~

~

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Rounded

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

Join 553 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest