Six on Saturday: Endless Summer

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It’s never a good thing when odd weather makes the news.  The news here this week has noted both our high, mid-summer like temperatures and the deepening drought.  It has felt like July or early August instead of our usual gentle cooling slide into October.  I read this morning that parts of the Southeastern United States not only broke every record for daily high temperatures this past week, but some broke their record high for the entire year, over the past three days.

Clear skies and relentless heat through most of September has left our gardens, fields and roadsides crisp and thirsty.  Even some trees and shrubs look a bit limp, with leaves turning brown and falling early.  Rich autumn colors have been parched out of much of our foliage; an anti-climatic ending to this remarkable year.

But every day I still study the forecast, expecting our slim chance for rain to materialize into a sweet, moist, life-giving inundation.

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A Painted Lady butterfly feeds on Lantana in our front garden.

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Until that happens, the only life-giving water comes from a watering can or hose, and I’ve spent many hours this week delivering water to hard, parched dirt in hopes of sustaining thirsty plants through another searing day of heat.

It chased me back indoors on Wednesday.  After a relatively cool morning, where I was able to enjoy making my watering rounds at the Botanical Garden, the morning blazed into mid-day heat.  I could feel the sun burning through my hat and shirt like a cosmic broiler, as I dutifully watered the last few pots on the patio here at home.  I’ve never felt the sun so strongly in October, or felt chased back indoors so urgently to cool off and re-hydrate myself.  I sat under the ceiling fan, water in hand, and considered how this new weather reality will demand changes in how I plant in years to come.

But even as the leaves crisp and our black-eyed Susans bloom on blackened stems, bright purple berries shine on beautyberry branches, buds swell and bloom on our Camellias, pineapple sage opens its first flowers of the season and butterflies float around the garden

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The first Camellias bloomed in our garden last week.

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Our masses of Lantana support countless small butterflies, all feeding and hovering about their bulk.  I get a rush of pleasure from walking near and seeing the cloud of butterflies rise and resettle at my approach.  A Monarch fed placidly yesterday until I had it in focus.  An instant before I clicked the shutter it rose, looped around a time or two and disappeared across the crest of our roof.

Judith brought over her hamper of chrysalides on Tuesday afternoon.  About 20 butterflies were still growing inside, awaiting their day to break free, stretch their wings, and fly away.  Some of these were the same ones she rescued a few weeks ago from our fennel plants.  After handfeeding them organic parsley as they grow, she protects their chrysalides in mesh cages while they pupate.  Finally, they break out of their protective sheaths to stretch and harden their wings.

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The first Black Swallowtail to emerge from the hamper Judith loaned us was a female.  Here, she allows her wings to stretch and harden before her first flight.  She is resting directly above her now empty chrysalis.

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As we release each adult butterfly from the hamper, I wonder, ‘How do they learn to fly?’

A female flew out of the cage and rested lightly on the Lantana yesterday morning, and then floated up onto a low branch of a nearby dogwood, considering her new world.  Do butterflies remember their caterpillar lives?  Do they recognize the garden from such a different viewpoint?

Butterflies emerge from the chrysalis totally prepared for the next stage of their lives, and float off, effortlessly, to get on with the important business of sucking nectar and finding a mate.  Maybe we aren’t so different, when you really think about it.

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This long tailed skipper, Urbanus proteus, is more commonly found in South and Central America, but it has been sighted as far north as New York. It feeds on bean, Wisteria and pea leaves, so its larvae is often considered a pest.  As an adult, it is very unusual land beautiful.  Here, it feeds on Buddleia and Verbena.

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And this generation emerging from their chrysalis this week will likely mate and lay their eggs in the garden before we see frost.  Winter seems far away this week and summer, endless.

The gardening ‘to-do’ list seems longer now than it did in August, since it’s nearly time to put the garden to bed, plant a few daffodil bulbs, pull out the annuals and fill our pots with pansies.

But that will have to wait a bit while I play with the butterflies, water, and take time to appreciate the beauty of our late summer garden.

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Woodland Gnome 2019

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator

 

Sunday Dinner: Perceptions

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“The more I see,
the less I know for sure.”
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John Lennon

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“Humans see what they want to see.”
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Rick Riordan

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“All things are subject to interpretation.
Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time
is a function of power and not truth.”
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Friedrich Nietzsche

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“Beauty is no quality in things themselves:
It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them;
and each mind perceives
a different beauty.”
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David Hume

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“The world is full of magic things,
patiently waiting for our senses
to grow sharper.”
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W.B. Yeats

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“Change the way you look at things
and the things you look at change.”
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Wayne W. Dyer

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“We know so little about one another.
We embrace a shadow and love a dream.
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Hjalmar Söderberg

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“Perception is strong and sight weak.
In strategy it is important to see distant things
as if they were close
and to take a distanced view
of close things.”
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Miyamoto Musashi

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Because one believes in oneself,
one doesn’t try to convince others.
Because one is content with oneself,
one doesn’t need others’ approval.
Because one accepts oneself,
the whole world accepts him or her.”
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Lao Tzu

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“Love — not dim and blind
but so far-seeing
that it can glimpse around corners,
around bends and twists and illusion;
instead of overlooking faults
love sees through them
to the secret inside.”
.
Vera Nazarian
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Sunday Dinner: Small Delights

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“The great underestimates the small,
the leader underestimates the led,
the beautiful underestimates the ugly,
and you underestimate who?”
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Alan Maiccon
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“Smallness is subversive,
because smallness can creep into smaller places
and wreak transformation
at the most vulnerable, cellular level.
In a time when largeness is threatening to topple us,
I wish to remember and praise the beauty of smallness,
in order to banish the Goliath of loneliness.”
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Sarah Ruhl
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“Great man
is the one who is aware
of his smallness in this universe!
Greatness starts first of all
with accepting the reality.”
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Mehmet Murat ildan
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“All space is relative.
There is no such thing as size.
The telescope and the microscope
have produced a deadly leveling
of great and small, far and near.
The only little thing is sin,
the only great thing is fear!”
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David H. Keller
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“Express gratitude
for the greatness of small things.”
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Richie Norton
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“Just because our brains are limited in size,
does not mean our minds need be.”
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Jeffrey Fry
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“You may think I’m small,
but I have a universe
inside my mind.”
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Yoko Ono
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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
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“To see things in the seed,
that is genius.”
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Lao-Tzu

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The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is filled at the moment with butterflies!

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5th Annual Butterfly Festival

Williamsburg Botanical Garden

August 3 & 4  9-4

Admission Free, Donations accepted

WPC: Orange

October 28, 2014 fall color 084

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Orange does liven things up a bit.  Its warmth and energy feel like the perfect foil for the icy garden outside our windows.

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Just as orange juice brightens up a wintery morning, so a collection of orange photos might make us all feel a bit warmer as we close out this first full week of March.

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October 15, 2014 birthdays 030

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When I think of orange, I think of October.

Today’s collection of photos, all from October of 2014, take us back to butterflies and roses; leaves changing color on the trees and warm autumn sunsets.

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I hope you will soak up a little of their warmth as you enjoy this photographic retrospective.

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October 17, 2014 light 007

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Inspired by the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Orange

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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October 28, 2014 fall color 087

Sweet October

October 7, 2014 garden 037

 

We are living through the sweetest days of a Virginia autumn:

 

October 7, 2014 garden 024

leaves changing, fruit ripening, flowers still blooming, and warm sunny days followed by cool clear nights.

Freshly picked Virginia apples sit on our kitchen counter.  Our slider stands open all day letting fresh air blow through the house; all traces of summer’s humidity gone.

The air is fragrant and golden; sunwashed  and noticeably cool early in the morning and after sunset.

October 8, 2014 garden 004

Most of the plants brought in ahead of last weekend’s cold nights have found their way back outside to enjoy a few more days of bright light and warm breezes.

A huge Begonia, covered in hundreds of tiny pink blossoms, protested its spot inside by dropping those blossoms like confetti.  I carried it out to the deck this morning to re-join its summer companions for a few more days .

 

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The Staghorn fern, tripled in size over the summer, is returned to its shady spot in the Dogwood tree.

As sweet as these days may seem, we know they are numbered. 

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Yesterday morning I finally dug the first of the Caladiums and tucked them snugly into a pot where they will winter in the garage.  Their summer pots now sport tiny rose colored Viola starts, and a spindly little ornamental Kale seedling.

Oh, and did I mention the garlic?  I am  planting little garlic cloves, tucked into the soil between the Violas.  We learned last winter that garlic cloves  offers pretty good protection from those hungry creatures who might otherwise dig them up, or gnosh on our tasty Violas.

 

October 8, 2014 garden 007

Today I dug up a tender Lady fern to bring inside.  Closer inspection found it already spreading, and there were four tiny starts to dig and tuck into other pots to overwinter indoors.

There are as many flowers blooming now as there were in May. 

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Now that the summer’s heat has broken, and it has rained deeply, our roses have covered themselves in buds once again.

Fall blooming perennials, full of huge, vivid flowers, light up the garden.

 

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Pots and baskets have recovered from the late summer drought with tender new growth.

October offers many sweet pleasures for all who will venture out of doors to enjoy it.

 

October 8, 2014 garden 006

The landscape is lit with bright berries and changing leaves.

Flocks of birds sing to one another as they gather and gorge on the berried feast, ahead of their long flight south.

October 8, 2014 garden 001

Butterflies stop by to sample the nectar, and clear night skies shine brightly with stars.

It is all, maybe a little sweeter, since November lurks in the next turn of the calendar page.

October 3, 2014 mushrooms 159

And we are blessed with a bit more time  to  drink full measure of these last, lovely days of Indian summer.

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

October 8, 2014 garden 011

A Monarch at Last!

Finally, this morning, we found  beautiful Monarch butterflies, sharing a display of white Buddleia  davidii with  Painted Ladies, at the  Homestead Garden Center. Such a pleasure to finally spot one in our area, fueling up on nectar, preparing for the long migration south. Photos by Woodland Gnome Related articles Monarch butterflies wow students (thetimesnews.com) Missing … Continue reading

Butterfly Close Ups

More butterfly photos here  and here Butterflies and hummingbird moths need trees and shrubs for shelter.  Most lay their eggs on the upper sides of the leaves of common shade trees.   Although the caterpillars enjoy dill, parsley, Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, and Butterfly Weed, they most often feed on the leaves of trees.  In … Continue reading

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