Sunday Dinner: Finding the Energy

~

“…The human perception of this energy

first begins

with a heightened sensitivity to beauty.”

.

James Redfield

~

~

“If you wish to make anything grow,

you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense.

‘Green fingers’ are a fact,

and a mystery only to the unpracticed.

But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.”

.

Russell Page

~

~

“It takes as much energy to wish

as it does to plan.”

.

Eleanor Roosevelt

~

~

“We grow the aspects of our lives that we feed –

with energy and engagement –

and choke off those we deprive of fuel.

Your life is what you agree to attend to.”

.

Jim Loehr

~

~

“Energy is liberated matter,

matter is energy waiting to happen.”

.

Bill Bryson

~

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2020

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I now see my life, not as a slow shaping

of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes,

but as the gradual discovery of a purpose

which I did not know.”

.

Joanna Field

~

~

“I love the smell of rain and growing things.”
.

Serina Hernandez

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Visit my new website, Illuminations, for a photo of something beautiful and a thought provoking quotation each day.  -WG

Six on Saturday: Evergreen

Helleborus

~

By January autumn’s leaves have mostly fallen and anything evergreen dazzles in the fleeting winter sun.  I anticipate this quiet time of the year when one can see deeply into the roadside woods, admiring the stands of pines, hollies, Magnolias and myrtles normally hidden from view by the leafy, growing forest.

~

American Holly surrounded by pines.

~

After the year’s many colorful extravagances, the restful simplicity of bared bark, buff leaf litter and glowing evergreens stands in elegant contrast to the other seasons’ beauties.

At home, too, evergreen perennials peek through the fallen leaves, a deep emerald green.  Pointy ivy leaves scramble across the ground and spill from pots on the patio.  Fresh, wrinkled Helleborus leaves emerge from the chilled earth embracing stems of unfolding flowers.

What a delight to see these winter treasures braving the worst weather of the year, unflinching under a frosty glaze.

~

Mahonia aquifolium

~

Our Mahohias stand crowned with golden flowers this week.  Filled with nectar, they feed native bees and other pollinators who venture out on warmish days.  As we admired a particularly lush stand of Mahonia this morning, a brilliant red cardinal dropped out of the sky to land on its uppermost branch.  Perhaps it was looking for its breakfast, too.

~

Camellia sasanqua

~

Yucca and German Iris, rosemary, parsley, thyme, Arum and tiny Cyclamen leaves soak up the sun and stand resolute in the face of winter.  A well planned garden needs these touches of evergreen to carry us through until spring.

~

Thyme

~

No blazing summer Dahlia will ever touch me in the same way as richly green Arum, melting the snow around itself, its leaves unmarred by ice.

These loyalest of garden plants remain with us through the difficulties of winter, inspiring us with their fortitude and blessing us with their beauty.

~

Arum italicum shines from late autumn into May, when it quietly fades away. This European native produces enough heat to attract insects and protect itself in freezing weather.  Here, with emerging daffodil leaves, Vinca minor and Saxifraga stolonifera.

~

Woodland Gnome 2020

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

Six on Saturday: Unexpected Pleasures

Scarlet oakleaf Hydrangea leaves brighten up a foggy, January garden. Edgeworthia flowers hang like tiny snowballs, opening very slowly over winter. Our Camellias remain in full bloom.

~

January presents as a quiet month on all fronts.  After a good six weeks of holiday indulgences, most of us are ready to go home and rest a while.  Especially for a gardener, expectations are low.  So low that a new seed catalog in the mail presents a thrill of color and possibility.

Which is why I’m feeling exceptionally appreciative for the unexpected pleasures in our garden this week.  It is wet and almost warm out there, since Christmas.  We had some freezing weather early on, but not enough to kill the geraniums on the front porch or slow down the Verbena and Allysum blooming on the patio.

~

Allysum blooms on the patio, enticing the occasional bee. Germander leaves remain deeply green all winter, finally blooming by late April.

~

And the Iris!  Ohh la la!  Blooming since New Year’s Eve, we are into our fifth day now of a beautiful blue and white scented Iris.  This is why I love the re-bloomers so very much.

Our rosemary is in bloom, and some daffodils have already broken ground with the first green tips of leaves.  It can’t be spring, in the first week of the new year, and we know there will be cold days and nights ahead.  But this interlude of curious cardinals, an occasional bee, mild afternoons and fragrant flowers charms us with its promise of spring now on the horizon.

~

Iris and Verbena bloom together this week on our patio.  The Verbena has remained in bloom since I bought it last April.

~

In our climate, one can easily plan for year-round flowers and plenty of interest in the garden on every day of the year.  There is no true ‘down time’ anymore.  I’ve finished my first round of clearing and cleaning in the perennial beds, but am not yet ready to cut down the beautiful seedheads of our native perennials.  Besides, the birds aren’t yet finished with them.

There is still that crate of daffodil bulbs in the garage, too, waiting for me to dedicate an afternoon to finally committing them to the Earth.

~

~

I was delighted to discover, while cutting down the Cannas and ginger lilies and generally surveying the garden,  several dozen seedling Ilex opaca shining through the fallen leaves.  I had wished for some native holly to transplant for a project a few years back.  And the multiverse clearly heard my wish and granted it in abundance.  Were I to allow them all to grow, our garden would soon become a holly forest.

~

Rosemary blooms during winter here in Williamsburg. I sometimes cut it to use in Christmas wreathes or winter arrangements.

~

So the task at hand is to dig and pot most of those little holly trees in the week ahead.  I’ll likely throw a daffodil bulb in each hole before I fill it with compost or bark mulch, and call it job well done.  The seemingly random daffies will remind me of this beautiful gift of native trees, sown by the birds, and filling our garden this month with vibrant green poking through the wet fallen leaves.

As the final bulbs go into the ground, the first snowdrops and Hellebores have bloomed.  There is always an unexpected pleasure waiting if one will only take a moment to see what is already there.

~

Hellebores bloom in our garden from late December through early May, giving flowers during the greyest days of the year.

~

Woodland Gnome 2020

~

Mahonia prepares to bloom, to the delight of our native bees still foraging on warm days. The Egeworthia, covered in silvery flowers, grows more spectacular each year.  We’re so grateful to our friend who introduced it to me years ago.

~

 

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

 

Sunday Dinner: Looking Forwards

~

“The future belongs

to those who believe in the beauty

of their dreams.”
.

Eleanor Roosevelt

~

~

“The only thing that makes life possible

is permanent, intolerable uncertainty:

not knowing what comes next.”
.

Ursula K. Le Guin

~

~

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
.

Abraham Lincoln

~

~

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,

which is what there is and all there is.”
.

Alan Wilson Watts

~

~

“When did the future switch from being a promise

to being a threat?”
.

Chuck Palahniuk

~

~

“The future depends on what you do today.”
.

Mahatma Gandhi

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

~

~

“We can only see a short distance ahead,

but we can see plenty there

that needs to be done.”
.

Alan Turing

~

Sunday Dinner: Trees’ Ancient Law of Life

~

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

~

~

“In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

~

~

“When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

~

~

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

~

~

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

~

~

“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

~

~

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts.

“Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother.

“Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

~

“A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning.

“It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home.

“Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

~

“So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours.

~

~

“They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy.

~

~

“Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree.

“He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

Herman Hesse

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

from the Oregon coast: Siletz Bay, The Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy, Mossy Creek Pottery, Bear Valley Nursery

Blossom XLIX: Camellia sasanqua

~

What a delight to see bright flowers open on our evergreen Camellia shrubs during autumn, just as the rest of the garden fades and we prepare for winter.  You may have noticed bright Camellias blooming in October through January and wondered about these beautiful rose-like flowers in shades of red, pink and white.

~

~

A relative of the tea plant, autumn blooming Asian Camellias are hardy in Zones 6b-9.  Like the spring blooming Camellia japonica, they prefer moist, acidic soil.

When the first Camellias were brought to Europe and North America from Asia, they were cultivated in glass houses, to protect them from winter temperatures, ice and snow.  Eventually, gardeners began to experiment with growing them out of doors in the garden, and learned that we can grow Camellias successfully in Zone 7 and warmer, without any special protection.  Providing a sheltered spot, mulch, or wrapping them against winter winds allows gardeners to grow them successfully in even colder climates.

Fall blooming Camellias will tolerate full to partial sun, under the dappled shade of larger trees.  They can take more sun than the C. japonicas appreciate.  Camellias may be used as specimen plants, hedges, in mixed borders, or as large foundation shrubs.  Different cultivars will grow to different proportions, and many will grow into small trees when left unpruned.

~

~

Proper pruning is very good for Camellias.  By carefully removing branches here and there, you can open them up to greater light and air circulation.  This helps encourage blooming and also protects from some fungal diseases that sometimes attack overgrown Camellias.  Good air circulation and care will prevent disease problems and insect damage is rare.

~

~

Never shear Camellias like a hedge.  Prune within a few weeks after they finish blooming to avoid cutting away the next season’s flower buds.  Aim to prune only enough to enhance the shrub’s beauty, or control its size, so the pruning isn’t obvious.  It is best to cut a branch all the way back to where it grows out of another branch.  Clipping a branch in the middle will stimulate more new growth from the nodes below your cut.

Camellias keep their glossy green leaves year-round, adding structure and screening in the garden throughout the year.  Pollinators appreciate this source of nectar when little else is in bloom, and birds find shelter in their branches.  Many gardeners cut a few branches for a vase, or float Camellia blossoms in a bowl.

~

~

Newly planted shrubs will need protection from deer for the first few years.  Deer may graze both leaves and flower buds, but the shrub will generally survive.  Use deer fencing, Milorganite, or repellant sprays to protect Camellias as they establish.  Since Milorganite is an organic nitrogen fertilizer, regular use will actually enhance the color and bloom of Camellia shrubs, while helping to keep deer away from them.

~

Camellia, “Jingle Bells” December 2016

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Many Camellia varieties are available now at local nurseries.  You can choose from several different colors and flower forms,  finding a cultivar that will meet your needs for mature shape and size.

~

Camellia December 2017

~

Varieties like C. ‘Yuletide’  and C. ‘Jingle Bells‘ are especially prized for their red flowers each December.  Bees and late butterflies will be thrilled to find them when there is little other nectar available to them. Camellia flowers may turn brown during a cold snap, but buds will continue to open over many weeks, even during wintery weather.

Then, by very early spring, the first of the Camellia japonica varieties will begin to bloom.

~

Camellia November 2017

~

Plant Camellia shrubs with confidence that you are making a good investment.  They will reward you with beautiful flowers, when little else will bloom, for many decades to come.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2019

~

~
Blossom XLVIII:  Verbena
Blossom XLVII:  Cornleaf Iris
Blossom XLVI: Snowdrops and Iris
Blossom XLV:  First Snowdrops
Blossom XLIV: Brilliant Hibiscus
Blossom XLIII: Verbena
Blossom XLII: Carrots in Bloom

 

Sunday Dinner: Viewpoint

~

“All that we see or seem
is but a dream within a dream.”
.
Edgar Allan Poe

~

~

“Chaos is merely order
waiting to be deciphered.”
.
 José Saramago

~

~

“The eye sees
only what the mind
is prepared to comprehend.”
.
Robertson Davies

~

~

“One moment the world is as it is.
The next, it is something entirely different.
Something it has never been before.”
.
Anne Rice

~

~

“Dream delivers us to dream,
and there is no end to illusion.
Life is like a train of moods
like a string of beads,
and, as we pass through them,
they prove to be many-colored lenses
which paint the world their own hue. . . . ”
.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

~

~

“The master said, “You must write what you see.”
But what I see does not move me.
The master answered, “Change what you see.” “
.
Louise Glück

~

~

“You are one of the rare people
who can separate your observation
from your preconception.
You see what is,
where most people
see what they expect.”
.
John Steinbeck

~

~

“The closer you come to knowing
that you alone create the world of your experience,
the more vital it becomes
for you to discover
just who is doing the creating.”
.
Eric Micha’el Leventhal

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
from Lincoln City, Oregon

~

~

“If the doors of perception were cleansed,
everything would appear to man as it is
– infinite.”
.
William Blake

~

 

Sunday Dinner: In Passing

~

“Sit here,
so I may write
you into a poem
and make you
eternal.”
.
Kamand Kojouri

~

~

“Everything passes.
Joy. Pain. The moment of triumph;
the sigh of despair.
Nothing lasts forever –
not even this.”
.
Paul Stewart

~

~

“The only way to make sense out of change
is to plunge into it, move with it,
and join the dance.”
.
Alan Wilson Watts

~

~

“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river
and he’s not the same man.”
.
Heraclitus

~

~

“We think of life as solid and are haunted
when time tells us it is a fluid.
Old Heraclitus couldn’t have stepped in the same river once,
let alone twice.”
.
Jim Harrison

~

~

“Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less,
because the point isn’t for how long,
the point is that it happened.”
.
Robyn Schneider

~

~

“Nothing in the world is permanent,
and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last,
but surely we’re still more foolish
not to take delight in it
while we have it.”
.
W. Somerset Maugham

~

~

“Of what is the body made?
It is made of emptiness and rhythm.
At the ultimate heart of the body,
at the heart of the world,
there is no solidity…
there is only the dance.”
.
George Leonard

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome

~

~

“The passage of time.
That is what is eternal, that is what has no end.
And it shows itself only in the effect it has on everything else,
so that everything else embodies,
in its own impermanence,
the one thing that never ends.”
.
David Szalay

~

~

Sunday Dinner: Hang Tight….

~

“Once you make a decision,
the universe conspires to make it happen.”
.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

~

~

“You may be the only person left who believes in you,
but it’s enough.
It takes just one star
to pierce a universe of darkness.
Never give up.”
.
Richelle E. Goodrich

~

~

“The difference between a successful person
and others
is not a lack of strength,
not a lack of knowledge,
but rather a lack in will.”
.
Vince Lombardi

~

~

“F-E-A-R has two meanings:
‘Forget Everything And Run’ or
‘Face Everything And Rise.’
The choice is yours.”
.
Zig Ziglar

~

~

“The thing about a hero,
is even when it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,
he’s going to keep digging,
he’s going to keep trying to do right
and make up for what’s gone before,
just because that’s who he is.”
.
Joss Whedon

~

~

“You can have anything you want
if you want it badly enough.
You can be anything you want to be,
do anything you set out to accomplish
if you hold to that desire
with singleness of purpose.”
.
Abraham Lincoln

~

~

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

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019
.
Dedicated to loved ones, who live this each and every day.

~

~

“I am not anxious to be the loudest voice
or the most popular.
But I would like to think that at a crucial moment,
I was an effective voice of the voiceless,
an effective hope of the hopeless.”
.
Whitney M. Young Jr.

~

Another Chance at ‘Spring’

A male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly enjoys nectar from garlic chives.

~

Just in case you didn’t get to everything you had planned this spring, before the heat and humidity set in, we are stepping into a beautiful gardening window that I like to call, ‘second spring.’  This is perhaps the very best time of year for planting in our region.

~

~

As days grow shorter we feel tremendous relief.  Daytime temperatures don’t go quite so high, and nights grow deliciously cooler again.  Our plants are showing signs of relief:  new growth and improved color.  Even trees around town indicate that autumn is near, as a few leaves here and there begin to fade out to yellow, orange and red.

~

~

Now is a good time to plant because we’ll have many weeks of cooler, moist weather for new roots to establish before the first freeze arrives in November or December.  Yes, there will likely be a few hot days ahead.  But they will give way to cool evenings.  Our gardens, and our bodies, will have a break.

~

This is a great time to take cuttings from perennials like Tradescantia. Break (or cut) the stem at a node, and set it an inch or two deep in moist soil to root.

~

If you still want to take cuttings and grow a few plants on to either add clones to your garden, or start plants for spring 2020, now is the time.  Plants still want to grow and you’ll have time to get a good root system going before frost.  It is humid enough here that softwood cuttings simply stuck into a pot of moist earth will likely root with no special attention.

I’ve been doing a little pruning on woodies this week, and have just stuck some of those trimmed down stems into pots.  If I’m lucky, I’ll have a new plant.  If it doesn’t take, what have I lost?

~

New woody growth, like on this rose of Sharon, will strike roots in moist soil. Remove all flowers and flower buds to send the cutting’s energy to root production.  Leave the leaves, as they are still powering the new plant.

~

I’m going to dig a few hardy Colocasia later this afternoon to share with a friend.  They can be transplanted most any time from when growth begins until frost.  Even dug in November, they can live on in a pot through the winter in a basement.  Since these Colocasias spread each year, I’m always so appreciative of friends who will accept a few plants, so I can thin the elephant ears!

But this is a really good time to plant any perennials out into the garden.  If there is any question as to hardiness, a few handfuls of mulch over the roots should help those new roots survive the first winter.

~

Colocasia, ‘Pink China’ have grow up around these Lycoris bulbs. The flowers continue to bloom despite the crowding.

~

Garden centers want to clear out old stock to make way for their fall offerings.  I shopped two this morning, picking up tremendous deals at both.  Lowe’s had some plants marked down to $1.00 or $0.50, just to save them the trouble of throwing them away.  Now, you have to be reasonable, of course.  But a still living perennial, even a raggedy one, has its roots.  Remember, you are really buying the roots, which will shoot up new leaves and live for many years to come.

~

Sedums I picked up on clearance today at a local big box store will establish before winter sets in and start growing again in earliest spring.

~

I was searching for holly ferns today, to plant in some areas where erosion is still a problem.  Those ferns will strike deep roots and grow into emerald beauties by next summer.  The most I paid for any of them was $3.00.  I also scored a blue Hosta, a Jasmine vine, three blooming Salvias and a beautiful tray of Sedums that I’m donating to a special project.

~

~

This is the time to start seeds for fall veggie crops.  Little plugs have begun to show up in some of our shops.  Planting collards, kale, or other veggies now gives them time to grow good roots.  We have time in Williamsburg to get another crop of any leafy green that will grow in 90 days, or less.

~

Black Swallowtail cats enjoy the parsley.  Find end of season parsley on sale now. A biennial, it will return next spring.

~

The only thing I won’t plant now is bulbs.  They’ll be turning up in shops soon, but it is too early to plant most bulbs in coastal Virginia.  It is better to wait until at least late October, so they don’t start growing too soon.  Our ground is much to warm still to plant spring blooming bulbs.  In fact, some of our grape hyacinths, planted in previous years, have begun to grow new leaves.

That said, go ahead and buy bulbs as you find them, then store them in a cool, dark place with good air circulation until time to plant.

~

Hardy Begonia and fern will overwinter just fine and return next spring.  These have grown in pots since May, but I’ll plant them into the garden one day soon.

~

We’ve learned that fall is the perfect time to plant new woodies.  In fact, they tend to grow faster planted in fall than spring, because their roots will grow into the surrounding soil all winter long, giving them a much better foundation for next summer’s weather.  While some nurseries are running sales and trying to clear out remaining trees and shrubs, some of the big box stores are stocking up.  They have figured out that there is a market this time of year for trees and are willing to take the risk that there may be stock left in December.

September and October feel like the best part of the summer to me.  There’s a sense of relief that July is past and August nearly over.  The air feels good again, fresh and encouraging.  Cooler days mean that I’m feeling more ambitious to pick up my shovel again.  I’ve kept a potted Hydrangea alive all summer, and will finally commit to a spot and plant it one day soon.

~

~

The garden is filled with bees, birds and butterflies, with new butterflies emerging all the time from their chrysalides.  New flowers open each day, and flowers we’ve waited for all summer, like pineapple sage, will open their first blossoms any day now.

Spring is filled with optimism and hope.   So is September, our ‘second spring.’

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2019

~

~

“That’s what is was to be young —
to be enthusiastic rather than envious
about the good work
other people could do.”
.
Kurt Vonnegut

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