Nature Challenge Day 7: In Motion

May 30, 2016 Parkway 014

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

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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May 30, 2016 Parkway 018

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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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.

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May 29, 2016 white 002

 

 

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Nature Challenge Day 6: Light

May 14, 2016 clouds 011

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“Find the light. Reach for it. Live for it.

Pull yourself up by it.

Gratitude always makes for straighter, taller trees.”

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Al R. Young

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May 27, 2016 garden 011

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“Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.”


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F.T. McKinstry,

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“From whichever direction or

from whoever the light comes to you,

always welcome it!”

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Mehmet Murat ildan

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Oregon Trip 2016 118

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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May 2, 2016 garden 042

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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.  For this sixth 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 tomorrow.   I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours. 

Nature Challenge Day 5: Opening

May 28, 2016 ferns 003~

This weekend marks the official opening of summer for many families.  Pools open and families take off on their first road trip of the season.

In our garden, summer flowers open their first dramatic buds in hanging baskets and pots.   These Petunias earn their place with their intense hues and hardy constitution.  Full sun flowers, we count on them to bloom vigorously until frost.

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May 28, 2016 ferns 001~

Petunias often return to us season to season.  These beauties, from seed dropped from last year’s planting,  delight us with their unexpected patterns and color.

Perennials in warmer climates, these tenacious flowers want to live, and manage to last through winter in surprising ways.  My father kept a pot alive by a window last winter in his unheated workshop.  They have overwintered outside in pots beside a brick wall for us, some years.

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May 28, 2016 ferns 009~

Gardening, like all things in life, grows more interesting as we open ourselves to new possibilities.    When we push the boundaries a little, and explore new experiences, we find a richness in our lives we may not have expected.

When we open ourselves, a new world of experience opens to us.  The first few weeks of summer have always held this promise for me.

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May 28, 2016 ferns 002 (2)~

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 and the renewed friendship as we trade comments each day!

For this fifth day of the challenge, I’ll invite you again to join in.

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May 28, 2016 ferns 004~

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 tomorrow.

 If you decide to accept this Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours. 

Woodland Gnome 2016

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May 28, 2016 ferns 008

Nature Challenge Day Four: Flowering Woodies

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea

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Blooming shrubs fill our forest garden.  We enjoy their flowers throughout the entire year, beginning with early spring’s first Forsythia, Camellia, Magnolia and Azaleas.  Now, our garden is filled with the sweet aroma of millions of tiny white Ligustrum flowers covering towering evergreen shrubs.  It appears that some of the smaller seedling shrubs along the borders are blooming for the first time this spring.

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Towering evergreen Ligustrum bloom for weeks in early summer, filling our garden with sweet fragrance.

Towering evergreen Ligustrum bloom for several weeks in early summer, filling our garden with sweet fragrance.

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And to our deep delight, we have blossoms on some of our Oakleaf Hydrangeas.  We’ve managed to protect and sustain four, of the many planted over our years here, and they have grown into lovely shrubs this spring.

As May fades into memory, and we prepare to greet another June, we continue to enjoy a garden filled with roses.

Butterfly bush, Rose of Sharon, Lantana, Hibiscus, and many other flowering shrubs will soon open their blossoms, inviting all hummingbirds and pollinators to come share the feast in our garden.

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May 14, 2016 clouds 015~

Blooming shrubs offer so many benefits over other types of flowering plants.  First, most offer evergreen structure throughout the year, or at least a woody silhouette through the winter months.  Our winter flowers, like Edgeworthia, Camellia and Mahonia come from flowering shrubs.  They prove hardier than any herbaceous perennial, shrugging off snow and ice.

These are ‘perma-culture’ flowers, growing larger and more floriferous each year.

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Hydrangea macrophylla have opened their first flowers this week.

Hydrangea macrophylla have opened their first flowers this week.

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Few require any significant care; most don’t even want deadheading when the flowers fade.  Many are deer resistant, although we must faithfully protect Azaleas, Hydrangeas and Roses from grazing Bambies, if they are to survive.

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Spiraea japonica

Spiraea japonica

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Like a horticultural clock, flowering shrubs mark the passing seasons.  They are dependable and predictable.  We plant a few more each year , while also watching seedlings emerge in those places we dare not dig.  Some, like Rose of Sharon and Beautyberry seed so prolifically, I pull and compost the ‘extras.’

The question comes to which seedling shrubs to prune out; which to leave and nurture.  I’m glad we’ve nurtured the Ligustrum.  They are spectacular when in bloom and provide more nectar than our pollinators could possibly forage!There is a constant hum of activity around them now.  Insects feed from the flowers, and grateful birds catch the insects.

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Flowering shrubs fill an important niche in our garden for all sorts of wildlife; including some slightly crazed gardeners!

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May 27, 2016 garden 008

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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 and the renewed friendship as we trade comments each day!

For this fourth 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 tomorrow.

 If you decide to accept this Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours. 

Woodland Gnome 2016

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All green is lovely, too. An autumn fern frond grows against Oakleaf Hydrangea foliage.

All green is lovely, too. An autumn fern frond grows against Oakleaf Hydrangea leaves.

Nature Challenge Day 3: May Rain

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Blogging friend, Y,  invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday.

For this third 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 tomorrow.

 If you decide to accept this Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours.

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May 21, 2016 garden 027

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Nature Challenge Day 2: Lilies and Koi at the Heath’s Gloucester Gardens

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We returned to Gloucester today, with my gardening sister, to visit Brent and Becky Heath’s gardens and pick up our ‘end of season’ order of plants and tubers.  Brilliant sunshine and warm fragrant breezes off the river made for a perfect day to wander around their acres of display gardens.

Every plant the Heath family offers is showcased somewhere in the gardens, grown against a backdrop of ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials and Virginia natives.  We learn so much by observing these thousands of plants grown in optimal conditions by professionals who truly love the many plants they nurture.  I am continually surprised with an unexpected combination of plants, and by familiar plants grown in unusual and beautiful new ways.

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The garden was punctuated today with hundreds of Amaryllis bulbs grown out in the beds with other perennials.  You probably know Amaryllis as one of those bulbs sold in the autumn, and grown in a pot during the winter holidays.  Well, come spring, one can plant those bulbs outside in a flower bed.  Many of them are hardy in our coastal Virginia winters and can be left to naturalize, blooming in early summer.

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The Heath's gardens, where Amaryllis grow beside perennials.

The Heath’s gardens, where Amaryllis grow beside other perennials.

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Jay Heath, attacking weeds along the main path, encouraged us by pointing out that our wet spring has brought abundant growth of ‘natives,’ or weeds to some, to everyone’s garden.  Even with a dedicated staff, they are still challenged to stay ahead of this spring’s abundant growth.

Side by side, both the nurtured and the ‘self-sown’ sprawled and bloomed, a banquet for their bees and butterflies.   The ground was wet, saturated by recent storms.  And everywhere were signs of the change of season and evolution of their garden.

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I was captivated by the first water lily blooms of the season.  The Koi here were nearly hidden by the many water plants.  Imagine having to weed the water garden, too!  But that is just what is planned for later this week, along with a re-do of the planters surrounding the fountain and pool.

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We were fortunate to find owner Brent Heath consulting on the water garden as we wandered back to the shop.  I am always delighted to find Brent in the garden because he so generously shares his deep knowledge of plants with interested visitors.

My friend and I had questions, and he guided us around some of the beds to demonstrate answers and to give useful advice.  He points out plants like the old friends they are, teaching us all the while.

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This is the meadow garden where Brent showed us Mountain Mint and other native perennials we might grow in our own gardens.

This is the meadow garden where Brent Heath showed us Mountain Mint and other native perennials we might grow in our own gardens.  Some, but not all of these plants are listed in the summer catalog.

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We each accepted a generous clump of Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum virginianum, pulled from the meadow, with advice to plant it in a bed with deep borders to keep it in check.  This native medicinal herb can be used in numerous ways, both in herbal medicine and in a perennial border.  But Brent introduced us to its strong delicious fragrance, and advised that rubbing it against one’s skin keeps flying insects like gnats and mosquitoes far away.

Mountain mint is very hard to find for sale.  Brent and Becky Heath don’t sell it at their garden.  But I had been looking for a source ever since reading about its use in perennial plantings in Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury’s new book, Planting:  A New Perspective This is one of their ‘go to’ plants for long-lived perennial plantings which carry through all of the seasons of the year with minimal maintenance.  For Brent to spontaneously offer us each a well rooted clump was a tremendous blessing for us both.

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If you still have an empty spot in your garden, and would like to fill it with something gorgeous and unusual, please take a look at the Heath’s online summer catalog of plants.  Their end of season, 50% off sale lasts through Saturday, and their offerings can’t be beat for quality and value. We filled the back of our car and look forward to happy planting days ahead!

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May 25, 2016 Brent & Beckys 001~

Blogging friend, Y,  invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday.  Thank you for your invitation Y., at In the Zone, and for sharing your fascinating photos taken around our shared state of Virginia.  Y and I know many of the same places and share a love for the quirky and beautiful, the fun and poignant.  I appreciate her invitation and will follow her lead to capture the spirit, if not the exact parameters of the challenge.

Not only is one asked to post a nature photo for seven days running, but to also invite another blogger to join in each day.

For this second 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 tomorrow.

Although I try to take photos in our garden each day, friends and followers may have noticed that it has been a very long time since I’ve been able to post daily.  Life has gotten quite busy over the past year, and the garden is always calling me out of doors!

But in the spirit of the challenge I’ll set the intention to post a photo or three daily.  If you decide to accept this challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours.

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All photos in today's post were taken at the Heath family display gardens in Gloucester, VA, which are open to the public during much of the year.

All photos in today’s post were taken at the Heath family display gardens in Gloucester, VA, which are open to the public during much of the year.  Please check their schedule if you are planning a trip to visit the shop and gardens.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Achillea

Achillea

Nature Challenge Day 1: Tree Frog

May 24, 2016 frog 004

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Near the end of a long day of gardening, as I was planting the last Caladium in a bed near our drive and preparing to clean up, my partner came out to check on my progress.   As we were visiting, he asked, “What on Earth is that?!”

He was looking at the front fender of our car, where a light grey blob had attached itself just beyond the headlight.  At first glance it looked like a huge bumpy wad of chewed gum.

I pulled off one muddy glove and retrieved my camera from its pocket in my gardening vest, then ever so quietly focused on the blob.

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May 24, 2016 frog 005

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It never moved as the camera powered up or as I crept into position to shoot.  But it didn’t take long for me to realize this was a living creature clinging to the side of the car.

Not just any creature, but one neither of us had seen before.

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It remained perfectly still as I moved around it for several more shots, drawing ever closer.  Finally, I could see its sides moving faintly with its shallow breathing.   But it never startled as we conversed, and I took photo after photo.  We could tell it was some sort of frog, but the strangest frog we’ve ever seen!

Only later, with the photos uploaded and edited, did we finally solve the mystery of its name.  We consulted The Virginia Herpetological Society’s website, where we learned there are two grey tree frogs native to Virginia.  This one appears to be “Cope’s Gray Treefrog,” or Hyla chrysoscelis.

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May 24, 2016 frog 008

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We’re not sure it is an exact match because the frog on our car is much lighter than the ones in their photos.  But the Cope’s Gray Treefrog is native to James City County, so we will go with this identification.

It was still clinging to the side of the car an hour or so later when the cat went outside for the evening.  We hope it has taken up residence in our garden and that we will see it again this summer.  We’ve sometimes seen green tree frogs, in previous years, clinging to the windows of our home.  They never cease to amaze us with their ability to cling for hours on end.

Always peaceful, we enjoy their presence and appreciate their appetite!

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May 24, 2016 frog 009~

Blogging friend, Y,  invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday.  Thank you for your invitation Y., at In the Zone, and for sharing your fascinating photos taken around our shared state of Virginia.  Y and I know many of the same places and share a love for the quirky and beautiful, the fun and poignant.  I appreciate her invitation and will follow her lead to capture the spirit, if not the exact parameters of the challenge.

Not only is one asked to post a nature photo for seven days running, but to also invite another blogger to join in each day.

For this first day of the challenge, I’ll invite you.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you tomorrow.

Although I try to take photos in our garden each day, friends and followers may have noticed that it has been a very long time since I’ve been able to post daily.  Life has gotten quite busy over the past year, and I would always rather spend a free hour digging in the dirt, given the blessing of choice!

But in the spirit of the challenge I’ll set the intention to post a photo daily.  If you decide to accept this challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours.

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Another photogenic visitor in our garden today, a Broad Headed Skink.

Another photogenic visitor in our garden today, a Broad Headed Skink.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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