Garden Gold

Fennel flowers allow for easy access to their nectar.

~

The hotter it gets, the more gold in the garden glitters and shines.  As the mercury goes up, yellow and gold feel almost cooling.

~

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeds on Lantana ‘Chapel Hill Yellow,’ a fairly new perennial Lantana introduction. WBG

~

I don’t understand the alchemy of that, but I do understand the clear attraction of gold for all of our nectar seeking pollinators.

~

~

Gold flowers may just taste sweeter.  They certainly draw in the bees, wasps and butterflies who draw sustenance from their sugary depths.

~

Lantana ‘Chapel Hill Gold’ is also a perennial in Zone 7. WBG

~

All the while, these prolific flowers are also ripening seeds to delight goldfinches and other small birds who will feast on their ripe seeds well into the barren months of winter.

~

Flocks of goldfinches took wing from the wildflowers where they were feeding, as I walked through the Williamburg Botanical Garden yesterday afternoon.

~

Golden and yellow flowers often prove among the easiest for a gardener to grow.  Turn to dill, fennel and parsley for their distinctive round umbel inflorescence, all flat and easy to access;  Rudbeckias and Helianthus for their many petaled sunburst flowers.

~

The first black eyed Susans, our native Rudbecki hirta, have begun to open in our garden.

~

Coreopsis, Lantana, marigolds and Zinnias all bloom in shades of yellow, orange and gold.

~

~

The season ends on a wild and native note as Solidagos burst into bloom in September and October, towering over the black eyed Susans in our garden like great feathery plumes of living gold.

~

Solidago blooms alongside Rudbeckia in our garden, October 2017.

~

If the entire garden were nothing but green and gold, animated with swallowtail butterflies and goldfinches, what a beautiful display we would still enjoy.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood

will show you something about the sun

which you could never get

from reading books on astronomy.

These pure and spontaneous pleasures

are ‘patches of Godlight’

in the woods of our experience.”


.

C.S. Lewis

In Pursuit of Happiness

~

“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage
with my books, my family and a few old friends,
dining on simple bacon, and letting the world
roll on as it liked,
than to occupy the most splendid post,
which any human power can give.”
.
Thomas Jefferson
~
~
“Do you want to know who you are?
Don’t ask. Act!
Action will delineate and define you.”
.
Thomas Jefferson
~
~
“Determine never to be idle.
No person will have occasion
to complain of the want of time,
who never loses any.
It is wonderful how much may be done,
if we are always doing.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

“The equal rights of man,
and the happiness of every individual,
are now acknowledged to be
the only legitimate objects of government.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

“Peace and friendship with all mankind
is our wisest policy,
and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots
uninteresting to me.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden

~

~

“I like the dreams of the future
better than the history of the past.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

Fabulous Friday: Hide and Seek With the Butterflies

~

I’ve been playing ‘Hide and Seek’ with the butterflies at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden at Freedom Park, trying to spot as many different pollinators and butterflies as I can among the lush growth of flowers.

~

Silver-spotted Skipper on a Zinnia

~

It feels like the entire garden is designed to welcome every beautiful winged creature that frequents our area.  Flowers grow everywhere, interspersed with those host plants butterflies need to raise their next generation.

~

The Williamsburg Botanical Garden grows lush with summer flowers.

~

There is the widest possible selection of native flowering plants, augmented with many bright nursery trade annuals and perennials filled with sweet nectar.

~

Can you spot the bee, coming to share the nectar?

~

There are places for caterpillars to find shelter as they gorge themselves on delicious leaves and grow towards their future as bright butterflies, spots for butterflies and other pollinators to find a drink, and lots of shelter for them to rest.

~

~

One might expect the air to be thick with butterfly wings above this tempting wildlife banquet.  Where are they all this week?

~

Common Sootywing butterfly on Basil

~

I stopped by all of their favorite nectar plants, watching for the fleetest glimpse of wing.  There was the Tiger Swallowtail that flew away before I could focus the camera and the Black Swallowtail spotted by a friend.

~

Pearl Crescent butterfly on Lantana

~

I’ve no photo to offer you of either of these beauties, just one from a few weeks ago of a lovely Zebra Swallowtail.

~

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly on Agastache June 15, 2018

~

Lantana proves a butterfly magnet, and there is plenty of Lantana growing now in the garden.  If you want butterflies to visit your garden, planting Lantana, still available in local garden centers, is a reliable way to attract them.

Zinnias also prove popular, and our native purple coneflowers.  Please be careful to avoid using insecticides if you want to attract butterflies and pollinators.

~

A Common Buckeye butterfly feeds in this bed of Lantana, with bronze fennel growing nearby.

~

I like to plant nectar plants together with herbal host plants such as parsley, fennel, and dill.  Many gardeners also plant Asclepias, the preferred host plant of the Monarch.  Butterflies also feed on native trees or shrubs.  These may already be growing in or near your garden.

~

Some gardeners might think it strange to grow plants intended as food for insects. Others recognize the beauty of participating in this magical web of life.  Asclepias incarnata grows here in our Forest Garden.

~

By this time in the summer, the hunt is on for caterpillars. 

~

This instructional garden stone was crafted by a Master Gardener custodian of the Botanical garden, and rests in the pollinator garden.

~

You may notice ragged foliage before you see them, as they start off very tiny from their eggs.

I wonder sometimes, do butterflies remember their days spent munching leaves as caterpillars?  Do they fly back to their host plants, only to get distracted by nearby flowers, instead?

~

~

It is fabulous to find ourselves enjoying the magical beauties of summer, once again.

~

A bumblebee enjoys native Monarda fistulosa.

~

I trust you will find those creatures you are hunting for, and enjoy their rare beauty as we celebrate summer together.

~

Male Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on a button bush flower, June 14

~

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is Contagious… Let’s infect one another!
*
Woodland Gnome 2018

Most photos were taken in the Williamsburg Botanical Garden

at Freedom Park in James City County, VA

~

~

“There are times to stay put,

and what you want will come to you,

and there are times to go out into the world

and find such a thing for yourself.”

.

Lemony Snicket

Blossom XLI: Tradescantia

Tradescantia, spiderwort

~

“Everyday I discover more and more beautiful things.

It’s enough to drive one mad.

I have such a desire to do everything,

my head is bursting with it.”

.

Claude Monet

~

~

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection

that one finds a way.

So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

.

Claude Monet

~

The Williamsburg Botanical Garden keeps many native plants in its collection. This area is for pollinators.

~

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands

into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips

the possibilities of the new season.”

.

Kate Morton

~

~

“The master of the garden is the one who waters it,

trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds.

If you merely stroll through the garden,

you are but an acolyte.”

.

Vera Nazarian

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome

all photos from the Williamsburg Botanical Garden
May 2018

~

~

“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

~

WPC: Twisted Wisteria

~

If you have ever wondered whether plants are aware and know what they are doing, just study a Wisteria vine for a while.  Plants are wiser than you may want to believe.

This formidable vine grows across an arbor at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden in Freedom Park.  Believe it or not, this vine hasn’t been growing here more than a dozen years.  It already looks quite venerable and sage, doesn’t it?

~

~

It has enthusiastically taken over the arbor, like a toddler with a new play set!

Never mind the climbing Hydrangea petiolaris desperately trying to grow up the opposite side, or the always feisty Virginia creeper that has snuck its way through the dense network of twining branches.

These three neighbors fight it out, now, for the best real estate on the arbor to catch the summer rays.

~

~

This is our native North American Wisteria frutescens, which grows from Virginia west to Texas, and south into Florida.  A deciduous woody vine, W. frutescens will grow to only about 15 meters long, which is only two thirds of the mature height of Asian Wisterias.

~

~

Wisteria grows best is moist soil with full, or at least partial sun.  It normally uses a strong  nearby tree for support, but also grows on fences, trellises, or pergolas.  It makes a lovely ‘ceiling’ for a pergola over a  porch or deck.

Our native Wisteria may also be trained into a standard tree form, but requires a lot of tending along the way and regular trims to keep it in bounds.

~

~

A member of the pea family, Wisteria captures nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil along its roots, helping to ‘fertilize’ other plants growing nearby.  But please don’t taste its pea-like pods!  Wisteria is a poisonous plant if eaten, which helps protect it from hungry rabbits and deer.

Wisteria also absorbs carbon from the air, cleaning and purifying the air around it while fixing excess carbon in its woody stems and roots.

~

~

Our native Wisteria’s flowers are smaller than its Asian cousins’, too; and so it is often favored by gardeners who want a more contained Wisteria for a small garden.

Our native Wisteria is also a larval host for several types of butterflies and moths, including skippers.

~

~

This particular vine has embraced its arbor in a crushing grip.  It is as though the vine itself has become a living, twisted, arbor that will stand the test of time even if the man-made frame eventually comes apart.

Let this be a caution to you if you ever choose to plant one near your home.  I did that once, and realized that wood and nails and staples are no match for this prodigious vine, no matter how sturdy the construction may appear!

~

~

Wisteria twists clockwise around its support, weaving itself into a living sculpture.

~

~

While other vines may have tendrils that twine or sticky pads that stick to surfaces like masonry, Wisteria is the twisting, twirling boa constrictor vine of the plant kingdom.

It gives shade to us weary gardeners, and it generously shelters birds and bugs, lizards and toads.  It is teeming with life, reaching wildly with its newest branches in search of something to support its restless sprawl.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Twisted

Re-Awakening

~
Life is a constant series of awakenings,
Beginning again,
Having a fresh go at it.

~

~

Every dawn brings with it a fresh opportunity
for happiness,
Every season another cycle of growth.

~

~

The old and finished falls away,
Duff, always feeding the soil of creativity. 

~

~

The new bursts into becoming,
Being, finding its own way.

~

~

The roots may grow old,
But the leaf and blossom
Continually re-new themselves.

~

~

Cloaked in pristine promise,
After slumber, comes a new awakening.
*
Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Awakening

~

~

“The universe is always delivering to us
what we need
for a spiritual awakening.”
.
Erin Fall Haskell

 

The Williamsburg Botanical Garden

The Butterfly Garden at The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is beautiful, if still dormant, in early February.

~

The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is a great destination for picking up ideas and observing many different sorts of plants growing here in James City County, Virginia.

~

~

Whether you go for a quiet walk, or to participate in a class, there is always more to learn, experience and enjoy.

~

~

The garden is a true community effort.  It brings together volunteers from many different organizations, including the Williamsburg Master Gardeners Association.

The garden is subdivided into  specialty gardens planned and maintained by different groups, and serving different purposes.  In addition to the butterfly garden, there are areas devoted to heirloom plants, native plants, wetland and woodland plants, perennials and flowering shrubs, a fernery, and an area of raised beds for therapeutic gardening.

~

The Pollinator Palace

~

Best practices are modeled, and new gardeners are both trained and inspired in this special space.  Even though the Williamsburg Botanical Garden is fenced to exclude deer; songbirds, pollinators and other small wildlife are welcomed and fed.

~

~

The first stirrings of spring were evident today under bright skies.  It was only a few degrees above freezing when some gardening friends and I ventured out, tools in hand, for a pruning workshop.

Despite numb fingers and toes, we discussed proper pruning for several species of flowering woody shrubs.  Experts demonstrated the proper use of a variety of nifty pruning tools, too.

~

~

A few of the earliest shrubs, like Spirea, showed tiny bits of green. Its buds are just tentatively opening this week.  But most of the herbs, perennials, and deciduous woodies were still slumbering through their last few weeks of dormancy.

~

Daffodils have just begun to emerge, their bright blooms now only days away.

~

Today served as a call to action to get out and get after the woodies in our own Forest Garden, before the season gets ahead of me this year.  I was a bit slack last year on the pruning. This year, there is a great deal of cutting and thinning and just plain lopping back waiting for us.  But it won’t wait for long; warmer, longer days will coax those buds to open all too soon.

~

It is too early in the season to prune wood from early spring bloomers like Spirea and Viburnum.  However, one may always prune out wood that is Dead, Diseased, Deformed, or Damaged.

~

Some gardeners grow a bit confused about what pruning to do, and when.  In general, February is a great month for pruning roses, crape myrtle, butterfly bush, rose of Sharon, and other trees and shrubs which won’t bloom before June.  If a shrub blooms on new growth only, it is safe to prune it back now.

If your shrub blooms on old wood from last year’s growth, and already has its flower buds ready to go now, then “wait to prune until after bloom.”  

All of our favorite spring shrubs like Rhododendrons, Camellias, Forsythias, and Spireas have flower buds set and ready to open on schedule, over the next several weeks.   Any pruning done now will reduce our spring blooms.

~

~

There are great Botanical gardens all over the country, and we are very fortunate to have such a nice one here in Williamsburg.  One can’t help but feel either inspired or overwhelmed after an hour’s walk among such a beautiful collection of plants.  This is a great destination for a walking tour, even on a frosty February morning.

Once I had a cup of coffee and could feel my fingertips again, I was ready to head over to Lowes.   I wanted to have a look at some of the new nifty gadgets for pruning that I’d seen demonstrated today, while my enthusiasm was still warm.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018
~
~
For The Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Tour Guide

~

 

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

Join 683 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest