Wild Beauty

A marsh on Jamestown Island

A marsh on Jamestown Island

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The garden quickly grows a bit shaggy this time of year, looking like it needs a good haircut.

Abundant rain and steamy temperatures fuel growth so fast, you might think you can sit and watch it all expanding.

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Native trumpet vine grows through trees, entangling with other vines.  This grows in Jamestown Island.

Native trumpet vine grows through trees, entangling with other vines, here  on Jamestown Island.

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Vines creep inches a day.  Weeds spring up lush and thick overnight.  Grasses spread their rhizomes to claim fresh territory in the beds and mulch.  And everything grows green.

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 006

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Everything.  A thin layer of algae or moss will grow in the most unexpected places.

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Queen Anne's Lace grows near a pond on the Colonial Parkway.

Queen Anne’s Lace grows near a pond on the Colonial Parkway.

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We can’t keep up with it all.   The world looks a little wild and unkempt in July.

But it is wildly beautiful.

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Every trip around the garden to weed, trim and prune yields at minimum a wheelbarrow full of culled greenery.  Shade grows deep beneath the expanding canopy of vines, branches and leaves.

Such abundance!

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Trumpet vine climbs over, around and through this sapling pine.  They will grow together for many more years to come on Jamestown Island.

Trumpet vine climbs over, around and through this sapling pine. They will grow together for many more years to come on Jamestown Island.

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There is a tension between maintaining a neatly trimmed garden and letting the plants do what they will.

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You see it along the roads where crews trim so far back from the pavement, and then let nature take the rest.  You see it along the Parkway, and at the edge of the woods, and anywhere a human hand neglects to bring order for more than a few days at a time.

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It remains a fine line to tread in the garden.  “What may grow, and what must go?”  the perennial question a gardener ponders in July.

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There is a certain tension in a newly trimmed lawn, swept hardscaping, pruned hedges, a well pruned bed of annuals.

And then there is the exuberant release of wildly blooming branches and top heavy perennials.  Day lily, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Salvia, Lantana, Achillea ... these have risen miraculously from the bed.

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Wildflowers along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown.

Wildflowers along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown.

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Buds open, stalks grow, leaves uncurl, color fills the spaces so recently blanketed in snow.

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Native blackberrries grow through a native shrub we call Beautyberry.

Native blackberrries grow through a native shrub we call Beautyberry.

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Every gardener must negotiate their own balance between the tension and the release; control and abandon.

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Our garden, July 1

Our garden, July 1

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And some gardeners live in awe of the artful hand of nature, left to tend the garden in her own, sublime style.

What surprises she offers!  What generosity and enthusiasm she brings to the design!

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Gardening in a living forest, by necessity I lean towards the wild side of beauty, towards allowing nature her hand in creating our garden.

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Vines  climb through Rose of Sharon and scamper onto a Dogwood tree in our garden.

Vines climb through Rose of Sharon and scamper onto a Dogwood tree in our garden.

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That hand has not always been gentle, or kind.  This is a dynamic collaboration; always evolving.

There are always surprises.  There are ongoing challenges.

But what beauty emerges in the process!

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Our garden on the fourth of July:; a Salvia grows through Colocasia, punctuated with a dark leafed Canna.

Our garden on July 4; a Salvia grows through Colocasia, punctuated with a dark leafed Canna.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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A wildflower growing on Jamestown Island

A wildflower growing on Jamestown Island

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Wild Fruit

Wild grape vine found growing along the Colonial Parkway

Wild grape vine found growing along the Colonial Parkway

Have you ever eaten wild fruit, picked from seeming “weeds” growing wild?

There are those who believe wild fruits are the sweetest…. or is that my conditioning from an adolescence lived in the 1970s speaking up again?

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(Yes, my ears still perk up when I hear the languid strains of  “Afternoon Delights” by the Starland Vocal Band.)

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If you’ve ever picked wild blackberries and eaten them while still warm from the sun, you understand.

There was a time when I could locate every wild blackberry patch and Sassafrass tree within biking distance.

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Mother didn’t so much ask where those berries came from, as she set about making a crust for the cobbler we would enjoy after dinner.

Oh, how delicious those cobblers tasted drenched with melting vanilla ice cream.

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Somehow my best summer memories include freshly picked blueberries or peaches; apples from our own trees; blackberries, or hidden grapes left behind by the birds.

Wild Muscadine grapes

Wild Muscadine grapes

These blackberries and grapes grow along the Colonial Parkway.

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Protected by the National Park service, they are there for the wild creatures who live nearby.  So no, we didn’t gather or sample….

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Grapes grow here in abundance, popping up as though by “magic.”

Another gift of nature, ready to offer up their sweetness, if only allowed to grow.

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Last autumn we bought  some  Muscadine grapes, a species native to this area of Virginia, from our favorite farm stand.  And you know what I did with those seeds now, don’t you?

And, yes, I’m finding tiny little starts of vines popping up in the many places I scattered them.

Not edible; in fact poisonous, these berries grow among the grapes.  I believe they are called "Canada Moonseed."

Not edible; in fact poisonous, these berries grow among the grapes. I believe they are called “Canada Moonseed.”

You see, our plan is to grow a little “wild fruit” of our own here in our forest garden.

Poisonous, but still pretty.  These vines are semi-evergreen, and grow to great heights in the trees.  These berries will turn dark purple by fall.

Poisonous, but still pretty. These vines are semi-evergreen, and grow to great heights in the trees. These berries will turn dark purple by fall.

There are “wild” blackberry vines growing now along the fence line in the edge of the ravine.

And grape vines one day will cover the stump in the center of our “stump garden.”

Our "stump garden" is coming along well.  I hope our own Muscadine grape vines will grow on the stump, replacing the Virginia Creeper growing up the stump at the moment.  Virginia Creeper produces berries loved by birds.

Our “stump garden” is coming along well. I hope our own Muscadine grape vines will grow on the stump, replacing the Virginia Creeper growing up the stump at the moment. Virginia Creeper produces berries loved by birds.

Perhaps that is the lesson learned in one’s fifth decade on the planet:  “Wild fruit is still the sweetest; but it is best when eaten from your own garden.”

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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Inspired by Ed’s Sunday Stills:  Macro  Since we took these photos on Sunday, perhaps they’ll count 😉  And Ed, you’re right- so much “macro” to enjoy beyond flowers and bugs.  But I still included the shot with the spider.

Please also enjoy Cee’s Sunday Stills for some fascinating photos.

 

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