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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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 016

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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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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 068

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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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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 020~

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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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 001~

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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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 007~

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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A Beautiful Wildflower

September 3, 2013 garden 011Since our large trees came down, and the former forest near the  street is now enjoying lots of sunlight, many new plants have sprung up.  Some I recognize, some I don’t.  Some get pulled right away, and others we’ve left to see what they would do.

This lovely plant was left alone, partly because its foliage is so pretty.  It began blooming a few days ago.  The purply pink of its blossoms is lovely against the mulch and the green shrubs nearby, and I’m glad I left these native wildflowers to bloom.  September 3, 2013 garden 012The individual blooms are tiny and delicate.  They would be perfect growing in a “fairly garden”

September 3, 2013 garden 016After looking at lots of photos of autumn blooming wildflowers on the internet to try to identify this little plant, I believe it is Desmodium canadense, or “Showy Tick Trefoil”  There are apparently quite a few species of tick trefoil, but they are all distinguished by their three part compound leaves, slender stems, lovely pink to purple flowers, and their seed pods.  In fact, the “tick” part of “Tick Trefoil” refers to how the seed pods stick to fur or clothing when a person or animal brushes against the plant when the seed pods are mature.

Native across much of eastern Canada, this lovely wildflower grows as far south as Virginia in the eastern US, and south into Texas further west.  It grows on the edge of woods, roadsides, or in uncultivated fields; tolerates a variety of soils; and some species can grow to 6′ tall.  It is loved by bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and is a host plant for some species of butterfly.  Because Desmodium canadense is a member of the pea family, it is helpful in fixing nitrogen and improving soil quality.September 3, 2013 garden 017

Although we’re enjoying the lovely blooms, it will be wise to cut back the stems when the blooms fade.  There are enough “ticks” around the garden already, without allowing the sticky seed pods to ripen and cling to whoever, or whatever, brushes past them.

Gardening is endlessly fascinating, partly because there is always a new plant to learn.  This lovely wildflower is an excellent, dependable plant for the wildlife garden.  Nurturing wildflowers and native plants is so important to the web of life.  Even as we purchase and plant more and more hybrids and non-natives, we need to sustain the plants our birds, bees, butterflies, and other wild things depend on for their sustenance.   And, wonder of wonders, the deer leave this Tick Trefoil strictly alone.

All photos by Woodland Gnome 2013September 3, 2013 garden 013

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