Wildly Sweet

May 28, 2015 garden 034

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The sweetest smelling part of our garden remains the wildest.  We inherited a “hedge” of Ligustrum japonicum, overgrown for decades, growing between our home and our neighbors’.   At least 30′ tall, and supporting a healthy colony of wild honeysuckle, its perfume permeates the garden.

A whiff of blooming honeysuckle, a memory from childhood summers, announces summer in my heart.

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May 28, 2015 garden 035

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This elusive scent remains full of comfort and promise.  The flatter, heavier scent of the Ligustrum grows stronger as the weather heats up.  It penetrates body and soul as we step out into the garden on hot afternoons.

Trillions of tiny white flowers, blooming on this living wall, generate all of this perfume.  And, as you would imagine, they are positively dancing as bees and other tiny insects fly from flower to flower.   Gorging on this feast of nectar, the bees pay us little attention.

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May 28, 2015 garden 033

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But they have my attention as I work around them.  Of course, this area shades my plant nursery  This is where I store plants,waiting to be potted or planted, and gardening supplies.

This is the wildest part of our garden.  We do nothing here, save to leave it alone.  It had grown into this magnificence long before we arrived, and we leave it to its own outrageous beauty.

Flowers today will slowly grow into plump purple berries by late autumn.

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January 24 ice 008

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This wall of Ligustrum feeds our cardinals, and multitudes of other hungry birds, all winter long.  Birds  feast on  insects in the depths of these shrubs throughout the year.  Our overgrown hedge offers shelter for wildlife and provides a windbreak for the garden.

Its deep shade creates a microclimate for ferns and remains cool and welcoming on the hottest summer days. Ivy, Vinca,  and Virginia Creeper carpet the soil beneath it.

Wildly untended, it is not the beauty spot of our garden.  But it doesn’t need to be.  Its presence frames the life within.

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May 28, 2015 garden 031

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Woodland Gnome  2015

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A Monarch For Memorial Day

May 23, 2014 Mountain Laurel 034

This lovely Monarch was feeding along the Colonial Parkway, near Yorktown, at mid-day today.

May 23, 2014 Mountain Laurel 018

The entire bank of a pond was covered with purple milk vetch, Astragalus; butterfly weed , Asclepias; daisies, and grasses.

A perfect habitat for a Monarch to feed and to lay its eggs welcomed this little one on a perfect, sunny late May day.

May 23, 2014 Mountain Laurel 038

I didn’t see the Monarch at first.  My lens was focused on Mountain Laurels growing on the opposite bank.

And as we were pulling into the parking area, we spotted a family of swans.  You’ll see the swans in another post.

May 23, 2014 Mountain Laurel 035

While I was following them around, my partner, always the keen observer, spotted the Monarch.

He pointed it out as I returned to the car; both of us thrilled to spot a Monarch in an area where it can lay its eggs and expect them to survive to the next generation.

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This pond lies on Federal land.  The sunny bank of wildflowers is part of the narrow National Park, maintained by our National Park Service,  which skirts both sides of the Colonial Parkway.

These gorgeous wildflowers and all of the creatures who live here are protected.

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At one time Virginia, like much of the United States, was covered in wildflowers each spring.  Our rich soil and abundant rain support luxuriant growth.

Where land is regularly mown, many are destroyed before they can flower and set seed.  One of the joys of drives along the Parkway are the many species left alone to grow each year.

The purple flowered Milk Vetch is a member of the pea family.  If you’ve ever grow peas, or sweet pea flowers, you see the resemblance immediately.

May 23, 2014 Mountain Laurel 040

These plant improve the soil by fixing nitrogen, taken in through the stomata on the leaves, in little growths on the roots.  When the plant dies back or is cut, the roots remain to fertilize the soil with extra  nitrogen.

This stand of milkweed ensures the survival of the Monarchs as it is their preferred host plant.

All of these plants feed insects now, and later birds will eat their seeds.

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Wildflowers hold the soil against erosion, cleanse the air of pollution, and add to the beauty of this spot along the Parkway.

How much richer we all would be if more government and private land were allowed to bloom in wildflowers each year.  How much better for species like the Monarch, who rely on spots like this for their very survival.

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Although the adults will enjoy nectar from many flowers, the larval caterpillars eat milkweed leaves.

These will bloom in a few more days, adding to the beauty here and providing food for butterflies and other nectar loving insects.

 

“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.”

Native American Saying

“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.”
Native American Proverb – See more at: http://www.famousquotesabout.com/on/Wildflower#sthash.jLEHvugU.dpuf
“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.”
Native American Proverb – See more at: http://www.famousquotesabout.com/on/Wildflower#sthash.jLEHvugU.dpuf

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

May 23, 2014 Mountain Laurel 025

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