Blossom XXI: Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata


“Don’t be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.”


Jalaluddin Rumi




“Others have seen what is and asked why.

I have seen what could be and asked why not. ”


Pablo Picasso




“To be creative means to be in love with life.

You can be creative only if you love life enough

that you want to enhance its beauty,

you want to bring a little more music to it,

a little more poetry to it,

a little more dance to it.”






“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy,

a quickening that is translated through you

into action, and because there is only one of you

in all time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist

through any other medium and will be lost.”


Martha Graham




“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Sylvia Plath


“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”


Pablo Picasso


“Vulnerability is the birthplace

of innovation, creativity and change.”


Brené Brown




“Thank you!” to everyone who visits Forest Garden, everyone who has followed this site over the years, and especially to everyone who leaves a comment and opens a conversation. 

Because of your kindness and interest, today is a special day for us.   Today we have surpassed 200,000 views on Forest Garden. 


Magnolia lili

Magnolia liliiflora


This journey  began in the summer of 2013, while a crew of arborists cleaned up the three oak trees which fell across our front garden, unexpectedly, in a June thunderstorm. 
I was alone in the house trying to make peace with the devastation in our garden while my partner was out there with the crew, making sure it was all handled to suit him. 
June 13 storm damaged trees 001
It was the second time in three years that we had old growth oaks fall across our yard, and heavy equipment driving through the garden to clean up the mess!  We were determined to rebuild our garden, and to make it better than it had been before. 
This Forest Garden Blog took root in our spirit of determination to create a garden in this unpredictable forest community; and to help others who might be struggling with the same challenges that we face here.

The nearly finished bed. More compost will be added to cover the remaining wood on the border, and eventually I'll install some edging material to hold it all together.

I appreciate every single individual who visits us. 
We hope you always find a spot of beauty here, an idea to inspire you, the information you may be seeking, and warm encouragement to grow a garden of your own!

Happy Spring!

The Woodland Gnome 2017

Woodland Gnome


Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom III
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII
Blossom IX
Blossom X
Blossom XI
Blossom XII
Blossom XIII
Blossom XIV
Blossom XV
Blossom XVI
Blossom XVII
Blossom XVIII
Blossom XVIX
Blossom XX


To Delight A Passerby

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A fallen tree, teeming with life, caught my eye as we were out driving last Sunday afternoon.  Lush and green, it stood out against our wintery landscape of greys and muddy browns.


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It has been fallen for a few years, from the look of it; lying where some forgotten windstorm left it, normally hidden from view in the edge of the forest.

But the leaves are down now, allowing glimpses into the hidden places.


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It is an interesting geography of ravines and ridges, creeks and fallen timber.

One glance piqued my curiosity enough that we made a point of stopping on the way home.


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The ravine is steep enough that I didn’t climb down to take photos close up.  Perhaps another day in my climbing boots I’ll make the hike.

We’ve had abundant rain for a while now, supporting luxuriant moss, lichens, and shelf fungus.


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And I can only imagine the hidden colonies of tiny insects living below this green carpet of moss, in the bark and interior of the tree.


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Such a wonder!

Nature uses every resource, allowing nothing to go to waste.  And does it in such style, creating this lovely garden on a falling tree, to delight a passerby on a cold and grey wintery day.


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“The Holy Land is everywhere”

Nicholas Black Elk


*  *  *

“Knowing nature is part of knowing God.

Faith directs us to the invisible God,

but leads us back from God

to the entire visible world.”

Arnold Albert van Ruler


Woodland Gnome 2015

Early Daffodils

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Daffodils have always felt magical to me.  I remember my wonder as a child, finding them suddenly in bloom, with their bright yellow faces bobbing so bravely in the still cold late winter breezes.  Before the grass began to green, or the branches bud, the first daffodils always popped up in unexpected places in our yard.

I don’t recall whether my parents ever planted daffodil bulbs.  There always seemed to be some already growing in the yard each spring as we moved from house to house during my childhood.  My parents both love flowers and gardens.  They always planted annuals each spring.  We carried Iris roots with us from house to house for many years, and later Cannas.  But I don’t remember us planting daffodils.  There always seemed to be a patch waiting for us.

The daffodil foliage emerged before the last deep freeze, and was burned by the cold.

The daffodil foliage emerged before the last deep freeze, and was burned by the cold.

Daffodils are one of those wonderful heirloom plants which usually outlast whomever plants them.  Each season they divide, and the clumps grow larger.  Many also set seeds, which scatter in late spring if you don’t dead head the flowers when they finish.

It isn’t unusual to find clumps of daffodils still blooming around the foundations and burnt out chimneys of old properties in the countryside.  They are found along old country roads, in public parks and cemeteries and in many front yards each spring.

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Daffodils grow in the median along Jamestown Road near Jamestown Festival Park and the ferry dock.

These very early daffodils, some of the earliest to bloom in Williamsburg, grow along Jamestown Road near the Scotland Ferry landing.   These are the ones which bloomed in December of 2012, and then bloomed again last spring.  Hardy souls, they are left to their own devices.  Once mowing begins in early summer, they disappear.  This spring garden settles back to its usual life as a median strip of a very busy road.

Daffodils, varieties of the genus Narcissus,  grow from bulbs.  Available in garden centers and by mail each autumn, they must be planted sometime between early fall and Christmas.  They need several weeks of cold weather, with freezing temperatures, before they begin to grow in early spring.  Their leaves appear first, followed by flower stalks. Finally the blooms open.  And what amazing blooms!

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One of the most popular of flowers in temperate climates, the Royal Horticultural Society has divided the 27,000  named and registered cultivars of daffodils (as of 2008) into 13 different divisions.  Should you ever attend a daffodil show in springtime, you’ll find blossoms entered into competition in these various divisions.  Which is not easy, since daffodils open over a long season of many weeks from late winter through early summer.

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It is difficult to know exactly when the season will begin or end, dependent as it is on the weather.  The bulbs take their cues from both day length and temperature to set their schedule.   The temperature determines how long they will last in the garden once open.  The various cultivars are divided into “early season,” “mid-season,” and “late season.”  It is possible to have daffodils in bloom from late January through May here in Zone 7B.

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Daffodil foliage should be left alone to grow when the flowers finish.  The leaves will last for six weeks to two months before yellowing and dieing back.  It is important to leave the leaves alone until they finish manufacturing food to replenish the bulb for the following spring’s growth.

Although some gardeners might bundle the foliage, tie it, or cut it early, this interferes with the daffodil’s ability to make the food it needs.  Better to plant ferns and perennials around the daffodil clumps so the bulbs’ leaves visually disappear into more interesting plantings, like peonies or iris.

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The less you do for daffodils the better they like it.  Planted to three times the depth of the bulb, they may be naturalized in a lawn, or planted into a prepared bed.  Daffodils may be grown in pots under shrubs or perennials, or grown in a shallow bulb pot, forced into early bloom, and enjoyed as a house plant.

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Although they don’t need fertilizer, they appreciate a little compost at planting and as they finish flowering in spring.  If a clump stops blooming, dig, divide, and replant the bulbs a little bit shallower than they were.  Space bulbs three to four inches apart, remembering that each bulb will multiply into several new ones over the years.

Bulbs like moist, rich soil; but don’t like to sit in wet soil, which may cause rot.  They enjoy full sunlight in early spring, but grow well under trees which will leaf out to provide shade as the weather warms.

Space bulbs every 3:-4" inches when planting, knowing they will divide and fill in over time.

Space bulbs every 3:-4″ inches when planting, knowing they will divide and fill in over time.

I attended an early spring garden club meeting some years ago on daffodils.  Although the slides were beautiful and the information very interesting, one fact I learned that morning has forever changed the way I garden.  Every bit of a daffodil is poisonous.  As soon as I learned that animals won’t bother them, I determined to plant as many daffodils as time and budget allow every autumn from now on.

I plant them with confidence, knowing they won’t be grazed by deer.  I plant them generously around shrubs and perennials to create a wall of poisonous plant materials voles won’t penetrate.

I was so inspired by daffodils during that hour program that I came home and drew a pattern for my own daffodil portrait in cross stitch.


Design by Woodland Gnome 2011

Popular as a cut flower, it is tradition in Wales to wear a daffodil blossom in one’s lapel on March 1, St. David’s Day.  Daffodil vendors begin to appear on street corners in some cities in late February or early March, selling bunches to flower loving city dwellers who welcome spring with bouquets of daffodils at home and at work.  The flower vendors selling daffodils cut from the daffodil farms in Gloucester County used to set up on The Boulevard in Richmond.  I hope they still do.

Daffodils bloom in shades of yellow, orange, white, cream, and occasionally pink.  Miniature and large, single and double, large single flowers or small clusters; there is enormous variety within the daffodil family.  Collectors fill their gardens with various cultivars.

Miniature daffodils grow to only 6"-8" tall and work well in spring pots.  Plant the entire bulb and foliage out into a permanent spot in the garden when switching out plantings for summer.

Miniature daffodils grow to only 6″-8″ tall and work well in spring pots. Plant the entire bulb and foliage out into a permanent spot in the garden when switching out plantings for summer.

The fresh, bright faces of daffodils perfectly express the joy of lengthening days, warming winds, and re-awakening Earth.  Even when the first daffodils grow out of a frozen blanket of snow, their message cheers us with the surety of spring.

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2012-2014

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Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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A new site allows me to continue posting new content since after more than 1700 posts there is no more room on this site.  -WG

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