A Favorite Garden

Wild Garden, King John's Lodge

The Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest for August asks that we submit a gardening image from our travels (“On the Road Again”).  Since our travels this summer were more about nature per se than man-made gardens I’ve gone back to one of my favorite gardens for my submission to the photo contest.  Two years ago we had the privilege of visiting about a dozen outstanding gardens in England during the heights of springtime.  Even though we went to some of the best-known gardens in England one of the most memorable was that of the lodge we stayed at in East Sussex.  King John’s Lodge goes back to the 14th century and has been lovingly restored.  Although we were able to stay there at the time, it looks to me as though it is only open for tours now.  In any case I highly recommend it if you find yourself in the area.

Although the vista from some angles make it appear quite grand it’s actually got a wonderful simplicity which is part of the appeal.

King John's Lodge

There are almost 8 acres altogether set in a wonderful stretch of English countryside.  You can wander the grounds on paths that go past ponds, woods, surprising sculptures, and cultivated gardens.

A sunlit Pond

Artwork along the path

Looking out from the back steps into the garden

But what really enchanted me each morning as I walked around before breakfast was the ‘wild garden’ which had a meadow filled with small fruit trees, ‘found objects’, arbors, and paths mowed between seemingly random bulbs and wild flowers.  You have to imagine that walking these paths was accompanied by the sounds of the birds and barnyard animals.  It was a wonderfully bucolic scene that totally hid the efforts that must have gone into its creation and maintenance.

The Wild Garden

More Flowers in the Wild Garden

What a Difference a Year Makes

Wildflowers on the hill

Last year I planted a mix of wildflowers from Wildseed Farms in several places around the property.  In particular I put down a patch on the hill leading down to the pasture.  The notion was a wild garden with little upkeep and care.  The results were everything that I could have hoped.  A distribution of flowers came forth with a variety of colors and blooming periods.    The latest Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Photo Contest for July has as a theme the Intent of the Gardener. The above photo of a wild palette of colors is my submission.

Now in the second year, with the heat and lack of water, the results from just leaving the flowers in place has been very limited.

Wildflower patch in the second year

Come to think of it, I need to go water the garden (again)…

A Favorite Photo

Sunflower rays

The Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest for June asks for us to submit the “best frame we have ever created”.  Now that’s a tall order — to pick one picture out of thousands.  Asking for garden relevance narrows the field somewhat but it still a lot of photos to review.  As the judge, Joshua McCullough of PhytoPhoto notes, the perception of a photo changes with time so the question is really what is your favorite photo today?  I think pictures also carry stories in your mind and that influences how you see a photo.  Anyway, for me, for today, the above image of a sunflower captures the sense of the rising sun, with a horticultural vision of the start of the day…

Thinking Green

Green center of the Adonis amurensis 'Sandansaki'

The Gardening Gone Wild photo contest for April has the theme ‘Green World’ in which the judge, Rob Cardillo, has requested images where “the color green steps up and takes the spotlight for a change”.

As is often the case for these photo contests, one of the challenges is to sift through the various possibilities to come up with a single entry.  I was tempted by just the scene of our pin oak in the early morning light.

Pin Oak leaves emerging in the early morning light

Then there were the surprising seeds on the Chenmou Elm from the Easter visit to the National Arboretum.

Chenmou Elm seeds

The Euphorbias are interesting because they provide such a rich range of greenish colors, from reds to yellows.

Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'

After all what does polychroma mean but ‘many colors’.

Another interesting green highlight is the Euphorbia hybrid ‘Blackbird’.

Euphorbia x 'Blackbird'

Similarly the epimediums offer a rich palette of greens, with some leaves showing splendid edge designs.

Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilac Seedling' leaf

However in the end I selected for my entry a daffodil.  In this case it’s where the green is in place of yellow that makes all the difference.

Narcissus 'Arguros' with green and yellow cup

The green in the cup comes as a delightful surprise when you have been enjoying a host of more conventionally colored daffodils and it echos the green in the petals and the surrounding grasses to provide a very satisfying early morning encounter


Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba' emerging

It is literally on the first day of spring that I am responding to the call for entries for the Gardening Gone Wild March photo contest.  Saxon Holt, co-author of The American Meadow Garden will be the judge.  The theme is ‘Awakening’ and that is so appropriate to what is happening all around us.  We’ve had weather in the 70’s and that has accelerated a spring that was long overdue.  A week of warm dry weather has even allowed me to till the garden and plant the peas today.  So yes, the spring is upon the land and things are waking up.  But which things to choose for the photo contest contribution.  Ah, there’s the question.  The little bleeding hearts at the top of the page struck me as almost like little people waving at the sky saying, “Look at me, look at me”.  But enough with these celery stalk wannabes.  I didn’t choose them.

There were also many little flowers like the ones I posted this morning.  One of the nicest for representing ‘Awakening’ was this Winter Aconite.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) opening up

This flower almost has a double meaning for the ‘Awakening’ theme.  Both for the season and for the daily opening of the flower in the morning.

Another candidate was this Tree Peony unraveling its bud.

Tree Peony bud opening up

The complexity of the bud as it wakes to the spring is marvelous.  And just a hint of what is to come in the flower.

The final candidate is the Star Magnolia which, as always, is a star of the show for this season.  It is waking up hour by hour right now and the tree cannot wait to share it’s flowery show.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) awakening

Shh, I think we caught the bud in the act of praying to the sky for more sunshine…

This will be my entry for the March contest.  Go to the GGW site to see other March photos.

Winter Light

The theme for the Gardening Gone Wild Picture This photo contest for February is “Winter Light”.  The pictures will be judged by Roger Foley who has quite a lot of experience with garden photography.  I recommend visiting the Gardening Gone Wild site just to see the submissions from a host of garden bloggers.  From previous experience many of these photos will be very interesting.

With all the snow that we have had this year the word Winter takes on a different connotation than it has in the past.  I mean, cmon, I expect crocuses to appear by tomorrow and it just ain’t gonna happen.  Well, it could happen but there’s no way I would see them under the snowpack.  Because of this theme I have been paying more attention to the various kinds of light amidst all the shoveling and plowing.  There was the full-blooded sunshine on February 7th with the afternoon sun creating a delightful postcard scene.  And I also posted a memorable sunset in January that would also qualify for “Winter Light”

But the particular picture that seemed most appropriate for the theme was taken late on the afternoon of February 6th.  Just after the megastorm had completed its multi-feet deposit of snow, the sun, barely breaking through the clouds, came out in sort of diffuse glow.  I guess that after a day and a half of heavy snow the light was more than magical that afternoon…

Late Afternoon Light

End of the Line

It’s time for the monthly Picture This photo contest at Gardens Gone Wild.  The theme for November is “End of the Line”.  You can imagine how this leads to lots of visual interpretations featuring change of season, last fruits, flowers, or leaves, or just pathways or roads going off to infinity.  I wrestled with various options including the following shot of Beth hiking down the entry road at Worthington Farm, a part of Monocacy National Battlefield.

Beth at Worthington Farm

Beth at Worthington Farm

And then there was the migration of tree swallows all perched on a telephone wire at Lilypons.

Tree swallows on a wire

Tree swallows on a wire

And then of course when we think of migrations and change of seasons the Canadian Geese surely come to mind.

Line of Honkers

Line of Honkers

Of course the other kind of line that we all get involved in is the traffic jams that are part of daily life.  I couldn’t help but imagine a traffic jam when I saw these two caterpillars both coming to the end of the branch they were chewing on.

Traffic jam

Traffic jam

But as I thought about the theme in terms of the change of season nothing brought home the dramatic end of another growing season than looking at this Cardinal caught in the aftermath of an ice storm.  This will be my entry for November.  End of the line Dear Reader …

Ice Cardinal

Ice Cardinal