Friday, March 30, 2012

My Flower Garden

I dream of a large, beautifully landscaped garden, but unfortunately that requires an awful lot of maintenance.  So, I have a little flower patch instead.  All gardens started with that first patch, right?  It is small, but manageable, which is perfect for me.  Every year I add one or two things, so it is growing slowly and steadily.  This year I have added a Nikko Blue hydrangea and some creeping phlox, and I have a carnation (dianthus) and an Easter lily waiting in the wings to be planted.  So far, it contains peonies (which aren't blooming and will probably have to be moved), a couple of varieties of hosta, Japanese painted ferns, Moses in the cradle, and some mysterious lillies in a pot given to me last year by my mother-in-law.  I am waiting to find out what color they are going to be before I commit them to the soil.  This is a very tricky spot, too.  It is underneath the southeast facing eave of our house, so it gets too much sun for the shade lovers (the hostas get singed by the hot midday sun) but not enough sun for the sun lovers (i.e. the aforementioned peonies).  In our climate, full-sun does not really mean full sun.  If I planted the peonies in the full sun they would burn up before they had a chance to bloom.  Even the most sun-loving plants like tomatoes require afternoon shade here.  It's hot people - really hot.  So, garden success is a constant struggle for the right balance of sun and shade, and of course, soil amendments.  Don't get me started on the nutrient-poor, rocky clay soil.  Sheesh.  It's a wonder and amazement that I even try at all!  But, alas, the temptative possibility of decadent peonies and lush hostas and ferns bewitches me and keeps me trying year after year to get it right.
Doesn't look like much now, does it?  Well, give it a few weeks.  You can see the little baby hydrangea in the upper left corner.  It already has a couple of blooms on it!  The foliage on the peonies looks great, but there is a worrisome lack of buds.  And, I forgot to mention the pot of parsley back there.  I had sort of forgotten about it.  Please note the little copper mushroom beside the painted ferns.  I love it.  My mother gave it to me last year, as well as the corpulent little owl who oversees all the proceedings and the little butterfly ornament.  My sweet husband brought up that big rock from the creek for me last summer.  I love the vein of quartz running through the middle of it.  Could my peony problem be that I have mulched too heavily around them?  I know they do not like to be buried too deep, but the leaf mulch is there to keep the roots cool and hydrated during our brutally hot summers.  Hmmm.  A quandry. I will snap another photo in a few weeks to let you know how my new transplants are coming along.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Fever

I have to say this is the most spectacular spring I have ever seen.  The mild winter was a bit of a disappointment for me, but spring is more than making up for it with her breathtaking display of beauty.  It seems that the entire woods are blooming.  Things are blooming that I have never before even noticed.  Perhaps it is because I am looking more closely.  Typically, in this area, we have a late frost or two that spoils many of the early blossoms, but that has not been a problem so far this year.  Dare I plant some vegetables?  Tomatoes? Peppers?  No, I don't think so.  Not before Easter.  We usually have one last cold snap around Easter.  It seems to always be cold or raining on Easter Sunday when we southern ladies are dressed up in our finest new spring frocks.  I nearly always have to wear an ugly winter coat on top of my new Easter dress, but maybe not this year.  Come to think of it, I don't have a new dress for Easter this year, so it will probably be a gorgeous day.  Oh well, I'll just wear one of my old ones sans overcoat and no one will be the wiser!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Early Morning Walk

We have whitewater!  Due to heavy spring rains, the big creek is full and flowing beautifully.  The tangle of debris in the tree on the right (about 20 feet above the creekbed) is an indicator of how high the water can get during heavy periods of rain.

Reindeer Moss, photo by Starr White
 It is widely believed that this lovely moss grows only on the sub-arctic tundra of the far north, but nope!  Here it is in the Deep South.  And we have lots of it.  Unfortunately, I believe it is an indicator of how poor our soil is in this area, but it sure is pretty.  Every cloud has a silver lining - this one just happens to be mossy.
Is this a blooming moss or a fungus?  I'm not sure, but isn't it spectacular?  It's really teeny tiny.  I just love finding treasures like this on the forest floor.  It looks like tube worms at a deep sea thermal vent.  I love this photo.
I am constantly thrilled and amazed and fascinated by the beauty of the natural world and especially the wonders that abound here in my very own little patch of paradise.  Thus, the name of my blog.  It truly is a wonderland to me.  Thank you for sharing it with me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bolete Is Complete!

Here he is all stuffed and dressed and ready.  I couldn't find the micro-check gingham ribbon I love so much in orange, so I had to go with this satin one, but I still think it looks cute.  Won't he be perfect for the craft fairs in the autumn?  I'm not sure if you can tell from the photo, but the background is actually a dark chocolatey brown, not black.  I hope you like him.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Springtime in Wonderland Woods

Lady Spring has arrived in the magical world of Wonderland Woods dressed in her lovely gossamer gowns of tender new leaves and blossoms.  I sneaked a few photos for you to enjoy.

Red Trillium, photo by Starr White
 This lovely little lily, Trillium Erectum, is native to our woodlands.  Native Americans called it "birth root".  They would dry the roots and brew a tea from them that was used to treat women with menstrual problems and to induce labor when needed.  I love the deep maroon color and the beautiful variegated leaves. It's name, trillium, is derived from its distinctive three-leaved shape.  It is one of the very first things to emerge in early spring.  They are so plentiful in some areas that you can hardly walk without treading on them (although I try very hard not to!)
Wild Azalea, photo by Starr White
Many people call this breathtaking beauty a native of our woodland, but this isn't actually true since all species of rhododendron originated in China.  Being a lover of all things Asian, I feel that it's important to give credit where credit is due.  And really, it has that very distinctive Asian aesthetic, doesn't it?  Can't you just see this embroidered on a beautiful silk gown?  Or perhaps a kimono?  Or in one of those lovely paintings on silk?  One striking feature is the fact that it blooms before its leaves emerge, so you get the full impact of those gorgeous, ethereal pink blossoms seemingly floating in mid-air.  They are really early this year, and the surrounding trees and shrubs are still bare, which makes them stand out all the better.  Just spectacular!
Is there anything more bright and cheerful than daffodils?  I especially love the brilliant orange-frilled cups on this variety.
And last, but not least, my very own little lavender scented ode to Spring.....

A sweet little bluebird on a branch of cherry blossoms floating in an azalea cloud.  This one is stuffed with lavender, so it makes a lovely little sachet.  I think it would be nice hanging inside a closet or wardrobe or even on the knob of a dresser drawer.
Thanks for taking the time to stop and smell the flowers with me.  Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I am so excited to share with you what I've been up to.  I have just completed two ornaments for my future Etsy shop and I am really happy with how they turned out.  As you know, I love mosses and lichens, and ferns.  But what you may not know is that I simply adore mushrooms as well.  They are one of my favorite subjects, and I am creating a whole line of ornaments with a mushroomy theme.  Some of them are based on the real thing, and some of them are purely fantastical shroomies from my imagination.  The first one is my rendition of the beautiful Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria).  It is a combination of applique' and embroidery.  It is made with polyester felt and stuffed with poly-fill.  As you can see,  I went to town embellishing these little beauties with white french-knot speckles and beneath is a carpet of french-knot mosses.  I just love this little guy.  It makes me happy.  I will be making more.....

photo by Starr White

This is the second I have completed so far.  I really love this one, too. (How will I ever be able to part with them?)  I was inspired by a photograph for this one, and I'm not sure what it's botanical name is, so let's just call them little orange cuties.  Sounds good to me.  For this one, I used a beautiful batik dyed orange fabric for the applique' and embroidered the stems and the little baby fern fronds.  I have a dear friend who loves orange and bright green, and this one makes me think of her.

photo by Starr White

photo by Starr White

I have completed the top for this third one, but am having great difficulty procuring the orange micro-check gingham ribbon I want for the loop at the top.  But you can have a sneak peek at it, too.  I even considered giving this one a sweet little bow at the base of the hanger.  What do you think?  It was also inspired by a lovely photograph of a plump bolete mushroom growing in a patch of mosses that looked like teeny tiny little ferns, so of course, I couldn't resist.

I will probably keep making variations of these until I get tired of it, so I hope you want to see more.  You do, don't you?  Yay!  I'll keep them coming.  Meanwhile, if you know of a good on-line source for 1/4" microcheck gingham ribbon in a multitude of colors, would you please let me know?  I just love it, and am having a very difficult time finding a supplier.  Most of them sell only wholesale.  Bummer.  Thanks for your help, and I hope you enjoy my little shroomy babies.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not Quite Winter, Not Quite Spring

I love the brief interlude between winter and spring.  The days are damp and mild with lots of cloudy skies, which I love,  and the nights are still chilly enough for a fire in the evening.  And for me, the forest is never more beautiful. The longer days and mild, damp weather set the perfect conditions for some of my favorite woodland plants - the ferns and the mosses.  The extra daylight hours and ample rainfall have made them lush and brilliant green.

Resurrection fern & lichen photo by Starr White

Resurrection fern is so named because during dry periods, it dries up, turns brown and generally appears to be dead.  Then, after a good rainfall, in about 3 days time, it is resurrected - lush and green and lovely.  It is an epiphyte, found mostly on deciduous hardwoods, but can also be found growing in clefts of rock.  I love the contrast between the dark damp bark of the tree, the gray green lichen and the lush, vibrant green of the mosses and ferns.  This is the kind of thing that makes me ridiculously happy.

Moss, photo by Starr White

The trees of the forest are still bare except for their brilliant scarves of emerald green.  However, if you look closely, you will see signs of spring.  Tiny buds and blossoms peek out to see if it is safe to awaken from their long winter's nap.

photo by Starr White
 To be honest, I am sad to see winter leave again for another year.  It is probably my favorite season with its gray, brooding skies and the beautiful bare trees.  I love their architectural form; the delicate, lacy outlines of the bare silvery gray branches.

  I love the quiet, the stillness.  Winter is peaceful, meditative, and calm.  It is beauty with a touch of melancholy which touches my soul in a way that no other season does.  Wouldn't those mosses and ferns and bare branches be just gorgeous with a dusting of snow?  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Turning a Dream Into Reality

Today I am focusing on developing the first group of pieces for my future Etsy shop. That is my biggest goal for this year, and I am working steadily towards achieving it. I have decided to make a couple or three versions of at least 5 different pieces (hopefully more) to get started. I hope to have some pretty and practical pieces and also pieces that are purely art for display. I like pretty things that are functional, and so I have chosen to begin there. I hope to post some photos of what I'm working on soon, but I have some camera/computer maintenance issues to tend to before I can post photos. My computer is from the middle ages and thus cannot store lots of photos, so I have to store most of them on a CD. I have to "empty" my camera of over 400 photos and store them on a CD before I can use it to upload a few select photos onto my computer. Then, I will be able to share photos with you of my beautiful woodland home, which is my greatest inspiration, and the pieces it inspires me to create. Of course, my work is not limited to only nature related subjects, but it is by far my greatest inspiration. I think you will find my work to have a simple, homespun quality to it. I am a simple, homespun girl, and so that is reflected in my work. I hope you like what you see, and I hope to have an Etsy shop up and running soon just in case you see something you just can't live without!