White Flowers: Queen Anne’s Lace

White Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace, one of the most common plants in North America, is mostly white with a purple flower in the center. Admittedly, we are often torn between trying to eradicate this noxious weed and admiring its delicate beauty. In the garden, we frequently see it as just a weed. As a cut flower, it has great charm by itself or as a compliment to other wild flowers until it starts dropping its petals. In the wild, it is an attractor  of beneficial insects and adds beauty to the scenery.

Queen Anne’s Lace is not always white. About 1% or less of the flowers will open with a pink or purple hue. Frequently, as the flower matures the color will be washed out until it’s almost white. As the flower dries, the color will become much more intense.

Pink Queen Anne's Lace
The dark purple center of daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace)
Queen Anne's Lace with color
Delicate pigment
Colored Queen Anne's Lace
Mature Queen Annes Lace showing more color

Finding these rarities would be difficult indeed if the plant wasn’t so common. A hike along the edges of agriculture fields is the best way to find one.

It may take a while, but finding one is an excitement in itself.

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White Flowers

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White & Pink Dogwoods (Cornus Florida) stand out under the shade of pines.

White flowering plants are usually the most difficult to sell in a retail garden center. The impulse buyer usually picks up the plant that looks best in display. However, knowing how plants work in the landscape or how to display them gives white flowering plants great value for a discerning gardener.

Not all white flowers are equally white. Mixing whites from different flowers often has the effect of making the different shades of white stand out. However, the same whites can be placed around other colors or in shady spots and appear to be brilliant white.

White flowers brighten up a dark spot. Evergreens plants are at their peak of popularity in landscaping. Home owners see them as low maintenance, shapeable, and always looking pleasant in the yard. A few well placed white flowering plants will brighten up an otherwise monochromatic scene. The contrast created in the scene can be startling.

Sometimes white flowers can be just amazing because of their fragrance or texture of their petals. Magnolia grandiflora ‘Edith Bogue’ is known for its extreme lemony fragrance of its extraordinarily large flowers. Lily of the  Valley (Convallaria majalis) is a good woodland perennial with sweet fragrant bell-shaped flowers. Peonies and roses are often grown simply for the delight of cut flowers. Elegance and fragrance is enough to convince us they are worth growing. In addition, a bouquet of white flowers will coordinate with any decorating scheme throughout your home.

Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley known for its sweet fragrance

Before you overlook the white flowering plant for another, take a drive around and see what is working in other yards. Try some bouquets of white flowers. Often, you will find combinations and designs that works great with white flowers.

Other flowers to consider for the yard,

  • Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard)
  • Variegated Solomon Seal
  • Zinnia White Wedding (whitest of Zinnias)
  • Viburnum plicatum ‘Summer Snowflake’ (repeat bloomer)
Peony Bouquet
Assorted Peonies brighten up a home
Cornus kousa var. chinensis
Cornus Kousa a late spring bloomer
Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue'
Magolias are messy, but the large fragrant flowers are amazing.

Mothers

Things that remind us of our moms

IMG_5562Mothers influence the world greatly even within their small sphere of influence. There are many well-known moms in the public eye that are seen as more than just mothers. Lesser known moms still change the world in no small way. Frequently, being creative outside the routine makes the biggest difference. The actions of beautifying, creating, and improving inspire the young minds that they can change the world for the better. Most of life’s important lessons are caught not taught.

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watercolor by Cynthia Ruth Apgar
birches
watercolor by Cynthia Ruth Apgar

We had the privilege of growing up with super creative moms. A prevalent belief in our homes was that if something could be done it could be done well and should be done well. This is why we fill our homes with art, music, colors, flowers and design. We learn and inspire our own children to learn. Our fun is in improving the small things. In time our mother’s influence goes beyond ourselves and children and into our community.

We’re thankful for our awesome moms. Happy Mother’s Day!

Quilt by Gail Beard

Mixed Container Gardening

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Impatiens, Japanese Painted Fern and Heuchera ‘Hercules’ in a mixed container

One of the great ways to dress up an entrance, walk or a yard without the effort of full fledged gardening is the mixed container. We find gardening in containers as rewarding as any of our creative endeavors. When the container looses its appeal, we can easily change the plants in it or move it where it will be less conspicuous.

color coordinated mixed container
Mixed Container with Verbena and Petunias

Annuals, perennials, and woody shrubs all have a place in container gardening. We prefer using foliage perennials over flowering perennials most of the time. Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ is a flowering perennial that does well in mixed containers.

Mixed Containers give us a great opportunity to express ourselves. They bring rich color to areas that need to be brightened up. They have very little weeds or disease problems. Most plants will do well in partial sun.

The design aspect of container gardening has infinite possibilities. An industry favorite is the Fill, Thrill, and Spill design. In this design, the plants are laid out for height and interest with plants that fall over the edge of the pot. Also there will be at least one plant that really “wows” the viewer. There are plenty of great design possibilities with this approach. However, there is no need to limit ourselves. Any design and color combination is possible, especially if containers are grouped together for an over all landscape layout. If your first ideas look less than exciting, it will be easy to change.

Low Water Container Garden
Succulent Mixed Container with Blue Fescue
Perennial Mixed Container
Mixed Container with Perennials

In our containers we frequently use grasses, heucheras, lamium, pineapple lily, petunias, sweet potato vine, verbenas, impatiens, dichondra, and moneywort. Boxwood, hollies and elderberry are excellent choices as shrubs for pots. We use basic potting soil with a slow release fertilizer. Water is required more frequently than plants in the ground. In the hot summer days, water will be required every day.

Spring is a great time to try something new in the yard that is both easy and fun.

Perennial Mixed Container
Perennial Mixed Container with Pineaplle Lily, Guara, and Heucheras
Mixed Container Gardening
Mixture of Annuals and Perennials

They Have a Show About That on TV.

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We spend much of our time outdoors. Indoors, we spend a lot of our time on creative projects and books. We still spend some time in front of the television, computer or using our gadgets. However, we would like to keep our technology for helping us to do what we do better. I am amused at the number of people that recommend TV shows and apps to interest us in what we are already interested in. If I spend the too much time learning about my interests, I loose time being involved.

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Our technology increases our knowledge, skills and inspiration of the world around us. We have the ability to be more creative than ever. Technology has also become an excuse to waste time. We need to do and be active participators in our calling to be successful. Somehow we need to sort out what is beneficial and keep our focus on what it is we want to accomplish. We need to submerge ourselves in the doing more than the learning.

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Spring has sprung. Celebrating life should be at its peak. In our yard, black birds are at the bird feeder. That’s like watching reruns on TV. However, the first hummingbird of the season showed up this morning at the hummingbird feeder. The trees are full of new flowers, leaves, and birds that are making their homes. My ornithologist neighbor has told me which birds to watch for as they migrate through our area. A fox has been seen roaming behind our home. Our cameras are ready.

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Will today find you moving forward?

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Learning not to Overlook Beauty

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A few years back, when my son was two, we spotted an all white deer while a full moon was rising. I determined to get a photo, so we went back several evenings to get another glimpse. Whitetail deer are creatures of habit. However, I knew as the summer waxed hotter and grass grew coarser, the deer would most likely move on to different grazing grounds. A good photo in the fading light would require getting close, so we would have to sneak up on the deer. My son begged to go with me. It’s hard to say no to a toddler when he has that much excitement about the outdoors. I made him promise to keep quiet and allowed him to tag along.

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As we snuck through the woods, he remained very intent on the mission of getting a closer look. He stopped with me every time we saw the tail wag right before the deer would lift up its head. He was engaged. The sun was setting, and I was not able to keep the camera steady enough to take a clear photo through the zoom lens. My photos were all blurry. We would have to creep closer to get a better shot with a shorter lens.

Behind me I heard, “Pine cones! I found pine cones!” The deer ran off. There remained only one thing to do, stop and admire the pinecones that had caught my sons attention.

An all white deer is rare indeed. Since then, I’ve seen two more in another state. However, my son brought me back to a world where common beauty was as enjoyable as the rare. I still go on expeditions to find something unusual. However, I keep admiring the everyday beauty, as I have learned from my children.

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Learning Observation Skills

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A coworker surprised me with the statement that he had only seen one eagle in the wild in his lifetime. The surprise came from the fact that we work in the same fields and I see eagles almost on a daily basis. Within twenty minutes of that conversation I spotted an eagle. It took a week however, for me to spot one that I could point out to my coworker.

I do not need to remind you of the cliches on the beauty and glory of eagles. It suffices to say that I still get excited every time I spot one and have a few moments to watch. It helps me understand how after seeing a million pinecones and acorns, my children still get excited when they find one. The sublime does not cease to be sublime because it is familiar. It is healthy to frequently remind ourselves of the miracles and beauty around us and take a little time to enjoy them.

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I recommend that you rethink those common things around you. Take a closer look at a spider web, the pattern of bark on a tree, or grass blowing in the wind. Listen for a bird song you do not recognize, to someone’s laughter, or the difference in wind through the pines verses oak trees. What is it that once made you wonder but is now familiar?

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I learned to quickly spot eagles by learning their silhouette and flight patterns. Eagles are most commonly confused with circling carrion. Vultures fly with their wings in a “V” shape and eagle’s silhouettes are straight. The feathers of an adult or immature eagle will glisten in the sun even a long distance away. Ducks and geese will spot an eagle long before I do. Listening to their reaction will clue me in when one is near.

Enrich your life by taking time to observe the sublime. Every environment has its beauty. Your excitement for life will increase.

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Quote:

My son upon learning that the chocolate rabbit was hollow. “That’s an Easter Bummer!”

Creating Creative Atmosphere: Speaking Success

Our words are powerful. Those of us that claim to believe that words have the power over life and death (Proverbs 18:21), would do well to speak that way. What we think about influences what we do. What we say and hear influences what we think. Our success starts with how we think about success. Surrounding ourselves with success and positive company fuels our forward movement in our creative endeavors.

We can influence our surroundings by being an encourager. The other artists and craftsmen in our lives thrive on our genuine praise of their work and that influence gives us an atmosphere to thrive in. Understanding the value of creating and improving even by the unskilled helps us speak words that build up people around us. To a novice, simply stating, “I like the direction you’re going with this” will push them to improve faster than explaining the mechanics of their craft. Living and working within a creative environment increases our ability to create value.

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We choose. We choose how we speak and what we listen to or filter out. We need support to do our art. We keep going because we see the world differently and would like the world to see beauty as we see it. Yet we cannot do it alone. So we must learn to make an environment that builds us up. That’s started by building up those around you.

In the words of Anton Ego, the critic from Pixar’s Ratatouille,

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”

Speak well to the creative people in your life. Speak their value.

Getting out of the Creative Rut

Sometimes our creative endeavors need a boost or something out of the ordinary to bring a freshness to them. When we get inspired, we inspire others. We create. We grow. We thrive. Routines can dull our creativity.

There’s a myriad of ways to break out of a routine, such as listening to a new genre of music, going for a walk, or simply driving somewhere out of your normal route. One of my favorite ways to liven up my creative mind is to look at an object from a view point I have never looked at before. A camera becomes quite useful to see angles that may be too difficult to see otherwise.

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Digital photography has made experimenting with photography cheaper and easier. You can take a thousand photos for that one perfect shot and never spend a cent more than you did for your camera and laptop. Experimenting with macro photography helps us to see the world a little different. It teaches us to develop our composition, texture and lighting using unfamiliar subject matter. The easy experimenting process can help your excitement and creativity grow, fueling the spark.

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Prosperity in one’s creative field does not continue at a single level of success. We often have to reinvent ourselves to continue growing and learning in our field. New ideas lead to new sources of income. If you cannot grow and invent, someone else will move into your spot. Complacency is the act of being satisfied with your current success and not reaching for higher achievement. Get out of the rut. Look for something that leaves you awestruck so you can grow and inspire others.