Welcome to Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden), a photography blog with a slant towards gardening and nature. An amateur gardener and photographer, I hope to share beautiful moments with you through pictures. Let me know if you like them!

Thank you for your visit.


Goodbye, January!

I wasn't thinking to try to create an End of the Month Mosaic for January, but Susanna at Pieni Lintu had posted such a beautiful one that I just had to participate in her link party...  I hope you take time to pop in to see hers and the other mosaics!

So here's my January 2015 in photos:

Welcome, February!


Colours of January

Poecile montanus

Lately, the weather hasn't been very inspiring. In January, the sun doesn't climb much above the horizon here in Eastern Finland (between 62° and 63° N), but there are some bright and cheerful days with blue skies.  Often, however, even the sunrays look bleak and the landscapes grey and dreary, in spite of snow...

There are many different shades of brown and grey colours...

... rather elegant shades, I would say, but... ...

On cloudy winter days, it's even more difficult to find something nice to photograph.

I know I'm privileged, though. I only need to step out the front door and I can stand still and contemplate the tall spruces and birches that surround our home. These branches of spruces, with some frozen snow on them, looked rather interesting when seen from below.

Not very intensely hued, but pretty...

Fortunately, at the grocer's you can find flowers as well! Among those available, I chose cut tulips and a primula. Only I should have bought several of them, of different colours.  Nothing says Spring (other than a bunch of crispy tulips) like a pot of cheerful primulas.

Citing a newspaper article: Tired of waiting for spring? Take matters into your own hands and create a splash of colour with pots of primulas!


Beautiful winter

The days are cold, but beautiful. When I'm writing this, the temperature (outside) is -29 degrees Celsius (-20.2 °F).

In the afternoon we have seen pretty ice crystal halos. They may have been "sun dogs" ("phantom suns"), but I'm not certain.

One was "above" the lake.

These optical phenomena are caused by the refraction of light from ice crystals drifting in the air.

The crystals are called "diamond dust", and never was a name more appropriate... Here a close-up, with enhanced colors. Pretty, aren't they!

I'm joining Karen at My Little Home and Garden for Sunlit Sunday


Unfortunately my photos don't do justice to the beautiful phenomenon.  Imagine that you are surrounded by the bright sunshine and see tiny little particles, innumerable and almost imperceptible, dancing in the air and glistening golden...

Sun dogs typically appear in pairs, always at the same height as the sun. The red-coloured side is the one towards the sun, as you can see in the photos.

Using a zoom lens, trying to focus on the floating ice crystals was of course very difficult. Below, there is another out-of-focus photo, with strongly enhanced colours and contrast. I decided to call it "Étude de couleurs"...

Here's to a beautiful, colourful and sunlit new week!


Shy rays of sunshine

In this part of the world, we know that there are still weeks of hard winter ahead of us. Yet (or perhaps exactly because of that!), catching a glimpse of the sun and the blue sky has an intoxicating effect. 

Spring and summer are only a very distant promise, but the sunshine reminds us of "the glad certainty that summer is nearing, and that the good things promised will never fail", as Jekyll so nicely puts it.

It has been snowing much in the last few weeks. Yesterday evening the weather changed again. There was a strong wind and the temperature climbed above zero. Standing in the (not yet complete) darkness, I enjoyed, for quite a while, watching the tall spruces wavering in the wind and listened the heavy lumps of snow thudding down. This morning the trees were all bare:

But more snow is expected, of course.  We will most probably have still several weeks of views like this (the photos below have been taken some days ago):

Even at noon, the sunrays are almost horizontal. As you can see, we have very little sunlight at this time of year. I decided, however, to participate in this week's "Sunlit Sunday", hoping this post can brighten up at least a little bit the beginning of our new week!

hosted by Karen

Going towards the evening...

And, of course,

joining Judith


A CD and a book

Roses of inspiration...

At the moment, the roses are covered by snow, and outside it looks like this:

Now to the topic of this post: 

Listening to good music while writing blog posts may be dangerous. With baroque music caressing your ears, all your photos look wonderful and your texts larger than life. That is, however, what I often do... :)

One evening recently, wishing to listen to something inspiriting, I chose a record where the South Korean violinist Jung Chanwoo, together with a Japanese pianist, plays Christian music.

I bought the CD several years ago in Italy after a concert (at a local Methodist church) by Jung. I chose it among the records available because it included some beautiful pieces he had played during the concert.

In general, that small church was the place of many unforgettable music experiences.  In the Music School (Conservatorio) of the town, there were many foreign students, and a group of them, from South Korea, sometimes celebrated the Sunday service together with the local Methodists and sang there as choristers. I don't know how it is to hear angels singing, but it could be like in those moments.

The list of the contents (click to enlarge!) shows that there are both Western and Oriental melodies. One of my favourite pieces is the number 13; unfortunately I'm not able to read/translate its name. (Needless to say, if anyone of you is able to read the language, please write a comment!)

I also like the No. 10, "Ave Maria" (attr. Caccini); no matter if it's Italian or Russian, Baroque or contemporary, it is beautiful, and this is one of the arrangements I most like.

Jung Chanwoo has lived in Japan too and he hopes to serve as a bridge-builder between the Korean and Japanese people. He plays a Guarneri del Gesù violin that is believed to have been owned by Albert Einstein...

... and remembering that helped me choose the book for the evening.

It would be better to read Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein's Letters to and from Children (ed. Alice Calaprice) in English, since most of the letters were originally written in English (and some in German), but unfortunately I have it only in Italian. 

There also are interesting photos and Einstein's biography in the book.

Joyful, touching, sage, and perspective...

Happy Tuesday!

a link-up party at


Pink (blogging) dreams

Today I would have liked to share with you photos of this year's first seed packets, but they haven't arrived yet. Fortunately, I found these tulips at our grocery store. Then I was having fun with Picasa:

This is the post No. 103 of My Woodland Garden. I was hoping to celebrate the 100th post with a short commentary, but sometimes life just gets in the way.  Well, today there is time for a few words about blogging...

I had been admiring many, many garden blogs already for some time before I had the idea to start one of my own.  I started writing posts in April 2014, and because I wanted to have several of them for the future readers, I made the blog public only in September. (Perhaps not the best of strategies.)

Without the help of some lovely, more experienced bloggers, the beginning of my path as a blogger would have been much, much rougher, if not impossible. You can find the blogs of these wonderful women in my blogroll... and on a future occasion I would like to thank them more openly as well, for all their support, good advice, and kind comments.

You may have noticed that some changes have been made in this blog recently. I had finally noticed that I'm a no-reply blogger, not intentionally, and when starting to fix this, I also decided to "revert to Blogger Profile".  When I started blogging, a Google+ account was created automatically.  It has some very interesting features, but to me it has brought more disadvantages than advantages: At least in Finland, it doesn't seem to be much used, some bloggers find blogs connected to a Google+ account somehow dubious, and sometimes people don't even notice there is a blog "behind" the G+ profile.

I hope people will now find this blog more easily...  I have had several new followers and commenters recently. A hearty welcome to you all!

I haven't decided yet what to do with the G+ account. In any case, a huge thank you to those that became my "followers" there.  I would be more than happy if you could consider joining this blog.

In a way, it's a pity that I started blogging only now. In the earlier years of my life, I was travelling much more and living in very interesting places, also gardeningwise. I think, however, that even in a not-so-zazzy life there are many beautiful things to share with other people.

I also started taking digital photos only rather recently, since I was much attached to my old film SLR with its many lenses, flashes, etc. Now I must of course admit that with a digital camera, photographing has become more gratifying. Some of the few photo prints looked good in those days, but now...

Except for those of the tulips, the pictures of this post are old photos from our garden in Italy. Below you can see a Wisteria that was (and still is) growing  near our covered garden gate:

Its abundant blooming (seen from the street) covers the gate and the wrought iron fence. The photo is in b/w, because it was taken in harsh midday sunlight, and my editing skills are not enough to fix the horrible colours! :)

After some hesitation, I have also added the Translate button. I have noticed Google Translate works rather well with language pairs like English-Italian and English-Swedish.  Finnish, however, with its particular syntactical and morphological features, causes more difficulties. Some translated sentences are almost unintelligible. One of the most unfortunate examples is that the English "do visit x!" is translated into Finnish as if it were "do not visit x!"...

(Oh, I just remembered an amusing link shared last year! To all those interested in languages: http://linustechtips.com/main/topic/72936-english-swedish-german-and-finnish-decline-dog/)

That's all for now. Thank you for your visit!

Joining Judith for Mosaic Monday.

For more mosaics, visit her lovely blog!


Just once a year?

Happy Epiphany!

Temperature: -21°C.

On January 6 (Epiphany, Three Kings' Day) or in some families on January 13 (St. Knut's Day), the Christmas celebrations in Finland come to an end and the Christmas ornaments are put away. In some Finnish Christmas songs, this is seen as a sad thing ("päättyi joulu vaikkei kenkään sois", "oi jospa ihmisellä ois joulu ainainen"), and when I was a child, I used to think so as well, but later I of course understood that without the ordinary days, there wouldn't be any special days either.

I hope that some of the magic of the Christmas season stays in our hearts throughout the year... and kindness and dreams and twinkling lights also in the adults' eyes!

The title of this post refers to a satire by Heinrich Böll, "Christmas Not Just Once a Year" (1951), the story of Aunt Milla, who desires to celebrate Christmas Eve every evening, and how her family, desperately hoping to prevent her emotional outbreaks, tries to cope with the situation. The object of Böll's satire is partly the commercialization of Christmas and other social realities in (and outside) Germany, but especially the national (and again universal) will to avoid coming to terms with the past and learning from it.

I love both Christmas and Germany, and find the description of the Christmas celebrations of the Lenz family admirable, in very Germanic fashion 😊:

"The main attractions on my Aunt Milla's Christmas tree were glass dwarfs holding a cork hammer in their uplifted arms with a bell-shaped anvil at their feet. Under the dwarfs' feet, candles were affixed, and upon a certain temperature being reached, a hidden mechanism was set in motion, a hectic agitation was communicated to the dwarfs' arms, with their cork hammers they flailed away like crazy at the bell-shaped anvils, thus, since they were about a dozen in number, producing a concerted elfin tinkling..."

Evening after evening, however, the beautiful decorations, the delicious treats and beloved songs become more and more tiring, a process described by Böll in his detached, very enjoyable style. I find the following sentence rather amusing:

"Auch diese Generation, die dort heranwächst, taugt nichts, und wenn je eine Generation etwas getaugt hat - ich zweifle daran -, so komme ich doch zu der Überzeugung, daß es die Generation unserer Väter war." 
Heinrich Böll, "Nicht nur zur Weihnachtszeit", 1951.

I find excellent Kristiina Kivivuori's translation ("Ois joulu ainainen", 1962) into Finnish:

"Tämäkään varttuva sukupolvi ei kelpaa mihinkään, ja jos yleensä jokin sukupolvi on joskus johonkin kelvannut - mitä kyllä epäilen -, niin päädyn sittenkin uskomaan, että se oli meidän isiemme sukupolvi."

The above sentence has been translated into English in the following way:

"So this generation too, now growing up, is good for nothing; and if ever a generation has been good for something - which I doubt - I have come to the conclusion that it was the generation of our fathers."

Heinrich Böll, 1917-85

Böll has been one of my favourite writers for as long as I can remember. And since I'm a fangirl, and we don't do "calm", here's some more Böll stuff, directly from my school notebooks. Now you can try the Translate button that I have recently added, and if the text doesn't look good, it may be my fault, or the fault of Google Translate, or both... :)

Biliardo alle nove e mezzo

Se dovessi scegliere “il mio scrittore preferito”, sarebbe molto probabilmente Heinrich Böll (1917–85, Premio Nobel nel 1972), uno dei massimi autori del Novecento tedesco.  Ha trattato temi importantissimi nei suoi libri che sono di solito ambientati nella Germania del dopoguerra e non gli è mai mancato il coraggio di criticare il conformismo, l’abuso di potere e la violenza.  I suoi personaggi, spesso emarginati e rinunciatari, cercano di riannodare i fili delle loro esistenze in una società che vuole negare il passato: la guerra e il nazismo, la responsabilità individuale e collettiva.  

Dei suoi romanzi e racconti mi piacciono già i titoli, per esempio Il treno era in orario, E non disse nemmeno una parola e L’angelo tacque, che in tedesco suonano ancora più belli.  I racconti Doktor Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen und andere Satiren (La raccolta dei silenzi del dott. Murke…) in italiano sono stati pubblicati semplicemente con il nome Racconti umoristici e satirici.

Biliardo alle nove e mezzo (1962) non è tra le sue opere più conosciute, ma a me piace da sempre per lo stile semplice e i personaggi affascinanti.  I Fähmel, tre generazioni di architetti, si uniscono per il compleanno del nonno e, tra i ricordi e gli avvenimenti di quel giorno, devono ancora una volta confrontarsi con il passato della famiglia e della nazione, schierandosi contro il totalitarismo, la 
violenza e l’ipocrisia sociale. Amo i protagonisti di Böll perché credono fortemente ai propri ideali – rettitudine e integrità morale, gentilezza e sensibilità – e sono poco inclini al compromesso.

Nel romanzo, il narratore e il punto di vista cambiano da un capitolo all’altro e anche dentro i capitoli: i personaggi sono approfonditi e ottengono un loro spessore. La città di Colonia, specialmente com’era prima della guerra, è descritta in modo intrigante. - Il “biliardo” del titolo si riferisce al gioco solitario, uno dei rituali quotidiani di Robert Fähmel, un uomo di convinzioni democratiche e pacifiste. Dopo gli orrori della guerra ha costruito il suo sistema di abitudini, un po’ rigide e “geometriche”, per sopravvivere tra le rovine personali e quelle, materiali e spirituali, del proprio paese.


An excellent analysis of Böll's works is Robert C. Conard: Understanding Heinrich Böll. University of South Carolina Press. Columbia, SC. 1992.


This wonderful sculpture was on display in Berlin for the FIFA World Cup in 2006. For more information, see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_of_Ideas!


Happy New Year!

Wishing you all much happiness for the new year 2015...

Oh look, it's snowing tiny stars!

With the useful Christmas presents received, I'm well prepared for the new gardening year... :)

I will be linking this post to Judith's Lavender Cottage for this week's Mosaic Monday (links not valid anymore).

Welcome 2015!



Kenneth Libbrecht and Patricia Rasmussen have made a lovely book about snowflakes.
(You can find some photos from it in my post of 26 September.)

All of you interested in trees and photography, have you already seen this http://www.boredpanda.com/ancient-tree-photography-beth-moon/?


(On the fourth of January.) The new year has brought interesting (but not unusual) weather events. During this week, the temperatures have been varying between +2 degrees and -27 degrees Celsius, respectively about 36 and -17 in Fahrenheit. It has been snowing much, and when the wet, heavy snow hangs on the trees in clogging masses, especially with a lowering temperature going below freezing, there will be troubles. Yesterday we were without electric power almost all day, and it seems the crews are still working on power restoration in some areas. And more snow is expected in the next days...