Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.  ~Juvenal, Satires


I find autumn is a great time to peruse the garden closely, and consider some of my most valuable garden lessons.  Of course hindsight is 20/20, but unfortunately mine is still 80/20.  Meaning I still learn the hard way and repeat mistakes.  Is it because I am a hard head?  Yes.  Is it because I never say never?  Yes.  Is it because I try to push the envelope and buck Mother Nature?  Definitely yes.

But after so many attempts, I have learned a few lessons.  You see it really comes down to this–

Had I but known…

That the tree would grow in that direction, I wouldn’t have planted those sun loving perennials right there.  They are not doing so well.  They have barely grown over the last couple of years and the tree keeps growing.  Time to move them.

That the garden would flood every year in that area, I wouldn’t have planted those normal to dry moisture loving plants.  How many have I lost..too many.  Now the rain garden helps, but I am taking no chances.  Moisture lovers only here.

That zone 6 meant “not for me” I would have left that plant at the store.  I have rarely found a plant that will overwinter in my garden if it is beyond zone 5.  Of course it always amazes me how the annuals that I deadheaded, suddenly are growing through the brick of my patio.  Zone 7 petunia…hmmm???  How did they do that?


That biennial really meant once every 2 years, I would have planted a few more plants in that area of the garden.  Well maybe a few more plants will grow in as the season progresses.

That even plants in pots can root into a garden and never leave–got to love that mint!  Here is pineapple mint that was planted in a pot that was placed on top of the wall.  Now how did it get down there?

That part shade didn’t mean 1 to 2 hours only in the spring, I would have chosen a different location for that part sun perennial.

That normal to loamy soil needed does not mean throw a couple of inches of top soil on top of the clay and hope it grows.  Either continue to amend the soil or only plant clay loving plants.

That all fertilizers were not created equal, I would have chosen the non-chemical variety a long time ago.  Natural fertilizers have been better for my plants and the wildlife.

That deer can jump really high, and rabbits and other varmints can squeeze through and under any fence, I would have reconsidered my cute picket fence-maybe.  No I still love my picket fence, and we get a kick out of the varmints that go over or under it.

That deer resistant means if they are hungry they will still eat it, I would have planted some different plants and not become attached to those expensive beauties the deer love so much!!

That veg gardens really do need to grow in full sun, I would have chosen a different location for the most recent bed.  Had to move the peppers.  Oh well, it will become a cutting garden for part sun flowers next year.

That veggies grown from seed would be stronger, more resilient and more successful I would have grown them all from seed.  This coming spring I will be growing most flowers and veggies from seed.  Bought our seed growing station.  Just waiting for it to arrive.  Can’t wait to experiment with it this winter.





That not cleaning up the leaves and plants in the fall can actually do more good for your garden and the critters who live there, I would have relaxed more in the fall and conserved my energy for planting and enjoying the fall garden.  This year since I am not cutting, cleaning and whacking back plants, I have more time to spend observing my fall garden.  Isn’t this grass gorgeous.  And how about the fall crocus at the beginning of the post…a real knockout when the light shines through it!!


Now that I have learned these valuable lessons the hard way here in my gardens, it is my HOPE that…

I will take time to plan more carefully making sure I know not only the sun, but moisture and soil needs of the plants.  I am much better at this today.

I will throughly research a plant to make sure I know if it is invasive or aggressive before planting it.  Too bad I planted a few groundcovers that will take forever to eradicate.

Garden ghost-no veg garden under cover

I will enrich the soil in more areas of the garden next spring to ensure a healthy environment for my plants.  We’ll see how the plants on this side of the garden grow next year now that they have all this lovely compost.

I will still experiment and not give up because of one, OK 2 perceived failures.  There will be pumpkins next year!

I will continue to push the envelope because you never know what wonderful plants or veggies you can grow, and what lovely creatures will call your garden home.

I will still welcome critters to the garden even after they wreak havoc after all they are part of the habitat and we consider them family.  OK no nesting rabbits in the yard, and deer must stay on the other side of the fence, and we won’t even discuss voles…




Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.  ~Martin H. Fischer






Monthly (usually around the 10th) I guest blog at Walkabout Chronicles.  Stop by to read my latest post, Wander.

Hope you enjoyed my first post at Beautiful Wildlife Garden, If You Build It….

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Shameless Book Flaunt–For those that have asked my poems were published in the book, The Moment I Knew. You can order the book from the publisher Sugati Publications where more of the proceeds go to the womens’ groups chosen by the authors.  Free shipping from the publisher as well.  You can also order it from Amazon soon.  I hope you enjoy the book and I would love to hear your feedback on my poems.


  1. Alistair says:

    Donna enjoyed your post, even in my advancing years I am still as stubborn as ever relating to all you have talked about. I have a picture of your garden which I would like to add to my sites (Your Gardens) page with a link to your blog, let me know if you want it removed, I will understand.

    • Donna says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Alistair. I find it hard to believe you are advancing in age…maybe it is all that wisdom that makes it appear so….I would be honored to have a picture of my garden on your “Your Gardens” page…

  2. tina says:

    You speak for us all indeed! I too have that issue with mint. Who knew??? Ah but life goes on and we learn that wisdom indeed.

  3. Island Threads says:

    loved this post Donna, I lol when I read the paragraph that starts, That normal to loamy soil needed ……….., dig deep and wide before planting, I am starting to realise that feeding is far more important than I realised, I love your golden grass … beautiful, you could put some narrow mesh inside your beautiful picket fence on the lower half to stop creatures sneaking through, when it comes to ‘resistant’ plants I now interpret that to ‘will eat if hungry and nothing prefered around’ rather like us really, take care, Frances

    • Donna says:

      So glad you liked it Frances. I felt I needed a bit of humor. After all if we can’t laugh at ourselves…your comment had me laughing too…I agree about resistant plants… resistant to which creatures…I considered the mesh around the fence but it is a rather large fence and I feel a bit lazy every time I think about it. Perhaps if the problem becomes too much I might do it…

  4. Donna says:

    Donna we live in such similar climates, but my garden tolerates 6b plantings with all the masonry in my yard. But it is always a chance, and even zone 7 plants have survived the winters. The best bet is to push the envelope a bit because it can lead to some wonderful surprises. This is far different at the nursery farm, where it really is closer to a zone 5 environment. But one you found out, if you have wet zone, that really is an ender to many plants. The nursery at the farm is very cognizant of the low lying wet areas. The soil is generally sandy, but still hold the moisture in some areas.

    • Donna says:

      Being so close to the lake and lake effect snow, high winds etc is what seems to end my plants if they are not zone 5. I have tried a few but they never survive beyond a year or more depending on the severity of the winter. You do have a bit of a microcosm there in your beautiful garden. My natives that love wet areas thrive, but it took a while to find them. I find surprises in my brick patio every year when annuals come back. Maybe I will try to plant a few zone 6 nearer the patio brick…worth a try.

  5. b-a-g says:

    Donna – had a chuckle while reading your post. Is it really possible to learn from someone elses mistakes ?
    I agree, the grasses are beautiful .. and the beetle.
    Just wondering what that white object is in the second from last photo.

    • Donna says:

      I am not sure if you can learn from others mistakes, but sometimes we can see ourselves in their mistakes…learning though is another matter. That white object is one of my veg gardens under a row cover. Better label it. Almost looks like a garden ghost. Glad you had a laugh…I needed one too!!

  6. HolleyGarden says:

    I enjoyed this post, because I have made so many of these mistakes, too, and have some of your same hopes. Funny how we gardeners are such optimistic people it takes us years to learn some lessons! And it seems we all have to do it the hard way (well, at least I do!).

    • Donna says:

      Holley we do learn the hard way don’t we…for me it is doing it the fast and easy way sometimes only to have to redo it several times…if I had only done it right the first time, I actually would be ahead of the game…so glad you enjoyed the post!!

  7. Indie says:

    I enjoyed reading this and relate quite a bit. I, too, will be moving my veggie garden to a sunnier location next year, adding lots of compost to my clay, and moving some plants to better locations!

    • Donna says:

      Indie so glad you could relate to the post…it is so much easier when we finally learn from the perceived failures in our gardens and take action…now that is wisdom!!

  8. Cathy says:

    Donna, This post so resonated with us…. we could have written so much of it!

    I had to read through it twice AND make notes. I have learned so many of the same lessons (mostly the hard way). A few, I hit myself in the head and said, OMG, I should have realized THAT. (OK, so sometimes, I need a good brick to the head.)

    And there were still a few that I haven’t experienced as of yet, so I definitely made notes as I know it’s only a matter of time!

  9. Carolyn♥ says:

    Ahhh… wisdom, something we each must earn the hard way. And try as we might to teach it to others (I’m thinking of my children) we can only gain it for ourselves. Lovely post, Donna.

    • Donna says:

      So true Carolyn…each of us learns our own lessons and from these wisdom…I love how you put it..”we earn it the hard way”…so wonderful!!

  10. Pam's English Garden says:

    Dear Donna, This post is amazing! I was especially reassured by your last ‘lesson’ — to be more relaxed about cleaning up in the fall. I’m not going to have the time for it this year. P. x

    • Donna says:

      Pam so glad you enjoyed the garden wisdom. I love not cleaning in the fall. So much more time to enjoy planting and the changes in the garden. We then must devote more time in the spring for clean up when we are hungry to be out in the garden and see what awaits under the debris.

  11. Wife Mother Gardener says:

    You have quite the bog area! I would love to have the opprotunity to try out some bog/wet soil plants, but it is dry as a bone here on our hill. My dream: candelabra primroses, ferns and genera (with some serious winter cover!) . Let me know if it works out! 😉

    There is always something new to learn. Nature is a very humbling force. It teaches us that we are not really in control!

    Thanks for a great post, Donna!

    • Donna says:

      Julie I never thought of it as a bog but you are correct. It stays wet except in the extreme drought although dig deep enough and it is wet. I do have those primroses and they seed all over and are gorgeous. I had not considered ferns there because it gets quite a bit of sun. but again you are right. Perfect conditions and I will be moving one I know of for sure.

  12. Ginny says:

    The best school of wisdom for most of us is our own experience, and sometimes we have to go back to class on that one – I certainly do! Great post!

    • Donna says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Ginny. I am a life long learner. I never get tired of learning although repeating mistakes is not something I relish!!

  13. Debbie/GardenofPossibilities says:

    Donna, I really enjoyed your post, have you been watching me gardening! It’s amazing how long it takes to learn some lessons, isn’t it? Mine seem to be dealing the sun/shade continuum. I am always learning more and more about exactly how much sun part sun means. I have finally accepted that I do not have moist soil, now if I could just get it through my head that I really don’t have as much full sun as I think I do.

    • Donna says:

      Oh Debbie how funny the experiences we gardeners share…and I think we are the worst for giving in and saying this isn’t going to work…much like nurses make bad patients, we rarely give up on an idea or on pushing the envelope. I think the little successes that come from all that pushing keeps us going…I have the opposite problem from you. I have more sun and wet soil. Makes for some very aggressive or invasive plants showing up!!

  14. Stacy says:

    We really do have to learn those lessons on our own to “believe” in them completely. Sometimes I actually do find myself doing something that a book or plant label recommends, but then I start wondering if the advice is only true in the author’s garden or climate or if it’s one of those “accepted truths” that isn’t really true, etc., and maybe playing by the rules is making me miss out on some exciting possibility. I’m much more confident that something is the right thing to do if I’ve already done it wrong…

    • Donna says:

      Stacy I love that, “I’m much more confident that something is the right thing to do if I’ve already done it wrong…” So true!! We do miss out if we are too cautious…

  15. Liz says:

    Hi Donna,

    There are always plenty of lessons to be learned and rules to be broken, affter all you will get to know your garden better than anyone else and will know what can or cannot grow there.

    My major issues are gradually learning the light levels around the garden and so I’ve been slowly moving plants that I put in when I first moved and didn’t realise they got a lot of sun or no sun etc. Although I knew the aspect of the house; I didn’t know all the little things like shadows cast by other houses, trees and so on. Also it’s amazing how much water privet hedges take up and make the borders beneath them very dry 😀

    • Donna says:

      Liz those are the hardest lessons to learn because they take time for observation during all types of seasons to see what the light conditions are. Then the trees grow and change it again. It keeps us hopping. I also learned about hedges and trees making a garden suddenly dry and plants die. What a surprise that was.

  16. The Sage Butterfly says:

    I find it so interesting to see what others have learned from their gardens. I have often left the garden debris around the garden over winter to protect the plants. In the most recent years, I have had to stop doing that because the voles used it for shelter as they went back and forth to plants. I would much rather leave it, but it does help with vole control if I remove it in the fall. This was a very thoughtful post.

    • Donna says:

      Thx Michelle. I have tried cleaning the garden and not cleaning the garden before winter and it makes no difference for our Northern voles. They stay under cover of the snow and wreak havoc all over. I can see where cleaning up can help.

  17. Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens says:

    I have to agree with the “other” Carolyn, you have to learn these lessons yourself. If someone had told you the right thing to do in all the situations you write about, you would be writing about 10 different things that you did wrong and had to learn the hard way. There is no substitute for experience and no shortcuts through the learning process in any area. That’s what Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule is all about in his book Outliers–fascinating book.

    • Donna says:

      It seems the Carolyns are in agreement. So true that you have to learn wisdom through experience. It was a fun piece to reflect what i had learned and what lessons were taking so long to learn…I even learned more from doing the post!!

  18. One says:

    How true! Don’t we all learn our mistakes? Now that you have posted about it, perhaps the new gardeners would be able to avoid similar mistakes. It would really be exciting to see a deer in my garden. But that would be impossible.

    • Donna says:

      I am hopeful others can learn from my mistakes or find humor in their own…deer are beautiful to look at in the garden. Of course if they are in the garden they are eating the garden. That is not as nice!

    • Donna says:

      We do live and learn. So glad you found the humor in the post I had intended. I always have to laugh at myself. It keeps me sane.

  19. Loret says:

    Fabulous article Donna,

    I think you have ‘fessed up to what we all do…just some of us still won’t admit it takes two, three, four or more times to get through that nature has different design ideas than humans, and that nature always proves to be right!

    • Donna says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Loret. I am trying to bend more towards nature’s way…I find it fascinating and certainly more enjoyable!!

  20. Nitty Gritty Dirt Man says:

    I saw myself in much of what you wrote. I smiled. Then chuckled. And then I laughed. Thanks for this beautiful piece — and I agree, autumn is a perfect time to sit back and enjoy the view and reflect. (And the photo of the grass is beautiful.)

    • Donna says:

      How wonderful to have you visit. So glad you really enjoyed the post and the pic…it’s amazing how gardeners can share the good and the bad so easily….please stop back for a visit anytime!!

  21. joey says:

    Ah WISDOM! A beautiful post, Donna. Wish a bit more like you about putting the garden to bed … I am ever ‘the ‘Neatnik’ whacking and weeding that for me makes spring cleanup easier. Now, planting bulbs is my ‘love/hate’ relationship … I must plant before the leaves fall so I can somewhat see where all must be planted and hate/brain dead remembering where other hundreds of bulbs are planted amongst all my many perennials. But … life is good and fun things to concern ourselves about!

    • Donna says:

      Joey I know what you mean. I can never remember where the bulbs have been planted and I never remember to mark the spots I was thinking about in the spring…bulb planting is coming up the next couple of weekends. So glad to have to visit and that you enjoyed the post!!

  22. Jean says:

    Donna, I’m finally getting caught up with your posts, and I loved this one. As you know, I’m a big researcher/planner, but I think I may have made most of these same mistakes at one time or another. I share your attitude toward the critters — I just try to reach some accommodation with them (althoughif I had herds of deer coming through the garden and eating everything down to the ground, I’d probably feel differently about deer fencing). -Jean

    • Donna says:

      Jean as an administrator in K-12 education I too am a big planner but when it comes to my garden for some reason I was delinquent. I certainly have been learning so much from others. Love that education…I think if I didn’t have a fence (even one they could jump over) I would be getting a deer fence as well. So glad you had a chance to catch up with the posts…I do look forward to your comments…

Comments are closed.