End of the Month Review-January

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  Albert Camus

I think if I were to ever have an epitaph this would be it.  It is one of the most profound quotes and one of my favorites.  It stirs the embers within and brings me to life again because I know the bulbs will soon bloom and the ground will warm.   The soft breezes will blow through the buds on the trees.  The picture above is last year at this time.  We were certainly in the depths of a long, cold, very snowy winter.  Fast forward to this year….


The back yard has gone through a thaw.  We had 2 feet of snow that suddenly turned to water and promptly flooded the yard much like many a spring thaw.  Then it froze and refused to be absorbed into the ground.  Now I have a skating rink in my back yard that is slow to release.  Definitely need to enlarge that rain garden (bottom left picture in corner of garden).  We do not depend on snow cover for replenishing our water table.  Here in central NY we already are above average in precipitation with over 5 inches of rain, and only 30 inches of snow officially in my area.  We actually don’t need much more snow or rain for a while.

But despite the frozen water covering the ground, there is early life stirring in my January garden which is a bit alarming to me.


I have never seen a snowdrop in bloom this early here in my now zone 5b garden.  We have been moved from a zone 5a to a 5b.  And with the snowdrops are crocus, hyacinth and dwarf Dutch iris getting ready to burst forth and bloom.  What do I make of this?  I really don’t know.  Will we have more snow?  Absolutely, but how much.  The blue heron I saw recently with all the geese was absurd and these early blooms just add to it.  What do I hope as Groundhog’s Day is upon us?  I wish for an early warm spring so I can actually see these bulbs bloom, and can start spring clean up during February break, the week of February 20th.


The Great Seed and Herb Experiment


Check out the herbs I have growing indoors.  The annuals, Italian Parsley and rosemary, are still doing OK.  Not as brilliant as they were this summer but not bad.  The perennial herbs are starting to put out flowers.  The chive flowers are ready to burst and the mints will follow soon.



And here are the greens…lettuces, arugula, and spinach.



These are more lettuces I started with purslane (slow to get going on the right).  In the background is watercress coming along nicely, and easy to grow.



Then there are the latest seeds I planted already growing; cilantro, basil, rosemary and Italian parsley.  It has been fun so far growing these herbs.  I can’t wait to start the annual flowers, snapdragon, pansy and viola, soon.  I have been adding more and more seed to my collection.  Before long I will be starting the later flowers, veggies and native plants from seed.  And then there will be outdoor sowing in the 3 veg beds.  I read that my friend, Gardening Jones, had made some seed tape so I of course got the brilliant idea to make some of my own.  I googled seed tape and found a few articles for instructions.  That will be a later post once I get into making the tape for the carrots, lettuces, and radishes in March.

I am joining Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month Review.  I am a bit early for Christine and Barbie@The Gardening Blog for their Garden Bloggers Harvest Day on the 5th.   There is a new meme over at Bumble Lush called Best and Worst.  I am joining in.  The worst right now is this crazy winter weather.  The best is my indoor garden that will soon be harvested for wonderful salads.

Just a quick note of thanks to Sheila@Green Place for nominating me for The Versatile Blogger award.


And Now a Few Thoughts….

Over the last week there has been a firestorm of impassioned folks discussing the now defunct partnership between Scotts Miracle-Gro and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).  There have been many articles posted, and many angry NWF members on both sides of the issue who have been Tweeting and commenting on NWF and Scotts Facebook pages and websites.

And through all the discussions many people have asked what they can do now.  I believe the best thing to do is to educate yourself.  First and foremost I am an educator, and believe that education is the most important action you can take.  I am choosing to educate myself and others about sustainable landscapes, native plants,habitats and how to garden chemical free.

Along with the NWF, there are many organizations you can become involved with and learn from regarding habitat gardening.

-National Audubon Society’s Audubon At Home program can help you to learn what to do to make your yard and garden healthy for you, your family and wildlife.  It is all about education and there is no money required to be involved.  Of course it is nice to make a donation to the Audubon Society if you wish.

-Monarch Watch’s Monarch Waystation Program has made it their mission to create, conserve and protect monarch habitats.  There is an application fee, and once you have completed the certification they will send you a sign to display in your garden.

Wild Ones Native Plants, Natural Landscapes is a national organization that has 51 Chapters in 11 states.  I am lucky enough to have an incredible chapter right here in Central NY, Habitat Gardening in Central New York.  They are active and bring in many speakers.  I am a new member and plan to become involved in their many programs and utilize their educational materials.

-The Meadow Project is a fantastic book to educate yourself how to recapture urban and suburban land for natural landscapes.  Catherine

Zimmerman, the author, is also working on an educational film to go with the book and is looking for your help.  “The Meadow Project is on a mission to finish the companion film to Urban an Suburban Meadows by Earth Day. Please visit Kickstarter for details on how you can help!

cattails at the pond

Whatever you do, I strongly encourage you to learn and get involved.  I challenge you to learn more about how your gardening impacts the earth and your environment.  To know before you spray or plant.  To be a positive force and voice for our habitat.  I would love to hear from you about other wonderful organizations in your area that have encouraged you with habitat gardening or the like.  I leave you with these inspiring words from an incredible woman….


“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come.” ~Wangari Maathai; Founder Of The Green Belt Movement; First African Woman To Receive The Nobel Peace Prize.


Next Up on the Blog:   My latest post for Beautiful Wildlife Garden is up, and I hope you join me as I talk about some of our feathered friends.  Monday we will be taking a break from the Exploring Color posts.  It will be the first Monday in February which means another Gardens Eye Verse, and some new poetry inspired by the garden.  Next Friday I will also have my February pick for my signature flower for Diana@Elephants Eye meme, and what I call Simply The Best.

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.




  1. Debbie/GardenofPossibilities says:

    Donna, What a lovely quote, simple yet so profound. I was visiting a client’s garden yesterday (zone 6b) and not only were her daffodils 3″ high, some of her hellebore was blooming! It certainly has been a strange winter…we’re expecting temps in the high 50s today. I’m enjoying it but I do hope when it’s time to pay the piper, the cost isn’t too high!

    • Donna says:

      Debbie I agree I hope we don’t pay later for the mild winter now…we had 2 ft of snow that melted with 2 days of 50 degree temps…so strange.

  2. Sheila says:

    So much to comment on! We had temps in the 70s yesterday in NC. Feels like spring is already here… and it seems too far outside the natural order …

    I love the quote by Camus. In the past, I have been too susceptible to the vagaries of sunlight (cloudy days and winter months = feeling down). I feel now that I have a taste of carrying the inner light, thanks be to God…

    I envy gardeners who have the patience to grow seeds indoors. After one failed experiment, I gave up and now start seeds outdoors when it’s warm enough or direct sow.

    And thanks for the shout out!

    • Donna says:

      With my zone I have to sow some seeds indoors. I find it fascinating. I too used to give into the gloom of winter only to find its beauty. Here’s to an early warm long spring….

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Donna,

    Wow, now that IS a skating rink you have there! 😀 Be careful on that – are you able to even get out of the house safely??

    It’s nice to see you have some growth and even blooms; although as you say it is a bit of a worry! I realise I forgot to show the Irises on my post – oh well, something to post another day 😀
    Today I gave in to temptation and have picked up a few more bulbs and some lovely purple violas for the pots around the house as I lost a lot of my bulbs last winter and miss the cheerful spring pots.

    I hope the ice thaws for you soon!

    • Donna says:

      Thx Liz…we are safe and most has melted with the strange weather….lots of snow then temps in the 50s and back in the 30s….I so want to plant violas and see my irises…I hope soon to see both.

  4. lula says:

    Donna, here in Brussels we have got into real winter it is now -8º C but sunny, there were buds growing, it is going to be really difficut if the cold weather continues. I am also trying herbs and some salads, but no green so far. I thunk I wll have to wait until natural conditions.

    • Donna says:

      Lula, I am also worried about the buds when the cold weather hits…I have had to use grow lights and heat mats to make sure I get greens to grow indoors….when I tried without them I was not successful. I hope your outdoor seeds grow and grow!

  5. Alberto says:

    I’m happy to see you have a lot going on inside, while the outside is a sheet of ice! We had the first (few) snow this morning and fortunately it went away immediately. I don’t like snow. They say we have to hold on for 10-15 more days and then winter will be over. I hope so.

    • Donna says:

      Oh I wish it were a matter of days before winter ended. We have 6 more weeks but I am hopeful it will end sooner..hang in there and soon the warm breezes will blow.

  6. Bumble Lush says:

    Donna, thanks for participating in the meme! I agree that this crazy weather is unsettling for us gardeners and nature lovers. But I’m glad that you’ll have a good winter salad harvest! I’ve read of several gardners having their zones moved to a warmer one. Interesting that it’s all happening during an unseasonably warm winter…
    Have a great day!

    • Donna says:

      It is strange we are having our zones changed during the warmest winter in decades….I hope to see a bit more warmer weather soon….

  7. HolleyGarden says:

    Oh, I feel for your garden being encased in ice! What I think is really crazy is that you in zone 5 have snowdrops blooming, but here (zone 8) none of my spring bulbs are blooming yet. I, too, hope for an early spring. I would hate for winter to ruin so many plants that think spring is already here.

    • Donna says:

      That is strange that I have blooms…but you have so many more blooms…seems we are all staying in our patterns…even the birds seem to think it is spring.

  8. The Sage Butterfly says:

    This has been a strange winter…indeed. Recently, I have been wondering if we will even have a winter. Although we have had a few ice storms and a few dustings of snow with some cold temperatures, it always seemed to be a passing thing. I applaud you for your commitment to nature and her cause. I am still mulling over my thoughts on the NWF issue and am not quite sure what to make of it.

    • Donna says:

      We are having a winter but it is unusual for sure…the NWF issue is still a puzzle…I have decided to keep my sign but as other bloggers have pointed out, it is what we do not what they do…so I have thought about making sure I continue my practices for better wildlife gardening and continue my education and help educate others…

  9. Jen says:

    I see your ice puddles, and raise you a 1/2 mile long muddy/icy driveway…LOL Weather poker, shall we start a new meme?

    After 2 months rain free up here, we are finally having a rain day, and it’s the day we get the keys to our house.

    Down on the coast it’s rained, oh about 50 times since we are gone…so who am I to complain.

    But I am thrilled that I can actually leave a comment, it’s been a struggle with some blogs, and yours sadly was one of them. Today is a great day!

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

    • Donna says:

      Oh Jen I cannot even come close to your weather. I am so glad you could get to my blog. I did disable a plug in recently that may have caused you and others some issues…good luck on the move and I hope to see pictures of the new house soon.

  10. Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    That’s quite an ice rink! I love that quote too, and it goes perfectly with your first photo. Our gardens, well, our orchard certainly, is also getting ahead of the season too. We have two trees about to burst with blooms, and an Aprium that’s already trying to leaf out. I can’t help but expect that the weather may suddenly remember it’s still winter, and wreak havoc in the garden. I’ll be curious to see what the groundhog has to say for himself tomorrow. Personally I’m rooting for an early spring!

    I’m glad that the NWF partnership fell by the wayside. However, the most important thing for all of us to remember is that as gardeners, we are in control of what is done in our own gardens. I agree, education is imperative to making sensible, wise, and informed decisions, not just in the garden, but in life in general.

    • Donna says:

      Clare I share your apprehension that a real winter will return although the birds are telling me not to worry. Thx for your wise words regarding taking control of our gardens and making educated informed decisions…

  11. Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens says:

    You know that I agree with you. I feel like a broken record, but the solutions must come from us and only from us. We make the decisions in each of our lives, and each of our lives contribute to the whole. No government, politician, or corporation is going to solve this for us. We must take the time to make educated decisions about everything we do especially what we buy.

    • Donna says:

      Carolyn truer words could not have been spoken…while we can express our dismay, ultimately we have to do something…create our own solutions…so that is what I am doing…for me it is about educating myself more and in turn educating others…thx as always for your sound advice!!

  12. Donna says:

    Your garden open for skating? It was the same at the Falls with ice yesterday, but two consecutive days of 50° changed that right quick. You have more sprouting than I do here which surprised me. I think winter is making us anxious this year, never know what it will bring from day to day.

    • Donna says:

      I agree Donna about feeling anxious…I was surprised by all the blooms but I think the snow we have had actually insulated plants and bulbs. We had those really warm temps too which were not predicted so all my new fallen snow (21 inches) is gone…

  13. Elaine says:

    Love your indoor herb garden! The last few winters have been so different, we don’t know what to expect out here in Western Washington. Today it was almost 50 F and bulbs are pushing up all over. I work at a garden center and we got our blueberries today! And grapes! And raspberries! It was rather exciting after the long-dark-slow season (which we are still in). We hope for a warm spring, people won’t shop during a cold wet spring. Which city are you in? I was born in Oswego!

    • Donna says:

      Elaine how cool is that, Oswego. I worked at the BOCES in Mexico for 6 years and traveled throughout Oswego County. I live in Brewerton just on the other side of Oneida Lake (S Shore). Central Square is on the N shore.

    • Donna says:

      I just found another recipe for seed tape so I will offer a few options. Since the seeds I will use the tape for are sown outside it will be sometime in later March before I post…maybe a bit before…it should be fun trying it.

  14. Donna says:

    Donna, I came upon this article that you might be interested in as an educator. You may already know of National Green Week though. National Green Week is the largest waste reduction campaign in history for K-12 schools nationwide. This year’s event will be kicking off on February 6, 2012, but classrooms across the country can choose any week to be their green week between Feb. 6 and Earth Day (April 22, 2012).


  15. Aimee says:

    Oh, this is one of my favorite posts, Donna! I love, love, love the Albert Camus quote as well….it’s so simple and so positive and beautiful and it speaks so much about strength, patience, resiliency, and determination.

    I also love the quote at the end of your post and I thank you for encouraging us all to educate ourselves and take care with what kinds of practices we employ while gardening.

    Your photo from last winter is so beautiful. What a difference this year. You’ve actually had a winter this year, though, a relatively solid one compared to us down here…that’s why I am so shocked that your Galanthus have bloomed and your other bulbs are coming up! I hope they all get their chance to bloom – and that you LABEL them on your map or in the ground – hahaha!

    • Donna says:

      Hah hah Aimee…I better remember to label my bulbs…I think the snow is a great insulator and actually when it melts and the ground warms the bulbs spring into action (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun). I am glad you liked the post and as I can I will blog about things I have learned to help our wildlife as we garden…

  16. Andrea says:

    I’ve been reading in most temperate climate blogs that your winters are not seemingly short and warm. I thought they said that climate change will make cold climates colder and warm climates warmer, but it seems it’s not true. I hope that is not true because we cannot anymore tolerate warmer dry seasons.

    By the way, i didn’t know that is the way skating rinks are produced! Can it be melted by pouring in boiling water, or blowing hot air through a hose? Sorry about the ignorance, we dont have it eh!

    • Donna says:

      I hope we don’t warm up too much either…not good for anyone…ice is made when water in puddles freezes in cold temps that are outside…if they are frozen all the way through you can skate on them. If I had skates I could have done a bit of skating…the air is too cold so hot water wouldn’t help..the temps have to warm outside…they did a bit and the ice has retreated quite a bit but not all…

    • Donna says:

      We did have some warmer temps but it still did not meal all of it…but it seems like spring may be just around the corner although I think we will still have snow…

  17. Karin/Southern Meadows says:

    With the mild winter I was surprised that the groundhog said 6 more weeks. We have a groundhog in Georgia who said spring would be here soon. You are indeed growing lots of seeds. Looks great! I awarded you the Versatile Blogger award too. I didn’t realize it had already been passed along. No worries! Have a super weekend!

    • Donna says:

      Karin thx for nominating me…it is a great honor….I believe our groundhogs did not see their shadows and we are due for an early spring…

  18. tina says:

    When I saw the ice in your backyard my first thought was ice skating! Sorry, it is leftover northern blood that maybe still courses through my veins from growing up in Maine. I always loved a good icy spot to go skating but I haven’t ice skated in years-still ice like this tempts me.

    • Donna says:

      It is so much ice too Tina you can’t help but want to skate on it…we used to skate more on frozen ponds than in any rinks…

  19. Grace says:

    Yes, in the midst of winter there is an invincible summer. It’s always good to remember this when it seems so far away. Great post.

  20. Island Threads says:

    love all your seeds Donna, the lower part of my garden has flooded a few times this last month but thankfully not cold enough to freeze here being so close to the sea though we have had a few hard frosts, I hope your plants will be alright under that ice without their usual warm blanket of snow, Frances

  21. PlantPostings says:

    Donna: I can’t believe you have Snowdrops blooming already! I keep looking for mine, but haven’t seen them yet. You have quite a harvest of seedlings going–how wonderful! We’ll have to chat one of these days about the new seasons/celebrations collaboration. Spring will be here before we know it!

    • Donna says:

      Thx Janet. Wait until you see the weather in my Monday post…it seems many plants are slowly waking and showing a few signs of life even with all the ice…

  22. Barbie says:

    Wow – I love all your new baby plants! It is another great time when you see the shoots! What medium are you growing them in? Is that peat?

    • Donna says:

      Thx Barbie…I am using Wonder Soil Potting Soil. The beauty of this soil is it is lightweight and you add water to hydrate it. It contains a mix of coconut coir, worm castings, mycorrhizae biosoil, kelp, and biodegradable water-absorbing polymers. It comes in a bag so you can measure out how much you want to mix with water. A little goes a long way and that is good because it is expensive.

  23. brenda/the blonde gardener says:

    Thanks for the reminder that we need to be partners with nature. So many things we do as gardeners also affect wildlife. So glad you mentioned the Monarch watch program. I have been a monarch tagger for years and love checking my milkweed for more “babies”.

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