Gardens Eye Verse-February


“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”  ~Mark Twain

junco winter feeding in garden

I think I learned the true meaning of compassion in a recent encounter with a professed landscaper.  He had come to buy our snowblower (which he did so we had that going for us which is nice).  He met me coming in out of the garden in my muck boots and big floppy hat.  He seemed a very nice person who told us he cut lawns, installed and pruned bushes and cleaned up landscapes.  He had many commercial accounts, and ended with these words, “Boy does this garden need work.” This was mid-October and things had not been cut down.

Wow he said you still need to cut a lot down.  I told him no I keep the plants up all winter for the wildlife.  He had never heard of this so I gave him a few examples, but he still did not understand.  So he went on with, “Well you have to replace your mulch and your front yard landscape is being overgrown.”

At this point, I felt myself getting a bit steamed.   He could not see the garden.  The mass of perennials that were in their waning time with seed heads to feed the birds.  The leaves left as natural mulch.  All he knew was that my yard (not my garden) was not your typical bunch of evergreen bushes with a few plants thrown in for interest.  To  him it was a mess.

I said nothing since he really was clueless, and had no idea he had insulted me.  Why bother getting mad with someone who has no idea.  He did not mean to insult me.  He actually thought he could help me; that I needed his help and he was just the professional to do that.  So instead of getting mad, I showed compassion.  I took a deep breath, said it was nice to meet him, smiled and walked away back into my messy garden.

Definition of compassion:  a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune.  

Synonyms: humanity, kindheartedness, pity.

One other thing he said that I found rather sad was that most landscapers in the area don’t talk with one another.  They are not friendly but more cutthroat because of  trying to outdo each other to get business.  I proudly informed him that gardeners are friendly.  We talk, we share (see my post, Friend).  We want to learn from each other.  We give each other plants.  He was most surprised.

Robin’s nest 2011

I am sure you may have encountered someone who said something that wasn’t meant to be insulting but was.  How did you react?  One of my favorite encounters is when someone says, “You look nice today”.  The implication is I usually look OK, mediocre or awful.  Now I know that is not what they probably meant so I just shrug it off, and take it in the vain that I assume it was meant; a compliment.  Again I smile and say thank you.

Why bother getting upset with folks and dwelling on the negative.  I try not to take most things personally anymore.  I read a wonderful affirmation a while back that I try to remember, Everything that I experience from another human being is either love, or a call for love.”  Very profound and a big shift in my paradigm when dealing with people.  Whenever I feel angry, frustrated or exasperated with someone I remember this mantra which helps me  practice compassion.  I am still about 50% with this so I need lots more practice, but it has been helpful.  Not to mention I feel better about myself and am more at peace.



Walk About the Garden

It is the beginning of the month and I am taking a walk about the garden and joining Carolyn@This Grandmother’s Garden for her Walk In Garden Challenge.  And it is also time for First View with Town Mouse and Country Mouse.



 This is how last week started.  It was snowing so hard we had 2 feet in a few hours.  It was a “white out” and visibility was diminished as you can see.



Fast forward to 2 days later after 50 degree temps, and the garden looked like this.  Quite a difference in a couple of days.  The skating rink that had been here before the snow has also retreated and very little is left.  In fact the white you see in the back of the garden are ice puddles.  My fellow NY gardening friend, Becky, reminded me about these puddles that have a layer of ice on top and very little liquid left beneath.  As I discovered these ice puddles in my garden, I had a ball crunching them.  The memories this evoked were overwhelming…thanks Becky!

The one robin we saw the day before the snow storm turned into about 50 that have returned to their spring/summer nesting area in and around my garden.  So very unusual for the end of January, beginning of February.  And I have to say that the look, smell and feel of the garden is one of spring approaching.  It is a feeling we gardeners get…very hard to explain it.



The pond is still encased in a thin layer of ice at the edges with a deeper slushy ice in the middle.  Not a puddle you want to try and crunch.  Soon I hope it will be free and life will awake within.




To go along with the few snowdrops that are brave enough to bloom now, are the hellebores.  They are sending up new shoots which will turn into flowers soon.  I never see these flowers before March.  The violet at the top of the post is from last year, but I have found lots of new violet foliage coming up all over.  The blooms are not far behind.  Well I expect this to be a strange February; just as strange as January’s weather and garden.



 Gardens Eye Verse

It is the first Monday of the month and that means it is time for some poetry.  With the crazy winter weather my thoughts drift from snowy woods to spring bulbs.  All the signs point to an early spring.  I recently came across this quote from my favorite poet…..

I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering. ~Robert Frost

Like Frost I never know what I will create until my mind settles and the poem is done. When I write poetry, I usually find myself in a contemplative mood where a phrase or vision will come into my head.  From there I start to put together the picture, the poem.  It is as if my soul opens and out pours the words, the feelings into poetry.  Some poems come easily, freely. Others are tied up a bit and need some unwinding.  I hope you enjoy this months poems.  And yes those are hyacinths already coming up in FEBRUARY!!!!



Retreating to Spring

As I reflect on the garden these days,

I find my mind retreating

to the spring colors

of bulbs popping up-

the subtle greens emerging

and dotting the brown wet soil.






Winter Woods

Winter slips silently around me

Walking me to cold, crisp woods

To gaze upon the peaceful slumber

Suddenly exhilarated, restored in found solace.






Seed Contest

I wanted to do something to celebrate my 100th post, my seed experiment this winter and what appears to be an early spring.  What better way to celebrate than to give away some seeds; and right now I am giving away vegetable seeds.  All you have to do is leave a comment and include your favorite vegetable to grow or eat.  The contest will end this Sunday with the winner announced next Monday.  All seed is packaged for 2011 and 2012.  There will be one Grand Prize winner who will receive a bundle of veggie seeds:

Beefsteak Tomato
Sweet Pepper


And there will be six runner ups receiving a packet of Beefsteak Tomato seed.

This can only be open to those residing in the US.  And to make sure I am compliant with full disclosure, I purchased the seed I am giving away.


Next Up on the Blog:   My latest post for Beautiful Wildlife Garden is up, and I hope you join me as I talk about the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Friday I will also have my February pick for my signature flower for Diana@Elephants Eye meme, and what I call Simply The Best.  Next Monday will be GBBD and revelations from my white garden.

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. tina says:

    Where to start? The landscaper surely did not understand gardening at all. No need to be offended. My neighbor once described my garden as a jungle. I was offended but it’s okay he didn’t mean anything mean. Everyone has their own style and that is what is great about gardening. Crunching those ‘puddles’-what fun!

    • Donna says:

      So true Tina..that is why I ignored him..I did have so much fin with those puddles…who would have thought all that ice would turn into so much fun!!

  2. Donna says:

    It is funny you say the landscapers do not talk to each other. I attended a manufacturer’s seminar two weeks ago and I asked my nurseryman if he knew all the guys in the room and he said, “No.” I really was surprised at that. Of course some he knew, but did not say a word to any of them the entire day.

    I always have a different experience. They always talk to me, most probably because I designed for many and others want to hire me. This burns my friend to no end. They really are a cut throat bunch, and what is more interesting is what they say about each other behind their backs to potential customers. It is really slanderous. Some even sabotage each others’ final work and destroy property. One around here was caught and went to jail. I could go on and on with stories, but like your experience, have had heard the same sales pitch made to clients about the clean and tidy garden beds that they would be left with. It is not that they do not see the benefit to wildlife since many have farms, it is actually the fact that they see dollars and cents coming their way.

    I enjoy your poetry too. It seems a time of year that prose flows easily.

    • Donna says:

      Oh Donna so glad you enjoyed the poems..I still cannot believe how cut throat they are as a group…so sad..all about the money!

  3. sweetbay says:

    They don’t know what they don’t know. Still, it can rankle. lol I have a naturalistic garden that I leave up in winter too and I’ve gotten some comments from clueless people. I’m kind of sad for them that they think mall landscaping is the mall standard and they can’t see the beauty.

  4. Alberto says:

    Donna, I’m happy to see all that ice is backing off a little, You still seem to be deep into winter though!
    About compassion… well I too give up before trying with some kind of people, I though I could have been considered posh but with this post of yours I learned I am indeed compassionate. That’s great for my self confidence! 😉

    • Donna says:

      Ho wonderful Alberto to discover that about yourself…of course I am not surprised. It is getting cold again so we are still in winter…I think it may break in a few weeks…I hope!

  5. Alistair says:

    Donna, what’s wrong with the guy. Even taking into account that he knows little about gardening, one would have expected that he would have taken on board a little of the art of diplomacy. Yes, you handled an annoying situation with dignity. I know what you mean regarding that feeling of Spring at this time of year. It still may be cold but I think the change in the actual daylight is what does it for me.

    • Donna says:

      I think you are right Alistair about the daylight making it feel like spring is near…it seems he did not have any diplomacy although I think he believes he has it…

  6. Elephant's Eye says:

    A misguided attempt to gain a new client. Fell very flat.

    Years ago a ‘friend’ looked at our fynbos on the back slopes of Table Mountain and said brightly – so when are you going to rip all this out and start a garden. I’m still fuming quietly almost 30 years later ;~))

  7. Becky says:

    This time it was I who did not see. I think I was expecting the comment section at the bottom of the post instead of the bottom of the page. Your garden looks beautiful to me and to the wildlife.

  8. HolleyGarden says:

    Those that work in the landscape trade are trained quite differently than we as gardeners are. We think of the entire environment- wildlife, birds, bees, blooms, plant, natives, invasives, etc. They want something to look neat and tidy and most of their clients, I bet, have no idea of any of the plants in their yards. There is a service for that, but gardening is different – it involves the heart. Before I started gardening, I asked a landscaper to come out and give me an estimate on cleaning/doing the areas around the house. He looked around, said he’d contact us later – and we never heard from him again. He didn’t really want to work, he just wanted to mow and blow, easy maintenance. I’m actually thankful because if he had given us an estimate, I might have never become a gardener.

  9. Laveta Segura says:

    I seems like that man doesn’t enjoy birds and bees, and other wildlife like a true gardener does or he would understand why we need to leave winter food and shelter for them

  10. PlantPostings says:

    The two quotes are priceless–the Twain one and the “love” one. I feel like they’d both be good ones to frame for those difficult moments in life when it’s hard not to take things personally. Thanks for sharing, Donna. Your encounter with the landscaper reminds me of similar ones I’ve had with driveway sealers and lawn care vendors. They think a good sales technique is to start with a put-down and then try to build you up with what they think they can do for you. No thanks!

    • Donna says:

      So glad you enjoyed the post…I don’t see how they think negative customer service would get them anywhere, but they think it works…too bad!

  11. Foxglove Lane says:

    I love that your share plants with each other, and I had to laugh a bit at the unawareness of certain others in your life. Donna, you are blessed with both green fingers and a caring nature, so essential for everything that you do, you go girl!!

  12. Island Threads says:

    like Diana I think the landscaper was just touting for work, I actually see comments like his as a compliment as I don’t want a clipped and mowed garden so if someone who likes the cleaned clipped garden likes my garden I get worried I am not gardening properly for what I want, everyone has different tast so we can’t expect everyone to like the same things as us,

    when people think a comment like ‘you look nice today’ means you don’t usually then I think that says more about them (yes you Donna) than the speaker, as to me it means that if they (you) said someone looked nice today you would actually be saying ‘you usually don’t! look nice’ this now has made me see you with new eyes as I don’t/didn’t think of you this way,

    I’m glad your snow didn’t last long and spring is on it’s way, Frances x

    • Donna says:

      Frances you are so right…as they say sometimes, “different strokes for different folks”…we each like what we like…I hope I have not disappointed now that you see me with new eyes…I realized a long time ago I had self esteem issues which is were my issue with compliments or comments came from…what was really strange was I was finding others were also thinking a compliment wasn’t a compliment…they also had self esteem problems…so I started directing my compliments such as, “I like that color on you” or “that is a nice shirt or nice shoes.” Seems to work better…we can be so sensitive sometimes but I understand that…I have gotten past it and actually take a compliment quite well…

  13. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for joining my “Walk in the Garden” Challenge, Donna. I enjoyed reading your post. I agree that February will most likely be as peculiar as January was, but it’s all good. I tend to share your philosophy “Why bother getting upset and dwelling on the negative?” even when it comes to Mother Nature. I do tend to find joy in every season even when it isn’t quite what I expected.

    • Donna says:

      No point getting negative Carolyn…I remind myself when I do cross the line to the negative…far more fun to find the positive.

  14. Christina says:

    I love the image of your frozen pond, it was sureal. Shame about the landscaper, it is a big problem that people can’t find proffessionals who know anything about gardening and have to pay huge sums of money to have their garden ‘pruned’ to death. Most also know nothing about planting native plants and using irrigation sensibly. When I was in the States in December and January I was shoked that many people were still irrigating even though their were morning frosts! Great post. Christina

    • Donna says:

      Christina you are too kind…it is too bad that these professionals don’t understand much about the yards they are caring for…I have seen people water lawns and gardens in the rain..crazy!

  15. Pam's English Garden says:

    Dear Donna, What an insightful posting. I am sure the landscaper was just looking for work, as I think your yard is beautiful all year round. And you are so.o.o talented with your poetry. P. x

  16. Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens says:

    I always thought your garden was a mess, and now I sent my friend to tell you so and you rejected him. That is the funniest story ever. It reminds me of when the famous UK horticulturalist (who will remain anonymous) came to tour my garden in March and informed me that they had much better hellebores in England and complimented me only on my wisteria pods.

  17. GirlSprout says:

    I must be such a Pollyana when someone tells me I look nice today, I take it as a compliment and don’t think twice about it.

    I love the pond photo. I kept wanting to reach out and touch it.

    • Donna says:

      That pond pic is one of my favs too…I usually take a compliment in stride now but I am careful since I have given a compliment only to have it back fire…its about self esteem I think sometimes…

  18. Laura@PatioPatch says:

    Always such a lot to digest in your posts Donna. Enjoyed the walkabout – especially the whiteout, as snow has only dusted here than chilled us to the bone all week. Spring is further away than 6 degrees of separation!
    One way to deal with the landscaper might be to tell him how nice he looks today. I get ‘You look well’ which could mean that often I look as if I’m ailing!

    • Donna says:

      Glad you enjoyed my snowy picture…I wish I could have come up with something pithy for the landscaper…not giving him any business I think got to him more…

  19. Aimee says:

    Donna, Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. It’s a shame that the landscaper couldn’t see the beauty of your garden and your methods. He’s probably just been taught another way and it probably never occurred to him to think of it from a different perspective – I’m hoping you’ve given him some food for thought there. Well handled, on your part! That quote about everything being love or a call for love is pretty deep stuff. I love how this requires that we approach things from a point of openness and possibility as opposed to being closed off and negative. Thank you!

    I love the two poems you included here. So simple, so accessible, so lovely. I feel like I’m right there, like you’re writing to how I feel and have felt.

    I saw your friend Becky’s ice puddle post a while back – SO FUN!

    How generous of you to give away all those seeds! Please don’t include me in the drawing – I already have several of the things on that list and I don’t have the space to grow the rest, so I’d rather these seeds go to someone who can really use them.

    • Donna says:

      Aimee so glad you enjoyed the post…that quote has helped me in many situations…glad you enjoyed the poems and that they speak to you!! it means a lot…

  20. Ginny says:

    I love the quote about experiences being love or a call for love – I’m going to make note of that!
    I looked through my photos from last year to see if I could tell how much earlier I’m seeing blooms this year. I think it’s probably 2-3 weeks in some cases. I think it’s possible that winter will visit for a few weeks, but it may be the mildest winter on record here.

  21. debsgarden says:

    I am reminded of people who think they should kill all the bugs in their yard. Gentle education will help some, not all, to see a different way. Your landscaper (landscraper?) may have taken more from you than you think. Perhaps he will learn, or maybe he is just concentrating on making money. I like your philosophy of forgiveness.

  22. Jenna Z says:

    I LOVE growing brussels sprouts! There is just something about a GIANT stalk of sprouts shooting up in the garden and then cracking them off yourself, can’t be beat, especially not by store bought sprouts. 🙂

  23. Elaine says:

    Hi Donna, This is an interesting story, it’s good to remember that everyone looks at a garden differently and it’s okay. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Love your poems! Last year my favorite that I grew were the sungold cherry tomatoes….garden candy!

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