Gardens Eye Journal-May 2012

“Enough is abundance to the wise.” ~Euripides

By now most of you have heard about the abundance of Red Admiral butterflies all over the US.  They moved North in record numbers and arrived here in the middle of April a bit early.  Then they had to find shelter for 2 weeks as the crazy cold, wet days of April created a very inhospitable habitat.  But once May was upon us, the warmth brought them out in incredible numbers daily.  But alas there isn’t much in bloom here yet, so they have been sustained by the record numbers of dandelions.  Good thing I didn’t weed.

It is time to report on my garden, add a bit a poetry for fun and join in with the many memes that are happening this time of the month:  Walk in Garden@This Grandmother’s GardenFirst View@Town Mouse & Country MouseGarden Bloggers Harvest Day (GBHD)@The Gardening Blog, Best and Worst of My Garden@Bumble Lush and End of Month View with Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog.



Weather Report

So let’s start with the weather.  May has been an amazing month so far, and the forecast is for much the same.  Daytime temps are in the 60s and low 70s with night time temps in the 40s and 50s.  Soft gentle breezes have been blowing carrying the sounds of wildlife indoors.  As you can see from the picture below, we were deluged with rain for 36 hours.  This is what an inch of rain can do with my clay soil.  The rain gardens were both full and the back garden path flooded..  The garden looks messy still with plants putting on growth, but little bloom here except for the fading grape hyacinths, daffs and hellebores (many of which are still blooming).

Weeding is not happening still due to my healing knee.  But I hope to start soon albeit slowly.  This might be considered a Best in the garden although it looks like the Worst.


What’s Growing




The native plants in the shady beds are still weeks ahead with loads of blooms.  Trilliums continue to bloom especially my favorite the Trilium erectum (top left).  Moving clockwise, many jack-in-the-pulpits went to seed last year, but this one is still growing strong.  My stand of Mayapples is looking gorgeous.  This plant reminds me of a prehistoric plant.  I love the umbrellas as they unfold to eventually find a lovely white flower hiding underneath.  Virginia bluebells continue to pop up all over the garden.  The Canada anemones just started blooming, and the stand beneath the main trees is lovely as it seeds itself and fills in.  The Shooting Stars have opened up more and are such a lovely flower when in full bloom.  Tiarellas are also just opening with their dainty white flowers.



Back Gardens



As you could see from the rain garden picture above, the back gardens are weedy, wet and still catching up.  This tree peony came through the freezing April weather unscathed and ready to bloom.  Others peonies around the garden also are setting flower buds.

The bleeding hearts did not fare so well and this is the only one I could find so far.  Perhaps they will finally show themselves.



This tulip is finally blooming with a few more still waiting to bloom.  It was planted in honor of my father-in-law and is aptly named Donna Bella.  His last name is actually spelled, Donabella.

Half the hostas were left frozen, soggy and burnt by the freezing temps of April.  Another Worst in the garden. I do hope they recover some.




Front Gardens

The columbines are finally budding and this one began to flower Sunday.  Although they seem a bit smaller this year, their flowers will be greatly welcome.



Dwarf bearded iris are in bloom.  These are some of my favorite spring flowers.  They create a beautiful clump of sturdy blooms in amazing colors.  I love the iridescent purple and soft periwinkle blue of these two.





The pond has come to life finally starting to green up.  I still need to clean up debris and weeds along the waters edge.  And look we have frogs.  At least 3 in the pond with a few more taking up residence in the rain gardens.  But now that the rain gardens finally dried up Sunday, they will make their way to the pond.  The amphibians in the area have been quite busy at night with their symphony of calls; peepers, toads, tree frogs and bull frogs to name a few.


Veg Gardens

I knew I was going to dread pulling back the row covers on the veg beds.  Would I find dead seedlings?  Would I need to replant?  Well the weeds were horrible.  The horsetail especially and even the raspberries tried to take up residence in the garlic bed.



As you can see it cleaned up quite nicely showing the radishes, collards, parsley, carrots, onions and garlic in this bed.  There are lettuces and other greens like spinach and arugula in another bed growing and soon to be harvested.




And what a wonderful harvest of radishes.  These were crisp and not hot.  The peas are finally growing, and will soon be twining up their new trellis.  I had to replant the pole beans on the other side of the trellis. They froze to death.  This weekend I will plant okra, Brussel sprouts and some herbs like dill in the garden.







The meadow is in a lull right now waiting for the lupines (bottom) and daisies to grow more and flower.  Of course the birds have been busy in the meadow.  The activity and deafening noise was ramped up once the swallows returned this weekend.  The sparrows took the bluebird houses before I could stop them.  I don’t have the heart to oust them once the eggs are laid.  The bluebirds took a lesser house, and the swallows were out of luck.  The swallows were very upset and  even tried to nest in heat exhaust pipes to no avail.  They were dive bombing us to show their displeasure at not having any houses left for them.





 I was finally able to transplant the tomatoes this weekend.  I planted over 40 seeds (top right) and all of them grew nicely.  I transplanted half that looked the strongest.  There are 13 varieties.  Seven varieties of marigolds (bottom middle) were also transplanted getting them ready to go out with the tomatoes in a couple of weeks.  The peppers (top left) will be ready for transplant this weekend with the eggplant (top middle), and both will also go out in the garden with the tomatoes.  The petunias (bottom left) were also transplanted.  They did not grow very well, but it was my fault because I used too shallow a tray.  Hopefully they will grow better roots now and be ready to go out in a few weeks.

I have learned a lot growing all the seeds this winter and spring.  I will do a more in depth post soon going over the successes, failures and lessons learned.



Gardens Eye Verse

Thoughts of May

Of mothers, bees and bright bouquets

These are the images and thoughts of May.



Warm breezes, green fields and children at play

These are the sights and sounds of May.



Butterflies, frogs and birds twittering away

All of nature moves to the rhythm of May.



Fireflies brighten the lazy dusk of the day

Time slows in the evening in May.



And the indigo sky shows a sparkling display

As we rest and dream of tomorrow in May.


Donna Donabella



Next up on the blog:  Next week I will have an early Garden Book Review for Holley @Roses and Other Gardening Joys.  On the 14th it will be a GBBD post and I hope to parade lots more blooms.  The 23rd will be time for another post in my Simply the Best series that ties in with Diana@Elephant’s Eye, and Gail@Clay and Limestone’s Wildflower Wednesday.  I will be featuring my Goatsbeard.  And lastly it will be time for another Word 4 Wednesday with Donna@Garden Walk, Garden Talk.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.  So drop by to check out all the blooms this Friday.  Also linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my weekly posts, every other Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife 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. Christina says:

    How wonderful to have so many Red Admiral butterflies; I’ve read about the huge numbers in Mexico in the winter that can literally cover a tree and bow down the branches. I imagine these are the same butterflies traveling north. Poor you with such terrible rain, we’ve had rain for the last couple of days but it hasn’t been so heavy as to cause damage and my soil is so free draining, it soon sinks in. Do you know the name of the first beautiful dwarf iris, I would love to be able to find some for my garden? Christina

    • Donna says:

      These are indeed the same Red Admirals. I just love having them all over the garden. The purple dwarf iris I believe is called Bloodstone.

  2. Donna says:

    This was a wonderful post, filled with so much information and beauty. When you were listing best and worst, I would have included horsetail in that group.It is almost impossible to eradicate. Even the stronger Roundup is used in commercial application most often.

    I too noticed smaller Columbine, but they are blooming longer it seems. Thoughts of May is my favorite poem so far. I enjoyed!!!

    • Donna says:

      I am going to have to learn to live with the Horsetail. Even Roundup when I used it wouldn’t get rid of it. I will keep amending the soil in hopes that eventually it will be too rich for the horsetail and it may reduce…I also am trying to add other ground covers to grow in and take up space from the horsetail…if you didn’t know what it was, it actually looks like a pretty ground cover…so glad you enjoyed the May poem…I will note it as a favorite!

      • Donna says:

        Roundup does eliminate horsetail, but it needs multiple, strong applications. Digging it out is pointless as it always returns and is extremely persistent. Cornell was quite concerned with it in our area and was having us document where it occurred. I don’t think you will be lucky enough to have groundcovers out compete it in rich soil. But hopefully it works for you. I stopped back to let you know W4W on the 23rd. is Harmony. Hope you join. I will be letting others know in my GBBD post. I will be passing by your way on May 10th., I hope the driving weather is good.

        • Donna says:

          I know I may be up against it but what to do…I will maybe contact Cornell to see what they may be doing. I will definitely join…love the word and can think of loads to write about…The weather is supposed to be rainy tonight and tomorrow with at least 1-2 inches of rain but then I think warm and sunny…have a ball and I can’t wait to read all about the Fling!

  3. tina says:

    Those radishes are indeed beautiful! I never ever have luck growing radishes so I am surely enjoying yours.

    • Donna says:

      They seem to love the cold weather of spring here and the raised bed…I have no luck with second plantings but will try to let a few go to seed and see if they freely seed in fall and produce. Glad you enjoyed them…

    • Donna says:

      It is amazing how far along my garden is with our wacky weather….the bearded iris are ready to bloom any day now and I am excited….so glad you like the pond and rain garden….the pond is a favorite of mine too

  4. Barbie says:

    marvelous… what amazing radishes. I am going to try them this year. thank you for taking part in the Harvest Day meme.

  5. Nadezda says:

    Donna, my radishes are still quite small. Weather here is too changeable, the sun and a cold wind.
    If the seeds are bad, I always sow again.

    • Donna says:

      Mine are too small but I picked a few to give others a chance to grow bigger…love my radishes but it will be too hot soon for them here…a few I let go to seed will perhaps give me radishes for fall.

  6. Elephant's Eye says:

    Our rain garden, Apple Creek, where I spent weeks cutting back years of reeds and grasses, is now looking like a picture book, filled with water, fresh green sprouts, and peaceful reflections.

  7. Rambling Woods says:

    Oh your vegetation is ahead of where we are looking at the same plants..always good to learn more Donna.. I have to say you were nice to the house sparrows. There are blue bird house owners who will kill the HOSP as if the blue bird gets in there first, the HOSP can kill the sitting bluebird and nest on her. They are very aggressive birds. I have had a battle with the starlings and my wood duck house. I can’t keep them out long enough for the wood ducks. But if there was a wood duck hen, the starlings would harass her till she left. Non-native species are bad news….but I can’t kill any of them….Michelle

    • Donna says:

      I know if they hadn’t laid the eggs I would have ousted them…the eggs have hatched and the babies are being fed as we speak…the swallows will move in soon…they are very aggressive too.

  8. Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens says:

    Wonderful poem and what an amazing post. Could you tell me more about Anemone canadensis? I found it weedy and its capacity to spread scared me but maybe I put it in the wrong place because yours looks very pretty. I am glad you will have some perfect hostas when you get the miniatures you ordered from me.

    • Donna says:

      I am looking forward to the hostas and thinking of the perfect place. My anemone canadensis is in moist clay in the white garden which controls it. Under the trees it is in rather root bound amended soil. It seeds itself but it is a perfect ground cover there and making a lovely showing…I fear if it were in humus or sandy moist soil it would be too aggressive.

  9. Jen says:

    Wow, you have been through some tough gardening punishments already….I do hope that your Hosta spring back.

    But gardens are strong, and nature can throw what it wants at them, a plant will do it’s best to grow.

    We are going through a wet spring, the mosquitoes are out all day and night long, hoping for some warm weather to shake them off.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

    • Donna says:

      So far I am being spared the mosquitoes…the hostas are rebounding some…I am sad the tulips and bleeding hearts were a mostly no show.

  10. b-a-g says:

    I admire your persistance. If I had uncovered that vegetable patch and seen the weeds, I would have covered it back up and gone in for a cup of tea.

    • Donna says:

      If I didn’t have my garden bench I think I would have done just that…but the bench makes weeding the raised bed easier…

  11. Eileen says:

    Great post, the flowers are gorgeous and the pond is great too. The tulips are one of my favorites. I hope your knee heals recovers quickly. The May poem is just lovely. Thanks for sharing, have a great day

    • Donna says:

      Eileen so glad you enjoyed the poem…it means a lot to me…my knee is better but still no kneeling or weeding.

  12. Libby says:

    A lot going on!! I have a Red Admiral photo in today’s Nature Notes too!

    We had bluebells in the woods several weeks ago, but they are gone from this latitude now.

    Our peonies are just starting to bloom – good ant photo 🙂

    I have frogs in and around my pool cause I have not opened it for the year. grey tree frogs…I looked up their song to identify them!

    • Donna says:

      Libby I love my grey tree frogs and don’t usually see them, but hear them…wish I could get bluebells to grow…love your red admiral too.

  13. Liz says:

    Hi Donna,

    Lovely to see so much going on in your garden; sorry to see the rain though!
    That’s perhaps the only good thing about my garden – it’s on a hill and much of it slopes so I don’t have the puddles in the clay soil!

    Shame to see only one Dicentra has survived too 🙁 Perhaps more will surprise you!

  14. Sheila says:

    It’s nice taking a trip back in time and seeing the spring blooms that have faded here… I somehow missed hearing about the abundance of Red Admirals in the north. I need to catch up on garden blogs!

    • Donna says:

      So glad you were able to visit…the red admirals were and still are an incredible sight…hoping for more butterflies soon.

  15. Grace says:

    I love all your photos but especially your pond. It looks so quaint and serene. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m feeling better already!

  16. Skeeter says:

    Hey, it let me comment. Was not sure how to do it with this format….

    I envy you guys up north this time of year. I so enjoy spring and our springs are some times so short with summer temps hitting us too soon. Now is the time I would love to be up there with you and not down here in this heat. Urg…. Once I hit the lottery, maybe a house in Multiple time zones so I can enjoy a really long spring…..

    Love your pond and rain gardens…

    • Donna says:

      Skeeter I cannot tolerate the heat you have and love my mild weather…you are welcome anytime to visit…it is a lovely place.

  17. Alberto says:

    You have a lot going on apparently! I am so sorry for your hostas, I freeze when I saw the pic!!!!
    Can I say I am a little envious of your veggie garden? yes I am (not about horsetail to be honest), because all your seeds and pots and stuff are finally paying off and you get some food finally! I’ve planted some simple stuff in my first official veggie garden and I’m very worried because I don’t know if I’m capable of taking care of them, they’re not flowers, you know…
    Love your aquilegia, I only have one, white. I hope it self seeds around soon.

    • Donna says:

      Alberto I learned a lot through books and blogs and went slowly at first with veggies…they are like children and do take lots of time until you get more knowledge…I am sure yours will do fine…each little harvest is addictive and you want more.

  18. Carolyn says:

    Spring can be rather daunting with the unpredictable weather and so much to do in the gardens… it’s still a favorite season of mine. Yours is shaping up rather nicely. I’m not getting much blogging done, visiting or posting… so much to do! Thank you for joining my Walk in the Gardens… hope your knee heals quickly!

    • Donna says:

      I have missed you Carolyn but know how hard it is to visit and blog and garden…looking forward to seeing your wonderful garden.

  19. Beth says:

    Donna, I like your pond, your shooting stars, your dwarf bearded iris, and your Jack in the pulpits. You have lots going on here. I enjoyed my visit today!

  20. Sue says:

    Hi Donna,
    Goodness me you have been busy! Your veg seeds are doing well I had another good afternoon in the garden today got loads done. have you ever planted basil with your tomatoes? Great post:0)

    • Donna says:

      Sue I have planted basil with tomatoes…will be planting much more this year. I am so pleased with how the veg seeds are doing….so glad to hear you had a good day in the garden.

  21. Debbie/GardenofPossibilities says:

    Donna, The red admiral butterflies have been such a treat this spring. The other day I was outside in the garden and they everywhere. It seemed with every step I took, dozens and dozens would fly around. I guess their numbers may be a positive side effect of the wacky weather this winter and early spring.

    • Donna says:

      I agree Debbie…they were so incredible in numbers….the number have slowed but many are still here…perhaps they are a result of the weather.

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