Gardens Eye Journal-January 2014

“We do not learn from our experiences; we learn by reflecting on our experiences.”  ~John Dewey


As I said in last week’s post, this year will be a time of observing and reflecting on my garden.  So far in January, I have observed frigid wind chills (-32F), and another foot or more of snow.  Throw in some freezing rain and we have all the wonders of winter.  With all the white likely to stay around this season there isn’t much more to do but look to the past season.

This is the final wrap up of my garden for 2013 so I have put together collages to look at how the different areas looked throughout the seasons.  I hope you enjoy this retrospective as I link in with Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View albeit a bit late.




DSCN2872December was no different than any other month this past year with its crazy weather patterns.  We had weather in the low 60s, and a bit warmer than usual for this time of year.

But when the weather cooled this led to some icy storms and about 4 feet of snow in the second half of the month.

I had the pleasure of witnessing many wonderful sunrises, almost all on my way to work.  This was one I caught at the beginning of December.




What’s Growing

Throughout this past year, I have profiled the front and back gardens with some side trips to other specialty areas like the red garden, white garden, side gardens and shade garden.   Here I am looking specifically at the front walk gardens and the entire back gardens as a whole.


front 2013

This garden shows off in late March and April when the spring bulbs come out to sprinkle color throughout the beds.  As they die back iris, creeping phlox and columbine pop up as the plants surrounding put on their patchwork quilt of green.  The sun of late spring shows the lavender, salvia and clematis adding their colors to the just emerging hydrangea.  Summer shows an abundance of hydrangea, echinacea, geranium, phlox, daylily and coreopsis.  I love how fall colors pop out with the asters.  A bit more fall color from flowers is needed.  But even in frost and snow this garden delights my senses.

I will be amending soil here and dividing some plants especially the iris.



back 2013

I do apologize for the small pictures here.  You can see the lovely look of the back gardens and gazebo that I see all winter from January through early March.  Then as you follow across you see spring in late March and April where snow gives way to a massive spring melt and a flood throughout the low lying gardens.  There are some spots that need to be corrected so the wet area through spring and fall are not just one big puddle.  We did plant many water loving native plants that do enjoy having their feet wet and this has made a big difference.

Most of the back gardens remain a bit wild especially along the left fence and back gardens as well as between the trees.  These areas need a bit of taming.  We will be looking to extend gardens out into the grass that will be removed leaving narrower grass paths, and more garden areas to design and plant.  I also want to work on succession of bloom in these back areas although many are shaded and the foliage takes center stage.  We also need to incorporate more shrubs especially evergreens.




Veg Gardens

 veg beds 2013

You can see the 4 beds as they were this past year and all the grow bags used on the patio.  We added one more 8 x 4 foot bed so we can grow more squashes and melons.   I will have the 2014 plans for planting the veggies in a February post.



vegs 2013

Here are many of the harvests the gardens gave us.  How I miss these veggies as we only grow enough to eat during the season except for the garlic which we are still enjoying.  I’d say we had more successes than failures this past year with our veggies.





 meadow 2013

The meadow brings delight all seasons especially for the wildlife.  You can see early spring through mid spring, summer and fall.  Quite a wonderful succession of blooms.  We will continue to work on keeping the teasel and other non-natives at bay.  This year we will plan to reduce the thistle and Queen Anne’s lace so we can add more native species and give those we planted room to grow.

While the non-natives are lovely too, they take over the meadow pushing out the natives we love to see.



pond 2013

The pond continues to bring us joy.  We do need to clean it out a bit to reduce some of the algae that will show up in spring.  And we also need to add more small stone around the edge to keep spaces clear for the birds to enter the pond to bathe in.  And we will be working on dividing some of the plants surrounding the pond as many are becoming overgrown.  The grass paths have grown into the garden surrounding the pond, and these will be one of the first areas we will edge.





DSCN2906Birds, birds and more birds happily visited every day in December.  Pictured are a few of the many bluebirds and goldfinches that frequent the white ash tree branches happily singing.  I have an update on the plight of our ash trees tomorrow, the 7th, at Beautiful Wildlife Gardens.  I hope you will pop over to read about what we hope is good news.




The Wide Shot

Xericstyle is hosting this meme the first of every month, and all you have to do is post your favorite wide shot of your garden.  I am still watching the view from my bedroom window surveying the entire back garden.  Here’s what the beginning of January looks like.  I had some fun capturing it in color and black/white.  Close up the snow almost appears like warm sand.  Oh if only!!








Gardens Eye Verse

As I have been watching the sun sparkle on the brilliant cold snow, I was moved to write the poem below.  I hope you enjoy it!!



Flowing, following the elusive light as the season wanes and darkens,
Deeper into its cold, biting, phase.
Searching, basking, squinting against the rays as they rise higher
Making diamonds in the snow.
Slowly  brightening our fleeting daylight as colors play on the clouds
Beginning and ending each day.
As fall moves to winter and the light seeks our senses more each day,
Filling our hours with blissful delight.
I have come full circle through the year and the light has remained
Giving  its glossy, glowing, luminous gifts unending.

Donna Donabella


Next up on the blog:  I will have an early Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  I will be profiling a favorite spring bulb that I am dreaming about as the garden stays covered in its white blanket.

I am 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 posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my latest post.  My next post will be on January 7th.

I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb.  My first post will be on January 22nd.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.sharethelove

I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


  1. eileen says:

    Wow, so many pretty views of your garden. And I love the cute bluebirds. Gorgeous photos. Have a happy day and week ahead!

  2. Karin/Southern Meadows says:

    Lovely to see the compilation of photos of your garden over the seasons. It is fun to look at how it changes. My favorite is the meadow and pond. Love your snow shots and the blue birds. I hope stay warm and safe in this winter wonderland. Happy New Year Donna!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Karin and glad you finally were able to get home safely. We are warming up now and most of the snow is gone again. The wildlife is taking advantage of the melt and enjoying hanging about the garden. Happy New Year.

  3. commonweeder says:

    What a fabulous review – and photos. I am going to have to try and do something like that this year. It is wonderful to be reminded of all the year’s activity in one post. Thank you so much for inspiration – again.

  4. Donna says:

    You poem is nice and really sums up what you have been experiencing. It is good to look back and see the beauty rather than think of things less bright.

    • Donna says:

      I agree Donna. We are now in a thaw and flooding with lots of rain. This has been an interesting winter so far. The birds were in the garden in big numbers and I am so pleased they made it through the frigid temps.

  5. Owen says:

    Hi there- loved this post- its lovely to see your photos of the areas over time- will definitely want to see if i can find more pictures of your meadow- it looks beautiful!
    I wondered if you could talk about more about these ‘cages’ you place over your pots of vegetables- what are they for and did you make them yourself?
    You have a wonderful garden!

    • Donna says:

      Owen thank you for visiting. I am so glad you loved the post and especially the meadow. You can find pictures of the meadow in my Gardens Eye Journal posts the first Monday of every month. Here is a post about the making of my meadow.

      The tomato cages were purchased from Gardener’s Supply online and they fold when not in use. They were placed in grow bags so we could grow more tomatoes in containers on the patio. I have some in the raised bed where we grow tomatoes too. I will say they worked great and supported some huge tomatoes that usually break other cages. And they are easy to use.

  6. Jennifer Richardson says:

    I love how expansive your thinking,
    the way you sweep all of your living into your arms
    and embrace it and give it loving focus and attention.
    Your photos warm and delight.
    So much possibility growing beneath those snowy branches
    …..cheers to you and to new beginnings,

    • Donna says:

      Jennifer you just have such a beautiful way of expressing what I am feeling…you color my world with your words and bring life to my photos…thank you!!

  7. Cathy says:

    Lovely views of your garden through the seasons Donna. The snow really does look pretty in black and white, as the contrasts are even greater. Hope it’s not too cold where you are right now!

    • Donna says:

      Cathy, it warmed a bit and now we are melting and flooding here but at least the rain stopped which added to the flooding. We are in a warming trend for a while actually. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. Alistair says:

    Hello Donna
    Like the new look. What a treat to see your garden through the year. I am now seeing the advantages of these collages, icing on the cake would be if someone could come up with a way to expand each picture within, individually.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Alistair. I like that idea of expanding the pictures with the collage. These are proving to be more useful than I had first even considered.

    • Donna says:

      Oh Susan thank you…we try so hard and these days our stewardship is being rewarded by many critters visiting…some new ones too!!

  9. Jason says:

    A lovely review of the year. Sounds like you have some good plans for 2014. As to color in the shade garden, I rely in part on annuals to provide color through the summer. It is much easier to have color with shade perennials in spring and fall, of course.

  10. Judith @ Lavender Cottage says:

    You’re a smart gardener Donna to do a photo journal of your gardens on the blog. I should be doing this too, but instead jot down notes in a book for spring which is not nearly as effective.
    Your poem at the end is lovely.

    • Donna says:

      Judith thank you so very much. I really appreciate your feedback. The photo journal has already helped tremendously as I look over the gardens.

  11. debsgarden says:

    Donna, I enjoyed the views of your gardens through the year. I especially loved your colorful collage of the veggies! And the wide shots of your back garden in the snow! Happy New Year!

    • Donna says:

      Deborah I must say we had a great year in the veg garden. I am looking forward to planning this year’s already…the excitement is mounting as the days to spring tick down!!

  12. susan@life-change-compost says:

    There is so much to see in your yard. And I like what Jennifer has written, that there is a sweep and expansiveness to your posts and your photography. If ever one wanted to “feel” a garden from a distance, yours is the one to go to!

  13. Ginnie says:

    I happen to live with a woman (my wife!) who would DIE to have such a garden as yours, Donna! It’s probably the one thing she mosts misses about moving from her former house to the senior complex where we now live. I find myself just staring at every phase of what you’ve shown. It looks a bit like heaven, I’m sure!

  14. Christina says:

    Your lovely poem catches the mood of the moment. I love the images and how you link them together. My designer’s eye tells me that your beautiful gazebo needs an anchor to the garden; something tall planted close to it, grasses perhaps? Or a strong group of plants to one side. Hope you don’t mind my suggestions. Christina.

    • Donna says:

      I do not mind at all. Right now on the right side of the gazebo is one coralberry shrub that is swamped by Obedient plant that takes over the area. It does somewhat anchor and envelope everything in its wake so I am trying to redo that section with possible evergreens. The white garden is on the left and has an Annabelle hydrangea and a slow growing evergreen that may need to be moved. I opted for small starter shrubs and some are taking forever to grow and others did not make it.

      So I appreciate the thoughts as I have similar thoughts Christina. Thanks.

  15. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden says:

    Happy New Year Donna! Your poem certainly captures the mood days of early winter. I enjoyed seeming the series of images taken from a similar vantage point over the space of a year. It really brings home what a chameleon a garden can be.

  16. HolleyGarden says:

    The “wonders of winter”. That phrase really struck a chord with me. It is so positive! Unlike most of us that are complaining about the winter, your entire post shows your positive attitude, from the beautiful black and white photos, to the vegetables you’re looking forward to, to your poem with comparisons to diamonds, blissful delight, and gifts unending. Thanks for the reminder to be positive every day, no matter the weather.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Holley….it is not easy some days…It helps keep me positive especially these days as the weather is crazy…the wildlife is keeping us entertained too.

  17. Patty says:

    I like the new look of your blog page Donna. Seeing the photos of the walkways with the succession of blooms is a great and useful idea. One of which I shall undertake this year. I am hoping it will help in re-vamping the plantings in one particular garden bed.

  18. Helene says:

    Hi Donna, I so enjoyed your 2013 review in photos, your first photo (taken indoors?) is beautiful and so is the wide shot with all the snow. I hope you will soon get your garden back from the grip of winter and cold weather so you can get started again. Take care, Helene.

    • Donna says:

      Yes Helene that first photo was taken indoors. I do so want to feel the dirt under my feet and fingernails! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed the photos.

  19. Beth says:

    Hi Donna, Love that first shot, as well as the sunrise. Your garden looks beautiful. I know you can see things that need to be done; don’t be too critical of your garden; it is fantastic and gorgeous as is! Of course we gardeners look at our own gardens with a critical eye and always find room for improvement.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Beth for those lovely words. That is exactly why I am studying it this year…some basic maintenance and added little things here and there maybe….but for now I want to live with the space before I add or change anything. I do love what we have built!!

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