Gardens Eye Journal-March 2014


The cold may chill our noses and that ominous stripe of weak orange light across the horizon may presage more snow, but it will not stop us from a walk in the winter garden.  ~Peter Loewer


Today feels like the first day of the rest of my life….literally!  Because today my retirement officially starts.  That is the retirement from my profession of over 30 years, public education.  I wrote a post about the impending event on Vision and Verb.  I am still putting one foot in front of the other, learning my way, and I hope to write about some of my observations and musings during this new phase in the coming months.

And yes I did schedule it perfectly given that March is the pivotal month for change as spring hopefully edges in and winter slides out.  You can see by the photo above that the icicles were getting longer and longer as the sun was warming up in February even with temps barely above 10 degrees.  I am celebrating spring in March, and I hope you will too by following this link.

When the first of March rolls around, cabin fever sets in, and my eyes need some outside color as we have been buried in white for far too long.  I anxiously watch the thermometer hoping for snow to melt and bare patches of ground to show.  My eyes play tricks on me thinking there are green shoots everywhere, and I anxiously scan the soil for any sign of winter loosening her grip.  Just any sign that spring will soon be here.

But for now winter remains, and I want to update you on what has been going on here in my central NY State garden in the month of February.  I am linking in with Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View.




DSCN4210February was a brutal month.  They are calling this the coldest winter in 20 years.  Our temps warmed to the 20s on some days, but most days we were in sub zero numbers with a relentless barrage of  snow.  We caught up with our average snowfall passing it with least 10 feet so far this winter.  At one point we had walls of snow piled up everywhere covering the patio up to the second stair to the house.  Snow in the front of the house was over the height of the porch and almost over the snow blower at times.

And while the garden wears her covering of snow and continues to be stunning, there is little showing through it.  But I know there is lots growing underneath.  Recently I was able to watch the sunrise from my window, and caught a few beautiful displays.  Here is the sunrise on February 28th, the morning after a night full of lake effect snow giving us another foot of white wash.




Garden Views

While there is not much to show but snow, I wanted to share some of the beauty I saw in my snowy February garden.  I do hope you are not tired of these snowy scapes.



Sometimes the late afternoon’s impending darkness mixes with the dark gray clouds creating a bluish hue over everything.  This was right after one of our day long storms in February.




Here’s the same view the morning after our last big snow.  Everything was covered by what looks like, sudsy snow.  It almost looks like the washing machine spilled soapy lather all over the garden.  I love the look.




This is the meadow after the same storm.  You can see how the  constant snow has weighed down and covered most of the meadow now.



DSCN3935I love how the grass swayed in the wind making patterns in the deep snow.


Here it is a bit closer.  These are the little details in my February garden that I love to capture.





The morning snow glistened every morning with the first rays of the sun.  I love the effect.




Can you see the sunrise on the pond?  The pond is that first depression in the snow with the large grass on the left showing its outer edge.  Towards the fence, under the lumps of snow, are the veg beds waiting for spring and new seeds to be gently pushed beneath the soil.

I have not even cleaned up the mess from last year’s garden outside or in the basement where many of the seeds were started.  I will be cleaning up inside first so I can get ready soon.  And I hope to have some time in March to do some outside clean up.  But remember all that snow has to melt and absorb into the ground and that usually doesn’t happen until April.





During The Great Backyard Bird Count, I had some visitors stop by.  There were about 12 different species which is pretty good given we have no feeders except one suet feeder this year.

DSCN4000The bluebirds were checking out all the houses giving me pause to hope that perhaps spring might be early and they would be building nests soon.  They seem to be giving the house sparrows the message that this is their garden.  I am sure there will be some interesting power struggles this spring.


This mamma deer and babe are frequent visitors at night. They were spotted mid-morning working their way along the side of the fence walking in the paths they have worn in the 3 ft drifts of snow to the back of the meadow where the wild area starts.  They like the bushes there, and can be seen eating the wood on these spindly bushes.





I wanted to acknowledge two bloggers.  One blogger is Christienne@Sho’ Nuff Sistuh’s Guide to Organic Gardening for nominating me for a Versatile Blogger Award many months ago.  Thank you Christienne.  I am very honored and will honor the award by telling you a few unknow things about me.  And I plan to highlight blogs, especially newer blogs, throughout the months as a different twist on nominating other bloggers.

So what you don’t know about me:

1.  I am the middle child given I have an older sister, younger brother and younger sister.  And we are very close in age barely 1 year apart for the first 3 of us.

2.  I was married for the first and only time when I was 40.  We met at a bar and it just seemed to be kismet from that first meeting.  We had our first date on the last night of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and have been together ever since.  That was 1992.

More fun facts about me at a later time.


The second blogger I wanted to give a shout out to is Susan@As Long As You Have A Garden.  Susan has started17b43140-04f8-45e2-9203-b8cbd1f943db_zpsb34a566e another special blog called, The Goodwill Seeds Co. – “Men and women of goodwill trying to build a better world.”  As Susan says:

Becoming a member is easy. The most important thing is to plant small seeds of goodwill as you go about your everyday life. If you would like to spread the word and encourage other people to sow seeds of goodwill (kindness and compassion) then please display my link on your own blog. Yes, it will get me  more followers and if I were the kind of person to brag, which I’m not, I would be happy. The real goal, however, is to encourage more and more people to plant their own little seeds of goodwill.


I proudly and happily will display her wonderful badge, and I hope you will too.  Please stop by Susan’s new blog and become part of this great project.




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 end of February, beginning of March looks like.  Still pretty much the same with winter still upon us.






Gardens Eye Verse

ESTHER IN THE GARDEN  -  AFTER THE SUMMER  -  NEW ERA  -  NODULES ON ROOTS OF PLUTONIAN TREEI hope to be joining Lucy@Loose and Leafy for her Tree Following.  I am not sure which tree I will follow this year.  I will continue to update the ash trees, and hopefully report on good growth on the many new young trees we planted.  Then again, I may pick a tree that I find on one of the excursions I hope to take monthly visiting my surrounds more.  For now I have a special poem about trees and my new adventures with retirement.




I Am The Tree

Erect I stand, strong of will.

Defying the wind, and all nature can swill.



I cast my eyes to take in the scene

While all around is washed white and serene.



The strength of my roots and courage in my stance

Will serve me well in life’s new dance.

Donna Donabella


Next up on the blog:  Monday will be time for Lessons Learned and what wishes I have for yet another bloom day with no blooms.

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.

I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb.  I hope you enjoy my latest post.

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. Island Threads says:

    Donna congratulations on your retirement, you finally made it, I think your extra snow this year is the same as all the extra rain this year in the UK, mainland Scotland has had record snow fall as well, I hope it doesn’t melt too fast and cause flooding,
    you are not the only one who hasn’t cleared away last years debris with all the rain I haven’t managed to clear it all for the last 3 winters, I love your snowy views though those icicles tell of the coldness, have a wonderful retirement, Frances

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Frances. Yes we are still below normal in our temps even with the start of March. I would love a nice slow melt but I fear we will have our typical all at once melt followed by rain which then leads to our yearly flooding. I like to wait until spring each year to clear away debris as the birds appreciate the seed left standing or lying on the ground.

      Soon the spring will arrive and I look forward to retiring in my garden for a while! 🙂

    • Donna says:

      I am experiencing that period of adjustment Linda. And looking forward to my new schedule evening out soon. The bluebirds have been around all winter as long as there was food like berries. Slim pickings here right now so they are off finding berries elsewhere until we warm up.

  2. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    Congratulations Donna! I am tired of snow but still found your photos quite beautiful. Especially love the sight of those Bluebirds! I hope you find incredible joy in the happenings of your garden each day. Love the “Tree Follow” – I have to do that!

    • Donna says:

      Thank you so much Kathy. I image you are sick of snow given you have had much, much more than I have. The bluebirds are gone for a while seeking out berries as we are picked clean. But soon we will warm and they will return.

  3. Barb Mrgich says:

    Hi Donna, I have felt a kinship with you since the first time I read your blog. I am also a retired teacher—Congratulations on your new retirement!—Now your gardens will most likely greatly expand with your new-found time. Mine certainly did. I also love to take pictures of my gardens and now I love the idea of standing on the same spot on the first of every month and snapping the changing scene. What a great idea! I’m starting today!! We have also had pretty continuous snow cover since December, although certainly not your extremes here near Gettysburg, PA. I have found all the little animal tracks in the snow to be incredible.

    • Donna says:

      Barb indeed we have so much in common, and I thank you for your sweet words. I look forward to spring and tending to the garden. As spring comes about, I will find a view or 2 to hone in on this year. The critters are busy all winter making tracks and it keeps me busy trying to figure out who they are and where they travelled. Here’s to spring arriving soon.

  4. KL says:

    Though I am tired of this winter but I enjoyed your winter pictures — you have lots of structures in your garden and that’s created a beautiful winter scene. Lovely.

    I also participated in your seasonal celebration and left a comment there but forgot to ask you the name of that beautiful red flower picture that you have in the middle. Is that some kind of columbine?

    • Donna says:

      The red flowers are Tulipa humilis “Little Beauty”. There is a purple columbine in the post too. Glad you enjoyed winter as it retreats, I hope!!

    • Donna says:

      Sue you are so kind. I am happy that you enjoyed this post. And I thank you regarding your good wishes on my retirement.

  5. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening says:

    I wish you the best in your new journey. It seems your health is mostly intact, and that is the best way to start retirement–when you can still enjoy it. Now that you will have more free time, maybe we can meet at some garden event halfway between us.

    • Donna says:

      Kathy I would love that. I hope to get around and meet many gardeners in the area and to see many of the gardens in the area. Thanks for your best wishes. My health is much improved and I am grateful for that!!

    • Donna says:

      Thank you so much Chad…I am looking forward to that wonder happening in the garden soon with the arrival of spring!!

  6. Christina says:

    All my very best wishes as you begin your new life of retirement. Soon you will wonder how you ever had time to go to work as you fill your days with gardening, garden visits etc. Seeing all your snow this year has really made me appreciate all the sunny mild days we have had this year. You are, as always, very positive about dealing with all that white stuff but I know it must be very hard. The saving grace must be that your garden is very beautiful under its covering blanket of snow.

    • Donna says:

      You are correct Christina. It is hard some days especially when March arrives cold and snow filled and I am longing for spring. I expect I will wonder how I ever had time for a job, but I know I will be working on many projects soon. Right now I am resting getting ready for the garden work ahead. Once that snow melts the garden kicks into high gear with the warm air.

  7. Alison says:

    Congrats on your retirement! I have to confess I am sick of snow pictures. I lived in New England for the first 50+ years of my life, and as a consequence I really despise snow. I rejoice every winter that I don’t live there any more.

    I adore your picture of the bluebirds.

    • Donna says:

      Alison your comment made me laugh as I know somedays exactly how you feel. I think we will be traveling a bit during those cold months. Time for some new scenes….the bluebirds are my favorite!

  8. Stacy says:

    Congratulations again on your retirement, Donna! I hope you’re waking up every morning feeling like adventures lie ahead. Your snow photos are lovely and a wonderful argument for gardening — you have so much beautiful texture, even under that (really, really thick) blanket of snow. Think how dull winter would be to look at if all you had was flat lawn!

    • Donna says:

      I love gardening for 4 seasons and our winter makes it imperative that there is texture all season. Thank you Stacy for your kind words….I am taking it slow and resting as I want to ease into this retirement enjoying each day!!

  9. Cathy says:

    Congratulations Donna – at last your retirement has become reality! It must be a wonderful feeling. I really love those images of the grass stroking the snow – so pretty. And that picture does really look like soap suds!
    Enjoy your time at home now Donna. All the best!

    • Donna says:

      Thank you so much Kathy for your congratulations….snow can be fun. Right now though I am cheering on spring!! A bit of a warm up here for a few days.

  10. Christienne Hinz says:

    Congratulations on your retirement. I can only imagine the trepidation, the hope, and the sense of mourning you must be experiencing. I look forward to following your writing as you make this important transition. May it be a beautiful and rich one!

    • Donna says:

      Oh Christienne your lovely thoughts touched my heart. I am experiencing so many emotions around this big change in my life. I am hoping my writing about it will bring some wisdom for me and anyone else who is going through this change.

  11. Laura Bloomsbury says:

    Your garden is such a sight for sore eyes Donna – I never tire of captivating snow captures especially when I do not have to live with the inconvenience too. Wishing you all the ver best for your retirement – now is a better time than you last plan.
    p.s. cannot decide on a tree yet either – they all crave attention

    • Donna says:

      Laura I am glad you are enjoying the snow too!! I expect I will need to travel to find my tree this time which is good as it will keep me out and about. I was happy I could retire on my terms and timeline. It seems this will work for me as I have time to get ready for spring.

  12. Jennifer Richardson says:

    so much beautiful joy in those snow pics… how you’re finding
    the beauty even when the landscape is stark.
    and wow to your beautiful words….lovely and heart-warming.

  13. Grace Peterson says:

    It’s hard to believe there is a living and well-loved garden under that blanket of white. And soon that blanket will melt and you’ll be able to get your hands dirty once again. What a brutal winter it’s been. I’m so glad the bluebirds and deer are okay. It’s a testament to the peacefulness you’ve created that they don’t feel threatened to visit. Congrats again on your retirement. I wish for you a mixture of relaxation and energy. Life is good.

    • Donna says:

      Thank you dear Grace. I am experiencing more relaxation now getting ready to use my energy soon. It is hard to believe we have so much snow still in March. The critters provide so much peace for me too!

  14. catmint says:

    All the best for the next life stage, Donna – beautifully expressed in the tree poem. I never get sick of the snow pics. The one with the blue light is particularly lovely.

    • Donna says:

      Thank you so much!! And I am so pleased you enjoyed the snow pictures and poem. And indeed the poem was about my next life stage.

  15. Alistair says:

    Ah, Donna, here you are, now retired. Don’t listen to those who may say, (you wont know what to do with yourself). I retired at 60, that’s eight years ago now and I can honestly say it has been the best time of my life. Great post as usual, those snow scenes are beautiful, still hasn’t been any here, many people further south have had their lives turned upside down with dreadful flooding.

    • Donna says:

      Alistair your words mean so much to me. I have so much to do, I wonder if it will all get done and then I say, no worries… whatever I feel like. best feeling in the world. It has been hard to see the agony of the floods over there. When I flood here, it is usually temporary and I never worry for my garden anymore.

    • Donna says:

      Our snow continues but it seems we had a few days respite. Maybe more this weekend. If would just warm up. The retirement finally happened on my terms and I am glad for that.

  16. Ramblingwoods says:

    Congrats on finally getting to retire and hoping your other dream moves forward…. Beautiful post. I hope to start reading more gardening blogs now…. Michelle

  17. Casa Mariposa says:

    Hooray for retiring!! I remember well the long winters of upstate NY but just think: you are closer to spring today than you were yesterday. All that snow is filling your aquifers and watering your garden. It will wake up rested and lush.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much!! Your words help as each day we are closer to spring, closer to the sun and closer to melting. I expect my garden will wake up with me and we will be ready for each other.

  18. DeniseinVA says:

    Yes, most definitely, congratulations on your retirement! 🙂 It is hard to pick out a favorite out of your photos, but I do love the bluebirds at the bird box, and the one with the birdhouses in another. and also the one where you’ve caught the sun glistening on the snow, and is that a line of dried coneflowers in that photo? So many beautiful shots, all very enjoyable. We may all be looking forward to spring but I do love snowy photos and yours are gorgeous!

  19. Donna says:

    Actually Denise those are monarda in that photo. Coneflowers just out of view. Their seed heads look similar from far away. Thank you for such lovely compliments. Glad you enjoyed the snowy scenes.

  20. Pam's English Garden says:

    I am so happy for you, Donna. Congratulations!
    There is so much in this posting that I will just mention how much I enjoyed your poem and your pictures, and I’m off to follow your links.. P. x

      • Pam's English Garden says:

        I did enjoy them. I joined Susan’s ‘Goodwill’ movement and put her button on my blog. I loved your poem on Vision and Verb — I have a hard time keeping up with that blog as they post so often, so felt it was too late to leave a comment there. Again, I wish you peace and joy in your retirement! Maybe, we will be able to get together! P. x

        • Donna says:

          I will try to post a reminder when my posts on Vision and Verb come up once a month. I am looking forward to getting together finally with so many blogger friends so count on it Pam!!

  21. Lucy Corrander says:

    Seems quite dangerous, a pond covered with snow. You have to know where it is. Somehow seems symbolic.

    I think you are very brave to begin your retirement in March. Thinking about it more though while looking at the lovely pictures of snow, that whiteness looks so encouraging. It’s like having a new exercise book at school, you can imagine all the wonderful things you will write and all the great marks you will receive. Don’t know how you can have resisted making your footsteps in the real snow. (Beyond a couple of purposeful lines.) Maybe there’s a spot outside range of the camera which is all trampled and marked. But I wish you well as you walk out over the whiteness of your new life. You’ve planned so well, you will know the difficulties – just as you know where the pond is. And you have thought of the good new things – like knowing where the leaves will break open first.

    Happy retirement.


    • Donna says:

      Lucy this is why I love blogging. The wonderful perspective of readers. I had not thought of my retirement against the backdrop of the snow….wonderful symbolism. It does feel like a new exercise book. Once it snows in the back garden we cannot enter through the gates and it is a bit dangerous from the kitchen stairs. But I hope to visit soon as the snow is melting showing the clean slate of soil waiting for new growth….ahh more symbolism.

      Thanks Lucy!!

  22. Caroline says:

    What beautiful snowy photos and a delightful poem, Donna. I look forward to hearing more about your tree (and poetic) adventures as the year proceeds and as your new plans take shape. Greetings from sunny Suffolk, UK, where we have hardly seen a snowflake this winter … unlike a year ago!

    • Donna says:

      Caroline thank you for visiting and your wonderful comment. I have always wanted to visit your area of the world so I will pop over to visit your blog shortly.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much Jean. It is kind of surreal right now…getting used to the idea and the changes it brings. I am posting a bit about my initial thoughts tomorrow. I plan to visit your blogs in the next couple of days.

  23. Susan says:

    Well, Donna, this is what happens when I get behind in my blog visits-I miss something wonderful. Good job I always scroll back to read everything I’ve missed. Thank you so much for displaying the link. It has made my day. Congrats on retiring too.

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