Gardens Eye Journal-March 2015

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“Making just one garden can last a lifetime.  You can never draw a line and consider the garden to be finished.”  ~Mirabel Osler

 

 

 

Before you ask, yes it has been a particularly tough winter.  But not because of the snow.  That is actually a bit behind our normal 12 feet that we get here every year.  The problem is we have had most of it in February.  And still that wouldn’t be a problem, except that it has been sooooo COLD this winter with noDSCN0309 breaks or thaws.  Our temps have been between 15 and 25 degrees below normal except for a few days.  And all this extreme cold means the snow is just piling up.  You can see how much is on the roof of the gazebo.  And up to the top of the fence posts.  We hope the gazebo roof holds.  It should, but you just never know especially when the melt starts.

We are not complaining about the weather.  Just with this extreme cold we are a bit more house bound than usual.  And thinking in the future, a change of scenery would be great for a week or two or three next winter.  This is the first full winter I have experienced as a retiree, which makes it a bit different especially since I don’t have to drive daily in the winter weather.

It was one year ago today, I officially retired and I am still getting used to the new-found freedom and changes.  I love the vases I am making weekly, and that you can find at the end of my Monday posts.  And I love getting more in touch with my garden now.  

seasonal celebrationsAnd as this is March, it is also time to celebrate the upcoming season.  I especially love to see spring unfold as winter retreats with the thaw.  And I welcome you to join in my quarterly meme, Seasonal Celebrations.  It doesn’t matter what season you are experiencing.  Just write a post between now and the 22nd of March.  Link back to my kick off post so I can include your blog post in my wrap-up on the 23rd.

I am profiling another garden area this month, The Side Garden as I call it.  And as I review my garden, I am joining Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View, and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

 

 

 

Weather

DSCN9710 I won’t belabor the weather anymore here.  Just to say we are closing in on 11 feet of snow so far, and with the forecast for a snowy cold start to March, I am sure we will get at least another foot before spring swings in.  But as they say, if March comes in like a Lion, it will go out like a Lamb.  I am counting on that.

We had a beautiful full moon in February.  And some glorious sunrises as you can see in the beginning of the post.

 

 

 

Garden Views

So let’s get to the Side Garden….. 

side garden early springThis is the left side of my house.  The garden here extends from the front garden, along the entire side of the house, up to the fence where there is a gate and a pergola that leads to the back garden.  When this garden was first planted it was wider, and had butterfly bushes planted at the far end.  But once the butterfly bushes were removed (they became invasive, and hundreds of seedlings were popping up everywhere), it has lingered in limbo waiting for a face-lift. 

I hope to do another Stuck Foot post about this garden in March, if the snow actually melts by then.  But for now this is what it looks like in early spring as the garden wakes.  I should say there are voles in this garden as well who have destroyed many of the original plants that were here.

You can see bulbs like hyacinth and daffodil remain with a few hellebores.  You can also see that the grass is growing into this garden, and it needs to be edged and expanded out.  It is especially noticeable in the last shot where you can’t tell where the garden stops and the grass starts.

 

 

side garden spring

As spring continues, you can see there is a clematis growing up a trellis against the side of the porch.  And you can see the soil is dry and poor.  There has been little to no amending here so it is hard clay.  But I still have Allium, hardy non-native geraniums, forget-me-nots and some bearded iris growing along with an Amsonia and a Baptisia that is situated badly at the edge of the bed.  A hydrangea is buried in this first half of the garden as well as a few roses (one barely growing up the white trellis), lilies and Shasta daisies.  And horsetail, the dreaded weed, is growing throughout this bed covering everything.

In the bottom picture, you can see the second half of this long bed looking toward the fence.  This is where the butterfly bushes were planted.  We planted a few small trees in their place, but they did not survive.  I need to really rethink this area.

The picture on the left shows the end of the front bed as it merges with the side bed.  More alliums, Spanish bluebells, a small Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’ and hardy non-native geraniums.

 

 

side garden summer

Now in summer, the rudbeckias take over with some Joe Pye and both tall and short Nepeta.  There a few unnamed grasses, an astilbe, echinacea, salvia and tall phlox growing here too.

 

 

side garden gate summer

The second half of the bed toward the fence is much different in summer, and quite crowded.  There are two roses growing up the pergola.  One I thought I had removed, and another I added….but the one removed was not completely removed it seems, and it regrew.  Also buried here is a red-twig dogwood that volunteered itself, and is now over 5 feet tall as well as a Hardy Hibiscus, Helianthus and a few daylilies.  Also salvia, tall phlox, Joe Pye, Helianthus, Helenium, lilies and a hydrangea grow in this small section.  

I will be moving many plants and shrubs from this small area, and placing them throughout the rest of this Side Garden and other gardens in the back. 

 

 

side garden fall

And this is the Side Garden in fall.  Much of the garden is dying back except one aster at this point.  And you can see it as we cut it back some in the top right pictures and even more in the bottom picture.  I usually leave more seed heads up here, but we clear cut it this fall to get a better sense of its size. 

So what are the plans for the Side Garden?  My head is swimming with ideas.  First it will be edged and expanded.  And many of the bushes growing throughout it, will be relocated.  The area around the pergola needs to be thinned out, as plants have grown too big and are crowding out each other.  I will move and divide some perennials once the bushes are relocated.  But I want to see exactly what is growing first, and then decide what natives I may want to add here.  I am contemplating a cutting garden or two in the Side Garden as it is very sunny here and protected from the wind.  More likely raised beds made of stone since the soil is so poor.  But they may have to wait until fall to be built.

 

 

 

Indoor Gardening

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This is the same sage plant I featured last month.  But it is now flowering in my grow station.  It was such a fabulous surprise to see these blooms.  This is a volunteer from my garden.  I dig up one nice sage plant and bring it in every winter.  This is the first time one has flowered so much.

 

 

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And this is one of the Italian Parsley plants I brought in from my veg garden last year.  It too is growing beautifully.  We have used it in several dishes, and it just keeps putting on new growth.  

I have started a few flowers from seed, and will be starting most of my flowers and a few veggies from seed in March.  I’ll have more on this in the post coming up next Monday.

 

 

 

Tree Following

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This is the same beloved silver maple tree I have been following since last spring.  It became encased in tree-logofrost in our cold February garden.  Most likely hoar frost or more specifically an air hoar frost because the frost forms on objects above the surface of the snow.  Isn’t it stunning.

I am linking in with Lucy@Loose and Leafy’s Tree Following meme that happens around the 7th of every month.

 

 

 

 

Critters

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The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is always a highlight of February.  This year it started out with 2 nice days in the 20s with little to no new snow, but it ended with snow storms and bitter cold.  So consequently, we saw several species the first 2 days including my beloved Eastern Bluebird.  But ended with only a few birds, some of which are pictured above.  

The top 2 pictures and bottom picture are of Dark-eyed Juncos who are here all winter looking for suet that falls under the feeders.  Or seeds in the garden, if we had less snow.  The top two picture on the right are of a White-breasted Nuthatch.  We also have Red-breasted Nuthatches, but they were not around during the bird count.  This Nuthatch was having a ball swinging and doing acrobatic moves on the suet feeder.

I will have a Wildlife Wednesday post, this Thursday, on my other blog, Living From Happiness (LFH).  I will be focusing on a favorite spring bird, the Cedar Waxwing.  I also have a poem that I published yesterday on LFH about my favorite spring harbinger bird, The Red-winged Blackbird.

 

 

 

Recipe of the Month

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We have been trying some new recipes in february.  This is a rich tomato soup that could be used as a tomato sauce.  And it is actually made from tomato sauce.  I am providing the link for the original recipe.  You will see it does come from making a roasted tomato sauce first.  But we used our own tomato sauce recipe for now as we did not have any tomatoes left from the garden.  We did use our home grown basil we had frozen in olive oil cubes.  I also adapted it further by using coconut milk as it is creamy enough and healthier for me.  We did not have to use any broth.  I love how you can add grated cheese and/or pesto as a garnish.  It is very rich, and oh so perfect for a cold winter day.

 

 

mashed cauli

Another recipe I have wanted to try it mashed cauliflower.  Specifically, Olive Oil, Garlic & Romano Cheese Mashed Cauliflower.  This recipe was easy and just delicious.  We also got to use my mom’s old masher that I have coveted since I was a child.  It is the best masher.  Now don’t be fooled into thinking this will taste like potatoes.  It doesn’t.  But it is a mild flavored cauliflower dish that is creamy.  You can mash it to your taste, and again we used coconut milk instead of cream.  This milk does not flavor the dish with coconut.  This was oh so easy to make, and I am glad we tried it.
  

 

 

I am observing and celebrating as the new season awakens.  I hope you will join in the celebration whether you are in the Northern or Southern hemisphere. 

All you have to do is write a post between now and March 22nd.  Then leave a comment on my Seasonal Celebration post with your link so I can include your link in my summary post on March 23rd.  

I do hope you will consider joining in celebrating the new season in your corner of the world.

 

And as always, I will be collaborating with Beth@Plant Postings and her Lessons Learned meme at this same time.  What lessons have you learned this past season of winter here in the North and summer in the South.  Write a separate post or combine your lessons with your celebrations for one post.

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In A Vase On Monday 

 

It is time for creating another vase, and while I wait for more indoor bulbs to bloom, I decided to be resourceful and reuse some elements that have been holding their own, from two previous vases I made back in December.   

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You can see the red-twig dogwood is still doing well as are the seed heads of the Baptisia.  I added some Scouringrush horsetail, boxwood, rosehips and dried grasses cut in half all from other dried vases.  

 

 

 

reused vase

I liked locating this large vase in front of the fire. Each of the dried elements is unique and beautiful, and yet they work together to make yet another interesting dried vase.  I really have enjoyed working with nature to find such natural elements for these winter vases.  I wish we weren’t so buried in snow so I could continue to forage in the garden.  Oh well, I will make sure I have many other plants, bulbs and flowers growing indoors next winter so I have more choices for winter vases.

I am joining in with a couple of memes this week:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, and Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles.

 

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Next up on the blog:  

Next Monday, I have a special post about my veg garden plans for this year.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 

 

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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, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

95 comments

  1. Alistair says:

    Hope the severe cold eases soon Donna. Seems like you are very content in your retirement, and with so much to do to keep you occupied in the garden. Look forward to seeing the changes you make.

    • Donna says:

      I am very content with my retirement Alistair….and I think working in the garden is a perfect place to get started with moving more into this new life. I really am excited to get started. Our average temp was 9 in Feb., but we are already seeing forecasts for many more 30 degree days. That will be a help.

  2. Susie says:

    Happy retirement anniversary Donna! Seeing your side garden is quite interesting, with such a large number of plants growing there. Have fun narrowing your options for renovating it. Your vase looks nice in front of the fireplace–I especially like the use of the red-twig dogwood. Have a good week!

  3. Linda aka Crafty Gardener says:

    Such an enjoyable read Donna. Yes February has been brutal and I’m glad to see it gone. We are moving towards the calendar spring and I hope the thaw is gradual so there isn’t a lot of flooding. I’m sure you will be as glad as me to see the gardens once again.

  4. Eileen says:

    Hello Donna, it is nice being retired and not having to worry about going to work in the awful weather.. Even if I am homebound, I am much happier not working… Your garden photos are beautiful, we have much to look forward to this spring.. Lovely images!

    Happy March, have a great week ahead!

    • Donna says:

      So true Eileen…I love not having to be on the road this winter. I am OK with being homebound too although it does drag on somedays….let’s hope spring is long and lovely!

  5. Pam's English Garden says:

    Butterfly bush is on the PA invasive species watch list, Donna. It is crowding out milkweed on the sides of roads. I removed one, and I deadhead the two remaining, before the seeds form, but that takes a little work. So much good information in this posting. Happy retirement anniversary! P. x

  6. Julie says:

    Happy retirement anniversary Donna, you sound so upbeat and content, retirement even in 11 feet of snow is suiting you. Do you knock the snow off the gazebo or is that a daft question!

    • Donna says:

      Thank you so much Julie! I am very content in retirement. That is not a daft question at all Julie. We do not knock off the snow. But it has never gotten this high in the last 8-9 yrs we have had the gazebo in winter.

  7. Linda Hubbard says:

    Your garden photos are a welcome sight! We too have lots of snow here in New Brunswick Canada, and I think we’re all more than ready for spring to arrive. I enjoyed reading of your plans for your side garden, makes me anxious to get out there and start digging too. But it will be a while yet… Winter is the season of “Dreaming” for gardeners, I guess…
    Thanks for a lovely post!

    • Donna says:

      With the crazy weather throughout most of the country, we are all more than ready to give winter a shove out the door….here’s to a lovely spring Linda!

  8. Cathy says:

    Your ‘year’ since retirement will quickly escalate into several years before you know it….but aren’t we lucky having plenty of interests to fill all our extra time? Seemed strange seeing all your ‘green pictures after the first snowy ones, but thanks for showing us this part of your garden over several months. The grasses and seedheads in your vase still look good good, and remind us to enjoy the different textures and shades of our gardens. Thanks for sharing, Donna

    • Donna says:

      I bet the days will just run by quickly Cathy…I do feel very lucky and am so grateful for these days to rest and pursue my interests.

      I am anxious to see new blooms and finally have spring flowers with which to create arrangements.

  9. Angie says:

    I do hope the weather improves over there for you soon Donna, your top image made me shiver!
    I am really looking forward to seeing what you achieve in this border. It does sound as if you have a plan. I think that whatever you plant, the white wall will be a perfect background for them and will show them at their best.
    Is it really been 1 year since your retirement began, that when quick but I hope not too quick for you Donna.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Angie…still 20 degrees below normal but they are calling for a bit of a warm up next week. We keep hearing there will be a warm day or 2 but not happening yet.I do have a few ideas for this garden, now to narrow it all down.

  10. Kris P says:

    Mother Nature can certainly be frustrating! I hope things warm up out there soon and you can venture out into your garden for the March photos of your side garden. I’m impressed that you got sage to bloom inside!

    • Donna says:

      My grow station does work well doesn’t it with that sage blooming. So far we are not having any warm up Kris….so I am not holding out much hope for a thaw enough to photograph any garden in winter without snow still on it.

  11. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    I am so excited to see your plans unfold for the side garden Donna. I love the idea of stone raised beds. I originally was going to “stone in” my raised beds in the Potager but that task escapes me each year. I also cannot wait to see what native plants you choose! I was so especially happy to read you used coconut milk instead of cream!!! Little changes like that are not only healthier for you but make for less miserable lives (of cows). I love cauliflower and will have to try some mashed. My husband and I will roast a whole cauliflower and eat it like popcorn – maybe dipped in some hot spicy mustard, too. I would sprinkle nutritional yeast (instead of cheese) in both your recipes. Also healthier and dairy-free. I especially love your vase composition this week – creative in color and texture. So interesting! I’m thinking you will have some forced branches for us sometime soon. I see it is warming up a little at home. It certainly is warming up here!

  12. Cathy says:

    A lovely post Donna. Even with the snow you still have put together some great photos and a vase too! It does look pretty by your fire. I shall enjoy following all the projects you have planned once your snow melts. I do hope it warms up for you soon, and I admire your positive outlook!

  13. Julie says:

    Oh Donna you do have a lot of snow – I only see snow like that on our holidays in the French Alps. I have really enjoyed reading about your garden, recipes, birds and of course your vase – you are doing so well to join in when the weather is so bad! What a good idea to revisit material you already had in the house – it looks lovely in that vase by the fire.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks so much Julie….I would love to just see snow in the Alps…I may need to rethink winter’s here if this continues. It has been interesting trying to make vases this winter….I will be glad for some new spring blooms.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Another very interesting post with beautiful photos. I really enjoyed reading about your garden and your plans for it. Your vase of dried material is a really colourful addition to your hearth. It has been snowing here but it hasn’t lain at all so I was able to nip out into the garden and find a few buds to fill a wee vase with 🙂

  15. Judith@Lavender Cottage says:

    Every year I think I must photograph each garden through the seasons and always forget. I like your side garden, it reminds of mine in the early stages and then I just took out the whole slope of grass and put in more plants.
    Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday Donna.

    • Donna says:

      I found I need to take more detailed pics myself to help with figuring out what is growing….all those plans that get thrown to the side when our garden blooms Judith.

  16. Andrea says:

    Hi Donna, congratulations on your happy retirement, doing only what you want to do! Regarding you posts, i am a bit confused as it is in deep snow at the beginning, but your side garden is so alive with plants! So what season are you really in now? Sometimes i get difficulty reading long posts, so please bear with me, hehe!

    • Donna says:

      We are in winter Andrea. The pictures of the side garden are from last year in spring, summer and fall as I highlight that garden. It is currently under 4 ft of snow.

  17. EG CameraGirl says:

    It has been a very cold winter here north of Toronto too. For sure my gardens are covered in snow and really hoping it thaws gradually so that we don’t have too much flooding!

  18. Christina says:

    Dear Donna, yikes, you really do have a lot of snow! And temperatures between 15 to 25 degrees below average that is not peanuts either! I guess that is what you truly can really call a hard winter, but you seem to face it with braveness and courage.
    Regarding you side yard: I think there are many lovely (that dark red daylily is just plain gorgeous!) and interesting plants already in it and once you get to work it over, it will be awesome. Weeding, edging and mulching will do the trick :-)! Wishing you that you get a lot of enjoyment out of it this year and even more so that spring comes to you soon!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

  19. Susan Clark says:

    I’m in awe of all the information you have packed into this post. I wish I was a more knowledgeable bird watcher. I enjoying seeing them, love listening to them and often talk to them but more often than not have to consult my guide to find a name for them. Looking forward to seeing what you will be starting from seed. With a blank slate as far as flowers are concerned I’m having trouble narrowing my choices.

    • Donna says:

      It has taken a few years to finally identify the birds here….I have so many flowers I want to grow, I may be overwhelming myself before I start.

  20. Jean says:

    Isn’t it nice to have February behind us? It seems to have set records for cold all over the northeast. In my area, we didn’t have any record-breaking low temperatures, just below-average cold day after day after day. With March, the temperatures have come up into the 20s and even low 30s, and they are promising us a brief visit to the forties tomorrow. I may have to get out my shorts! 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Our promise of 40 did not materialize and it is still 20 degrees below zero….March needs to launch February cold and winter….hope you are getting better weather.

  21. Jennifer says:

    I bet that first year of retirement flew by Donna. Our weather has been very much like yours- infact we had more snow today. I am so sick of the cold! Who wants to go out when it is so miserable!
    Your blooming sage made me wonder about mine. I have been leaving it inside my cold frame and so far it always comes back. I wonder if it will this year with all this extreme cold? Time will tell.
    I checked out the cauliflower cheese recipe. No wonder it tastes good with cheese and cream in it! I’d like to try it though. I bet it is wonderful. I am sure I will burn off the calories just trying to stay warm. LOL!

    • Donna says:

      It did fly by Jennifer. We actually didn’t use cream…the coconut milk was creamy enough and healthier…my sage is in my zone 5 garden but usually covered with snow so it seems to come back and bloom every year.

  22. Nadezda says:

    I really like your recipe with mashed cauliflower, will cook on weekend!
    Saying of dry bouquets do you dry some flowers in fall for winter bouquets? I love red-twig dogwood and seeds.

    • Donna says:

      Hope you enjoy the cauliflower Nadezda….I actually do not dry them on purpose, but in the course of leaving them in vases from late fall, they dry naturally in winter.

  23. Jason says:

    We also have an old silver maple in our back garden. It seems to be a tree with a bad reputation (voracious roots), but I am fond of ours. I like the smaller leaves and the dappled shade they give, as well as the spring flowers and the samaras.

  24. Rose says:

    I have been thinking the same thing this winter, Donna, that next year I need to plan a week or two somewhere warm. Well, actually, we did get away for a week, going to Dallas to see our new grandson, but it was cold there, too! Winter is such a great time to think and plan for new changes in the garden. I have one area where I really want to do a makeover, too, and you have reminded me that edging all my garden beds needs to move to the top of my to-do list this year. I didn’t even know sage would bloom–so pretty!

    • Donna says:

      That was awful how much of the south was cold and snowy….sage is gorgeous when it blooms in my garden in late spring….that is if the poor plants thaw out. Thank goodness for all the snow covering the garden during this extreme cold.

    • Donna says:

      It is a great way to learn about an area…Lucy will be doing a Stuck Foot in March, May and August around the 21st. I think my patience will be tested as we wait for snow to leave completely.

  25. Lucy Corrander says:

    I remember you retiring – and your apprehensions at the time. Hope it is mostly ok even if it’s odd being hemmed in by snow and not needing to work out how to travel safely. I imagine it must be exciting to drive through a lovely snowy landscape despite the difficulties.

    Your silver Maple in the Frost is very, very beautiful.

    • Donna says:

      It has been wonderful being retired Lucy! It is much more lovely to see the snow and not have to trudge through it to work. Glad you liked the maple in ice crystals…hopefully by next month we will be in the swing of spring….

  26. debsgarden says:

    Donna, thank you for the tomato soup recipe! I love this kind of soup and look forward to making it.

    The photo of your gazebo is amazing. I see stories on the news about the record snowfalls in the Northeast, and it is beyond my comprehension how one deals with that…If i lived there, I guess I would have to learn!

    I hope you will enjoy your retirement and appreciate all the blessings, great and small, that each day brings. How wonderful to have a garden! I know you are looking forward to working in it once spring arrives. How true, a garden is never finished! I have been developing my garden since 1990, and I feel like I just got started.

    • Donna says:

      So glad you enjoyed the post Deb, and enjoy that soup. This has been a difficult winter even for us as we don’t see this much snow staying on the ground all at once or this extreme cold lasting now for almost 2 months….not sure even I can handle it at times. Retirement has been wonderful and to say I am itching to get out in the garden is an understatement. It will be weeks still before I can even see the ground. Sigh….

  27. nicole says:

    Goodness where do I begin!!! Those recipes first off look absolutely amazing! And I can not wait to see how all of your side yard garden plans work out friend! I hear you about this winter….my goodness…we have really been feeling the need to get outside! Warm weather is on the way and I can’t wait!! I actually think I heard the birds singing it is spring today! Happy weekend to you Donna!! Nicole xoxo

    • Donna says:

      I am actually hoping for a bit more of a warm up…normal temps in the 40s would be nice but that is not happening. No singing birds here yet, but I will hope they are moving north…Enjoy your week ahead Nicole!

  28. Indie says:

    I find that side yard gardens are always harder to plan and a little more awkward of a space. I love all those alliums and those daylilies! They do have several cultivars of sterile butterfly bushes now if you want to replace yours. I know they aren’t native, but I do love how the butterfly bushes attract so many critters. The hoar frost is beautiful! I can’t wait for spring to arrive, though, as well – I’m ready to be rid of the snow and cold!

    • Donna says:

      I had thought about sterile ones Indie, but in looking back, I found that I have had much more critter activity and visits since I got rid of them and replaced them with native plants. I hardly had butterflies and bees or even hummers visit them…now my monarda and phlox….they barely leave it and many more come to partake. I am ready too for a change in seasons. They are saying this week will be the big shift…crossing my fingers.

  29. Donna says:

    You really are taking advantage of retirement. Like you, I many see the garden again until the end of May. February was our coldest ever recorded and we had the snow to match. I hope you are right and April relents and allows a spring.

    • Donna says:

      They said our average temp in Feb was 9….9, holy cow….our coldest month ever too. I am thankful if it was so cold the snow covered most everything insulating it….so hopefully little garden damage. They are predicting high 30s and 40s this week so that is a change.

  30. Leora says:

    Love looking at your side gardens. Such variety and texture. Makes me remember gardening just a bit. We had a little snow melting today – starting to see some green underneath.

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