Gardens Eye Journal-November 2012

The sweet calm sunshine of October, now
Warms the low spot; upon its grassy mould
The purple oak-leaf falls; the birchen bough
Drops its bright spoil like arrow-heads of gold.

William Cullen Bryant

Don’t be fooled by these lovely cosmos.  They have been gone since mid-October when we had our only freeze (no frosts) so far this fall.  October has been spectacular, not so much November.  As Hurricane Sandy hit, the cold front swooped in too.  Now we have highs of 40 and lows in the 20s.  That will end anything blooming for sure in the garden.  And with the cold comes the dark as the clocks have just been turned back one hour. So I will be starting my daily rides to and from work in the dark for the next 2 months.  Once the winter solstice is here I can see light again.  But until then, I will feel like I am in a dark tunnel longing for light.

And with the end of October in the garden, it is time to see how things have progressed in my garden as fall is now halfway through its cycle.  I will be joining several other gardener’s memes with this journal post:  Walk in Garden@This Grandmother’s GardenFirst View@Town Mouse & Country MouseGarden Bloggers Harvest Day (GBHD)@The Gardening BlogBest and Worst of My Garden@Bumble Lush,  Salad Days@Veg Plotting on the 4th Friday of the month and End of Month View with Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog.


Weather Report

October continued the glorious fall weather of sun mixed with some rain; highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s and 50s.  We even had some days in the 70s.  And because of this glorious weather, I was able to get many chores done including planting hundreds of bulbs especially alliums and snowdrops.  But that all shifted dramatically this past week when we were jolted back to reality and our normal later fall weather of gray cold raw days barely topping 40.  I am hoping this is just a temporary state and that we will quickly get back to highs in the 50s.

While many places  had lots of rain, we had dribs and drabs throughout the month totally 4.5 inches.  But the steady rain and cooler temps have made many plants happy, while others are taking heed to head below ground and wait for warmer times.  I must say though we are having incredible sunrises as the colors change from orange, purple, red and gold.


What’s Growing

Back Gardens


I thought I would show the back gardens from over the left fence.  This is a view I seldom think to show.  The pond and patio are to the right of the arch.  The vegetable beds are on the far right side where that clump of yellow helianthus can be seen.  This scene was early October before the leaves changed and fell within 2 weeks time.



This view takes us a little farther down the fence toward the back where the meadow is just over the fence behind the pergola.  The red twig dogwoods are showing their splendid bark.  The flowers slowing their blooming this early in October.  You can see one of the pickets in the middle of the fence is broken.  We think it was caused by a deer jumping the fence in haste one day.



This view has me turning back toward the house and looking over the fence toward the pond.  You can just see the cattails straight across on the far side.



As I turn completely back to face the house, you can see the shade garden at the back of the house.  Here we can also see the splendid oak leaf hydrangea.



Now we have walked to the end of the fence and we turn to view the gate that sits at an angle to the corner of the house.  This small garden is the deer proof garden with lavender, shasta daisies, echinacea and alliums.  Looking toward the side of the house we can see the walled garden.  As you can see the back gardens really need to edged again, but that will be one of the spring projects.





The hostas were still growing and flowering until the mid month freeze.  I do love the way they fade, paper thin leaves almost transparent like frozen lettuce.  I only grow hostas in the back garden to protect them from the foraging deer.  But my poor picket fence is no match for the deer.



This is the new Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks’.  It had one bloom and didn’t grow much but boy what a bloom.  I hope it will overwinter and grow more next year.  I may need to move it to a sunnier spot.




 The gaillardias have sprung back after the freeze and this red one in the front garden continues to bloom away.



I wait all year for the Chocolate Joe,  Ageratina altissima, to bloom in September and October.  Isn’t it gorgeous.  Pollinators love it and apparently a spider has made a home here too.  This Joe grows in dry sun and has never seeded itself.





The pond in October was beautiful and the frogs enjoyed it thoroughly as they hung out and chilled.  I really need to take lessons from the frogs especially this year’s frogs.  The mellowest I have seen yet.  I really like it when the leaves start to settle in and around the pond.  The lily pads regrew after their infestation of aphids in summer and are just beginning to fade in cold November.  And yes the waterfall is still going.  We have not taken out the pump for winter yet.



As you can see the meadow is long done with blooming, but the colors of the trees behind and beside it set off the fading flowers.  With the removal of the teasel, I was able to add helenium, joe pye, butterfly weed, milkweed, swamp milkweed, helianthus, northern sea oats, baptisia all from the garden.  And I did a bit of seeding as well for yarrow, gaillardia and a few other natives.  Unfortunately the teasel has continued to fill right back in, but we are determined to pull it early this spring and not let it even set flowers.



Veg Beds Update

So we finally installed another raised bed.  We were going to build it from bricks, but instead put in a matching raised bed.  We cleared the area (top left), then built the bed and dug it in (bottom left).  Once it was filled and ready we decided to make it our summer veg bed with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and okra.  And the current tomato bed has become the garlic/onion bed.  Here you can see I planted 60 cloves of Tuscan and Siberian hardneck garlic in late October.  Then in spring onions will go in too.

We also dug out the top third of the soil, and added lots of compost to ready all the beds for spring planting.  Lastly we covered them all with shredded leaf mulch.  Below you can see the grow bags were still producing greens and carrots as was the bean bed producing a bit until the freeze.



 Here’s the salad we made from the last of the beet greens, lettuces and nasturtiums flowers that were growing strong even after the freeze.


Indoor Herbs/Seeds


The seed growing station with grow lights an heat mats is back on for the herbs I brought inside.  You can see rosemary, parsley, basil, cilantro and white sage my annual herbs grown this summer.  There is also lemon balm and perennial sage.



Then we have chives, thyme, oregano and mint I dug up from the garden, and then potted up for growing indoors as well.  I am hoping some grow a bit better than they have.  I think a bit of fertilizer will help them adjust.  I enjoy having the herbs growing indoors for cooking all winter.





The critters were plentiful in October.  Deer made a reappearance.  The bees were still buzzing although they were slowing down.  We dug up this big toad accidentally and promptly buried him.  He knew we were headed for a freeze as we found him in early October which is most unusual.  The snakes were very active through most of October.  Even the fox made an appearance sporting a furrier coat.  Cardinals visited and feasted on the helianthus seed heads.  And you can see the the frogs were relaxing still in the pond.  We even had a monarch stop by for a quick nip of some aster nectar on 10/20.  I was worried he was here so late, and hope he found safety from the hurricane.



Gardens Eye Verse

Well we come to the end of another month and most probably the end of the garden except for some foliage that will remain.  So I may be putting the journal to bed until spring.  Of course I plan to grow some greens indoors from seed, dream of new projects and wax poetic about this year’s garden.  I leave you with a couple of poems that describe October fall through my senses.  Hope you enjoy them!


Rustling leaves like sounds of water rushing past,

Weary and worn mature colors of age.

Stretching, straining to hold on,

Before winter calls them to slumber.

Brown and tattered mere memories.

Donna Donabella



What are the sounds, the smells of fall?

Do you remember them one and all-

The scent of the leaves beginning to fall,

The howl of chill winds and mournful calls.

The crow’s lonesome caw adrift on the wing,

Has me dreaming already of flowers in spring.

Donna Donabella


Don’t forget that December 1st marks the next installment of Seasonal Celebrations/Garden Lessons Learned.  Click the link to learn more.  Beth@PlantPostings will be wrapping up this past season with lessons we have learned in our gardens, and I will be setting the stage for next season’s celebrations (winter up N and summer down S of the equator).

You do need to be a garden blogger to join in Season Celebrations.  Any blogger is welcome.  Write a poem, post your favorite pictures and prose that tells why you love this season.  What do you love to do in this upcoming season?  What holidays or rituals make it a wonderful season for you?  How does your garden grow and what favorite plants will be blooming?  I hope you will be joining us.  Just create a post and link in with both or one of us between December 1st and the 20th, and around the 21st we will reveal those lessons and celebrations.


Next up on the blog:  Next week I will have an early Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post.  Not sure what I will be sharing as the cold weather has settled in.  And then I have another favorite, new Garden Book to share.  Towards the end of the month, I will share another favorite native plant.

I will be 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.

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

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. The next one will be on the 13th.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.




  1. Christina says:

    Soooo cold already! But lots still looking very beautiful in your garden. Best of all I love the autumn colour of the trees. We always love most what we don’t have! I am watching the trees slowly loose their leaves, some turn yellow before doing so, but nothing spectacular. Christina

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Christina…not sure if I would give up the fall colors for more warmth…maybe just a little less snow. Warm this weekend in the 70s…crazy weather.

  2. catmint says:

    as christina said, still looking beautiful. But what I love, is when the flowering stops, you’ll still have the gorgeous restful pond, and the wonderful vibrant autumn (fall) foliage on the trees. I look forward to seeing your wildflower meadow when spring comes. I hope you feel OK Donna, and not too much like you’re in a dark tunnel, that does not sound very pleasant!

    • Donna says:

      Maybe once the holidays are over I can get some rest from work…the pond in 4 seasons is a wonder and helps me get through the winter. The meadow will awaken in April with daffodils and a few wildflowers. It really takes off in May.

  3. Cathy says:

    Lovely words Donna, especially the “crow’s lonesome caw”… We have crows in our garden at the moment – they sit at the top of a tall conifer and “sing” to me while I have my morning coffee. Then they disappear until the next morning!

  4. Mary Pellerito says:

    I, too, will be driving to and from work in the dark. I will only be home when it is dark during the week. I guess I will need to take photos on the weekends. Do lights and heat mats really keep your basil alive inside? I have never had any luck keeping basil alive indoors.

    • Donna says:

      I don’t have enough direct light through the windows in a warm spot to keep any herbs alive so this has worked the best for me.

      Mary I had a hard time growing basil from seed indoors and then keeping it alive, but I pulled some from the garden. We shall see how it does…so far they are putting on new shoots. The other herbs seem to do just fine with the lights and mats.

  5. Randy Hyden says:

    I was sort of glad to see the time change back to normal standard time. The extensions added a few years ago really made it very dark in the mornings, but of course I could still look over the garden once I got home, which wan`t be the case now. To me, your gardens look great for this time of Fall and 1500k miles northeast of me! I`m sure Fall there is spectacular.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Randy…we are having a long, spectacular fall this year…it helps as we bear the cold…although this weekend has been in the 70s…getting the southerly flow of warm air our way.

  6. HolleyGarden says:

    I hate when winter’s short days come, and then the time switches back, and everything seems to be bathed in dark for so long. I enjoyed the long views of your garden, and am impressed with your vegetables! That salad looks so pretty. I want to add some more raised beds, too. I think raised beds for vegetables is the easiest way to go – at least, it has been for me. I enjoyed seeing the pic of the fox, not so much the snake!

  7. Beth says:

    Hi Donna, You had a lot going on in October. I love the pond, the meadow, the Joe Pye weed and your lovely vegetables, herbs, and salad! Hope you can enjoy the garden’s period of rest now. Take care, Beth

  8. Helen/patientgardener says:

    Hi – I did enjoy the tour of your garden although I was a little confused at first as to whether you were standing in your neighbours garden! I have always fancied a white picket fence probably saw too many Doris Day films when I was younger but they arent the thing here in the UK.

    SInce our clocks went back I am driving to work in the daylight but coming home in the dark. It is depressing and makes the week seem long. I cant wait for the winter solstice either.

    • Donna says:

      Sorry Helen as I should have included that important bit of information. yes indeed I was standing in my neighbors yard. The house is abandoned because they could not pay their mortgage. Our land stretches a bit beyond the fence so I don’t feel bad when I walk there.

      I also always wanted a white picket probably from watching all the old movies from the 30s and 40s. So glad you enjoyed the tour.

  9. Island Threads says:

    Donna I really enjoyed the walk around your garden and seeing the long view, seeing how areas relate to each other, you had some beautiful flowers and foliage in October,
    I’m glad sandy wasn’t too bad for you,
    I have just bought some garlic it’s the first time I will be growing it, last year I bought some over wintering onions that are planted in autumn they did very well so I have bought more this autumn and plan planting both alliums in the same bed as you have, Frances

  10. debsgarden says:

    Thanks for a great overview of your garden! You really have a diverse garden with a lot to offer. The photo of the darkening sky above the golden trees is gorgeous! With the time change I also am going and coming home from work in the dark. Today is chilly here, with a high barely into the 60s. Rain is bringing more leaves down. I am not a cold weather person, so when I see the edge of winter coming, I immediately start dreaming of spring!

  11. Janet, The Queen of Seaford says:

    I like seeing the whole tour of your garden. There is something wonderful about a white picket fence. Love how it frames the yard.
    That is one big toad you dug up!! We dug up a small one once, felt bad disturbing them.

    • Donna says:

      I dig up a toad each year it seems Janet. This one was tolerant and promptly went back to sleep once we buried it again. So glad you enjoyed the garden behind the pickets!

  12. PlantPostings says:

    Your posts always inspire me, Donna, and you speak to me. I know the feeling of being in a dark tunnel this time of year. I’d have trouble coping if I didn’t have the holidays to look forward to. I love the shot over the garden fence! What a creative angle and a beautiful view of your garden! And the shot of the golden leaves and autumnal sky is mesmerizing.

    • Donna says:

      Your comments are always so wonderful Beth. I really enjoyed shooting the garden for this post…and that shot of the golden leaves against the blue sky was a fleeting moment I was lucky to capture.

  13. Donna says:

    I am so glad you took the views of the garden from beyond the fence. It put it in context with your neighborhood. I sort of imagined how there were other houses, but never remember seeing them. It makes your native garden all the more important in this community of houses.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Donna for that perspective of my garden and you are so right…Hard to have a native garden here without the fence although the critters have to go through or around it to get to the garden….and they don’t seem to mind…deer have no problems…caught a few in the garden at 1 am this past week…

  14. Debbie / GardenofPossibilities says:

    Donna, You still have a lot of color in your garden. I enjoyed the ‘alternate’ views of your garden. I’m always surprised what I see in my garden when I take photos from a different angle than usual. Your oakleaf hydrangea looks like it has great color. They seem to be having a good year this year, last year mine didn’t turn deep purple before shedding their leaves which was a little disappointing.

    • Donna says:

      Mine will turn bright red in the back yard and more red, purple and a rainbow in the side wall garden…they are so beautiful….it is amazing what you see as you wander and shoot the garden from all vantage points.

  15. b-a-g says:

    As Helen pointed out, you don’t often see white picket fences in the UK. Not sure why because they’re so smart.
    Your EMOV shots capture them very well.

  16. Loredana Donovan says:

    What a lovely post, Donna. You have some beautiful gardens and white picket fence. Love that pergola. The “matchstick” was very vibrant, and the salad looked delicious. Nice poems at the end, too 🙂

  17. RamblingWoods says:

    We had your cold but with days and days of cold rain now moving with some light snow. Most things are gone with the successive cold nights. I try to think about all the things that I want to plant next season when I can’t sleep lately. It takes my mind off of recent events….Thank you for all your help this season…. Michelle

    • Donna says:

      You are so welcome and you know I am happy to share more as you need it. I have lots of volunteers so make a wish list and let me know.

  18. Andrea says:

    That’s a lot of things happening at the same time in your garden. And you have all the happenings well documented, even the sleeping snake. I feel the sadness as the plants are coming to a close, I feel like I’ve also watched them through your seasons, because I have been here since then. How i wish too, that i can also have some share of those vegetable harvests, hahaha! More power to you Donna.

  19. Karin/Southern Meadows says:

    I love how the meadow looks! It is nice to still see green grass too. We have warm season grass which goes dormant as soon as the night temperatures drop. This really makes the garden pallet brown. I am surprised you still have snakes out. I haven’t seen any in a month. Loved your poems!

    • Donna says:

      We were surprised as well but October was unusually warm and the critters hung in there….our grass is the opposite of yours…it goes dormant in summer but is green the other 3 seasons which is why I love it for paths. So nice to hear you enjoyed the poems Karin.

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