Gardens Eye Journal-February 2013


Why does my heart leap at a sunny day in January and my thoughts turn to seed catalogues?  Because it’s in my blood.  ~Colleen Plimpton



Indeed in January here in the snowy regions of the US we do seem to dream of seeds and seed starting soon.  For without plants growing and blooming indoors we have little else to give us our gardening fix.

Interestingly Cheryl@gardenhood posed some questions about gardening: how we know we are a gardener and when does a person become a gardener?  Like IMG_0905the quote above I do believe gardening is in your blood.  You are hard wired with this call to the soil.  You have someone who has passed it on to you even if you never met them.  Then this thing called gardening is nurtured by others.  You are drawn to dirt, live for the smell of it.  You are drawn to fields of wildflowers and you are forever picking them.  Even when others call them weeds you discount these people as unbelievers.   You long to climb trees and hug their bark and branches.

Eventually you find ways to continue the call by assisting others with watering, weeding or even growing a few seeds.  Eventually the call is so strong in your blood you are obsessed as you read about flowers and plants, surround yourself inside and outside with these living breathing green beings in pots.  You subscribe to magazines, buy books, and when you could you watch every single TV show about gardening until you must take the plunge and begin your own patch.  It is not something you will ever escape and let’s face it you never really want to be released.

As I start my garden journal for January, I will be joining in with other addicted gardeners and their memes:  Garden Bloggers Harvest Day (GBHD)@The Gardening Blog on the 5th, Best and Worst of My Garden@Bumble Lush,  Salad Days@Veg Plotting on the 4th Friday of the month, First Views@Town Mouse & Country Mouse and End of Month View with Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog.



Weather Report

My head is spinning after this crazy winter we had in January.  We started with a nice base of snow from December, but by mid month we had a IMG_0874warm up into the low 60s.  The snow was gone leaving behind puddles.  After a few days of spring like weather, the lake snows were back dumping 2 more feet of snow with below zero frigid cold.  A week later though we were back to the 50s with steady 50 mile an hour winds, ice and more snow.  I prefer the garden remain under cover of snow as it is more protected from the bone chilling temps.

The sky was most unusual in January as I saw a few sunrises with this intense gold color, which is so very unique.  And I was even able to see the Full Wolf Moon rising in January.  It was a cold moon as it came up through the trees low on the horizon illuminating the frozen night.



What’s Growing

jan weather

Here’s the progression of the back garden views that take you through the snow and thaws of January starting from top left to ending bottom right.




This snowdrop was growing under 4 feet of snow and showed itself in the first January thaw.




The trees were whipping around like plumes of grass on the wind when the raging winds descended at the end of January.  Here is a shot of the trees during our last thaw.  The blunt edges of the large ash look so strange, but we know that after watching these trees get tossed around like paper it was best to take the top off as in all likelihood it would have snapped and come crashing down.

I am joining in with Loose and Leafy’s Tree Following meme as I continue to assess my ash trees through the seasons.



Seeds/Herbs/House Plants

The herbs are doing fine, the lettuces are growing nicely indoors for a little treat and one amaryllis is open.  Oh and the Christmas cactus blooms on.  Even the ones at work are blooming again after they bloomed in early November.



Veg Beds


The outdoor experiment hasn’t changed and has made it through the snow and cold.  I can’t wait for a warm up soon so I can get early lettuce and carrots.  I am just beginning my plans for the 4 veg beds and various grow bags.  I am adding many new veggies this year and will fill you in soon on all the plans.





The meadow and pond are under snow although both were freed of their icy bonds during the first thaw in mid January.











I put up 2 suet feeders.  One protected for small birds.  Those prints look like a rabbit is around again.  The stars are a Christmas gift from a friend that we hung on the viburnum out back for the birds.

This cute little female downy woodpecker, on the suet feeder for larger birds, stops by often.  She has recently brought a male with her, and they make a cute couple around the garden.  But most other birds are still keeping away.  Maybe because of the Sharpie who continues to fly about looking for a meal, or maybe because it is too cold and snowy.


image_previewI hope we see more birds come around as the GBBC is happening soon.  It is an international event this year.  Check it out and join in.


There is a group of 5 deer that have joined together, and we see them frequently moving about.  Just this past weekend, we found the 3 largest doe of the group inside the fence out back at 2 in the morning.



Plans for the garden in 2013

Here’s a sneak peak of the garden projects coming in 2013.  I won’t get to start until April due to our spring warm up arriving then.   I will do some assessing once the snow finally melts and show you the areas I am talking about.  Some of these are normal yearly chores I never seem to get to, but this year I hope to get into a habit of doing these with some help from my reluctant garden helper.

  • take care of the rain garden on the left; dig it out further into the grass area where it floods
  • ash trees; cut down and replace more
  • edge, weed and amend all beds
  • meadow; continue to get rid of invasive weeds and add more native plants
  • plan for more natives; look for non-natives that are not thriving and replace them
  • need  a plan for more evergreens in beds in back
  • left side of fence; clean up and design it a bit more; replace willow fencing that is caved in and beyond repair
  • divide bulbs, irises and other perennials in need
  • new herb gardens
  • veg garden plan; oh that will keep for another post when we are closer to spring



Gardens Eye Verse

So as January has ended, let’s see if February is typical this year.  I think it may be a bit warmer that means we will not be in the 20s or sub zero temps as we usually are.  I am sure we will have a few more feet of snow but I do hope March warms and we have a lovely spring.

Check below for the winners of the garden books.  Oh and my Seasonal Celebrations meme is less than a month away.  There is more information about the meme near the end of the post….for now enjoy a bit of winter poetry.



Winter blew in with gusts of white,

swallowing whole everything in sight.

Twigs and branches with icicles hung,

drifted dunes from which silence is sung.

Donna Donabella


“Grow Your Blog” Party Winners


As part of the Grow Your Blog post I had a giveaway of 10 garden books.  Those who commented were put into a random drawing and here are the winners.  Please visit their blogs as they are all wonderful.  Thank you for all who visited for the first time, and those who visit often.  Your comments and support are so wonderful, and I greatly appreciate all of you.  I also wish to thank Vicki@2 Bags Full for throwing the party.




Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person–Susan Troccolo@Life-Change-Compost

The Wildflower Meadow:  A Gardener’s Guide–Di@Cottage Wishes

Botany for Gardeners (3rd edition)–Carolyn@Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

I Garden:  Urban Style–Carolyn@This Grandmother’s Garden

High-Impact Low-Carbon Gardening–Janet@The Queen of Seaford

Small Space Gardening–Beth@E. Lizard Breath Speaks

Step-By-Step Successful Gardening–Janet@Plantalicious

Edible Landscaping–Pam@Pam’s English Cottage Garden

Garden Ideas:  Creative Design Solutions–Beth@Beyond the Garden Gate

Seeing Trees–Jocelyn@Just a Little Southern Hospitality


Come Join Us:

Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time.  I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether spring or fall or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of winter here in the North and spring in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.

The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the equinox (the 20th of March).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create).  The badges here can be used in your post.   So won’t you join in the celebration!!


Next up on the blog:  Next Monday brings us another Simply The Best Herb just in time for GBBD.  Then I will have a great garden book review mid-month with a seed giveaway.   At the end of February is a Wildflower Tale featuring spiderwort.   Spring is getting closer and closer, and Seasonal Celebrations will be here starting with a post on March 1st.

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.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now.

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

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, 2010-2013.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.







  1. Alistair says:

    Hi Donna, (Even when others call them weeds) Reminded me when we first had a house with a garden. We were 23yrs old so you know how long ago that was. In the front garden I was tending the plants, tidying the borders. The next door neighbour came in about and I said I am not sure what these small pink flowers are – she said – I think they are weeds. I remember my face going red, told Myra and we pulled them out. Your Snowdrops are out, ours are just peeking through the ground. I see you have been tidying up the trees, I had to remove a large Sycamore in December as it was loosening and starting to sway dangerously.

    • Donna says:

      Trees can be scary as they start to die. The large ash we cut the top off of has carpenter ants. There is another beetle coming to our area that will kill all the ash so we are taking them down bit by bit and replacing them. My garden will change dramatically in the next 5-15 years. My snowdrops in on small patch surprised me with an early bloom but they are tucked under the snow now and will be for another month. I hope to see more in March when the snow melts. Another foot this weekend and another foot just today.

  2. Donna says:

    Reading your post is always like reading a magazine with article after article. The first article made me think a bit. I too had those that passed on gardening (large scale on an estate – my grandfather) so maybe that is why I design as I do. I do believe many have the obsession as you mention. I look at gardening so differently than most in that it encompasses where we live to a point. It is all around us and where and how we live in a greater sense of the word, like akin to the Garden of Eden in a way. Something greater than us, picking up where others left off and something we take care of for such a short period of time to leave to others as caretakers in the future.

    • Donna says:

      What a beautiful way to look at gardening and the land around us Donna…it is our patch of earth to take care of and pass on isn’t it.

  3. Christy says:

    Hi Donna….First I love your spring count-down! I really enjoyed this post. In my opinion the quote by Colleen Plimpton says it all. My dad was a gardener and I think I got my love for gardening from him. It looks like you have quite a few plans for this year….and if you’re like me I bet you can’t wait to get started. I like your meadow and pond. We have a meadow, but no pond, although my husband wants to dig one. I’m not sure about that yet!

    • Donna says:

      Thank you Christy. I try to take stock of the areas around the gardens once a month. The pond is situated off the patio so it is close enough to really enjoy. I has a small waterfall but no fish…just natural critters like frogs and toads. Less upkeep for us. It is work to keep it up but not tons of work. My husband treats it like his old aquarium and keeps it filled and cleaned. If your husband wants to take care of it then go for it I say. You will not be disappointed by the wildlife you will enjoy. Ours looks natural with no lip so it is easier to plant along and around it too. Nice to hear of another meadow person. I love mine.

  4. HolleyGarden says:

    It will soon be warm enough to start doing that ‘to-do’ list! How fun for you that you have carrots and lettuce all ready – early vegetables will be thrilling to eat! And a snowdrop! I just love when the bulbs start blooming. It really feels like spring then to me, even if it gets cold again.

    • Donna says:

      The carrots and lettuce have been growing since November on my patio in grow bags under a row cover. I am amazed that they have stayed somewhat dormant but alive in the many feet of snow and below zero cold. I can’t wait for March and a warm up that we are supposed to get to see those veggies grow and many of the bulbs lurking below the snow.

  5. Lavender Cottage says:

    Hi Donna
    Funny how you said we get our love of gardening from someone, even if we don’t know who they are and that is my case for my parents and grandparents were not gardeners. I think it came from England though via genes.
    Our weather has been the same as yours and on that one balmy day, the goldfish in the pond could be seen close to the surface.
    My plans for this year are to try more veggies in containers and I like that there are varieties available for this purpose.
    I enjoyed this post, it’s like hanging over the fence chatting about our gardens with you.

    • Donna says:

      How wonderful Judith to think of your gardening genes from England. How wonderful for your goldfish to get a warm up. I grow some veggies in containers but have had more luck in grow bags. They breath and drain better and even fold up when you are done with them. So glad you enjoyed our talk over the picket fence…come anytime and we can have tea and a chat.

    • Donna says:

      Maybe Esther….I had not watered them and one was already growing after being kept in a dark spot waiting to be planted…so I planted both and only one is growing…

  6. pbm says:

    Your journal entry is packed with many interesting and fun things today, so much appreciated. Thanks for the reminder about GBBC. Last year was my first time participating and it was a rewarding experience.

  7. PlantPostings says:

    How nice that you have the grow bags going and so many seedlings starting! I felt like I was reading about myself as you described “the gardener” at the beginning of your post. I think it’s in my blood from all my farmer ancestors. The Super Bowl ad about farmers had me teary because it made me think of all my grandparents and great-grandparents and the generations before them. I’ll always love to dig in the dirt. 😉

    • Donna says:

      Beth what a fabulous legacy you have of farming and living off the land. That Paul Harvey ad said it all about the small farmers around this country.

  8. Martin J Robertson says:

    Give me a break. Oh, that just what you most impressively, most emphatically, and most definitely just did. Please accept my profound appreciation. We are in most fondly flowering agreement.

    Spring is acomen. I’ll be following your advice. And will be sharing an assessment wherever it leads and whatever happens.

    Best regards.

  9. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    I love the grow bags – they are doing so well as I can relate to your temperatures. I can’t wait to see what veggies you are planting. I just ordered all my seeds yesterday. I don’t dare make a list of the things I want to do in the garden – I think I would be overwhelmed. Many times I just go out there and ask my garden, what do you want me to do today? And it answers. Donna, we are alike! I have the same suet feeder. I noticed today the bunny snipped off my little azalea blooms. I hope it will bounce back come spring.

    • Donna says:

      Kathy we are so alike. I have had to cover my azaleas with bird netting in winter because the rabbits go at them. I love the idea of asking the garden. While I make a list, I do the same thing subconsciously which is why so many things are still on the list. I will have a list soon of the veggies I am growing. Some new ones too. I hope I might be able to visit your gardens and see that lovely potager in the near future…

  10. Sheila says:

    Donna, so good to read your blog again! Seeing the snow brings back memories of Michigan. The weather has been weird in NC, too, with many very warm spells in the 70s where it felt much like spring. Early daffodils are already in bloom in places! I so agree that gardening is in the blood …

    • Donna says:

      How wonderful to have you visiting Sheila. I have missed you. We had 2 more feet of snow here so no spring for us yet. I am hoping this is the last storm. I so want to see some flowers again.

  11. The Sage Butterfly says:

    Like you, I think a gardener is deeply attracted to nature, to the soil. And I wish we had as much snow as you because I think the plants do better in the cold with a little snow cover. Despite the winter and its severity, your garden looks lovely. That gazebo stands tall and lovely and your snowdrops are white and beautiful.

  12. Alberto says:

    Hi Donna! You seem to be desperately under snow, aren’t you? I’m not jealous! 😉
    I love the picture of the snowy meadow, i guess that’s the piece of your garden I love most, I’d really like to have a meadow like yours one day.

    • Donna says:

      Oh Alberto how sweet of you to say so..I think the meadow is my favorite too but I can’t tell the rest of the garden that. We had 2 more feet of snow and are up to 12 feet so far this winter but only the last 2 feet remain. Maybe this will be the last of it.

  13. Grace Peterson says:

    Brrr… seeing your photos makes me shiver. I hope the seed catalogs are keeping you warm. It’s sweet that you’re feeding the birds. I’ll have to go check my snowdrops. Aren’t they such tenacious little things? Take care dear friend.

    • Donna says:

      It is cold Grace my friend…but we are used to it…that is why I do not do well in really hot weather. I can’t wait for the winter to end and to see my friends of the earth and sky…the woodpeckers keep visiting daily.

  14. Beth says:

    Hi Donna, Your giveaway is so generous, and I am blessed to have been one of the winners. Thank you!
    Despite the cold you have a lot going on in your garden. Good for you to have foresight to grow some vegs. in bags. Looks like it is working out well. You have a lot of garden plans to institute and I wish you well in accomplishing your tasks! Regardless, you have a wonderful garden and I know you will enjoy it very much, for you are definitely a GARDENER!!!

  15. Claire says:

    You are so right about gardening being in your blood. I only really became obsessed with gardening as I hit 40 but I feel it somehow connects me to my family members who have also gardened. My mum likes to tell me how to grow sweet peas the same way as her father – apparently he dug a trench and put potato peelings in and the flowers were marvellous! Another great quote, by the way.

  16. Loredana Donovan says:

    Hi Donna, I love that January sunrise. What a deep gold color, beautiful. I enjoyed your poem, too, especially the last line. I have lots of indoor plants that I love taking care of–it’s been too cold to go out much in nature. We expect another big snow storm, which you will probably get, too. Stay safe and warm! 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Hope all is well since the snow storm….so glad you enjoyed the poem…I really loved the rich gold color of that morning sunrise too!!

  17. debsgarden says:

    I am freezing while looking at your pictures! As usual it is damp and dreary here, cold to my bones, but all we need is sunshine to change my whole demeanor. Signs of spring are everywhere. I have a list of projects, too, but i think yours is longer!

  18. Country Mouse says:

    Yes, sharing is part of the joy of gardening to be sure. I’ve driven plants to happy people in the past few weeks. I’m not great at gift giving out side of that though! Our weather here has been flipping between summer and winter. Not enough rain! I enjoy planning – and reading your plans too – thanks for your post!

    • Donna says:

      So glad you could visit and I look forward to seeing more of your garden transformations…here’s to a bit more rain for you and warmer weather.

  19. Tootsie says:

    Oh I am so happy you linked in today and shared with my little party! I love seeing the tips, tricks and inspiring photos everyone has to share! I am getting ready for spring to pop and seeing everyone’s shares always inspires me! I hope you will link in again very soon and flaunt with me and the others again!
    I am sharing this post with the Tootsie Time Facebook page… if you haven’t already “liked” it…please do so if you wish!
    hugs from Alberta Canada!

    Until Next Time… Happy Gardening!

    ¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

  20. VP says:

    Hi Donna – I like the look of your vegetable experiment and the encouraging news you’ll be harvesting some salad soon. I’ve just invented a new recipe using my windowsill crops – it’s great to have some fresh, home grown food at this time of the year isn’t it?

    • Donna says:

      It sure is great to have something we have grown all seasons…I hope to install a cold frame one of these years so I can have even more.

    • Donna says:

      Oh I agree Dee we can learn to love the soil…but I will bet that if we have gardeners in our family we will love it sooner…at least some of us 🙂

    • Donna says:

      She sure was determined to bloom…I think spring will be here soon as well even with all our snow…supposed to be a bit warmer March…I just hope April stays warm not like last year.

  21. Janet, The Queen of Seaford says:

    We are hard wired to garden, or to appreciate nature. I could shop a garden center all day long and not get tired, but go to the department store with one of the kids who has to try on every item she sees…..ugh! I do love the time with her, but I feel every moment standing outside the dressing room.
    Like your list of what you plan on doing this coming year in the garden. If I can get mine mulched I will be happy.

  22. Jean says:

    Donna, At first I was bowled over by the ambition of that long list of things you plan to accomplish in 2013. But then I remembered that you are retiring in 2013 and are looking forward to long days of uninterrupted gardening time. I am already working on my ambitious list for 2014 :-).

    • Donna says:

      My superintendent is trying to get me to stay for 2 more years…oh my no way….I have flirted with one year for a steep price but I fear the steep price would be mine and my plans….I do hope I can get to half of my list this year with the work load that has suddenly come onto my plate!

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