Gardens Eye Journal-December 2013

DSCN2817“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Well fall seems to be ending here as we have had a snowy finale to November.  Bitter cold and daily snows have added a blanket of freshness to the already dormant garden.  And with this final farewell it is time to take stock and look back at what I have learned in autumn.  And what better time to link in with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme.   I will be going into more depth about these lessons learned in the months ahead, but for now I will start with one lesson from my veg garden.DSCN2627
This past season I had 4 veg beds growing various veggies.  This was the 4th year growing my own veggies.  And every year I have learned valuable lessons like:
Don’t start growing veggies unless you have time, and know that when you start you will either quit within a season or become addicted adding more every year.  I became addicted even though I have had failures every year.
We have added yet another bed where I hope to grow more squashes.  I have run out of room so we are hoping to grow up in this garden making arches in the new bed out of metal fencing.  It will be a fun experiment.  I’ll certainly be sharing my 2014 veg garden plans in the new year.
But now it is time to look back at my November gardens as I join Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View.




DSCN2766November was a full 3 seasons in one here.  We had classic fall weather.  A bit dry, a bit wet with only 4 inches of rain.  It was cool although the we had a stretch of warm weather in the high 50s and low 60s that allowed me time to do garden chores that had been on hold.  A few blooms were back much to my surprise and spring bulb growth was everywhere.

But by Thanksgiving week, we were in a winter pattern that has not lifted with frigid temps and daily snows.

The morning sunrises have been spectacular but most have occurred on my way driving to work on major highways so there was no way to get any pictures.  I was able to capture this one golden yellow morning recently.



What’s Growing

This is a bit of a joke as in November there is little growing but a scant surprise bloom here or there.  But I thought it would be fun to see some of the gardens.

Front Gardens


 I know it doesn’t look much different, but I assure you I clipped back plants that do not provide seed, and we cleaned up the irises and daylily foliage.  It was a bright, warm day mid month as temps reached into the 60s.  I had to remind myself it wasn’t spring although it certainly felt like it.  I stopped myself a few times from cleaning up more as I would for spring.





Here’s the view from the front door looking down the front walk.




 Here’s one of the echinacea left up in the front walk.  You can see it still has many seeds that the birds are foraging.




Here is a shimmering seed head of clematis ‘Belle of Woking’.  I adore this clematis all year because of her many looks during the seasons.



Back Gardens

nov summersweet

The back gardens are a great source of joy throughout the seasons.  The Summersweet has moved from early November color to its bronzed coloring sporting a white coat.





 Fairy roses are forever suspended in their gorgeous antique look.




 This Knautia was found still growing in a shady protected area beneath my window in the family room.




 Before the snow came, I found this lovely Epimedium growing behind the gazebo.  I love the mottled look of its fall coloring.




 And the St. John’s Wort I planted a year ago is now sporting its fall colors…it is glorious and was such a surprise in November.



Veg Gardens


While the garden is asleep, the garlic bed showed lots of new growth.  They have grown through a few inches of leaf mulch and now snow.





 The sage was still growing beautifully in the front island garden and I cut a bit for Thanksgiving.  The leftover sage was planted in my herb pots in the basement.




nov indoor herbs

Here are the herbs I dug up from the garden in October.  Some are not hardy and I grow them in pots all year.  You can see chives, dill, thyme from cuttings, marjoram, parsley, white sage, rosemary, mint and oregano.  I also have basil bouncing back, chervil, cilantro, tarragon that I hope do well.  And I will probably grow some from seed during the winter.






 The pond has been sleeping under ice and sometimes thawed and full of whip cream like snow.  The meadow is dormant and snow covered.  The birds are greedily eating whatever they can find there.




DSCN2545 The critters have been non-stop especially the birds.  The bluebirds continue to visit the garden, and they are defending the new house from other birds and squirrels.  Anyone who dares sit on top is promptly kicked off by several bluebirds.  I believe the bluebirds are the family that settled in the house and raised a family.  That small family of 4 or 5 are seen almost every day.





 And the woodpeckers are appreciating the suet feeder along with others.



nov birds

There were several groups of migrating birds that descended on the garden in November and quite late in November.  We saw starlings, red wings and robins.  Herons even flew over visiting larger ponds in late November.  Juncos and cardinals visit and forage.



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 November looks like.



This is the view from the window when the first snowstorm hit.   The snow against the pane left an interesting view.




The whole world was white…. and here is the closer view of the white garden now turning white again.



Gardens Eye Verse

The night time in the garden is brighter now as the snow brightens up all the dark corners.  And many nights we watch the deer move from the woods across the road to the woods behind our house.  Our property has been a “deer run” for a very long time, and neither our house or fence has impeded these animals from moving along their path.

As I watched one night I was moved to write the poem below.  Enjoy!



Night Visitor 

She slips out from the shadows
into the moonlit fields.
Gliding, her tawny hide now black 
under the blanket of stars,
she is mindful of her purpose.
Stopping occasionally for a nibble along the fence line,
she melts back to the cover at woods edge
to safety and rest.

Donna Donabella

I hope you will join in now and tell us all about how you are celebrating the new season especially around this very special solstice   Just write a post and leave a comment here with your Seasonal Celebrations link.  

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 winter or summer or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays and celebrations in pictures and words.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of autumn 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 solstice (around the 21st of December).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the solstice 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:  Friday brings the next Seasonal Celebrations.  And then it is December and another Gardens Eye Journal as we look back at the November garden.

I wrote a guest post over at Vision and Verb.  I hope you will visit this wonderful website of women writers.

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 next post on the 10th.

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


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

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. Christina says:

    So many good this in this post. I really don’t envy you the snow, even if it is beautiful for a few days. I also found a Knautia when looking for some blooms for a vase; I always love it when something the same is happening in a garden thousands of miles away. It makes you feel very close Donna.

  2. Laura Bloomsbury says:

    Donna, your last seasonal post is both a celebration and a lament, entwined in your lovely words and images. So many things to comment on – the stasis of roses in antique colours, the beauty of Woking’s seeded clematis and the plant and gardens aspects, outlined with snow. How tame London gardens are by comparison right now – I’m still catching the scent of wallflowers
    p.s. if you cannot reach my blog it’s because there is a widespread block on a server somewhere that has baffled WordPress and frustrated bloggers for over a week!

    • Donna says:

      Laura how very frustrating not being able to get to your blog for so long. I had wondered what had happened.

      I love how London gardens go on and on for so long…so glad you really enjoyed the post!!

  3. Cathy says:

    The snowy images are lovely! Glad you had the right weather to tidy up before it arrived. I also have St John’s Wort in my garden, but it has never turned such a lovely colour for me – very pretty. Great pictures of the birds too.

    • Donna says:

      This is a native St John’s to my area so perhaps it is the plant or the conditions…I was amazed when I saw it.

      I was so happy to have a great weekend to finally do so many chores although, I don’t clean up much in fall anymore.

  4. Donna says:

    I love your snow photos. Did you use Snow Mode on your P510? This time of year really resonates with me. I enjoy snow all winter, but each passing year (6) we have been getting less and less.

    • Donna says:

      Oops…I have not gotten to try all the settings yet so no I am on the Auto setting still. I will be playing with other settings now that we have snow more…thanks for the reminder. It is a great camera as it takes great snow pictures even on Auto 🙂

  5. Gail says:

    The clematis shot is breathtaking. Goodness, that light! During a walk with the dogs on Saturday I spotted an eastern bluebird and boy was I mad that I didn’t have my camera. Great shot of this sweetie.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Gail…I was lucky to turn around and see the clematis shot…and I watch the back gardens daily for my bluebird friends…they visit daily.

  6. Alison says:

    I don’t envy your snow, I utterly despise it, but I am very envious of your bluebirds. I adore clematis seedheads too, so hairy and fluffy like a Muppet. And your backlit shot of it is wonderful. Excellent post.

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Alison…I completely understand how you might hate the snow…by the end of a long snowy windy I am pretty much done with it too.

      The clematis picture presented itself on that balmy weekend as I was resting on the end of the porch. I turned and there it was. Thankfully I had my camera right there too.

      The bluebirds visit all year and live here during mating season. I have so many pictures of them as I just love them too!!

  7. PlantPostings says:

    Thanks for sharing your lessons and your garden views, Donna! Those Clematis seedheads are photogenic with the oblique light, aren’t they? I like the way you say veg gardeners either quit within a season, or become addicted and add more. I became addicted at my previous garden, which had loads of bright sun. Every year, the vegetable garden grew until I had an impressive plot with lots of produce every year. In my current shady garden, however, most veggies do not thrive. My neighbors recently added a Maple tree on the “sunny” side of my house, which made my sunny gardening opportunities even smaller. It’s a beautiful tree, but now I can only realistically expect success with a few veg plants. I really miss that type of gardening.

    • Donna says:

      Oh Beth I am sorry to hear you have more shade now. My old garden was completely shade except for a bit of part dappled shade in one spot and one sunny small square. I never had a veg garden there sadly. But it was an amazing shade garden.

  8. pbmgarden says:

    Beautiful photo of the bluebird Donna. You’ve really had a variety of weather patterns. We’v been very cold recently (no snow though) and now it’s returning to 60s for a while.

  9. Island Threads says:

    Donna though the snow looks pretty I do not like the cold, keep warm, the blue birds guarding their house made me smile, I like the photo by the pond and the clematis seedhead with the light behind it,
    I am surprised you have only been growing your veg for 4 years, I had thought it was much longer, you have done very well, Frances

    • Donna says:

      I do not blame you for not liking the cold Frances…it does wear on me long about February. How nice to think I had been growing a veg garden longer. i experimented with pots with little success before planting my first bed. And my parents always had a big plot that we all helped with, but I had never grown mine own from start to finish. You have done nicely since you have started with many of your beds.

  10. Dorothy says:

    I admire you for growing so many of your veggies and herbs. Actually there is so much goodness going on in your garden. I especially enjoyed the critter shots and the verse. I love that you have created a garden that not only nurtures you but other other living things.

    • Donna says:

      Oh Dorothy your very lovely comment brought such a big smile to my face. I feel the nurturing as I give to the garden and it gives back to me…such abundance to be shared…such joy!

  11. Andrea says:

    Oh Donna, that really looks very very cold. It all looks so beautiful, but i am thankful i did not choose to live in that cold in this lifetime. I would rather have our harsher dry season than to me is harshest cold. But i truly love the photos, Beth also have that clematis head in her current post. Now i know what that is.

    • Donna says:

      It is a beautiful photo to take when a clematis creates the seed head. I have the opposite problem Andrea as far as temperature goes. I cannot stand extreme heat and humidity. I would prefer to wear layers of clothing as I can still go outside and enjoy. With extreme heat I cannot. But that is the spice of life…we each follow what we like.

      Now I do enjoy visiting warm places just not when they are at their hottest. I lived in Arizona for a couple of years. It would get into the 100s for almost 6 months….that was just too hot for me.

  12. Nadezda says:

    Donna, thank you for visiting my blog!
    I see you have more snow than we here. Wonderful pictures, I love those of birds, echinacea, pumpkins in the snow! The roses are pretty even in cold days.

    • Donna says:

      Nadezda, I was finally able to add you to my reader so I wouldn’t miss your lovely posts. So glad you enjoyed the snowy garden here.

  13. Patty says:

    It looks like you got a fair bit of snow. Do you still have it? We had a few centimeters which is all gone now. Tomorrow’s temperature is expected to reach 9C or 42 F. Up Down, Up Down.

  14. catmint says:

    Dear Donna, I can’t imagine living with all that snow. But it certainly makes for very beautiful photo possibilities. I’ve just planted a clematis seedling, seeing yours made me feel quite excited to see how it will look when it grows up.

    • Donna says:

      I would imagine living in all this snow is definitely foreign…and yes it is lovely. You will love your clematis as it flowers and then turns into a lovely seedhead. Some of my seedheads are very unusual.

    • Donna says:

      Oh Catherine how nice that you still have mild weather. It has been cold of late but we are in a bit of a warm trend in the beginning of December but I know that will end this weekend.

  15. igardendaily says:

    Hi Donna, This is one of my favorite posts from you! ( I think I say that often but it’s because I love how you cover so much ground in your posts!) Honestly though, these are some of my favorite pictures from you. Love the clematis, rose and echinacea shots! I am jealous of your snow…we just have dry COLD. Not good for plants and not good for people! lol!

    I am doing a tribute to the holiday/Christmas wreath during December as I feel wreath have so much symbolism during this season and historically for the winter solstice. Count me in for your seasonal celebration meme!

    • Donna says:

      You are too kind. I am so happy that you are enjoying the post. Our snow has melted and we have warm weather for a few days but the snow and cold will be back.

  16. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    So many beautiful images Donna, the snowy scenes make me feel quite Christmassy, and yet you still have some beautiful colour from frozen-in-time roses to gorgeous foliage. You should feel very proud of what you have created, a garden for all seasons that keeps the birds and other critters coming year round.

    • Donna says:

      With much heartfelt thanks for these special words Janet. I am quite happy, pleased and proud as each year more critters come and make a home here.

  17. Susan says:

    Another delightful read. We will be in our first full year of veggie gardening next year. There is so much to learn. Despite being novices we are already eyeing space for more beds.

    • Donna says:

      Oh you are addicted Susan. That is exactly what happened to me…we were newbies and had some success and failure but we have added a new bed every year so far.

  18. KL says:

    Oh, please write in details about all the lessons that you learn while growing vegetables. I love gardening but I think I am hooked to growing vegetables. It’s just mind-boggling that such tiny insignificant seeds become food for us and which sustain us.

    Lovely pictures. You guys are really having winter! Here in NJ, it snowed (dusty snow, no accumulation) only twice so far. Other than that, nothing else though temperatures are extremely cold; but some days, the temperature even rising to 50/60!!!

    If I get some time, I will try to participate in the meme but with all the work and guests and visitors, things are hectic. So, my solace and entertainment is now facebook.

    • Donna says:

      Nice to hear you are having good weather…I understand about being busy.

      I will be sure when I recap my veg garden to share more lessons. Enjoy your solace!!

  19. commonweeder says:

    Last night’s predicted blizzard did not appear, just a little slush. The garden lesson I learned this year is to rip out the black raspberries. They are delicious but it takes 2 inches of water a week to produce. Other wise the berries shrivel up into little rocks before they ripen. The had decision had to be made. The red raspberries do well without that much water.

    • Donna says:

      A hard decision indeed. Mine are in an area that gets more moisture…they either live on their own or they go. I won’t water unless it is a new plant.

      I am glad to hear Pat that you did not get the blizzard. We are due for ice and heavy snow next week.

  20. Leora says:

    Such variety you display! Love seeing the snow. We have snow falling now – I wonder if it will last. I like the contrast of the summersweet photos.

  21. Shirley says:

    Beautiful views of your garden and the wildlife visitors. It’s hard to believe the calendar is still autumn. I think we have had more cold weather in the last two weeks than in the last two years combined.

    Snow is beautiful though it does get tiring through a cold winter.

    • Donna says:

      So glad you enjoyed the fall garden that looks like winter…typical here as we get winter weather starting in Dec or late Nov. It does get tiresome by Feb and especially March.

  22. Jema says:

    I miss gardening in my Minnesota perennials. The garden always brought such peace to my soul through the dirt. My favorite photo is of the fairy roses which are frozen in time. Happy holidays and enjoy the quietness the white blanket can bring.

    • Donna says:

      Jema thank you for visiting my garden and blog….glad you enjoyed the post. The fairy roses brought me so much pleasure for so long this year and were my fav too.

      I promise to stop by and visit your blog as well. Happy holidays to you too!!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Loredana…it means a lot that you enjoyed the poem. I love watching them at night…they are such lovely gentle creatures.

  23. Jason says:

    For some reason I am not a big enthusiast when it comes to growing vegetables. The minimum I do is because of Judy. Love that picture of the bluebird!

    • Donna says:

      Aren’t you such a wonderful husband for growing vegetables for Judy. The bluebirds are delighting us all fall. We hope they stay for the winter.

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