The Garden: A Year of Study


“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.” Oscar Wilde


To say, for me,  this year sped by is an understatement.  I was to retire and then couldn’t.  I was to have time to travel, garden and write, but that evaporated due to my job.  My mother’s health was failing, and she continued to have serious issues.  Illness from stress and a crazy workload overtook me as well this fall and I was miserable.  

My typical response to all this would have been to withdraw.  And while I did somewhat, I decided to try and work through all this DSCN2875by expressing gratitude (which was my word for 2013), which I found helped.   This fall I incorporated meditation as a daily practice, and we bought a TreadClimber that the hubby finally assembled (It was quite an ordeal).  Now I have to get in the habit of using it.

I also took a couple of e-courses.  One course was Living with Ease with Sandra Pawula@Always Well Within.  She is repeating the course January 6th if you are interested.  I learned some wonderful stress reducing techniques.  The second course was with Tess Marshall of The Bold Life called Thrive-Living Life Fully.  Both Tess and Sandra are amazing teachers, and I have been blessed to know them and learn some valuable lessons from each.  This quote is a perfect compilation of what I have been learning and feeling of late:


“Be not the slave of your own past-  
plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep,  and swim far, 
so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old.”   ~Ralph Waldo Emerson



It seemed easy when I was looking for a new word to represent my path in 2014.  If I have learned anything recently it is to keep moving forward, to work through obstacles, whether placed by others or by me, and to keep focused on one thing at a time.  To be able to do all this, I would surely make progress.  So here is my focus for 2014…..



Mantra:  By taking small steps as I work toward one thing at a time….slowly


It is easy to come up with a word to describe your focus for the year; it is another to be able to keep the forward movement going.  I frequently start things, but never quite make the progress I was hoping for due to discouragement, moving too fast and burning out.

Making the beginning is one third of the work.  ~Irish Proverb


And while getting started is a big step, how do I keep myself going while avoiding self doubt.  Having plans and keeping them DSCN1730simple helps.  And making sure to have fun is essential.  Taking time to replenish oneself and getting out in nature all are ways that help me continue to make progress with my personal goals.  And I think these will serve me well for my garden projects too.

So as 2014 starts, I am rolling out my new garden projects.  And my next big project is to do nothing.  Well it seems like nothing since I am not going to be planting many plants or bulbs in spring, and I did very little in fall.

I have realized I need to spend more time observing the garden beds as if I just moved in.  And really that won’t be too hard, after all the garden has been left on its own to languish for a few years especially in the back.  And I have removed some non-native plants and replaced them with natives, but the plan was hurried.


So I have decided to make a slow study of my garden.  Watching it grow through the seasons, capturing images, recording data and learning more about the plants and growing conditions so I can see what may need a redesign, some renewal or refurbishing.

For longtime readers of my blog, you know that my life and my garden an inextricably entwined.  As I make this slow study of my garden, I can’t help but learn so much more about myself and my personal goals as well.  I know for my gardens to thrive they need regular maintenance that has been neglected.  Things like:

  • soil replenished and top-dressed
  • weeds pulled so plants have room to grow
  • organic fertilizers applied
  • beds edged to stop the encroaching grass
  • divide overgrown plants

And while I work in the garden doing regular upkeep, I will be thinking about the care I need to do for myself.

The blog will also go through a few changes.  One you see here is the change in its look, and there will finally be some new pages.

Oh and I have some great news.  I have been asked to be part of another team of bloggers at Vision and Verb.  You may recall, I did a guest post back in September.  This amazing team of diverse women from around the globe do some amazing things and write beautiful posts.  I hope you will visit me there as well, and get to know this team and blog.


So as we close 2013 and celebrate the New Year, I hope you enjoy this little verse about my journey for 2014!


Moving forward

Slowly along a path-

With a sense of hope and

Renewal welling up.

Inside filling me

With a burning desire

That shines bright

Radiating all around.

A deep sense growing,

Flourishing, strong, thriving!

Donna Donabella

***I included these sunrises from throughout 2013.  I thought they were perfect for the dawning of a New Year!


Next up on the blog:  Next Monday, I will continue to reveal some plans for Gardens Eye View, the gardens and me.  I hope you will continue to follow in 2014, and I thank you for your readership.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my latest post.  My next post will be on January 7th.

I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb.  My first post will be on January 22nd.

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

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

86 Replies to “The Garden: A Year of Study”

  1. I love the look of your blog, new and fresh. Your sunrise shots are breathtaking. Great way to visually show a new beginning. Your word ‘thrive’ will be interesting to watch through the year. It is a good word.
    I look forward to reading your posting on the new joint blog. Your posts are always so full of wonderful thoughts, great writing, beautiful pictures and good gardening information. I try to take special time to read through the posts to absorb it all. Happy New Year to you Donna.

    1. Oh Janet thank you so much for this lovely comment. You have started my year off beautifully. I hope you enjoy the posts here and at the other blogs in 2014.

  2. Isn’t it funny how real life intervenes despite all your best-laid plans? I’m in a very similar situation and trying to figure out a way forward. Will have to check out the two individuals you mention. Happy New Year! And I too love the new look!

    1. Karen so nice to have you visiting. You would like either one of these wonderful ladies. They have both helped me move forward in big ways. I hope you have a great New Year!!

  3. What a bummer that you did not get to retire and had such a miserable year. I hope life does settle down for you in 2014, and that you do thrive. I would love to have a year where I just sit back to enjoy and observe my garden. But mine is fairly new and I am driven to keep making changes. I love the new look of your blog!

    1. Alison you have such a great blank slate with your new gardens. I look forward to seeing them come to life. Moving forward every day keeps me thriving. Glad you are enjoying the new look of the blog.

  4. lovely blog ‘bouquet’ of sunrises and good intentions. Hope things are settling on the personal front – had not realised you were down sometimes as optimism seems to emanate from all your posts. Donna – wishing you all the best for 2014 with time to enjoy the garden and time for yourself. Laura x

    1. I try to emphasize the positive Laura even when things seem to go wrong…but really there is always a purpose for those “wrong things”. I am glad that my optimism shows through more often. Glad you enjoyed the new look. Wasn’t it amazing that this theme is Bouquet. 😉

  5. I hope you do thrive in 2014! As you already know I have enjoyed reading your blog and hearing your thoughts this past year and you have inspired me to be more stoic during the difficult part of the gardening year, for me that’s the second half of July and August; I hope I will remember, maybe if you hear the depression in my writing at that time you will be able to remind me of my plan. Thank you for sharing at least some of your life. A very happy 2014.

    1. Christina you have been such a wonderful supporter and that support keeps me thriving. I certainly will remind you during your hardest months my friend. Here’s to a fabulous New Year!!

  6. Beautiful new look for your site, Donna! I have to say that I am thrilled we will be working together on this Vision & Verb thing…I’m really happy about it. Feels like kismet. I do wish you a better year Donna….you’ve really had some body blows my friend. May your wishes come true this year! Love, Susie

    1. Susie I am ecstatic that we will be working together on Vision and Verb…it certainly is meant to be. Thank you for your special wishes for my New Year….wishing you a beautiful New Year Susie!!

  7. Such a lovely positive post Donna! I really do hope that 2014 will provide you with more time for yourself, good health and happiness. “Thrive” is such a good choice of word as a gardener too. All the best!

    1. Thrive did seem to fit in so many ways Cathy…I am so glad you really liked the post and wishing you all the best in 2014!!

  8. Illness and work overload do not sound fun. I’m glad you are able to take some relaxation courses.

    Planning your garden in winter – how studious of you! My plan is to plant more in the front – my spring last year was too busy with non-gardening activities. I’m not composting in winter, but I’m still saving coffee grounds. I dump them near a perennial, and they look a bit like mulch. Supposedly good for the soil … look forward to your posting your garden plans.

    1. Leora I love how you continue to think about your garden even during winter…coffee grounds are wonderful and they say roses especially love them. Here’s to a wonderful New Year in our lives and gardens!!

  9. What a beautiful review of the year. I’m sorry it’s been a challenging one for you, but I see that you are emerging with clarity and I see you thriving perfectly in 2014.

    Thank you so much for being a part of my course, and to share such kind words here. I’m so happy to know you and to have the pleasure of the beauty and wisdom you share on your blog. I absolutely adore the new look!

    1. Sandra the pleasure is mutual as you are a great teacher. Your course laid a great foundation for me to be able to thrive and grow. I hope to continue to move forward and keep in touch with you!! Thank you and Happy New Year!!

  10. flourishing, strong, thriving…..yes!
    I raise my glass to toast your word
    and your walk
    and the beautiful way you’ve chosen
    for this next jaunt around the sun.
    Thrive, friend, thrive:)

    1. Hugs to you Jennifer…you remain an incredible inspiration and support…thank you for all your inspirational words this year!!

  11. Donna, thank you… For endurance. For finding a way to refresh your blog. For honesty. For taking each step. For thriving. Congratulations on your inclusion in Vision and Verbs. And many joyful and empowering blessings in the New Year.

    1. Cheryl your words are so empowering and keep me moving forward…my appreciation of your support is so deep. Thank you and Happy New Year!!

  12. I hope 2014 will be a better year for you, Donna. I know we all thrive from the beauty of your blog–in particular your wisdom, your words, and your poetry. Peace and blessings in the months ahead. Happy New Year!

    1. Oh Beth thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your beautiful supportive words keep me thriving and creating. I wish you a New Year with adventures and wonderful times…blessings to you too!

  13. I love the new look of your blog! And your word for 2014 is fabulous. I need to work on the same garden chores list in my own garden, but I never thought about just observing the garden. That is a very smart thing to do, and one that will be very satisfying, too.

    1. Holley I hope you are feeling better. I think we all have the same list of chores, but we sometimes seldom get to those routine maintenance things. Our bodies crave that maintenance as well as our gardens and I am working on a similar list for me too..that way we will both be thriving, my garden and me! I wish for you a year of lovely gardening and garden observations…Happy New Year!!

  14. Hi Donna,
    Love your photos! I didn’t know you took Sandra’s class as well. We’ve been online friends for a few years. Thanks for the mention. I see great things ahead for you in 2014. Sharing on social media!

  15. How lovely that you have taken a chance to study your garden after putting so many years of work into it. My mum has just downsized from a large house with many gardens into a small town house with shared properties. She can still garden but it is very limited. She is older now and cannot do what she used to so it is good for her. But it will be a big change as well.

    1. I often think about how I will be able to keep this all up for 20 more years. If i can always garden, even a little, I will Thrive!! Happy New Year!

  16. It’s difficult when life throws it’s ‘stuff’ at us but as my mother always say – Pick yourself up and start over again!
    I wish you well in whatever turns up in 2014 – you deserve it Donna!
    Happy Hogmanay!

    1. Your mother is right Angie. We are made stronger by this ‘stuff’ so we can pick ourselves up!! Happy Hogmanay though a bit late!! 🙂

  17. Thrive…. I like that word… Hmmmm.. I will have to think of one for me…. I am going to look into those classes…. Beautiful post and new blog look… Michelle

  18. I really like the new look of your blog. 🙂 I think thrive is a great word. I always find tackling a project in the garden – even if it’s small – helps keep me motivated to tackle other things that need to be taken care of. It will be interesting to see which plants were able to thrive on their own. I think your garden is beautiful and as tough as the gardener.

    1. You are very perceptive my friend…my garden has been growing and now it will be thriving stronger and better along with its gardener!! Wishing you a great New Year in your life and garden!!

  19. Hello Donna! I enjoyed visiting your blog in 2013 and it seems to me you are doing very well and are already thriving..You can only get better! BTW, I love your sunset shots. I wish you all the best in 2014, Happy New Year! Eileen

    1. Eileen thank you for these kind words…I can only get better is so right!! So glad you like the blog and the post!! Happy New Year

    1. Thank you Karen…looking forward to reading about more of your adventures and delicious recipes…here’s to a fabulous New Year!!

  20. The sunrises are gorgeous, Donna! Good luck as you thrive in ’14. I wish you peace, joy, prosperity, and good health. Hope you get to retire on too.

  21. I think you have made some wise decisions and admire the careful thought it took to reach them. I envy your plan, it promises much pleasure. There is so much to be done on our neglected property but today is for just walking and pondering. Small steps are the order of the day.

    1. Thanks Susan. I will be taking many small steps this year and I bet we will progress more this way in all our endeavors. Wishing you a wonderful New Year!!

  22. Great new look to the blog. Change is as good as a rest…or so it is said. Long may you thrive…good luck with all your endeavours and may 2014 be a good year for you.

    1. I love that idea that change is as good as rest Bridget! So glad you enjoy the blog and its new look. Here’s to a great year in all our gardens!!

  23. Hi Donna, I always have liked spending lots of time just observing and thinking and dreaming about my gardens. I feel that observation of the garden is very essential to know what is the next step that I would like to take or that the gardens tells me to make. Over the years I have learned that feeding the soil by applying organic mulch as much as I can is critical to make my garden thrive. This is a hard and back breaking chore, but it pays off a hundred times. Only after that comes the planting fun :-)! Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year 2014!

    1. Christina it is great to hear that my plans are on target. I feel it essential as well to feed the soil and listen to what the garden says. I hope to learn so much this year as my garden thrives along with me!! Happy New Year!!

  24. At first I was sad to prepare our garden for sale, but, for the garden it’s been a good year. As I took courage and sadly said goodbye to a few unhappy plants. As I used cuttings from the HAPPY ones to fill the remaining gaps. Now we just need to keep it to ‘a mess with a plan’ and enjoy it.

    I have so much appreciated you joining my monthly Dozen for Diana posts. I’ll let that meme go dormant, until I can start fresh with the treasures I find in the new garden. You said you had plans for 2014’s Dozen – and I look forward to seeing what you blog.

    1. I remember leaving my garden and moving here to start completely from scratch…it was bittersweet. So I will continue my series of Simply The Best focusing on native plants I want to add and why I am adding them. I am also connecting with a friend who has a native plant nursery where I hope to purchase the plants. It is a combo of my Simply The Best series and Wildflower Tales.

      Wishing you a wonderful time in both your gardens!!

    1. Thanks Jean…as we move toward retirement we can’t help but thrive…here’s to an exciting year for both of us!!

  25. Hi Donna, I love the new look of your blog, so warm & inviting. Wonderful post as always. The sunrises were perfect to greet the new year. Thriving is a great goal for 2014. And congrats on becoming a team member of a new blog. Wishing you all the best for 2014! 🙂

  26. Loredana it is an exciting time with changes, a new year and so much yet to unfold….thriving just seemed perfect! Can you tell I love sunrises!! All the best to you too in 2014!

    1. So nice to hear it Tatyana. It is a pleasure to have you visit and thank you for checking out the other blog I will be writing. Here’s to a Healthy and Happy New Year!!

  27. Wow Donna! Your new year sounds like it is going to be fantastic! I LOVE the quote you chose from Emerson and the sunrise photos are sublime. I think you will do very well with your new goal and love how you are incorporating many daily activities to keep yourself well. The new look (blog) is smart and I think it quite exciting you are now part of a blogging team! I’ll try to visit there once in awhile. A very happy 2014 to you!

    1. Glad you like the new look and the post….I have neglected my garden for far too long and both of us need some TLC. I hope you will enjoy my posts at Vision and Verb monthly and thanks for your continued support Andrea!! Have a wonderful New Year!!

  28. I also like the color and changes to your blog, very much! I’m sorry you were not able to retire just yet. You sound like you have been able to put things in perspective, though. Sitting back and watching is important (I know you just left a similar comment on my blog in response to something I posted). We seem to be thinking along the same lines 😉

    1. I had to chuckle to myself Jan when I read your recent post as we are thinking in similar terms. I sort of had to learn to put it all into perspective Jan or surely lose my mind. It was so uplifting and I grew so much from it. I am so glad you like the changes to the blog’s look. I wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

  29. An inspiring post, Donna, for the new year! Your blog’s new “do” is lovely; the sunsets so appropriate. I love the way “Thrive” can be applied to your garden and to your life. I wish you the BEST year for 2014 in both respects. P. x

    1. Thanks Pam…it all seem to flow and fit perfectly as this post came together to inspire me….wishing you a fantastic New Year!!

  30. Thank you for this beautiful post. It’s inspiring to read about your journey and know that there are others out there whose life doesn’t go according to plan. What a wonderful theme for 2014, thrive. Happy New Year!

    1. Elaine thank you so much!! I write my posts as inspiration to me and to anyone else and it is great to know when folks feel inspired by something I am learning…here’s to a thriving New Year for us all!!

  31. It sounds like your 2013 “gratitude” has prepared you well for this new year, Donna. I’m so glad you are now one of us at V&V and welcome you with joy. Let’s learn from each other and support each other as we venture out into this new year.

    I’m not sure I have one word for this year but I do know I want to pay less attention to my own achievements while helping others to find success in theirs. It’s my year to serve others and let them shine…..

    1. Ginnie I feel the warmth of the team at V&V and it definitely will help me Thrive. What a great intention for the year to serve others and help them thrive!! I can’t wait for the adventures to begin….

  32. Hi Donna, I look forward to visiting and reading your interesting articles and looking at these lovely photographs in the coming year. I am a novice gardener and get a lot of insight visiting your blog. Take good care of yourself and remember to do a little self-pampering every now and again. We are so busy trying to take care of everyone else we sometimes need reminding. I wish you nothing but peace and joy in 2014.

    1. Denise how lovely to know that my blogs speak to you and give you insight. This has already made my New Year special…thank you for that. I am learning the hard way to pamper myself now. I wish you a blessed, peaceful New Year as well!!

  33. It sounds like you are doing a lot of soul searching. Gardening is great for that I tell you. I really like your idea of a word for the year. Both Gratitude and Thrive are awesome words. I will have to think of one for me and stick to it. Take it easy and enjoy day by day! It will be an awesome year. I think on your gardens you really have done all the work now so it is time to sit back and really study and meld with your garden-the foundation is there and maybe only a little tweaking as time goes on. That is so very normal but enjoy it each day. Observing gardens is a wonderful thing to do when we make the time. Sometimes all we do is rush, plant, weed, sigh, it never ends so yes, enjoy!

    1. Thanks Tina and I look forward to seeing what word you choose. I like your thoughts on my garden. And I feel even more now that this is the right plan for this year. Here’s to an enjoyable New Year for both of us!!

  34. Those fall classes you took sound great, I would like to do something like that. And you are certainly right that it is so important to closely observe what goes on in the garden. I often have to stop myself from jumping in and making changes before I really understand what is going on. Happy New Year and I wish you success in your efforts to thrive in 2014.

    1. Thank you so much Jason. While my ideal is to watch and wait, it will be hard as with my garden I tend to also jump in and just do what needs to be done. I love planning but slowing down and actually doing it will be interesting to see. Happy New Year!

  35. Happy New Year, Donna! Sorry, I’m late. We have Christmas tomorrow and was busy. Interesting thoughts and plans you have. I have two blogs, one in English and another in Russian so I think it’s enough for me for now. I Love planning as well!
    I wish you successful and quiet year!

    1. Nadezda thank you for visiting. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year’s celebration. I love to plan and do this in my day job. So it seemed perfect for me to extend this to my garden. Thank you for your good wishes and here’s to a fantastic New Year!

Comments are closed.