Gardens Eye Journal-December 2014

DSCN6814For the gardener, the fall fills with suspense.  When will Jack Frost arrive with his growth-stopping performance?  When will nature drop its final curtain?  When should we begin preparing the earth for its cold slumber?  ~Judith Couchman



I don’t think anything could surprise me in my garden after this year.  The crazy weather systems continued into fall although on a much happier note.  And I am so grateful for my fall garden.  Although November was cooler than normal and wet (which is not unusual), the killing frost held off.  We had one or two warm days, above normal, and I was able to finish my garden chores.

And with the warm weather, I enjoyed continuous blooms from my roses and a few other flowers that bloomed their hearts out; borage, Japanese anemones, lavender, anise hyssop, yellow scabiosa, gaillardia and knautia.  The crazy weather also brought out a few creeping phlox blooms.

Because the frost held off, I was able to enjoy the fall foliage from shrubs and other plants (like this clematis above) longer than usual.  For this monthly look back of my November garden (another long post so be forewarned), I am joining Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View, and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.





 nov skyNovember was a colorful month, both in the garden and in the sky.  The top sunrise was more the norm this past month.  And I was lucky to see the full moon rise early through the trees that are now bare.  The bottom picture is of our wonderful sunrise after our first snow storm and freeze.  The golden sky was peeking through the trees, as seen from the front windows, more to the south which is unusual.  We had about 8 inches and maybe 10-12 so far in November most of it melting quickly.




Garden Views

As I follow my gardens, I am joining in with Xericstyle who hosts The Wide Shot meme the first of every month.  For this review, I am highlighting my back gardens, but first here is what my front garden looked like the day the first snow came.




Heavy, wet snow clinging to everything even the pumpkins.



Now let’s look out back to the many different gardens that are there.  Again, I am just showing you the bones.  You will notice with the foliage changes, that I took these pictures throughout November.


DSCN6530This is the right side of the garden.  On the left of the picture is part of the Pond Garden that borders the patio.  The pile of rocks is actually the waterfall for the pond.  This is a vole haven where they make a mess usually as they love to nest in the waterfall rocks.  I have tried shrubs, perennials and even herbs, but it is hit and miss as this area is also covered with the dreaded horsetail weed.  

Along the fence I have been replanting with shrubs:  hydrangea, weigelia, summersweet and a new mock orange.  Various perennials grow here, but again are swallowed by horsetail.  I am rethinking this area a bit but it is the least of my worries except for some edging and weeding.



Here are two shrubs in this garden area that were stars in the November garden this year…..



The hydrangeas throughout the gardens have been shining in the sunlight.




summersweet nov I love the native Summersweet or Clethra shrub in fall as the bush turns a gorgeous gold.





Here are the rest of the fence gardens.  The garden shown in the pictures above is just to the lower right of the pond, and out of the picture.  

As you move up the right side of the fence you reach the veg beds.  Here we will be doing some work to keep the area more weed free, move perennials that are too close to the beds, and addressing the voles who freely dig in the veg beds.  





Borage grew wild in the veg garden this year and I never planted one seed.




snowy rose

Knockout roses also grow along the veg beds, but a little too close for comfort.  This is a picture of one of them blooming one day and then frozen and snow-covered the next.




But let’s keep moving along the right side of the fence and past the veg beds….


rt raingarden

Here is the Left Corner Garden.  There are several bushes here and too much Obedient plant.  I have winterberry, coralberry and hydrangea growing here although they are hard to see.  I need to control the Obedient plant better and allow the bushes to grow, or move the bushes.  

The insert is showing the Rain Garden on this side.  I plan to dig it out again and line it with stones to give it better definition and stop the erosion. 




white garden

As we move along the back of the fence and to the left of the gazebo, we see the White Garden.  Behind the gazebo I planted lots of small shade lovers like hosta, epimedium and ferns.  Next is a close up of the wild White Garden before we cut it back, and last is the same garden after we pruned and weeded.  A few bushes here too like viburnum, red-twig dogwood and Clethra.  And yes it is called the White Garden because all the flowers here are white.





Epimediums turn beautiful colors too in the Gazebo Garden.  I also have some growing in the Center Garden.




lt back cornerThis is the back left corner garden or the Bog Garden/Hosta Garden.  In the top picture you can see the corner is uncut.  It gets very wet and was the last garden we cut down along the fence.  There is another rain garden here that needs to be redone.  Lots of native Joe Pye, asters, rudbeckia and goldenrod grow here and we pulled many as they cover over the viburnum, bayberry and hydrangea trying to grow here as well as a few roses.

As you can see by the tree stumps, three white ash trees grew here which is why I planted lots of hosta originally.  One tree died on its own and we cut the other 2 down as we have Emerald Ash Borers in the area.  So with all the sunlight, I am rethinking that area now.  And I need to work on the drainage in the Bog Garden. 





Here we are at the other end of the left fence looking back at the garden we just saw above.  The garden along this side has been overrun with goldenrod, echinacea, Obedient, weeds and a bellflower ground cover.  There are a couple of red-twig dogwoods, St. John’s wort, lilacs, lots of daylilies, iris and a few roses.  It needs a redo to give it more definition.

The bit of garden on the right side of the picture is the Arch Garden which you can see more of below.





Native St. John’s Wort is stunning this November in the Left Fence Garden.




arch garden

Bottom right is the Arch Garden looking toward the gate with a few hydrangea, fairy roses, echinacea, climbing rose and peony.  Along the left fence you can see across to the Arch Garden.  Top left we are facing the arch garden from the gate.  On the left of the picture is the Arch Garden, and on the right of the picture is part of the Patio Garden.   You can see more of the patio garden top right.  

I like this side of the patio although a few bushes and grasses are growing into each other.   Weigela, viburnum, New Jersey Tea, Northern Sea Oats, and miscanthus grass grow on this side of the patio.





I have a small Beautyberry bush that is in the Arch Garden, but it needs a sunnier location so it has a chance to grow larger.




DSCN6589This is my small Shade Garden.  It is up against the North side of the house near the gate on the left side of the garden.  But there is nothing there you say?  In spring and summer you can see wildflowers, hostas and ferns.  And when it is all cut down it looks pretty bare.  You can see the lone Japanese anemone still blooming in mid-November.  We keep it cut in winter as the voles love to hide under the spent foliage and make a mess.





You can see this is the left back garden before we cut it down, but I am using this picture to show you this corner of the Patio Garden up to the rock.  Baptisia takes up a lot of this garden with many seedlings I need to move.  Loads of iris here too with a hydrangea, echinacea and daylilies.





This is the native viburnum bush that grows on the end of the patio above.  Every year it dazzles me with its colorful display.





And if we move to the center of the garden, we can look towards the patio and Pond Garden.  Iris, echinacea, aster, knautia, sedum and this wonderful Giant Reed Grass grow around this side of the pond.  On the other side of the tall grass is the pond.





And here is the Center Garden before we weeded it.  You can see more of it in my Stuck Foot post.  





 nov frozen pond

The pond was resting in autumn turning lovely colors, silent serene and reflective.  Then with the Polar Vortex mid month, it took on its winter look, covered in ice and snow, opaque and still beautiful. 




Tree Following

tree-logoFor December and through winter, I will give you a glimpse of the silver maple I am following here in my End of The Month Reviews.  You can also get a glimpse of my tree if you check out my Stuck Foot post from a couple of weeks ago.

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


And as promised from my last Tree Following post, I am showing you the snow-covered branches of my maple with its red flower buds during the mid-November snow storm. 







nov crittersSome birds made a reappearance in November.  Our red-tail hawk is sticking around.  First spotted this summer, it has hunted right around the wild area and is found in our trees from time to time.  We saw 3 crows harass, and then chase it so there must have been a nest or young ones nearby.  Robins made a comeback, and visited the garden.  Many live here year round.  

The sparrows, especially the house sparrows, came back and tried to take all the bird houses now for next spring.  We decided that was not going to happen and closed the houses.  They will reopen in spring for all to have a chance at them.  Chickadees were spotted waited to use the suet feeder.  I have a special suet feeder for small birds, but they rarely visit it.

Woodpeckers are daily visitors now, and will be in the garden right through spring.  And yes a bluebird was scouting out the garden.  We do have less birds this year because we clear cut so much of the garden.

The baby deer are growing but still not big enough to jump the fence.  I found them outside the fence very early the morning of the first snow and momma was inside the fence looking for food.  It was beautiful to watch the family and I will have their story and our new squirrel’s story in coming months.  You can see the squirrel enjoying the sunflower seedheads.



In A Vase On Monday 

As November ends, I am visiting family is sunny, warm Arizona.  And of course my thoughts went to what I could find in my sister’s garden to make a couple of vases while I was visiting…. especially for my 82-year-old mother who is in a rehab facility as she recovers from a serious spinal fracture, and my 92-year-old Aunt who raised my mom.

I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare a couple of vases:  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.

This month I am also linking in with Floral Fridays, the monthly photography project.  Trishie@Under Lock And Key  decides on the theme and this month it is  “flowers as gifts” (who did you give the gift to and why). You can link in to see the blogs participating on 12/5.  To take part, email Trishie for next month’s theme. 



FotorCreatedMom AZ vaseThis first vase was for my mom.  I thought she would love to have some flowers as she recovers.  My sister grows lots of different colors of lantana; fuchsia and yellow for this vase.   And then we added some purple grass, gray foliage from a Mexican Bird of Paradise bush and yellow-green foliage from a miniature bottle-brush shrub.  My pictures are not that great as the light here is either harsh mid-day or mostly shady.  And yes my mom loved this hand-made vase that now brightens up her room.




AM AZ vase

This vase was for my Aunt, and it graced our Thanksgiving table which was outside as the temp was in the low 80s.  She took it home with her along with yummy leftovers.  Again I used lantana; the red-colored one the hummingbirds love.  I added some foliage from an Acacia tree, berries from a bush and the yellow-green foliage from the same bush.  I also included lots of rosemary from the bushes my sister has growing in her garden.


So there you have my vases…the flowers I gave as gifts to the two special ladies in my life that I have not seen for a couple years now.  I know they loved the flowers as much as I loved putting them together.



It is that time of the year where I celebrate the upcoming new season.  I hope you will consider joining me.  


Just write a post between now and December 21st.   Leave a link with your comment on the kick-off post of Seasonal Celebrations-Winter Wonders. I will include your link in my summary post on December 22nd.  


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



Next up on the blog:  Wednesday I will have another Wildlife Wednesday post.  And next Monday brings another Garden Book Review.sharethelove

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, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.



52 Replies to “Gardens Eye Journal-December 2014”

  1. WOW! November was much more colourful and interesting in your neck of the woods than in mine!! November is the most overcast month north of Toronto as cold air passing over the Great Lakes in any of three directions (Lakes Ontario and Huron plus Georgian Bay) mean tons of thick clouds and very little sun. I am so glad it is now December and although the weather will be colder it will likely be brighter too. 😉

    1. Oh that is too bad about November. I was surprised ours was as sunny as it was. But I know our December will be colder and greyer here.

  2. You have a lovely large garden Donna. It must take a lot of work but from all those pretty photos I know it also must be a labor of love. Your Autumnal photos are fantastic and I have enjoyed them all as I always do. Thank you so much for linking with Today’s Flowers. Really appreciate you doing that. Have a great week my friend 🙂 Need to get the soup going so I had better get off my computer for a while 😉

    1. Sounds good that soup. We make fresh soup weekly and even made some with turkey leftovers while we were visiting. I am so glad you enjoy the garden here…it is a labor of love indeed Denise.

  3. You make clever use of your photo collages, Donna. Your garden is holding its own despite the earlier snow. I’m glad you had an opportunity to spend Thanksgiving someplace warm and I hope you have a safe trip home.

    1. Thanks Kris. We leave tomorrow. The garden is very resilient which I am thankful for….not much to do in it now except observe it and watch for critter damage.

  4. I enjoyed looking all around your garden, Donna. I’m glad you were able to visit with your mother at Thanksgiving. My son and his family live in Arizona. I love the abundant lantana growing there. Your vases are lovely. P. x

    1. Thanks Pam. I enjoy the weather sometimes in AZ, but oh it is so crowded here. The lantana is amazing and it is everywhere. Glad you enjoyed my gardens!

  5. Your garden is full of winter charm Donna. I can clearly see how the shrubs are the back bone at this time of the year and a credit to your planning. We can all learn some lessons from you Donna.
    I can see why your mum loved her vase, it’s beautiful.
    I hope the weather continues to be kind to you Donna

    1. Thanks so much Angie. I do want to move some shrubs around and add a bit more evergreens, but shrubs are so important to my garden. I had fun making the vases with the lush flowers here this week.

  6. How lovely to get the chance to pick flowers for a vase in someone else’s garden, and such summery blooms too! I loved all your photos Donna. I have been looking at Clethra online for some time now, but read that they like damp ground, so I was wondering what kind of position yours has to give you such a show in autumn? Enjoy the rest of your break!

    1. Thanks Cathy. I loved exploring my sister’s garden and creating vases for my mom and Aunt. The clethra is north-east facing near the house, and it does get lots of morning sun. Then in the afternoon it gets some early afternoon sun again. By mid-afternoon it is in shade. There is also a downspout nearby that keeps the soil moist.

  7. Hi Donna, I loved seeing the various garden rooms and hearing your plans. I have been looking at gardening books (including the lovely garden design book I won in your giveaway awhile back!) and magazines and listing plants I’d like to incorporate if feasible. I haven’t made a lot of decisions yet, but I definitely want to add a ‘Limelight’ or ‘Little Lime,’ and I hope I can find a space for a moon garden again. Enjoy the sunshine in AZ! Sorry about your mother. Beth

    1. Thanks so much Beth for your well wishes….I am sure you will have fun picking out new plants especially ‘Limelight’. And I hope the book you won helps.

  8. Beautiful collages! Coming from warm weather climes, I enjoy a warm Thanksgiving once in awhile. Fun to have your dinner outside for a change! Quick question for you Donna: do you ever remove the lower leaves from your arrangements so that the arrangement doesn’t rot as quickly? I was taught by a professional arranger to remove all the lower material and put a tiny tiny blip of bleach in the water to keep bacteria from forming and keep your flowers fresh longer. What has your experience been with that? When I saw your Calicarpa (Beautyberry), I knew I had to get another bush. Mine finally gave up the ghost after 15 years. Probably too much shade had intruded on its once perfect spot!

    1. It was fun to have Thanksgiving outside with family. I sometimes remove the leaves and sometimes not…depending on time I have and the look I want. I have never put bleach in the water as I try not to use any bleach anymore. I should look for an organic substitute. I am still a newbie with arranging so my experience is limited Susie.

  9. I just love the shot of the sunrises! That is so beautiful! Glad you had such a great fall garden, I did too until the snow rushed in! 🙂 I also like that you gave such a great orientation of your garden in this post. Very nice and Happy Holidays. I bet the AZ weather was a nice change for a few days.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the garden Andrea. It was nice to have some warm weather definitely…too bad it is ending and we are going back to the cold!

  10. Such a great variety here ( but I am used to that now 🙂
    The photo mosaics as well! 🙂

    Garden surprises…we’d had deep frosts, below zero windchills, some snow..and then a brief warmup last week at some point and there was a little pansy bloom bravely showing up for a day! 🙂 I didn’t get a photo of her but I did appreciate her : )

  11. I like those pictures that show how your garden is laid out. Nice gardens, and a great fence! Unfortunately we had frost in mid-September, so our fall garden turned brown fast this year!

    1. Oh that is too bad about your frost…..I am glad you enjoyed the gardens in November here even though they are pretty brown now.

  12. Best wishes for your mom for a complete recovery! Great photos and collages, as always. I loved the sky shots. And snow pictures! I enjoyed the overview of your November garden. Enjoy the warm Arizona weather!

    1. We definitely relished the AZ temps….and thanks Deb for the well wishes for my mom. It is slow but she is getting there.

  13. So enjoyed this tour of your garden, Donna! You have such a great eye for capturing the color and beauty of the season; I haven’t even had my camera out for several weeks. I’m glad you were able to spend some time with family at Thanksgiving; wishes for a speedy recovery for your mother. Sunny Arizona is the perfect place to be this time of year!

    1. Thanks Rose for your well wishes. I seem to be snapping pictures all year which is fun….so glad you really enjoyed the overview of our garden.

  14. I certainly enjoyed visiting the beauty of your blog and seeing your first snow and your marvelous gardens. I am amazed at your photos and the way you arrange them with special effects and into mosaics. A labor of love, I can tell, just like your gardening. It sounds like you have had surgery but maybe it’s in the past. Anyway I hope you are doing well, and enjoying sunny AZ!

    1. I did have surgery in May and it has been a slow recovery but I am now about 98%…the recovery delayed any work in the garden but it has held its own. And boy have we been soaking up the great weather in AZ. Thanks for your lovely well wishes!

  15. Wow. So much to process!

    I’ll just echo what everyone else has said and heap praise on your garden. It seems like such a vibrant and lively place.


    1. Thanks Aaron. I will be processing different areas in the coming months as I make plans for the coming year….it has helped me to do this once a month now. And yes it is a pretty lively place.

    1. That is true Michelle we do use every bit, and we hope to eliminate more lawn this coming year and expand more of the gardens.

    1. She is getting back to her feisty self Jean and we hope will be back in her new apartment soon. We unpacked her new apartment while she has been recovering so she can easily move in now. Oh and she was so surprised by the flowers….

  16. A lovely long post Donna – so nice to have a look around your garden. Your vases are beautiful this week – very tropical feeling and how lovely to give them to such special ladies – I am sure they will have a lot of pleasure from them!

    1. Oh they did enjoy those vases Julie and I am glad you enjoyed the loooong post. It helped me take a long look at my garden again which will help as I move forward.

  17. Donna that first photo of the clematis foliage is beautiful, oh how wonderful to have the garden tidy ready for next year, it sounds like you have lots of plans for changes and re working areas, keep warm in the snow, Frances

    1. It is great to have the garden tidy for now Frances….we are staying warm today. Since I returned home Wednesday we have had cold temps and snow flurries.

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