Beginnings- A Retrospective


Welcome to Gardens Eye View.


These were my first words written on my blog of the same name.  How funny to see them now some 5 years later on my journey.  I decided on this anniversary to review and update where I am now since writing this first post (here in bold print).



This is a blog of my ramblings as I discover the life and soul of the garden.  I hope to post weekly about my quest as I garden and have gardened through the years.


I still write weekly, every Monday, not missing one week so far in 5 years.  I have frequently been told by readers that I write about the soul of gardening and express the words of DSCN8136the soul of the gardener.  How wonderful is that?  I can tell you it is humbling to say the least.  And I still connect with readers in over 50 countries and 50 states.  When I think about the people I have met virtually on this journey it is mind blowing.  Such incredible people with so much to say.



I remember always loving digging in the dirt from my earliest memories between 2 and 5 years old.  I loved it so much so that my nickname as a child was “digger”.  I was always carrying a stick and digging holes in the small patch of grass and dirt behind our row house in Philadelphia.

When we moved to Northern Indiana in the early 60s, I remember my mother planting cherry tomatoes, mint and strawberries in our small yard.  A huge sweet scented honeysuckle vine greeted me every time I left the house by the lower basement door.  Mom was always tending her roses and planting a swath of colorful annuals.  I would watch, pick and weed. I was hooked but never really knew it.   The lure of the dirt-the feel and smell of it.  The smell and colors of the flowers.  Whatever it was I looked forward to spring, then summer and then the colors of fall.

My mother does not have a computer at the age of 83, and that is fine with her.  But she has read my blog.  I printed many posts, put them together and sent them to her.  She told me she cherishes every word.  Her daughter, so smart.  Who knew she had a daughter who was an author who could write these beautiful words?  These words come from her and touch my heart.  She and my father and other ancestors have influenced who I am, and I feel I write from their hearts and souls as well.




Central NY was our next stop in the late 60s.  Here my parents began again as they planted a medium-sized veggie garden that seemed to grow larger every year.  I was in my teens so I would watch, pick, eat but not really feel the lure of the garden.  It took until the late 80s, when I was living in an apartment with a balcony, that I tried my luck at container gardening.  I found I loved to watch gardening shows too.  But it wasn’t until 1995 that I started to have a go at gardening around my house where I lived with my husband to be.  It took me 30 years to get back to the beginning.  Back to the lure of the dirt-the smell, the feel.  I was in my late 30s, but it was a good time to begin again.  To strike out and plant perennial gardens under the 100 foot walnut trees surrounding us.  A challenge I was up for, but that’s a story in and of itself.

My life with my husband (we have known each other now for 23 years) has been an enormous gift.  Sometimes I don’t think I would have any sanity left it it wasn’t for his unconditional love and 
acceptance of me.  All of me with no judgements…how is that possible.  My parents gave me that same love.  Yes a garden full of love growing all the time, all around me nourishing the seeds within to grow and bloom here.



Well now we live in a house we built 5 years ago (10 years now).  A blank slate, a creation waiting to happen.  Another new beginning.  A garden or should I say gardens that begin anew each year.  Never quite the same as the year before.  Never quite done.  But maybe that is the lure of the garden.  The never-ending beginning every year as the brown earth springs forth with new growth.  I marvel at that beginning.  How this barren brown garden is suddenly green and growing until you can hardly see the brown earth anymore.  What beauty will it bring, what challenges, what changes?


DSCN8175Over a year ago I retired.  It can be a scary prospect when you make big changes like this.  What will I do with myself now?  Will it be enough to sustain me mentally, intellectually, emotionally?  What new challenges will lie ahead, and will I be up for them?  And if these new changes weren’t enough, I began writing another blog last year, Living From Happiness, which is heavily influenced by my garden and my life.

Now 10 years on, what are my thoughts about my garden especially now as Autumn is upon us.  I think they still mirror me at this moment in my life during this season of change.  I now am on a path where I am regaining my strength, reflecting and looking for the next step on the journey.  Putting down strong roots to grow and bloom in the future.

I am never quite sure what my garden will look like each year.  What projects will I work on?  What plants will return, and which are now gone?  Will our journey, my garden and me, be forever inextricably linked?  I think so.  And there is still some fear with this new journey of writing….it seems surreal many days.  Resources are needed and the biggest one is time.  How to make sure there is time to grow each idea carefully so it establishes itself is the true test.



The garden seems the perfect metaphor for my life.  I guess that is why I chose to write this blog.  As I have grown in years I realize my life is constantly starting anew whether I like it or not.  I am always re-creating myself, not quite done; always changing; every year different.  I used to resist this change, but like the garden I am learning to accept the changes that will come and learn from them.  So I plan to write about those changes, my life and my garden-how I see them.  I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do.


So I continue now on my journey with this blog, this life.  It continues to take me in directions that are unknown.  Each new fork in the road an adventure, a new lesson or an old one doomed to be repeated until I learn it more fully.  And as I listen to my inner guide, I seem to be taking the right path that is bringing me closer to where I am supposed to be.  How do I know?  I just do…it is something you just feel with your whole being.  I hope you continue to join me on this wonderful journey of life towards a new beginning once again….here at Gardens Eye View.  And don’t forget to stop by my other blog, Living From Happiness, now a year old.





Why stay we on the earth except to grow?

–   Robert Browning









This week’s vase is a special one to commemorate my 5th blogging anniversary.  I decided to use my special Belleek vase that I have used only once before.




anniv vase collage

Pale yellow sunflowers are still blooming prolifically and they scream fall garden for me given our cool down recently.  They have a special place in this vase.  Along with pink hydrangeas (another favorite flower) and anise hyssop, a native wildflower both hanging on and resurging a bit.  I also added a very special coleus I found this year.  It is a dark green with dark purple veining and trim.  I do not know its name, but I hope to keep it alive this winter, and take some cuttings.


I am joining in with a few memes this week:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.  Please check out these wonderful blogs and link ups.




Join In The Seasonal Celebration:

As I feel autumn’s call to celebrate the coming season, I hope you will join in the celebration. I welcome those Down Under who will be celebrating the coming of spring to join in too.  

All you have to do is write a post between now and September 23rd  telling me how you are celebrating the new season.  Then leave a comment on the kick-off post with your link so I can include your link in my summary post on September 28th.  

I do hope you will consider joining in the Seasonal Celebrations meme as we celebrate the new season in your corner of the world.

And as always, I will be 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 Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere.  Write a separate post or combine your Lessons with your Celebrations for one post.


Next up on the blog:  

On Wednesday I hope to have a Stuck Foot post.  And Monday, I will have another wonderful native wildflower profile.

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 Monday.



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, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

74 Replies to “Beginnings- A Retrospective”

  1. Congratulations! and well done for managing to write a post every week for five years, I don’t think I’ve achieved that. I like your thoughts on change; I think you’re right change happens whether we want it to or not. Gardens certainly change ALL THE TIME! They change each day as the sun moves across the sky lighting each plant in a different way; they change with the seasons as different plants become more dominant and they change as the plants grow; understanding this helps us garden in a better way. Here’s a toast to another five years Donna!

  2. Such an interesting and beautiful post, Donna! I haven’t followed your blog from the beginning; I hope I can do it for many, many years to come.
    The vase you used this week is really lovely and the pale sunflowers and the pink hydrangeas go wonderfully together, with the vase too.
    Happy Mosaic Monday!

  3. Well done Donna. It is quite an undertaking to write so regularly and I do enjoy reading your posts. Connecting with people in other parts of the world is what makes blogging so exciting for me. There are so many similarities in how we all garden.. and so many differences too! Here’s to the next five years.

    1. That is what is exciting for me too…the connections! And I am so very pleased you enjoy reading my blog…I appreciate the support!

  4. Good morning, Donna
    I really enjoyed reading your story and what a great 5th anniversary post for your blog. Your words and images are always lovely. Pretty vase and arrangement, lovely mosaic. I am happy to have found your blog. I am looking forward to many more years of visiting your blog.
    Have a happy day and new week ahead!

  5. A very touching account and review, Donna, and it’s lovely to see how people pass on their love for nature and gardens to (their) children and it always stays with them and carries them through their lifes…they in turn pass on their love and share it with others. It makes for a rich life and having such a love and passion makes it also easier for us when tough times strike, doesn’t it?! Keep up the good work, happy september days 🙂

  6. A lovely post Donna, perfect for celebrating 5 years of blogging – congratulations! It is true that you write about the soul of gardening, which is what I enjoy so much about your blog. Your vase is so lovely this week too – the combination of sunflowers and hydrangea is unusual, but works so well! And the foliage from the coleus is a striking addition. Well done!

  7. Congratulations on your successful writing experience. Your then-and-now approach today was helpful in understanding how you’re growing your garden and your self in the right direction. And befitting of such an occasion, your vase is just perfect.

  8. Happy Blogging Anniversary Donna. I hit 6 years last June and do you not just enjoy the whole concept so much! Your shares are all charming and delightful. Keep up the wonderful work and enjoy every day~

    1. Wow Mary that is a big milestone as well…congrats….I don’t know what I would do without writing and communicating regularly with other writers/bloggers!

  9. Congrats with your blog anniversary Donna!
    I’ve read your post and thought you’re very sincere and happy woman, as you write:All of me with no judgements…This is important quality of any person: to be sincere with him/herself. I liked your second photo, lovely!

  10. Congratulations on your 5 years blogging Donna 🙂 a wonderful achievement. How lovely that your Mother gets to enjoy your blog when you send her copies. It was great hearing how your love of gardening developed. It shows in these marvelous photos.

  11. I love how you recreated this post with the updates Donna. I hope you break out that special vase more often. It is beautiful like your words. A refreshing weekend of rain here – lazy weekend, time to think, be idle, reflect. I did do some vine hacking with the cooler weather and am falling back in love with my garden. I know we will meet one day and see each other’s gardens!

  12. Congratulations on many years of beautiful words and spirit. You have kept your aim! I think must give you a very deep sense of satisfaction. You have also supported others along your path, which in my mind, is an indication of a unique and evolved person. We are here on this earth, not only to grow, but to be of service. I believe that with my whole heart. Thank you for all you have done for me on my author journey, and as I continue to find my way to have my blog match my varied interests. In the end, I’m really just a writer, one who finds the garden an analogy for life–just as you said. Can there be a better one?

    1. It is my pleasure and you are correct….it is in the helping…the community that we are blessed. I can’t find a better inspiration than my garden.

  13. Such a delightful post, Donna. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and philosophies with us, your blogging friends. It is such a pleasure to be accompanying you on your journey through life – and congratulations on five years of blogging too. Your pale yellow sunflowers sit beautifully with what seems an unusual shade of pink hydrangea in your Belleek vase and what a pretty wild flower the hyssop is – a soft and gentle vase for a gentle and thoughtful post…

    1. I am glad I could share my story Cathy. The hydrangea is ‘Endless Summer’ reblooming…a bright pink as if it was spring still.

  14. Five years of blogging is something, congratulations, Donna! And thank you for sharing your thoughts and nice moments with us!Plus – a great vase, as usual!

  15. Congratulations, Donna! I’ve been blogging a little longer than you, but my first post was nowhere near as eloquent as yours. You had a good grasp on what you wanted your blog to be right from the first. Kudos to you!

    1. You are so very nice to say so Alison…yes I did have a direction when I started and I have stayed pretty much on target…and I developed my gardening with each post written and read…..thanks for your support.

  16. Happy blog anniversary, Donna! I love your retrospective post as much as this week’s pretty vase. I started my own blog a few months shy of 3 years ago, just 2 months before my mother passed away. I thought of sharing it with her but computers and blogs didn’t fit into her world at that point. I did share it with my mother-in-law, who we lost unexpectedly only 10 weeks after my mother’s passing – she loved it and shared it with her friends, a memory I treasure to this day.

  17. I enjoyed your thoughts on change, I’m also retired but have lost the older generation. It seems strange that I became the older generation. Time moves on. I saw a lot of changes in my garden this year with the drought and heat impacting a lot of plants, and having to face moving in a new direction of tougher plants. I’m embarking on a program of trying to eliminate some of the work and fill in more of the garden with plants that can endure. I enjoyed your sunflowers, they are something I didn’t grow until this year, and I’m realizing they may fill a niche of tough plants that can make a presence in the garden, even as a hedge, and also provide food for birds, so they are a big part of next year’s plans. I always love Hydrangeas but they are on my list of plants I have lost. The Anise Hyssop is a nice touch, and the coleus is so pretty, flower-like. Happy 5th Blogiversary, Donna! And Happy Fall Celebrations!

    1. Thanks Hannah…I am looking at making changes to make my garden easier as I get older….your changes make sense and you and your garden will benefit greatly from them.

  18. Congratulations Donna. Your writing conveys such depth of feeling and soul and always makes me think. I loved reading about the changes and new beginnings in your life and it has given me confidence and strength for a change my husband and I are about to undertake. We celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary last week and have lived in the same house for 25 years so we don’t do change lightly. Thank you so much for sharing.

  19. This is indeed a special occasion, so what better time to bring out your special vase and fill it with beauty as you fill your post with memories. Nice combination of looking back and looking forward.

  20. Happy Blogoversary, Donna! It was interesting reading your ‘then and now’ post. Time seems to go fast, many things change, yet others, like the heart, do not. Many blessings!

  21. Congratulations Donna – 5 years is a real achievement!! I love what you do and the way that you express your love of life and your garden – I am looking forward to the next 5 years. What a perfect vase to celebrate your success.

  22. Happy Anniversary Donna on 5 years of blogging. You have always brought an element of education to each post and inspired us with your pretty vases of flowers.
    Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday.

  23. Congrats oh five years. I am trying to remember when I met you online but it has been several years and I am so happy to have done that.. My late Mom used to read my blog…now I am tearing up..that kind of day I guess… Michelle

  24. Happy anniversary Donna, I greatly admire your continuity, I am rubbish at doing much beyond cleaning my teeth and eating with such regularity! The soul still shines through in everything you write, and I love the way you embrace the changing rhythms of gardens and life and the challenges they bring. Bring on the next five years!

    1. I am not good with routine Janet, but it seems with writing and blogging I am obsessive…..your kind words and support mean so much to me! Thank you!

  25. Congratulations! I’m glad you stuck with it and that I was able to discover your blog. Looking forward to many future posts. Love the sunflowers, but the way.

  26. Congratulations, Donna! 5 years is an eon in blogging terms! Thank you for sharing the beauty and trials of your journey (even the voles) with us. I look forward to reading another of these posts in another 5 years.

  27. I’m sorry I’m late wishing you many congratulations on your fifth year of blogging Donna. I really enjoyed reading about your gardening journey in this post. I can still remember the scent of the honeysuckle that grew close to our bedroom window when I was a child. Long may your blog flourish and bloom.

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