Gardens Eye Journal-January 2016


“I enjoy the cleaning up-something about getting of things in order for winter-making the garden secure-a battening down of hatches perhaps…It just feels right.”  

~David Hobson



With a considerable lack of typical winter weather in December, snow and cold, the garden appeared to be sleeping or maybe not.  With cold mornings, and warmer days, it had been tricked into thinking it was very early spring.

And the new winter outlook is showing above normal temps from January to March with normal DSCN0805precipitation, thankfully.  What is different is the type of precipitation…..rainy for much of December.  And with all the rain, I saw a surge in grass and weeds in my garden beds….like the seed head of the dandelion above….lots of dandelions around.  

But as I write this and December ends, winter has made its appearance, finally!  A bit of snow, lots of sleet and ice (2 inches) and then a bit more snow. Barely an inch of snow really, but it is cold and the pond is frozen.  Will this winter weather remain?  Well we shall see…..





sunrise dec collage

This fabulous sunrise was seen from outdoors in my sandals and no socks, as some mornings had been in the 40s.  They released some new snow stats for our area.  Namely that we beat the record for the latest we have received one inch of snow.  The record had been December 22, 2012.  And our first big snow came January 3rd, 2016 with a couple of inches.  Remember we only received a half inch of snow on November 23rd, as I showed in my First Glimpse of Winter post.  

With the record warmth, we had many inches of rain in December.  Judging by the flooding in the garden, I would say well over 8 inches of rain fell.  In December, we were at least 10 degrees above normal making it the warmest December on record.




Garden Views

I thought I would start out with some interesting garden views in December.



As I said, very rainy in the first few days breaking the dry spell we had in November.  See the puddles of standing water in the back garden, behind the Center Garden?  That was the usual flooded view all month.





And with the fluctuations in temps, we had fog on a few wet and cold mornings with flooding near the Bog Garden.





And on this same morning, a bit of frozen water in the rain garden near the gazebo as temps hovered near freezing.





I loved this view at dusk, with my neighbor’s Christmas lights, seen from my front porch during our green Christmas.






No you are not seeing things.  Snowdrops in the back, near the pond waterfall.  I was shocked to see them.  I have noticed a few others just coming up as I walked the garden, but they are hard to see with the weeds and garden debris still covering many beds. 




flowers collage

And the Gaillardia (top left) bloomed well into late December with (clockwise) Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton‘ in the Wall Garden next to the house, Scabiosa ochroleuca and Lamium all greeting the New Year.





And this Witch Hazel, which is the non-native in my garden, Hamamelis vernalis, blooming way ahead of schedule.  Normally it blooms in early spring.  This plant is native to the southern and central US.  It was sent in error as I wanted the eastern US native, Hamamelis virginiana.  






Lots of interesting foliage was observed in December.


grasses collage

The typical foliage we see, in early winter, in the garden are the brown grasses…this one an unnamed Miscanthus.





One of the two Hypericum prolificum still hanging on to its foliage after 2 months.





One of many Epimedium behind the gazebo still looking fresh.  





And my pea plant still growing, with garlic and cilantro, in the veg garden all month.




greens collage

But the biggest surprise was seeing so many plants putting on new spring growth….in early winter!  Clockwise starting top left is Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale), daffodils in some areas already several inches high, perennial Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolius), daylily and Hyacinth (center).  The other plants, I have seen before in late fall and even when the snow melts, but not Hyacinths.  That is so strange.





And I love the fungus growing on the ash tree stump as it decays naturally.  You can see the moisture from the fog glistening on the fungus.





pond dec collage

I think the biggest surprise has been in the pond.  The Green frogs were not hibernating until the New Year.  At least not the larger two.  They hung out in the pond or on the pond edge during the warm days and cold nights.  I am not sure how this warm weather will affect them as the winter goes along, but I will be observing them to see if they stay below the pond surface in the mud sleeping.





dec critters collage

Not many new visitors in the garden.  The birds have been enjoying the seeds, suet, suet crumbs on the ground (Juncos), and even the Blue Jays (top left) are now coming to check out the suet.  The berries and rose hips still remain in the garden.  The birds must be keeping them for colder weather.


We had a few surprise visitors around Christmas.  You can read about them in my  Wildlife Lessons post on Thursday, at my new blog, Living from Happiness.  Please stop by!

I am sharing all our critters with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.





Here’s a parting shot from the front garden as I glance over again at the Christmas lights next door through the barberry bush this time.




late dec Collage

And this was the aftermath of the December 29th sleet storm (left)….and then a couple of days later (right) on the 31st as we saw the old year out.



These are the amazing highlights of my garden in December.  What was a favorite highlight from your December garden?



In A Vase On Monday 




I wanted to create another holiday centerpiece.  I decided to cut some Bayberry and Boxwood greenery to line the basket.  It still had the Miscanthus grass from the Harvest Basket.




holiday basket collage

And I thought some Barberry berries and dried hydrangea flowers would add a bit more to the basket.  The greenery will dry naturally, and add to the look of this basket which should last a long time as it needs no water.


I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase/container:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles 2016 and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.


Next up on the blog:  

Monday, I will be revisiting a special spot I visited a few years ago.

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



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, 2010-2016.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

106 Replies to “Gardens Eye Journal-January 2016”

  1. I agree with Jessica, the Christmas lights is a lovely image. All your comments about the unusual weather just prove the damage we are causing to our planet; December was very mild here too, but while we were away there were frosts, not heavy though. We have snow forecast for this January but who really knows what will happen. A very happy new year to you Donna, I hope 2016 is healthy and tranquil for you and your family.

    1. That would be unusual to have snow there….thank you Christina for your New Year’s wishes. Hoping you have a grand year in your garden!

  2. Hello Donna, this weather has been crazy. I wonder if it is doing some crazy things to our plants. The Snowdrops are pretty. It has finally gotten cold here, but still no snow. I love the view of the Christmas lights, beautiful images. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

    1. I am sure this crazy weather is damaging our planet and plants…we shall see how much Hope your weekend has been wonderful.

  3. December was really full of surprises in the garden. It looked more like spring than December. It’ll be interesting to see the following up come spring and how the flowers perform then. Love the shots of the Christmas lights and foliage.

    1. Thanks Karin….we have had a couple weeks of winter so far but spring returned for a few days again. I wonder how much snow we will actual have this winter.

  4. Hello, Donna! I too love your Christmas lights photos but it’s especially the flower collage, and in particular your Lonicera, that makes my heart beat faster. So beautiful!
    I hope the plants (yours and ours) will not be too much damaged by the crazy weather. This night we may reach -13 Fahrenheit and there’s half an inch of snow…
    Have a beautiful week ahead!

    1. I hope the plants are OK too, Sara! It has been a wonderful winter for the past 10 days, but the spring weather came back. They say winter is returning this week.

  5. Some great photos, Donna. You’re right that winter is an important part of the gardening circle. I hope you have a good gardening winter–and year to come.

  6. Your photos are lovely, Donna. The Christmas lights really were a great backdrop for your photos. The weather has been amazing these past few months. I’m not complaining though. We didn’t get much snow up here in Mexico, NY. It did get pretty cold overnight though. It was 7 when I woke up this a.m. and it has only warmed up to 14 at 11 a.m.
    It’s just unbelievable that all these plants have lasted through December. Hope there isn’t much damage to those plants that started their spring growth.

    1. I am happy to see a bit of snow and colder weather Sue, but not the lake effect. I can do without it for one year! Hope your winter continues to be bearable.

  7. Donna you have some nice photos of your mild December garden, yes the wet mild weather does see the weeds grow, however your photo of the dandelion seedhead is beautiful, Frances

  8. The thing I like most about gardening is that when you really stop to look you will always find something blooming in the garden, something to bring a bit of cheer into your life…Love your photos, the snowdrop is really special.

  9. Another interesting to see the different birds, and the new growth emerging. I love watching the weather too…and wonder what will be in store later in the year as a result of this mild winter. I’ve not seen green frogs like yours before. We have toads, frogs and newts in a very small garden, and have to be careful when gardening or moving a pot…but I will have to take my camera next time and try to get a picture to show.

  10. In every season your garden is a beautiful sight Donna. Thank you for linking with Today’s Flowers in its new home. Wishing you and all your loved ones A Very Happy New Year.

  11. We have had the same warm, rainy December weather, with grass and weeds flourishing. Now there is finally snow on the ground, not much, but enough to halt the early spring for a while… the snow drops are beautiful!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing the love up-close with I Heart Macro… Happy New Year!

  12. The Christmas lights and the grass foliage are my favourites – and thank goodness you got flooding in the right area (near the bog garden). Your garden always looks lovely – the basket is an excellent (and very pretty) idea – you can use the bay in the kitchen too, when it’s dried!

  13. What a lovely basket Donna – I rarely use baskets to display flowers but I do have a few tucked away – you have inspired me to dig them out. Imagine you showing a snowdrop at this time of year – it really is an unusual winter so far.

  14. Donna, I really like your witch hazel. And some of those photos look wet, wet, wet. All the flowers are delightful; here, too, we’ve had flowers come up too early. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Do you prefer snow to the rain and warmer temperatures in winter, Donna? Plants do get confused when the weather goes awry, I think. This is the first year in quite awhile that feels like a “real” winter here (or our version of that season anyway). Temperatures of 80+F have been common the past few years – I’ve even had Agapanthus and Hemerocallis blooming in November and December but there’s no sign of that this year. If only we’d also get some of the rain the forecasters have promised us…The first storm due this week (today) failed to reach us. I hope all the rest won’t skip us too.

    1. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I prefer snow in my winter…although I need a break from 3 or 4 months of it by the end of winter!

  16. Donna, your photos are always just stunning…and you was certainly able to capture some loveliness….the dew drops, the fog, the birds, just to name a few. I think if we really look we can find beauty anywhere at any time! You have also created some wonderful mosaics! Have a great week!

  17. The great fear here is that we’ll get a repeat of the three days of freezing rain that occurred in January 1998 as part of a similarly strong El Nino pattern.

  18. We had a similar autumn, although I think more snow. Definitely more snow now, with a few inches on the ground. Lovely images of the new growth on spring-blooming plants! Happy New Year, Donna. 🙂

    1. Happy New Year Beth…yes I think you did have a bit more snow so far than we have….but after our spring break for 2 days, winter is returning in January and I am sure a bit more snow!

  19. Love the Christmas lights shot Donna, but how very strange to see your garden all green and soggy at this time of year, I am so accustomed to those snowy scenes. It is very worrying, all this mild and wet weather in the US and Europe, I fear we are doing far too little far too late to ameliorate the effects of climate change. In the mean time, we are presented with a whole new set of gardening conditions to get accustomed to.

    Weather aside, I hope 2016 is full of health, happiness and happy gardening!

    1. I fear the same Janet….and I was sure some readers would be shocked by my photos. Wishing you a healthy, wonderful New Year!

  20. Such strange, unseasonal weather everywhere but it is a great to see so much life in our gardens. What beautiful photographs. Happy New Year Donna.

  21. Hello, I just wanted to stop back and say thank you for linking up this post and your sweet birds this week. Have a happy day!

  22. I like your holiday centerpiece basket, Donna. I had company over the holidays and had to stop blogging for a while. Your mild winter and early signs of spring are wonderful, it is not looking like spring here yet with our first snowfall.

  23. We have had the same warm and rainy weather, though it is finally turning a bit colder here. It makes you wonder if plants will be affected this spring. Love the photo of the rain chain lit by the Christmas lights! Wishing you a very happy New Year, Donna!

  24. Hi Donna, we have had some very unseasonal weather here too, which just makes me feel that no good can come of this, with bird song as if its spring and nest building time. I remember first finding your blog when you were under several feet of snow, I wonder if you prefer this weather or its unsettling for the seasons to be so out of kilter.

    1. I do prefer a typical winter which we have not had for a few years now…too snowy and cold the last 2 yrs…and hardly any snow now. I agree no good can come of this.

  25. The weather has taken a turn. We too had winter roll in with snow and temps in the teens. I am sure come spring we will be surprised at what and when we get bloom. Wishing you a great new year with healthy, happy gardening.

  26. Happy New Year Donna! We had a mild December and a green Christmas just as you seem to have experienced. Our temperatures were not quite as mild so nothing broke dormancy, but I did have a few pansies, which is unheard of in Southern Ontario in December. Today, winter made up for lost time and we had -14 degree weather. Who knows what winter will bring next.

  27. A Happy New Year to you and your Donna.
    What a treat your December garden must have been, even with the light covering of snow. December weather, as far as I can gather, was certainly not normal for most of us. I’d just like a wee break from all the rain. Have a good week.

  28. Hi Donna, Autumn comes and goes and we think the garden has shut down, well you have had plenty surprises in December.
    Not much real sign of Winter here either, although it has been wet, wet, wet. We have escaped the flooding, which people not so far from here have had to endure.
    All my best wishes for the New Year.

    1. Oh I am glad you did not have the flooding Alistair…I was worried! Wishing you all the best in your garden and New Year!

  29. Everything you do or touch is a work of art Donna! Whether it is your lovely back garden or your plants or your arrangements in vases or your wonderful mosaics. I can’t credit you with making the lovely sunrise or course, but you certainly put the pictures of it together in a beautiful way! Everything about this post made me smile!

  30. Definitely crazy weather to confuse our gardens. With the past 2 days being frigid, it seems winter has finally arrived. My spouse told me tonight that it was 40F in the Arctic (where there is NO sun, mind you) and TX has 10 ft. of snow! I’m getting a bit scared…

  31. Lovely foliage, Donna, especially Hypericum prolificum, it’s very graphical. I see you have no a lot of snow till now. as we don’t but we have very cold weather here.

  32. I love the colors of your flowers, but of course my favorite is the snowdrops. It is something that hold my attention the moment i saw it the first time in Turkey. And your collages shapes are nice too.

  33. What a weird winter it has been! I don’t have any blooms, but my daffodils and tulips are coming up. We are supposed to get rain this weekend, so it will likely end up soggy in my garden too! I love how you used a basket for your vase – so pretty!

  34. As usual, beautiful photos! Looks as if you did get quite a bit of rain. I was thinking how lucky we were it was not all coming down as snow!

    1. I was thinking the same thing Frank…if we had snow instead I would have many feet here in my garden like the last 2 years.

  35. That first touch of real winter weather is finally heading our way later this week Donna. What a relief! Like with you some of the perennials are way ahead of where they should be – peeking their heads out already and no doubt in for a nasty shock later this week. A fabulous photo of an out of time dandelion clock.

  36. We are also experiencing a very mild winter here in Birmingham in the UK with lots of early Snowdrops and Hellebores. The early colour is nice but I fear the confusion will catch up with us all in the end…

    1. We had snow and cold for a couple of weeks, and another warm up for a few days…now all the bulbs are breaking through….but winter is expected to be back for a couple of weeks starting tomorrow so I am sure the poor plants are going to be very confused. I was thinking the same thing Daniel….it will catch up with us in some way.

  37. Hi Donna, you are out in sandals and no socks with temps in the 40s? We have had very similar weather and I wear a warm coat! In fact, seeing your bulbs coming up and buds in your garden, along with all the rain, reminds me much of my normal climate. I think you have moved south for the winter!

    1. We are a hardy bunch up here…40s in the morning means no socks for quick look outside in the garden….and it feels warm to us of course. It did seem we had moved south for the winter for a while…now winter has returned Deb!

  38. It has finally stopped raining here on the Texas Guof Coast; at least it has stopped for a few days. Winter has arrived and so have the goldfinches, many more goldfinches than ever before.
    I enjoyed the photos from your garden.

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