Moments In The Garden-Practical Optimism for Spring


“How much hope, expectation, and sheer hard work goes into the smallest success! There is no being sure of anything except that whatever has been created will change in time…”  ~May Sarton



I am a card carrying optimist…well most of the time.  And at the same time I consider myself very practical.  After a bit of study, I like to get down in the dirt, so to speak, and use what I know.  That is how I approached my job, and how I approach gardening.  

Keeping optimism front and center while being practical has served me well over the years, and it is this balanced approach that I am using for planning my garden projects.  It allows me to focus more, instead of being scattered, and allows me to spread my wings and not limit myself so much.  I find I can be more inspired, and see what is possible.

What has been inspiring this spring is the early blooming going on in my garden.  You can see Crocus minimus ‘Spring Beauty’ already blooming in my grass (top picture).  Such a lovely surprise.  And here are a few other surprises we saw in March.


spring growth (1)

Hellebores, Pussy willows, Forsythia blossoms getting ready to burst, and clematis sporting new growth again.  I saw this same picture in December, when it was so warm the clematis thought it was spring.





And this is what happens when bulbs want to start blooming in December, and then get covered in snow or are frozen again and again.  Luckily it seems to be the only one that was damaged.

My practical side says don’t be fooled by the warm weather we have had.  And as I think this, the weather folks seem to be agreeing with me.  They now are predicting cold temps for April here, and snow on and off.  That is fine with me, as it means my garden will be slow to emerge, and I will have time to do spring projects.


So after an early clean up in the March garden, and an inspection of the plants, I was able to see my garden laid bare before me….easily giving me a few clues about what MUST be done this year…and this early spring.



lawn (1)

We are not big lawn people, but we have to maintain a lawn in our area, either by ourselves or by hiring lawn care nearby.  So we work at it as organically as possible.  Over the past few years though we noticed these thick clumps of grass growing and turning an ugly brown all over the front and side lawns (see in the inset picture).  I finally figured out that they are small ornamental grasses seeded from others in the front and side yards.  You can see the one of the grasses cut back in the front garden.

This grass is coming out as it is too close to the boxwood, and needs more room to grow.  I plan to find another spot out back for it, quite possibly in the white garden once I get it redesigned.  But this early spring, we are digging out probably close to 50 clumps in the lawn and filling in the holes with a combo of top soil and compost.  They should fill in over the spring, summer and fall, but we will watch them to keep them weeded.





A first priority though is this bed in the back of the veg garden.  You might recall this overgrown bed, full of blueberry bushes and blackberry brambles, was the nesting site for rabbits last year.  We cleaned it out in fall, but ran out of time and energy to get it ready for spring.

I have since weeded it, but we must dig it out, add landscape fabric and screening to it as the voles love to make a home here.  Once refilled and topped off with compost, I will be planting early lettuces, arugula and other veggies.





This nondescript area can be found next to the new bed pictured above.  It usually fills with daffs, a few flowers and loads of weeds.  It will be cleared for the site of our new raised fruit bed.  I should just fit here.  I will need to move a few bulbs and plants soon.  Once it is in place I am moving blueberries, a raspberry bush and strawberries to a 3-tiered bed we bought from Gardener’s Supply.





I have overwinterd the fruit plants in this bed, along with other plants that we are growing in containers until they can be planted out in the garden…mostly small starter shrubs.  Once this bed is cleared of the buried containers, we are digging this out, and adding the landscape fabric and screening as well.  Then in later May it will become our tomato-pepper-okra-eggplant bed.

If you look from the front to back of this picture, you will see the rest of the veg beds.  They all need to be topped with compost.  We ran out of time this past fall so when the rain stops for a bit, I will get this small project finished.




cutting bed (1)

You may remember we created a small cutting bed in the Side Garden last spring.  We increased the depth in fall, and now see the front stones are pushing out and will fall.  I thought it would take a bit of redoing, but actually it just took a little disassembly in the front, and angling of the bottom stones.  Now it is ready for planting soon. 

I am still planning on a new cutting bed, in the back garden area, that will be completed by fall.  It will need to be measured out, plants moved, area dug out to a depth of 2 feet, and then landscape fabric and screening laid in the hole.  Once done, we will back fill with compost and soil, and surround it with stones.  I plan to plant tulips here that I will cover with screening to keep out squirrels.  Then once they start to grow, I will cover them with netting to keep out deer.  I also plan to add other flowers to this bed next spring including more dahlias.





Another April chore will be getting the pond ready.  This is what it looks like once it melts, and the weather warms.





There are pond weeds and algae through out.  We actually opened the pond on Easter by putting the pump back in.  Now the waterfall is running and the pond is scrubbing itself clean.  We just need to give it a good skimming of the surface for weeds and debris.




pond edge (1)

The main pond project is rebuilding the far bank for birds.  Originally the edge gradually dropped off so birds could wade in easily and bathe.  Now it is very weedy, and the bank drops off sharply due to erosion after almost 8 years.  So we will clear the edge, and add bigger rocks further out from the edge to make the drop off gradual.  The we will add small stones from there to the pond edge.  I am sure the birds will be happy to have a bathing spot again, and I know we will enjoy watching them.


These are just the first projects we need to complete in early spring, but certainly not the last.  We are hoping to also:


  • extend the side gardens back out as the lawn has grown back into them
  • loads of weeding must be done especially in the front gardens….I figure an hour a day will help me to catch up before the hot weather sets in….and even then I will still be weeding a few hours a week into the fall.
  • Veg and cutting gardens as well as annual flower seed all need to be sown or starts planted out.  That will be happening through April and May.
  • Of course we still need to add landscape fabric and screening to the last 2 veg beds, but we should do that in fall.
  • And the bog garden needs to be fixed and the new rain garden dug there and lined with stone.
  • The rain garden near the gazebo needs to be dug out a bit and lined with stones and the area near the fence cleared of Obedient plant that is taking over….or maybe we will just move some plants out of their way.
  • Not to mention the White Garden needs to be top dressed with compost, and redesigned….as a matter of fact, many of the beds need some tweaking.  
  • And let’s not forget the iris, daffs and other plants need dividing, and moving!


Oh well these are projects for the future…some near and some far.  We always need some project to keep us busy in the garden, now don’t we.  I know I can find projects with very little effort.  I bet you can too!




sunset (1)

I thought I would leave you with one of the spectacular sunset moments we had in March.  


What wonderful sights have you been seeing in your garden?






In A Vase On Monday 




I wanted to make a vase that showcased the end of March, and beginning of April in my garden.  It is cold for a few more days so I cut a bunch of willow branches from my front trees.  They are just blooming.  What a sight as they begin to bloom.





And just a few hellebores makes for a perfect early spring arrangement.  It was late in the day when I made this vase so the pictures are a bit dark.

With the snow and cold, I am not sure what flowers will be blooming for next week’s vase.  Well I will be optimistic, and say there will be loads of bulbs flowering who love our colder temps.


I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  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 brings another look at what has bloomed in the early springtime garden in cold April.

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 Monday. 

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. 

97 Replies to “Moments In The Garden-Practical Optimism for Spring”

  1. Hello Donna, I don’t think I have ever seen a hellebore with such a wonderful colour! Your vase arrangement is lovely and there are many interesting projects, great results and wonderful surprises in your garden.
    I hope the cold weather will not be excessively so.
    Happy Mosaic Monday!

    1. It is a stunning hellebore Sara…it seems winter has returned for a while so the garden is on hold…snow and cold are burying the flowers…we shall see who survives by weeks end.

  2. We really need to be optimists right now Donna, two days in a row we have woke up to spring snow covering the ground. I think my spring bulbs will be shrinking back into the ground if this continues. The crocus I had in bloom are covered in snow. You have a long list of jobs to do, as I do, and at this rate I’m not sure when I’ll get to them. Come back spring, we miss you.

    1. Is it still snowing there Linda? It is here. Unfortunately my early bulbs were all blooming….Seems spring will be missing all week here. With all the weather delays these spring projects may not get done again…I think I need to plan for a few more fall projects, and even a few in summer.

  3. There’s always so much that can be done outside. That’s the best part about gardening–never a dull moment and always new projects.
    Happy Spring

  4. Thank you for sharing all your projects with us, Donna – most intriguing to hear about your plans. Can I just ask why you need to dig your cutting beds to a depth of 2 feet? And what is arugula? Are the various raised beds you showed us made of plastic? Sorry for all the questions 🙂

    What a pretty hellebore you have in your vase today – the different colours and styles and shapes of petals of hellebores fascinate me – I don’t think I could ever have too many of them!

    1. I love answering question Cathy…yes the beds are PVC plastic as wood deteriorates too quickly in our climate. Arugula is Eruca sativa an edible annual plant, also known as salad rocket….you find it in salads and it has a peppery taste. One of my favorites.

      Now as for the cutting bed, I decided to dig down instead of purchasing stone of some other material to make a bed 2 ft high. I want to plant tulips and dahlias here, and with our heavy clay, I want to make sure the depth is enough to drain. I will need to add lots of good soil here so it doesn’t stay soggy. Planting tulips here is hard due to our hard clay soil.

      I had success in my old garden when I created a bed that was made where a tree was removed…and they returned too which is another issue we have with tulips. They just don’t return if planted to 6-8 inches down in our clay. I guess it really isn’t much of a raised bed but more of a planting bed dug out and the soil replaced.

  5. I admire your energy and enthusiasm for all your projects. So much to do!
    I think your vase this week is very elegant with its slender branches and gorgeous hellebores.
    This late snowstorm is bumming me out a bit, I’m worried that all those budded things that looked so promising a few days ago will be done for. 🙁 Nature never fails to surprise.

    1. And what a surprise….I am equally concerned, and will see just how resilient my early bulbs are after being buried days under all the heavy snow.

  6. Donna, I very much share your approach to optimism. I keep saying I will content myself with garden maintenance but something bigger comes along from time to time.
    The projects you have set out are inspiring, I may take a leaf out of your book, kind of running out of space though.

    1. I hear you Alistair…my optimism is being tested today as more snow has fallen. 8 inches is more snow than I ever remember seeing in April and it is heavy weighing on all the flowers in bloom….and it is lasting for many days. Usually we get a few inches that melts in a day. The only thing I can feel good about is once it melts, I will know how resilient my flowers are.

  7. I’m afraid I would be overwhelmed by such a list, not that it wouldn’t be appropriate. It is impressive, though and I’ll bet you even accomplish it all. Love the simplicity of your lovely vase.

    1. Now if I tried to do my whole list, I would be overwhelmed too…that is why I am concentrating only on the first few projects. They really won’t take much time once we can get going. I have learned to make more reasonable to do lists especially because of the weather constraints…..we are frustrated right now as we continue to have to wait due to snow…once it melts this weekend it is slated to rain for another week.

  8. Hello Donna, this back and forth weather is crazy. We go from 80° to freeze warning. Snow, rian and winds. Your hellebores in the vase are lovely.
    Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  9. I thought of you when I heard that the northeast was experiencing a winter relapse. I hope your flowers manage through this stretch of cold weather relatively unscathed! This week’s vase is lovely and I hope to see a survivors’ vase next week!

  10. You are going to be so busy! I do like to have a few projects on the go just to feel that we are making progress. Sorry that the weather has got in the way again. Winter does not seem keen to loosen its grip.

  11. Yep, snowing here, too. It may be the deepest snow pack of the whole winter! Why do you need to dig your bed two feet deep? Your list of projects is pretty ambitious, but it’s always easy to be ambitious while you’re waiting for spring!

  12. Oh yes it is easy to be ambitious…we will only get to the first few in spring that are priorities. And wow you really didn’t have much snow did you? I would say we did get to 2 feet of snow at one time…which is light compared to last year…and it didn’t last for long this winter….seems winter did not have enough time with us..

    Kathy, you are the second person to ask about 2 ft deep, and I realized it really is not a raised bed, but an area of a bed where instead of adding soil up, we are digging down and then adding soil instead. The spot where I have enough sun for a cutting bed is very heavy clay. So in order to use it for tulips, especially, I have found creating an area a couple feet deep allows tulips to grow and even have a chance to return yearly. If it is deep enough the bed will drain easier too. A foot down is not enough as you hit the clay too quickly. Does that make sense Kathy?

  13. We too are plodding along clearing algae from our new pond, which still has to settle in. The frog waterspout and filter must do their best, and the oxygenating plants must GROW!

    (And we are promised snow on the Sani Pass to Lesotho much further north)

    1. So your weather is changing finally Diana…winter decided to pop in for another visit. I think he felt he was being slighted this year as he did not have much time with us!

  14. I’m an optimistic realist. I’m almost done with another extension to my riverbed. Your pond is so full of wildlife. The birds will love their new ramp. 🙂

    1. Thanks Aaron….if I don’t get the projects organized, they will never get done…many of these have lingered for a year or 2 or 3 now so we really need to get a few done soon….I hope if we can get a steady dry weather pattern.

      1. Still admirable 🙂

        I was almost done with my spring planting, when I came down with the flu (or a flu-like illness) that has knocked me on my back for about a week now.

        Of course, the weeds didn’t take a break while I was out of commission!

        Ah well. What can you do? Got to get better first and then pick up a hoe and get to work! 😛

        1. Oh I am so sorry to hear you had the flu…we both came down with it when we got back from our trip west. You are right…you have to take care of your health first….darn weeds though!

  15. We’ve just had some new grass put in where we needed it and that has been nice to watch. We have to water it every day though. Love your photos and mosaics! Hugs!

    1. I think so Beth….I am certainly testing my patience to get started. But I do love these projects….the feeling of completion…of making the garden and habitat better for us and our critters. I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes!

  16. I admire your double hellebores, they make a lovely vase, Donna. They are on my list so I hope I can find the right one soon. I hope your weather situation improves soon, so you can implement all those plans you have for new beds. I also have to fight the voles, rabbits, deer, and squirrels for so many plants. What makes me happy is to plant things they don’t eat, like daffodils and my latest obsession, Euphorbia. I have extensive bean beds and my approach there is to put hefty amounts of lava rock in the planting rows, plus I stick nails in next to the beans, hazardous but effective. I also sprinkle cayenne on the planting rows and on the ground as the plants come up and grow. So I am happy when I have a good bean crop in spite of everything.

    1. Aren’t those hellebores amazing, Hannah. I have had this plant for about 15 years now…it is a lovely clump with many children now growing everywhere. I am spreading the wealth and moving some each year to other spots so they can form lovely clumps in early spring too!

      You have quite a game plan for keeping the critters out of your veg beds…we feel victorious when we can harvest crops we didn’t have to share with the critters. I know I do!

  17. Love your really vernal vase Donna!
    I see your garden and pond is similar mine, the same problems with raised beds and cleaning water. Except rabbits, fortunately we have no them at all here. But we have mice, eating bulbs and nesting.
    Have a nice time in your garden!

    1. Thanks Nadezda….I love that we share some of the same garden features so many miles apart….I hope spring is being kinder to you than it is here right now!

  18. My goodness – what a wonderful post – so many things – pretty flowers, new and old garden spots – a sunset – more plants and a fabulous list of things to do in the garden – that should keep you busy. My lilac bush is leafing out – so are the snowball bush and hydrangea – daffodils are still blooming and tulips are coming into bud.

    1. Yes so much to do in spring….how lovely to have spring rushing in with all those blooms…we are stopped for a while with snow, but once we thaw by end of the week, I hope we can get on with spring finally.

  19. I really enjoy looking through all of your photographs and reading about your garden plants! Beautiful hellebores, hoping to add some to my yard very soon. Unfortunately it’s decided to snow here, so looks like I’ll just have to wait! Have a wonderful week 🙂

    1. So glad to have you visit Angie….yes snow here too…going on day 3…finally some sun but not even 30 yet so my poor flowers are buried. I think many will be fine but not the daffs that had flowered. Thank goodness I have hundreds of daffs many that will bloom mid and late season so I can still enjoy them.

    1. Thanks Denise…wait until you see my next post…it is all buried now under 8 inches of snow going on day 3 and frigid temps in the teens…looking for survivors soon….I hope!

  20. The Hellebores are a lovely colour Donna, and I love that vase too. 🙂 It is just as well you are an optimist, especially after the recent snow you had. Sounds as if you have a lot of hard work ahead, but I know you always have a great harvest too so it will all be worthwhile. Hope it warms up again soon!

  21. Beautiful mosaics and photos! I keep saying I want to make raised beds and plants some goodies in them. Red clay does not a good garden make 🙁 Maybe one day soon….

  22. Your vase arrangement is lovely with such gorgeous pink blooms; Spring is for sure a time for gardening and all sorts oc activities related. And the sunset is amazing!
    Greetings to you! A happy April!

  23. I love seeing the spring flowers and buds which I miss here in ?Florida, but then of course we don’t have snow and cold in April, so I should count my blessings (and I do .. Life requires occasional compromises). I especially love seeing the forsythia branch…I love yellow flowers.

    1. Absolutely we do have to make compromises….snow in April has never been an issue but multiple days of it is unfortunately. I love yellow flowers in spring too!

  24. It is exciting to be making plans and drawing up a list of things that needs to be done, isn’t it. Winter always feels like it has been really long in April. We have snow on the ground here, so there is lots of time for me to still do a little dreaming and planning of my own. I just hope the weather warms soon!

    1. I do not mind April snow, but I do when it lasts for days and flowers have bloomed. I was whining about all the rain but at this point, I much prefer it I think. I am also getting a few inside chores done while I wait for the warm weather to return….here’s hoping it is soon Jennifer!

  25. We also had some frost damage to snowdrops and hyacinths, fortunately nothing else. Your plans for the edible garden sound outstanding.

    1. I still can’t believe we are not melted….each day my daffs stay frozen does not bode well for them…but good thing I have many that will bloom in mid and late spring so at least I should see some. Glad you liked the plans!

  26. Spring snow is sooo not funny! Can’t think of gardening with the white stuff all around. Won’t be long now, though! Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. Donna,
    Thank you for this lovely post as it tells me that I’m not alone. I’ve so much for the garden that I sometimes lose interest; I start complaining, in my mind, that my garden is ugly; no one does so much work like I have to do. But, your blog inspires that I’m not alone and that I need to keep on working every year, and have fun :-).

    By the way, how do you keep the blackberries and raspberries from not spreading? Any trick or do you allow them to spread and you cut them down? Where did you buy those and what type? Thank You.

    1. It is hard sometimes to deal with such big projects in our gardens, but I am glad you are feeling like you can do them a little at a time. No my raspberries and blackberries move, but I have the raspberries in a big area. The blackberry is definitely a problem as it suckers all over. I may have to move it entirely. I just bought them both from catalogs years ago, and don’t know who I bought them from…sorry!

  28. You’ve made me tired just reading of all the things you’ve accomplished and all the plans for spring! I love the optimism at this time of year, even with the late freezes I’m still excited to get started. Love the hellebores in the vase 🙂

    1. I think I am getting a bit tired thinking of it all as I continue to wait. Here’s to spring joining us soon!

  29. You and I are complete opposites Donna. I am forever the pessimist. I started to make lists of jobs to do back in December and checking them off as I go along. Adding new things to do as each month progresses. I’ve never done this before and am finding it helps keep me focused.
    You’ve done masses in the garden and I hope the forecasters have got it wrong and you continue to make headway in your garden. Happy Spring 🙂

    1. Oh opposites make the world go around Angie….and how wonderful to have a method that works. I am hopeful too as I watch it snow….but it will be gone soon. Happy Spring to you too!

  30. It’s easy to get tired just thinking about the list of chores awaiting us — I totally empathize with your list, Donna, as mine is similar. 🙂 I just try to chip away at the list when the weather is nice, as it’s so enjoyable to spend time outside on a beautiful day that almost any work seems a pleasure. Then I look around in June and find most of them are done (or at least started…). I can’t wait to see your improved areas. Good luck! -Beth

  31. It’s always nice to visit your blog Donna, but especially in the spring because every year I get to see everything all over again on your blog after it’s finished in my garden. The spring bulbs don’t last very long and the memory of my own crocuses and hyacinths are already gone while I have moved on to tulips and fussing over the buds on my rosebushes. Loved your double helleborus, very pretty colour. And as for projects – no lack of things to do here either, I have to-do lists for the next decade already!
    Have a great week-end in the garden!

    1. How very nice of you to say so Helene! It is still very cold so we actually have been at a standstill and may be behind now. I was hoping to get in the garden but temps in the 30s during the day will prevent that…hoping the warm up they are calling for next week comes! Enjoy all that fussing….

  32. Always so much to do in spring! I love your idea of doing a 3-tiered raised bed with fruits in it. I love when all the bulbs start coming up in spring. I’m glad you didn’t get too much damage with the cold weather! Your hellebores in the vase are gorgeous.

    1. My flowers are certainly enduring more cold and snow this weekend but it appears that will be it and 60s by next weekend….crossing my fingers!

  33. Spring coming you say? Oh I hope so. Cleaning a pond is a chore and you say the pump will clean it out, I assume you mean after getting out that large debris. I had a small water feature years back and the work to keep it clean (especially in spring) is why it is gone. I feel sorry for you digging out the ornamental grass in the lawn. That is another huge chore at 50 of them. Work never ends in spring, does it. It is good you look forward to your gardening.

  34. We are lucky Donna that our pond does not get too much big debris, and is easily cleaned….but mostly by the pump. Yes that ornamental grass is a bear…live and learn. Hoping for that warm up promised this week!

  35. Nothing says optimism like the crocuses beginning to bloom in your first photo! I don’t think I’d like crocuses so much if they bloomed in June, but in March or April they are such a welcome sight! Yes, I have lots of projects on my to-do list, too, starting with finishing the garden clean-up. If only it would get warmer and the winds would stop! But I know the weather will change eventually, and one of these days I’ll be complaining about how hot it is:)

    1. I agree…they wouldn’t be so welcome in June….and when we get that heat, I will remind myself not to complain. Of course the heat usually comes just when spring settles and is gone with in days…barely visiting.

  36. Donna so pleased you got to see some of your flowers early, like you April has turned colder and wetter, I hope you don’t get too much snow and it quickly melts,
    you have lots of plans, I hope you get the weather and energy to carry them through, I can understand your planting deep to break up the soil and add in better soil, I have to do that too as the peat holds moisture like a sponge,
    best wishes with all your projects, Frances

    1. Frances it is amazing how our gardens seemed linked in weather, conditions and sometimes improbable odds. We are supposed to warm slowly so this week we may be able to get started. Crossing my fingers for both of us!

  37. Although it is still unseasonably cool here, I also got out into the garden to begin spring clean-up this week.

  38. It is so uplifting to see a garden come alive again! I am beginning to see daffodils and some blossoming trees here, and a few wildflowers on the foothills. Your raised garden beds look like they will grow many healthy vegetables this summer and pretty flowers, Donna. I’m sure you are excited that summer is approaching and soon everything will be growing and thriving.

    1. I am thrilled Pat….we are going to get spring back this week…hope it sticks around for several weeks for both of us!

  39. Oh my, I am exhausted just reading this Donna! You certainly have a long to do list. I am home and honestly, disappointed. I thought much more would be going on in my garden but not so much; a few crocus and snowdrops. Shooting star is coming in, though! I planted my peas and trays of seeds. It is very grey here today and frankly, depressing, but I am going to follow your lead and try to be more optimistic! Beautiful vase! My hellebores aren’t blooming but they are becoming much larger.

    1. It has been a bit of a let down this promise of spring…but like you I have seeds planted under lights waiting and I am planting out early flowers and veggies from seed this week as we warm to spring’s kiss. It actually is a good thing our gardens did not give in to spring’s first promise or many would be gone now after winter’s burn visited us for so long last week. I know you will be psyched soon. And don’t forget that if you ever want any plants for your house or camp gardens, I would love to share!

Comments are closed.