The Road Back To My Garden

“…the whole ‘know thyself’ thing isn’t a journey to a fixed destination. Learning about myself changes me, forcing me to learn more. ‘Know thyself’ isn’t a goal; it’s a road.” 
~ Garon Whited


As November begins, the sky darkens early.  It is a time for going inward to our warm hearths, our centers, our souls. I seem to reconnect with that heart center in November.  A month of barren landscapes, of giving thanks.  For working with, and in the shadows. 

Do you feel that pull inward as the daylight hours wane?  A time for getting cozy, eating warm soups and comfort foods….cocooning ourselves like a hibernating bear in his den.  As this year’s season of autumn progresses, I feel an even stronger pull to go within.  

With my inner work, I set the stage for the year ahead with little expectation, but to go with the flow with what the Universe has in store for me.  Reconnecting is important work, and I find that at this time of year, as I am cleaning and clearing some of my garden, I am reconnecting to its heart center too.  

Knowing my garden more intimately, helps me set up the garden work and plans for the year ahead.  Not that I want to generate a long to do list, rather I am looking for an overall feel for what are the main goals for the year ahead.  As this quote so aptly says….knowing myself, and knowing my garden, is more of a road, a journey not a goal.



These pictures are of my ‘wild’ back gardens on a foggy morning in fall.  A great habitat for wildlife, but overgrown, weedy and in need of clearing so plants can thrive.  So what are my options?  Many actually.  One option is to work methodically through the areas over a period of years to clear the overgrowth and weeds.  But for me that option may be too late.  With injuries and aging, there is just too much work to consider this option possible.

We are looking at probably selling our house, in 5-7 years to downsize and simplify.  And we know reducing the gardens would make the house more salable, so this may be a better option.  Trends are such today that people want less maintenance with yard work.  I know I do.  I have some ideas of where to start and what gardens to take out or reduce.

For now though, our main emphasis will be on cleaning up and reducing the front and side gardens, as well as keeping the back corner garden from encroaching on the veg beds in the back.  This will be a multi-year project, but one that is more doable.  With the changeable November weather, we are slowly working through cleaning up some areas that I do not leave up all winter.  Too much cover for voles, and not easily accessible in spring.



Do you feel the pull of going inward during fall?  Have you made any plans for your garden for next year?



A Perfect Fall Vase



In fall, I love to cut hydrangeas and let them dry inside.  I placed these in a small jar with some water, and let it evaporate over time.  This allows the hydrangea flowers to dry slowly looking preserved in shades of red, pink and green.



I love drying hydrangeas because I can move the dried hydrangeas to any container or basket, all winter long, for some summer garden memories.  Here they are in a pumpkin tin for Halloween.  I’ll move them for Thanksgiving into a basket, and show you what they look like in a couple of weeks.


I am joining Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma

I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness.  You can read my latest poem here.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2017.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

46 Replies to “The Road Back To My Garden”

  1. It is lovely watching Hydrangea flowers dry. I didn’t think to cut any until it was too late this year! Good luck with the changes planned for your garden Donna.

    1. Thanks Cathy. At least for now we are getting some clean up done in between the cold days. Feels good to finally get through some of the tangled mess.

  2. It can be hard for gardeners to think ahead and ‘age-proof’ their gardens. We have given it a little thought only in relation to some of the trees, unlike a friend of mine (an amputee) who is on the point of age-proofing her complete garden. You at least have accepted a need to downsize and move on in due course, and aim to work towards that, whilst we have no intention to go anywhere else as we are so much part of this house and garden. Your hydrangeas in the Halloween tin look especially wonderful with the special photo effects and I am grateful to you for telling us about them. I have now downloaded Pixlr and found Prisma was already on my tablet – just need time to experiment now!

    1. Thanks Cathy….I am feeling much better about my garden and downsizing these days, now to planning and getting it started come spring….and I am sure you will enjoy the apps. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  3. Donna you and I are the same in so many ways it’s a little uncanny! I was recently at the same spot of the road you are in now. Some hardscaping, relentless editing and pruning, and more groundcovers pushed me further up the road. In the spring I will even be taking down a small tree. All tasks with the inevitable “sale of the house” in mind. In graphic design we had a mantra less is more. Less maintenance is definitely more gratifying and doesn’t necessarily shut the door on the nature we’ve invited in. I do feel older but know I am really quite young – I feel blessed to realize my situation early on. I love drying hydrangeas. I only have white but their shades of green and pale tan as they dry are stunning. Stay all snuggly and warm. I am sure you will enjoy some of the fruits of your labor from the summer in soups and other entrees!

    1. Yes less is more isn’t it Kathy, and kudos to you for figuring this out sooner so you can plan. And I adore white hydrangeas as they dry…the beautiful green color they transform into is lovely. Yes I love using the veg garden harvest well into winter.

  4. Donna, your hydrangeas feel so well suited to this time of year and make a beautiful display. Good luck as you continue your inner journey. Your thoughts resonate with me–we too are beginning to think about finding a different home in the next few years and I’m trying to figure out how to edit the garden accordingly.

    1. Thank you so much my friend… is amazing how bloggers connect on so many levels. I am sure there will be many more posts on this subject, Susie, from me and others as we begin the journey of downsizing.

  5. We are contemplating selling and down sizing (actually a better term might be “right sizing.” The feeling of the potential departure from my gardening is sobering at best. What will fill the void?

    1. It seems the idea of downsizing or ‘right sizing’, which I love as a better term, is in many of gardeners minds these days, John. It is sobering to think about reducing my gardens and getting rid of plants…very foreign. And what would fill the void indeed? For me I still want some gardens I can work, and maintain and change so I will retain ‘some’ gardens even when I move. I can never just get rid of all gardening from my life.

  6. Nothing nicer than dried hydrangeas. It is hard to have spent years creating our gardens only to have to think about downsizing or leaving. Nevertheless, we are in the same position here now that we’ve hit 70. We are beginning to work on emptying the house filled by two artists/collectors. Also trying to make the garden lower maintenance. When we sell the house this massive garden will still surround it. My philosophy is to tell potential buyers to just cut it all down or dig it out and re-sod. But I am not doing it before I leave!

    1. It is hard Linda and I figure potential buyers will dig most of it out and put in a lawn. For now I do need to do a bit of removing and adding lawn, but like you will still have lots of gardens when we sell.

  7. Like Linda, I think if we ever sell our house we plan to leave the garden as is and let the new owners deal with it. Occasionally I do think about having a smaller, more manageable garden, but for now I’m enjoying this one still, even if it does sometimes get away from me a bit.

    1. I hear you Alison as that was my plan until I injured my shoulder. Now low maintenance will be sooner. But it will be hard to part with some plants.

  8. Dried hydrangea are a winter staple for me as well. Long-lasting and maintenance-free, what’s not to love?
    Every year, more and more of my gardens are left to go wild as I no longer have the stamina for it. I concentrate on those close to the house where there is more traffic. I have to pace myself even with those. I fantasize about selling and leaving it to someone younger. I expect one day that will happen, but for now, I’m in it as long as I can. 🙂

    1. Absolutely what’s not to love. I too am concentrating on closer more visible gardens. It sounds like we are on a similar path with our gardens. I hope a younger gardener will inherit my garden one day too.

  9. Your wild garden is beautiful, Donna. The morning fog adds an element of mystery to the space. I’ve been thinking more and more of giving my back slope a wildlife emphasis but will need help cleaning up the area. That project will have to wait until next fall as I already have more projects than I can count. I love the dried Hydrangeas and miss growing them in my current garden but they’re on the “too thirsty” list.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the wild garden Kris. We seem to admire each other’s flowers that we can’t grow but so glad for blogging to get my fill.

  10. My garden (like myself) is a work in progress. That progress has slowed as age and infirmity claim me, but is still going on.
    Love your wild garden.
    And can so relate to the overgrown, weedy patches – in my garden, my soul, my heart.

  11. It will be lovely to have those beautiful hydrangeas during the winter. I made the mistake of hanging mine upside down, I don’t know why!

      1. They shrivel instead of keeping their lovely shape. They do still have some colour and you may see them in a vase one day. The best way is to dry slowly upright as you are doing.

  12. A lovely post Donna – it is so difficult to keep on top of large gardens and I too have to manage a balance between ‘gardened’ areas and those parts that I leave largely to fend for themselves. There is a magic in these wild areas though and we should not stress about letting nature take control. I am using the limited daylight to clear back and plant bulbs and am enjoying retreating inside to read and catch up with programmes that I have missed during the summer during the longer evenings. I must go out tomorrow and cut some hydrangeas – although I may be too late. Yours look beautiful and have reminded me how much I will miss them if I don’t have some for the winter.

    1. Thanks Julie….I love my wild areas and have a few I let alone but more than half has turned wild and that is too much for me right now. I hope you can get some of your hydrangeas cut to bring inside.

  13. It’s definitely the time of year to hunker down,hibernate and reflect Donna. I’m pleased to have spent the whole afternoon reading without feeling any pangs of guilt. I like your gently fading hydrangeas and look forward to seeing them again in a couple of weeks.

  14. I can’t think about downsizing the garden, though I suppose it is inevitable. My brother had to cover up most of his garden with turf when he sold his house. We really want to stay in this house forever if we can – though the only bathroom and all the bedrooms are on the second floor. The only plans I have for the garden next year is plants I want to add and remove!

  15. Your garden looks wonderful. I tree-prune and mow at my parents more and more as they get less able and that has certainly made me think about simplification and the design of my own. Your hydrangea flowers are lovely and have persuaded me to get a couple for the front garden.

    1. It is amazing how the realization hits you….it has been hard to come to terms with it for me. And absolutely add some hydrangeas to your garden….they are beautiful all seasons.

  16. Yes, this all makes sense to me. But you might be surprised how many Millennials are interested in wildlife gardening. I’ve been surprised how many young folk are getting involved in the native plant/ecology movement–here in Wisconsin, anyway. I think your garden would be a wonderful haven for a young family. (That’s what I keep telling myself about my garden, too. 😉 )

    1. I am hopeful that trend will happen here Beth. Right now it is same, same with chemicals and a few shrubs, grass and cut down trees. For now we will be downsizing so we can maintain the gardens and keep them going for wildlife and make them enticing for a new owner. When we move, we will hope a wonderful young family will take over our garden and continue the wildlife garden.

  17. That sounds promising. So sad to think of the plants ripped out for lawn (and WRONG in our drought)

    Ours is big enough to need steady hours, days, weeks of work. But also small enough to let slide in a busy week or two. Currently sliding as Life Happens.

    1. It is sad Diana….I have been able to continue cleaning up this fall even in cold and damp conditions, and I hope to get started in April/May to do some changes. Nothing too dramatic, but a start.

  18. I definitely feel that pull inward and the desire to hibernate as the days get shorter. I appreciate the break from garden work during the winter; it helps me re-charge, and by spring I’m ready to get back at it, enjoying those early spring days of clean-up, rather than looking at it as a chore, as I often do by mid-summer. You are wise to look at the long-term; I keep wanting to add one more large garden area, but as I approach the end of my 60’s, I also have to think about just how much I can maintain without too much help. Love your photos–the softened effects have such a dreamy quality about them, perfect for winter reflection.

    1. So happy you are enjoying the photos Rose….I too enjoy the garden break as I age….my body definitely needs a re-charge and I am finding other projects that keep my creative juices flowing.

  19. I do love what you are doing with those washy watercolour effects on your photos, Donna. A dreamy delight. It is hard to move on gracefully to the next step in life, isn’t it? While I will resist as long as I can, I already know that maybe I only have 15 years in this house and garden. Makes me more determined to have everything happen ‘yesterday’ so I have time to enjoy. The pictures of your garden itself are mournful and yet beautiful. So enjoyed reading. I’m having a job to get myself away from the fire at the moment to plant tulips!

    1. It is hard to face the reality of aging, Cathy. I know what you mean about getting away from the fire and going out to garden. Those labors of love that once we get out there to do, we are blissful to have our hands in the dirt. I have been cleaning up on the nice cold days of Nov as I lost a whole month in Oct to other commitments.

    1. A great question Sunil….our house is large for 2 people and has 13 steep stairs….in a number of years we will move because we do not need this size of home or want stairs as they have become increasingly hard to climb as we age.

    1. Karen so far we have had every few days where we get a dry cold day so we can work….and yes I am pacing myself….I have learned the hard way. It feels good to get back out there slowly.

  20. We’ve made the big change this year, a huge down-sizing, leaving behind our country property and garden. It was actually an easy decision because of health issues, but it was an enormous amount of work. Still living among boxes, but glad we did it. Life is switching towards more travel, and more social life.

    1. Glad to hear you have already downsized and it was a good decision. Our decision has also been due to health concerns and realizing our bodies are aging and injuries make it harder to maintain a big space inside and outside. I think we are happy with the decision that we will downsize in the near future….especially then to have more time to travel and connect.

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