Gardens Eye Journal-March 2015


“Making just one garden can last a lifetime.  You can never draw a line and consider the garden to be finished.”  ~Mirabel Osler




Before you ask, yes it has been a particularly tough winter.  But not because of the snow.  That is actually a bit behind our normal 12 feet that we get here every year.  The problem is we have had most of it in February.  And still that wouldn’t be a problem, except that it has been sooooo COLD this winter with noDSCN0309 breaks or thaws.  Our temps have been between 15 and 25 degrees below normal except for a few days.  And all this extreme cold means the snow is just piling up.  You can see how much is on the roof of the gazebo.  And up to the top of the fence posts.  We hope the gazebo roof holds.  It should, but you just never know especially when the melt starts.

We are not complaining about the weather.  Just with this extreme cold we are a bit more house bound than usual.  And thinking in the future, a change of scenery would be great for a week or two or three next winter.  This is the first full winter I have experienced as a retiree, which makes it a bit different especially since I don’t have to drive daily in the winter weather.

It was one year ago today, I officially retired and I am still getting used to the new-found freedom and changes.  I love the vases I am making weekly, and that you can find at the end of my Monday posts.  And I love getting more in touch with my garden now.  

seasonal celebrationsAnd as this is March, it is also time to celebrate the upcoming season.  I especially love to see spring unfold as winter retreats with the thaw.  And I welcome you to join in my quarterly meme, Seasonal Celebrations.  It doesn’t matter what season you are experiencing.  Just write a post between now and the 22nd of March.  Link back to my kick off post so I can include your blog post in my wrap-up on the 23rd.

I am profiling another garden area this month, The Side Garden as I call it.  And as I review my garden, I am joining Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View, and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.





DSCN9710 I won’t belabor the weather anymore here.  Just to say we are closing in on 11 feet of snow so far, and with the forecast for a snowy cold start to March, I am sure we will get at least another foot before spring swings in.  But as they say, if March comes in like a Lion, it will go out like a Lamb.  I am counting on that.

We had a beautiful full moon in February.  And some glorious sunrises as you can see in the beginning of the post.




Garden Views

So let’s get to the Side Garden….. 

side garden early springThis is the left side of my house.  The garden here extends from the front garden, along the entire side of the house, up to the fence where there is a gate and a pergola that leads to the back garden.  When this garden was first planted it was wider, and had butterfly bushes planted at the far end.  But once the butterfly bushes were removed (they became invasive, and hundreds of seedlings were popping up everywhere), it has lingered in limbo waiting for a face-lift. 

I hope to do another Stuck Foot post about this garden in March, if the snow actually melts by then.  But for now this is what it looks like in early spring as the garden wakes.  I should say there are voles in this garden as well who have destroyed many of the original plants that were here.

You can see bulbs like hyacinth and daffodil remain with a few hellebores.  You can also see that the grass is growing into this garden, and it needs to be edged and expanded out.  It is especially noticeable in the last shot where you can’t tell where the garden stops and the grass starts.



side garden spring

As spring continues, you can see there is a clematis growing up a trellis against the side of the porch.  And you can see the soil is dry and poor.  There has been little to no amending here so it is hard clay.  But I still have Allium, hardy non-native geraniums, forget-me-nots and some bearded iris growing along with an Amsonia and a Baptisia that is situated badly at the edge of the bed.  A hydrangea is buried in this first half of the garden as well as a few roses (one barely growing up the white trellis), lilies and Shasta daisies.  And horsetail, the dreaded weed, is growing throughout this bed covering everything.

In the bottom picture, you can see the second half of this long bed looking toward the fence.  This is where the butterfly bushes were planted.  We planted a few small trees in their place, but they did not survive.  I need to really rethink this area.

The picture on the left shows the end of the front bed as it merges with the side bed.  More alliums, Spanish bluebells, a small Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’ and hardy non-native geraniums.



side garden summer

Now in summer, the rudbeckias take over with some Joe Pye and both tall and short Nepeta.  There a few unnamed grasses, an astilbe, echinacea, salvia and tall phlox growing here too.



side garden gate summer

The second half of the bed toward the fence is much different in summer, and quite crowded.  There are two roses growing up the pergola.  One I thought I had removed, and another I added….but the one removed was not completely removed it seems, and it regrew.  Also buried here is a red-twig dogwood that volunteered itself, and is now over 5 feet tall as well as a Hardy Hibiscus, Helianthus and a few daylilies.  Also salvia, tall phlox, Joe Pye, Helianthus, Helenium, lilies and a hydrangea grow in this small section.  

I will be moving many plants and shrubs from this small area, and placing them throughout the rest of this Side Garden and other gardens in the back. 



side garden fall

And this is the Side Garden in fall.  Much of the garden is dying back except one aster at this point.  And you can see it as we cut it back some in the top right pictures and even more in the bottom picture.  I usually leave more seed heads up here, but we clear cut it this fall to get a better sense of its size. 

So what are the plans for the Side Garden?  My head is swimming with ideas.  First it will be edged and expanded.  And many of the bushes growing throughout it, will be relocated.  The area around the pergola needs to be thinned out, as plants have grown too big and are crowding out each other.  I will move and divide some perennials once the bushes are relocated.  But I want to see exactly what is growing first, and then decide what natives I may want to add here.  I am contemplating a cutting garden or two in the Side Garden as it is very sunny here and protected from the wind.  More likely raised beds made of stone since the soil is so poor.  But they may have to wait until fall to be built.




Indoor Gardening


This is the same sage plant I featured last month.  But it is now flowering in my grow station.  It was such a fabulous surprise to see these blooms.  This is a volunteer from my garden.  I dig up one nice sage plant and bring it in every winter.  This is the first time one has flowered so much.




And this is one of the Italian Parsley plants I brought in from my veg garden last year.  It too is growing beautifully.  We have used it in several dishes, and it just keeps putting on new growth.  

I have started a few flowers from seed, and will be starting most of my flowers and a few veggies from seed in March.  I’ll have more on this in the post coming up next Monday.




Tree Following


This is the same beloved silver maple tree I have been following since last spring.  It became encased in tree-logofrost in our cold February garden.  Most likely hoar frost or more specifically an air hoar frost because the frost forms on objects above the surface of the snow.  Isn’t it stunning.

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






critters feb 15

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is always a highlight of February.  This year it started out with 2 nice days in the 20s with little to no new snow, but it ended with snow storms and bitter cold.  So consequently, we saw several species the first 2 days including my beloved Eastern Bluebird.  But ended with only a few birds, some of which are pictured above.  

The top 2 pictures and bottom picture are of Dark-eyed Juncos who are here all winter looking for suet that falls under the feeders.  Or seeds in the garden, if we had less snow.  The top two picture on the right are of a White-breasted Nuthatch.  We also have Red-breasted Nuthatches, but they were not around during the bird count.  This Nuthatch was having a ball swinging and doing acrobatic moves on the suet feeder.

I will have a Wildlife Wednesday post, this Thursday, on my other blog, Living From Happiness (LFH).  I will be focusing on a favorite spring bird, the Cedar Waxwing.  I also have a poem that I published yesterday on LFH about my favorite spring harbinger bird, The Red-winged Blackbird.




Recipe of the Month


We have been trying some new recipes in february.  This is a rich tomato soup that could be used as a tomato sauce.  And it is actually made from tomato sauce.  I am providing the link for the original recipe.  You will see it does come from making a roasted tomato sauce first.  But we used our own tomato sauce recipe for now as we did not have any tomatoes left from the garden.  We did use our home grown basil we had frozen in olive oil cubes.  I also adapted it further by using coconut milk as it is creamy enough and healthier for me.  We did not have to use any broth.  I love how you can add grated cheese and/or pesto as a garnish.  It is very rich, and oh so perfect for a cold winter day.



mashed cauli

Another recipe I have wanted to try it mashed cauliflower.  Specifically, Olive Oil, Garlic & Romano Cheese Mashed Cauliflower.  This recipe was easy and just delicious.  We also got to use my mom’s old masher that I have coveted since I was a child.  It is the best masher.  Now don’t be fooled into thinking this will taste like potatoes.  It doesn’t.  But it is a mild flavored cauliflower dish that is creamy.  You can mash it to your taste, and again we used coconut milk instead of cream.  This milk does not flavor the dish with coconut.  This was oh so easy to make, and I am glad we tried it.



I am observing and celebrating as the new season awakens.  I hope you will join in the celebration whether you are in the Northern or Southern hemisphere. 

All you have to do is write a post between now and March 22nd.  Then leave a comment on my Seasonal Celebration post with your link so I can include your link in my summary post on March 23rd.  

I do hope you will consider joining in celebrating 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 winter here in the North and summer in the South.  Write a separate post or combine your lessons with your celebrations for one post.


In A Vase On Monday 


It is time for creating another vase, and while I wait for more indoor bulbs to bloom, I decided to be resourceful and reuse some elements that have been holding their own, from two previous vases I made back in December.   


You can see the red-twig dogwood is still doing well as are the seed heads of the Baptisia.  I added some Scouringrush horsetail, boxwood, rosehips and dried grasses cut in half all from other dried vases.  




reused vase

I liked locating this large vase in front of the fire. Each of the dried elements is unique and beautiful, and yet they work together to make yet another interesting dried vase.  I really have enjoyed working with nature to find such natural elements for these winter vases.  I wish we weren’t so buried in snow so I could continue to forage in the garden.  Oh well, I will make sure I have many other plants, bulbs and flowers growing indoors next winter so I have more choices for winter vases.

I am joining in with a couple of memes this week:  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.



Next up on the blog:  

Next Monday, I have a special post about my veg garden plans for this year.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  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, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.