December 21, 2011

Shared solstice stories

At my house, the presents are wrapped, the tree is decorated, and the trip over the river and through the woods is just around the corner. Seems like a strange time to be discussing lessons learned in autumn (or spring for those in the Southern Hemisphere).

But we’re just now entering the official start to the next season. As lovely as the autumn was here in southern Wisconsin, for some reason it seemed odd to recycle old photos of colorful leaves. So I’m putting on my holiday hat as the backdrop for this “Lessons Learned” solstice post.

All participants in this quarter’s meme have excellent stories to share.

1. Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys takes a humorous look at lessons she should have learned, but still hasn’t. She also shares excellent tips for specific plants, including bulbs, annuals, perennials, and vegetables. Her macro of her lovely Pansies will cheer anyone on a cold winter day.

2. Barbie at The Gardening Blog shares the perils of mowing the lawn too close, and planting sun-loving plants in the shade and large, shrubby plants in tight containers. Barbie reports that TP rolls didn’t work the best for her seedlings. And I enjoy her wisdom in this phrase: “With some research and new-found knowledge, you plant and sow and usually your garden will grow.”

3. Her blogging partner, Christine, at The Gardening Blog has equally sage words: “Once you start gardening, you can’t stop.” A relatively new gardener, Christine already has learned her lessons well, and admits, “I don’t need perfection in the garden.” She’s also finds her garden an excellent place to heal in times of grief.

4. Dona and her team at La Terrazza share Zen moments similar to some I experienced this quarter. She reports finding inspiration while looking up into the canopy of a tall tree with the sun glancing off the leaves. Check out the fascinating capture and words of wisdom on her “Zen” post.

5. Donna at Gardens Eye View suggests we take our cameras with us wherever we go in autumn. I think I’ll have to follow that advice next year. You just never know when an amazing shot will present itself! She also invites us to follow her progress with her “Great Seed-Growing Experiment” this winter.

6. Indie at Red House Garden describes a funny experience with a vining plant. I’m sure you’ll chuckle when you read through her “Lessons Learned” post. She also shows how compost and soil amendment can make a big difference in plant health and vitality. But when shopping at the garden center it can be hard to select manure over beautiful plants.

7. Karen at Garden Adventures shares her appreciation of peace in the garden. She recently moved to a rustic property, and is thankful for autumn days with a meadow, a pond, established woodlands, and wildlife as a backdrop. Though her life is still hectic, she explains, it’s easier to relax in her new setting.

8. Amy at Get Busy Gardening reflects on lessons she actually learned and mistakes she didn’t repeat from last year’s end-of-season reflections. “Gardening is a constant learning experience,” she says. When we think we have control, nature often has other plans for us. Amy shares specific tips on what worked and didn’t work, and includes photos of her unique garden plots.

9. Rose at Prairie Rose’s Garden says she had good intentions for overwintering annuals and tender perennials, but time sabotaged her plans. She and “Mr. P” shared mowing adventures, and she had a strenuous workout planting spring bulbs—although it was well worth it. Check out her beautiful photo of snow-covered Fennel from last year.

10. Lyn at The Amateur Weeder admits that, though she’s an experienced gardener, she still makes mistakes “and probably always will.” But most of her “garden failures” aren’t accidental mistakes, but the result of bad habits she keeps repeating. (I know the feeling.) She closes her post with good advice for all of us.

11. Diana at Elephant’s Eye is hosting a “12 Days of Christmas” meme, which is an excellent transition into the early days of the next season. She describes how looking back a year in blogland “is a bit like remembering people you went to school with.” Head on over to Elephant’s Eye to read about how to join in her meme.

Thanks to all who participated in the “Lessons Learned” meme this quarter. If you have more lessons to share, please comment on this post or on Facebook.

Dear gardening friends, it has been such a pleasure to share lessons, laughs, and inspiration with you during the past year. I have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to—in large part because of you! Here in the Northern Hemisphere the days will be getting longer now. And the cyclical countdown to planting, weeding, and harvesting continues.

Merry Christmas!

(Full disclosure: The snowy scenes in this post lasted just one day. All our snow has melted, and it appears we won’t have a white Christmas for the first time in many years. I’d be sad, but it makes holiday activities so much easier.)


  1. Beth no snow here either...lots of rain though. Love the pictures and the lessons are wonderful...I love the reflection...I sent you a FB message...I had a few thoughts...take care and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

  2. Admiring your sled and the old wagon wheel. I have a wooden wheel hub on the verandah, elevates what I am focussing on amongst my pot plants. Now a very deep purple Streptocarpus covered in flowers.

  3. Hi Beth,

    I wish you and your family all good for Christmas and every happiness in the coming year.

    A big hug and lots of greetings.

  4. Lovely photos Beth! Its always such a pleasure to take part in your Lessons Learned meme - I learn by writing and reading what others have experienced. So thank you for hosting this!

    I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and very Happy Holidays!
    Best regards

  5. Thank you for a wonderful post. I love the pictures of the snow, I miss it! Merry Christmas and have a wonderful time.

  6. I, too, learn so much from other gardeners, so I love reading what others post. There is so much to learn, I don't think anyone knows it all! The snow is pretty. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

  7. @Donna: We just got a powdered-sugar dusting of snow again this morning, but it's melted again. Hopefully more of the same on Christmas Eve. I like your idea! Merry Christmas!

    @Diana: Oh, thanks. We can't remember whose it was, but both my husband and I had sleds like that when we were kids. The flowers sound lovely! I'm jealous.

    @Elly: Merry Christmas to you and your family, too! I imagine your home is very festive these days. Enjoy!

  8. @Christine: I absolutely love having the perspective from the Southern Hemisphere, too. And your posts are always beautiful and perceptive. Thanks for joining in again. Merry Christmas!

    @Masha: Merry Christmas to you and yours, too. I would miss snow if we didn't have any. But just a little is enough for me. :) I will visit your blog when I need to see Roses.

    @Holley: Like Masha's blog, your posts about Roses and other blooming plants keep me happy during the long winter here. That's part of the fun of our blogging community--sharing seasons and lessons year-round. Merry Christmas!

  9. It was fun to read of everyone's lessons and experiences. I wish you a very Merry holiday season filled with Christmas joy. Have a happy healthy New Year too!

  10. I'm so sorry all the snow melted away, the scenery was really magical! It's quite cold here in Venice in these days, but the sun is shining, as you've seen. Also quite a strange weather for the season!
    Wishing you, your family, and all the American bloggers a happy, happy Christmas! :)

  11. Happy Christmas Beth! (A reminder of what I wrote a few weeks ago is a reminder to me today to BREATHE!)

  12. Thanks so much for hosting this, Beth! I think no matter how long I garden, I'll always have something new to learn. It's been a busy season, but I'll check out the rest of the posts here once Christmas is over--I'm sure I'll learn a thing or two, as well.

    No snow here either, but the good part is that the weather won't interfere with anyone's travel plans. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas!

  13. Merry Christmas to you! We had just a little snow on the ground for Christmas, how about you? (You're right, though, I'm not really missing it, makes life easier, doesn't it?)

    Love your wagon wheel and all the pictures in this post, just lovely.

  14. I am new here, but loved reading your blog. I am catching on, you do the lessons learned every month?

  15. @Donna: Thank you! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too. I'm just now getting back to the blogosphere after taking a short holiday break. Hope you have some quality time off this week. :)

    @Dona: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family, too! Yes, the weather is still mild here with highs in the 30s and 40s (F) (0-7 Celsius) and no snow. Lots of sunshine! I'm glad you've had sunny weather, too!

    @Karen: Yes, good advice to all of us! I have this week off, so I am enjoying the time to "breathe" and do many other relaxing and fun activities. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  16. @Rose: Thank you, and I hope your holidays are wonderful, too! We had a whirlwind trip to the Chicago suburbs to see family for Christmas. Now we're back home and I have the week off! Are you noticing any plants emerging with this mild weather? I'm afraid to look!

    @Karen: Oh, I'm glad you had a little snow! No, we went down to the Chicago area for Christmas. They had no snow, and when we got back here, no snow was left. But it made for easy traveling. Happy Holidays!

    @Sissy: Welcome! And thank you for your kind comments! The Lessons Learned meme is a quarterly meme. I usually post a reminder at the end of the meteorological season (February, May, August, November) and then people have until the solstice or equinox to join the Mr. Linky link. :) I hope you'll join in at the beginning of March!