December 21, 2013

Lessons beyond the solstice

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Today is the solstice--a time for all of us to celebrate. In the Northern Hemisphere, the days begin to get longer, while in the Southern Hemisphere, summer starts!

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Here in the north, most of the winter is ahead of us. But at least we'll have more daylight to get us through. As I write this post, my part of the world has just been coated with a thin (quarter-inch?) layer of ice. Tonight, we'll get eight to nine inches of fresh snow--which is a blessing, actually, because it will fall on the weekend and because we're much more skilled with driving on snow than on ice.

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Autumn seems so long ago, and many of you probably feel the same way. But as we move ahead toward new experiences, it can be helpful to share what we've learned from the past.

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Many of you shared particularly helpful lessons for this past season's "Lessons Learned" meme:

Karin at Southern Meadows, in Georgia, U.S., was busy with new hardscaping and landscaping projects. But she learned that "despite all the things on the to-do list," she still needs to "take time for reflection and quiet in the garden." During reflection time, she notices the little things that are the most important aspects of gardening for wildlife. She also learned (and shared) some valuable lessons about migrating butterflies.

Donna at  Gardens Eye View, in New York, U.S., ran out of room in her vegetable garden, so she's planning to add more space next year. Her advice: "Don't start growing veggies unless you have time, and know that when you start you'll either quit within a season, or become addicted--adding more every year. I became addicted," she says, "even though I've had failures every year."

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Jason at Garden in a City, in Illinois, U.S., learned several lessons by observing the dramatic transition from late autumn to early winter. He shared the specifics of his garden plans for Woodland Phlox, Bleeding Heart, Hardy Geraniums, Great Merrybells, Swamp Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, and New England Aster--among others. Jason asks, "When does your mental gardening kick into high gear?"

Sarah at Galloping Horse Garden, in North Carolina, U.S., got a bit carried away with Torch Lilies. When the weather gods gave her winter blooms two years in a row, she got greedy. She wanted more. And she wanted the entire neighborhood to see them, so she planted them out front. "Never mind that they were safe and sheltered by the side of the house and would be unprotected and exposed to the elements up front," says Sarah. Unfortunately, when a hard frost hit in late November this year, the tender buds were toast. "Don't be greedy," she says. "Appreciate what you have for as long as you have it."

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Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys, in Texas, U.S., caught the flu while on vacation. When she came home, her Camellia was blooming. Holley was sad that she was sick and stuck inside during such a lovely time in her garden until she realized the garden looked incredible from inside the house looking out, too. "I didn't realize just how important those glimpses of the garden truly are," she says. "Being able to enjoy blooms and beauty from inside the house is both a celebration and a lesson."

Aaron at Garden of Aaron, in Tennessee, U.S., shook off disappointment about the early winter weather and took stock of numerous plants in his garden, including Creeping Raspberry, Ajuga, Gold Dust Plant, Dixie Wood Fern, and Purple Coneflower, among others. Nothing like planning for the next growing season to deal with disappointment over a quick end to the previous one.

Diana at Elephant's Eye on False Bay, in Western Cape, South Africa, rediscovered the beauty of her Sea Hibiscus--in particular, the foliage color and shape. But why didn't it bloom for several years? Diana's lesson: Go back and read the instructions. This plant likes full sun and wet feet. Also called Wild Cotton Tree or Lagoon Hibiscus, it grows along the coast from Eastern Cape to Zululand and extends into the tropics, where it's widespread along the shores.



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Others who participated through their comments included Deb at Deb's Garden, who had to learn patience as she recovered from surgery--which actually gave her more time to relax and enjoy her garden. Shirley at Rock-Oak-Deer and Janet at Plantaliscious both shared the lesson that the plants we don't capture with the camera are often the ones we remember most fondly.

Helene at Graphicality-UK learned that Fuchsia cuttings perform better outside than inside--even when the temperatures flirt with frost. Anita at Castles Crowns and Cottages learned that each of us needs a bit of nature during our days in order to thrive. Jane at Hoe Hoe Grow learned that procrastination can leave a person with two bags of Tulip bulbs and soil too wet to dig before winter.

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Seems we've learned some critical garden lessons during the past season. If you've written a post during the past few months that fits here, feel free to add the link in your comments. And, of course, if I've forgotten anyone, please let me know and I'll update the post.

Thanks to all--for sharing your lessons and comparing notes. If we don't connect before then, have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

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(Note: Photos in this post were not taken recently. I've been a bit under the weather, and with the recent ice storm and cold, I didn't feel like venturing out. Plus, I had quite a few photos of snowy benches that seemed appropriate for this post.)

36 comments:

  1. What gorgeous pictures! The garden is constantly teaching me new things. It's all about the journey, not the destination, right? I hope you feel better soon!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, you are so right. Most of the time it's teaching me gratitude--for the beauty and the miracles just out my back door. This morning everything is coated in hoar frost, so the trees and the landscape look like they're covered with powdered sugar! And when I went outside to get the mail this morning, a wild turkey flew up, and off over the tops of the trees in a graceful arc. It's the little things that are hard to describe that bring great joy!

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  2. Great photos. Gardening has taken a back seat for me this past year, but looking forward to getting going again - these tips are handy. Feel better soon.

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    1. Thank you, Tim. I'll look forward to more posts from you in the coming months. I hope this will be a wonderful year for you. Happy Holidays! (Feeling much better--thanks.)

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  3. Beautiful photos and when the warm weather does return you'll have plenty of places to sit while you reflect and enjoy the garden.

    We have one of our rare cloudy days today but I look forward to seeing more sun soon.

    Stay safe and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

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    1. Thanks, Shirley. Yes, I really enjoy benches in gardens, so I think I need to add more. ;-) Merry Christmas to you and yours, too!

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  4. What lovely winter photos! I can't wait to get out in the snow with my camera when we travel to Michigan after Christmas. Not sure I'll be able to stand it out there long with temps in the teens. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks, Karin. Oh, do have a wonderful time in Michigan! Yes, it will be cold and as you know it takes a little time and adjustment to get used to the colder temps. Take care! Merry Christmas!

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  5. I love when the handful of pictures and the theme of the post come together so kindly. We have a little blue bench by the waterfall, where I like to eat breakfast ... when this summer heat has eased again.

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    1. Thank you, Diana. That is very kind. There's something about benches in gardens. They just make sense. Happy Holidays!

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  6. Beautiful snow pictures, it looks so serene. Lots of good lessons to learn, I must admit there is something new to learn all the time and I have learned so much from other bloggers! Hope you are feeling better by now and looking forward to the festive season. Merry Christmas Beth.

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    1. Thanks, Helene! We have a lot of snow this year before Christmas. It's kind of unusual to have this much so early. Very common in January or February here, though. I agree--there's so much to learn from each other! Yes, feeling much better, thanks! Merry Christmas, Helene.

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  7. Seriously beautiful photographs, especially the first one. It's very hot and dry here right now and my brain can't think well enough to write a post, but as usual I'll enjoy reading the others. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Thanks! We are definitely on opposite ends of the weather spectrum right now! Happy Summer, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year, Lyn!

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  8. Piękna zima zaczęła się u Ciebie. Miałaś sporo dobrych rad od koleżanek blogowych. Dziękuję za życzenia i wzajemnie, radosnych Świąt !
    Beautiful winter began with you. You had a lot of good advice from girlfriends blog. Thank you for your good wishes and each other, Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Giga. I imagine these scenes are quite familiar to you in Poland. Yes, I agree that folks who participate have so much great advice ... and I love the bits of humor added in here and there. Merry Christmas, Giga!

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  9. I like vegetable gardening. organic vegetable gardens Even if someone already has a good book on seed saving, he or she also needs the “Manual of Seed Saving” by Andrea Heistinger, from Timber Press. Well illustrated and thorough, it demystifies an important and satisfying practice that is attracting many converts.

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    1. Thanks for the tip--I think I've heard about it. Fresh-picked organic veggies are the best!

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  10. I love reading the many lessons learned...and your winter pictures are gorgeous Beth. Merry Christmas!!

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    1. Thank you, Donna. I hope you're having a safe and comfortable Christmas celebration. All the best to you and your family in the days and months ahead!

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  11. Stunning shots...and while winter may still be ahead of us, it's lovely to see them.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

    Jen

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    1. Thank you, Jen. Winter is beautiful ... if only it wasn't so cold! ;-) Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  12. I think a great lesson is to use the benches every so often. Take the time to enjoy! Pretty images of all the seating too. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Beth.

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    1. Ah, yes, very good advice! I tend to avoid the benches here in my own garden, but I'm definitely drawn to them at other gardens. They are good reminders to sit a spell and take in the beauty. Merry Christmas, Donna!

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  13. You show me something that I can't find

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    1. Snow must seem so strange to you, being from a tropical climate. I must be honest that I prefer the warm, sunny locations and weather. But a touch of winter can be a refreshing change of pace.

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  14. Enjoy all that beautiful fresh snow! Happy holidays!

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    1. Thanks, yes we do have quite a bit of snow this year. Much more than the Chicago area--we were there for Christmas. Happy Holidays!

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  15. Reading this post on christmas day makes those snowy pictures very appropriate, though outside it is warm(ish) and sunny. I do enjoy these posts, and had started a "proper" contribution but it took a different turn and I ran out of time. I'll have to go back to it when I am past the lovely chaos of christmas. Happy Holidays Beth hope you have a lovely time.

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    1. Happy Holidays, Janet! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. "Lovely chaos" is a great way to describe it. All the best in the New Year!

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  16. Thanks for hosting this once again, Beth. I had every intention of participating, but the Christmas rush made me procrastinate too long (I had to chuckle at Jane's two bags of leftover tulips), and then I got hit with a bug that has pretty much kept me down for the past week. I still want to do a post, although it will be more of a year-end wrap-up of lessons--autumn seems so long ago, now. Will come back to read some of these posts, as soon as I catch up on laundry and cleaning!

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    1. I know how it goes, Rose! I had a bug between Thanksgiving and Christmas, too. Hope you're feeling better and you had pleasant holiday celebrations!

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  17. Thank you for a great post! The garden is filled with lessons for all of us! I appreciate the wonderful snowy photos. I hope you had a fabulous Christmas, and I wish you the best for 2014. Happy gardening!

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    1. Thanks, Deb! Happy New Year and Happy Gardening to you, too!

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  18. Finally finished my post--more of a year-end reflection. Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

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    1. Happy New Year, Rose! Thanks for participating, and all the best in 2014! I'm adding your link here and in the comments in the original post: http://prairierosesgarden.blogspot.com/2014/01/garden-lessons-learned-in-2013.html

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