Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Look Back at 2014

Bloom Day came and went, and I didn't get a post up.  It was the first time I ever missed a Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in six years, but all I had to show was a measly store-bought poinsettia.

Christmas approached, and I meant to wish everyone a Merry Christmas . . . but I was busy shopping, cleaning, decorating, cleaning, wrapping, cleaning . . . that I missed posting again.

Now that the holidays are nearing an end, there is finally time to sit back and reflect on the year that has passed.  Like the Facebook posting that so many of us participated in, 2014 really was a great year, especially in the garden.

2014 certainly didn't start off on a good note, however.  We had one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, with snowplow drivers putting in hours of overtime and school officials worrying about the number of snow days adding up.  There was plenty of time for completing indoor projects and poring through seed catalogs.

But as the weeks dragged on and winter showed no signs of leaving, gardeners in my part of the country started to get antsy.  Not much to do but keeping the bird feeders filled and enjoy the birds visiting outside my window.

In late March I made a trip south to visit my daughter in Dallas. Thank goodness, spring had arrived there!  I spent a day visiting the Dallas Arboretum during their annual Bulb Festival, where my longing for spring color was satisfied, temporarily.

Back at home in early April, the first signs of spring were beginning to emerge.  Crocuses, blooming much later than other years, were the first to brave the cold, besides the snowdrops.  But winter wasn't over yet--a snowshower in mid-April glazed the opening hyacinths and early daffodils, making me wonder if winter was ever going to end!

April 30, 2014

But the longest winter ever finally gave in to spring by the end of April, as the many tulips in my garden began to open alongside late daffodils.

Regular readers may remember that spring is my favorite season of the year, and that I absolutely love tulips!

I probably spend more time just wandering through the garden in the spring than any other time of the year, marveling at each new bloom that appears.  In fact, my idea of heaven is an eternal spring--filled with tulips.

One downside this past year was that deer and/or rabbits also discovered my tulips.  They destroyed only a small fraction of the tulip population here; still, I hope that next year they will find tasty treats somewhere other than my garden.

But, of course, it's not just tulips and other spring bulbs that attract attention this time of year.  'Jack Frost' Brunnera and other spring bloomers are favorites, too.

The shade garden in early May shows not only tulips, but the bleeding heart, Brunnera, and emerging foliage that took over the whole area by late June.

When summer arrived, it was time for the lilies to put on their display.  Some of the newer lilies like this Oriental, 'Stargazer,' put on a growth spurt this year and were more prolific bloomers than in years past.

The older ones continued to multiply and reminded me that it is past time to divide them--a job that has been put on the to-do list for 2015.

Despite the already crowded conditions in the Lily Bed, my friend Beckie and I took a trip to our favorite daylily farm in August, and of course, I came home with several new beauties.  I found temporary homes for each of them in any bare spot of soil I could find, but I realized the idea I had for a new garden bed was more than just a dream, but a necessity for next year.

The summer of 2014 was one of the best years for gardening in my memory.  Plentiful rainfall throughout the season created ideal conditions for growing, and rarely did I have to drag out the hoses other than to water containers.  There were only a few days of miserably hot weather--unlike the norm--so that I could enjoy working in the garden nearly every day.  The only negative I can think of about this summer is that it wasn't a good year for butterflies.  They were conspicuously absent for most of the summer, although the coneflowers, as always, brought out the few there were.

And speaking of coneflowers, it was a fantastic year for them, When I say I had a lot of coneflowers, I mean a plethora of coneflowers!  No wonder it's one of my all-time favorite flowers--they make me look like I have a bright green thumb:)

I always enjoy pleasant surprises in the garden, and this past summer included several of them, including the surprise appearance of gray-headed coneflowers, Ratibida pinnata, which I have tried to grow for several years.  Some variety of Helenium also appeared in the Butterfly Garden for the first time; I'm not sure if they were seedlings that took a long time to mature or seeds I scattered in a previous year and long-forgotten, but whatever their origin, I was so happy to see them.

One of the highlights of 2014 was definitely attending the Portland Fling in July.  Three wonderful days of meeting new gardening friends and seeing so many fabulous gardens was an experience I will long remember.  The only negative to the whole trip was the heat the first two days, but gardeners can be a little creative in finding ways to cool off:)

Another memorable road trip was much closer to home as Beckie and I travelled to Janesville, Wisconsin in September to meet up with Beth of Plant Postings for a tour of the Rotary Botanical Gardens.  This is a botanical garden definitely worth visiting, and it was so much fun to meet Beth in person.  In fact, we hope to do it again in 2015 and hope some other nearby bloggers might join us--we'll keep you posted!  (And I promise I'm going to write a post on this garden very soon.)

Summer slowly morphed into autumn, and the 'Limelight' Hydrangea grew taller than ever before.

As summer perennials faded, annuals kept up the color.  Different varieties of cosmos bloomed all summer long up until the first frost.

All the rainfall through the summer and into the fall meant a banner year for annuals, including one of my favorites, the 'Zowie Yellow Flame' zinnia, still blooming here in mid-October.

Fall also brought the butterflies at long last.  Although my attempts at growing milkweed this year were a failure, the butterflies found the zinnias an attractive alternative.

The asters put on their usual show in September, sharing space with goldenrod as the two took over most of my Butterfly Garden.

In mid-October I had another surprise as two tall plants finally burst into bloom in the Butterfly Garden.  Several readers confirmed my suspicion that these are Aster tataricus, a tall late aster, but I am still scratching my head over how they came to be here.  I'll probably never know.

Not a surprise, but a plant that certainly made me happy--after years of waiting, the Japanese Anemones finally leapt this year and produced an abundance of blooms.

As if to make up for the awful winter, fall was a glorious time, full of beautiful color and mild weather that lasted longer than most years.  There was ample to time to plant spring bulbs and complete fall chores, though I always seem to think of more I wish I had done.

But all good things must come to an end, and on October 30 we had our first killing frost.

Although the frost brought an end to the annuals and other blooms, there were a few vignettes of beauty that lasted awhile longer as this photo, one of my favorites from the past year, shows.

We haven't had any measurable snow this winter; the light covering above occurred a week before Thanksgiving.  December has been more like a typical November, rainy and gloomy, though we had a beautiful sunny day on Christmas Day.  The year is ending on a much milder note than it began.

Mild temperatures through the summer, an extended fall, and most of all, plentiful rain meant 2014 was a wonderful year to be in the garden.

Oh, and did I mention that we have a new grandson born just before Christmas?  Yes, indeed, 2014 was a great year!

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas, 
and I wish you all health and happiness and, of course, 
the best gardening season ever in the coming New Year!


  1. Oh Rose how wonderful....a baby boy.
    Congratulations.....and just before Christmas, what a wonderful gift from God.

    Lovely to look back on your garden, visits to family and gardens.
    Glad the butterflies eventually came back to your bountiful garden. Sadly they seem to be in decline generally.....

    Have a wonderful 2015 and enjoy your little Grandson.

  2. Such a good year in the garden and in the family. Congrats on that new baby boy. You will have to put another stocking on the mantel next year. :) Love the header photo. I can see why it is one of your favorite shots. Happy and glorious new Gardening year.

  3. That was a wonderful walk through the year. And those bird photos at the beginning are really fantastic.

    And now that I can walk again, I'm raising my hand to join you if you visit the Janesville Rotary Gardens this summer!

  4. Rose, how nice to watch your beautiful pictures !
    Happy New Year !

  5. 2014 truly was a banner year for you and capped with the best gift of all - the birth of your grandson. Happy New Year!

  6. Congratulations on the new grandson! It looks like you had quite a wonderful year, after the winter finally ended! My husband was hoping for a white Christmas, but I didn't mind no snow - I'm just so glad it's been a milder winter so far. I'm so glad you posted the picture of the Gray-headed Coneflower - I wanted to put that on my list of seeds to get, as it's so pretty! Have a wonderful New Year!

  7. Lovely photos through the year.. congratulations on the birth of your new grandson. Happy New Year to you and yours :o)

  8. Beautiful summary of the garden year. I can see that we share a love of tulips. Ratibida pinnata is a favorite of mine as well. I have given up on purple coneflowers because in my garden they are so susceptible to aster yellows. Congratulations on your new grandson!

  9. Can't wait for all the Spring flowers etc to make an appearance.
    Loved the photo of you all soaking your feet in the water.
    Makes me shiver a bit now!
    Happy New Year.
    Maggie x

  10. What a marvelous year in blooms! I actually love the snow bird photos best of all. Congrats on the new grandson and happy new year!

  11. Your garden is just gorgeous! I love love love all those coneflowers. I gave my neighbor loads of mine because my garden keeps getting shadier. But I found a short cultivar called Pow Wow that I'm growing for my containers. Happy New Year!

  12. Happy New Year Rose! I had almost forgotten all about that dreadful last winter ;-) Loved your photo of the yellow tulip and brunnera so much I pinned it for future reference. It's a fantastic colour combination. You had a gorgeous garden, all the photos were fantastic and had me thinking about plans for my garden in the new year.

  13. Happy New Year, Rose! Thank you for the beautiful journey through your year. Congratulations on your new grandson. Your garden is gorgeous.

  14. Congratulations, Grandma! Your frost photos are absolutely stunning! It was nice to see a long view of your shade garden, too--it looks great. It would be fun to do another Midwest meet-up again next spring or summer! So much adventure and gardening to look forward to. Happy New Year, Rose!

  15. Congratulations on the new grandson Rose! And on a wonderful year in the garden, despite the very unpromising start. I hope winter relinquishes its grip a little earlier this year. So many lovely images of your garden through the year, I am so envious of your swathe of coneflowers, I hope to carry on adding more to my own garden, they are a favourite of mine too. And I love the image you chose for your current banner photo. Happy 2015, may you, yours and your garden thrive.

  16. Very nice, Rose, and a nice reminder of more beautiful days to come after the dreary winter! We too had snow earlier, but after temps in the upper 50s Christmas week, it is all gone. Now this week we are having more "normal" winter weather. Congratulations on the new little grandbaby!

  17. Happy new year Rose and congratulations having a new grandchild. Must be a fantastic experience!! Your year overvieuw is a wonderful one. I hope we are going to have a gardenseason like we had last summer.
    Best wishes

  18. Oh Rose congrats on the new was a strange year in the garden last year. And it has been a strange winter so far here. But I am sure snow and cold will settle in here soon. Happy New Year!

  19. Wonderful photos. Your garden must be a delight. As your grandchildren are to you.

    Happy New Year, Rose. x

  20. Rose girl ! congratulations on the new little gardener that will follow his grandma around learning wonderful garden secrets from her : )
    These pictures are gorgeous and illustrate what a wonderful year you have had .. it was a good summer, phew!
    I wonder what this year will bring .. it is always a mystery that we have to adjust day to day .. if we survive the long winter without going bonkers? LOL
    All the best to you and your family for 2015 (have to get used to the 15 thing now) ...
    Rest up and take care so you can enjoy your beautiful garden !
    Joy : )

  21. I very much enjoyed this look back. Those tulips in Texas were amazing, and your tulips are also beautiful. And the coneflowers! You have so many and they look wonderful.

    Congratulations on the new grandson, and happy New Year!

  22. Happy New Year Rose! Like you, I was not very good about posting at Christmas time. I hope you had a nice holiday.
    2014 was a wonderful year despite the long drawn out winter. It certainly looks to have been a great year for your garden! I am looking forward to the post on the Rotary Garden. It looks fabulous.
    Congratulations on the arrival of your newest grandchild. His arrival was a nice way to end the year.

  23. I enjoyed your retrospective summary of the old year Rose. A new babe - what an absolutely perfect Christmas present for all your family! I hope that 2015 treats you and your garden most kindly xxx

  24. Thanks all for visiting and for the good wishes! I had planned to reply to each of you, but I've been busy getting ready for a trip to see our new grandson. We're in Texas now, and this Grandma is enjoying lots of bonding time with the new little fellow. Catch up with everyone later!


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