Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010--The Year in Review

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that you are finding some time this week to recuperate from the holiday rush.  Our Christmas celebrations turned out to be rather fragmented, affected by the weather.  What was supposed to be a light snowfall turned into 5 inches of snow on Christmas Eve, making travel hazardous.  Because of the icy roads, only one son and his family could make it to our traditional Christmas Eve get-together. But my oldest son and his family came over Sunday evening after we had spent the afternoon with my parents, so we did get to see everyone, just not at the same time.  I felt badly for the grandkids who always enjoy playing with their cousins, but it did mean Husband and I had more time to spend with each one of them, so in a way that was good---and quieter:)

This is the time of year when the media always looks back at the past year and reviews the top stories.  Nothing newsworthy happened in my life this year, but there certainly were some highlights in the garden.  Instead of thinking about world events or economic crises, here is a restropect of my life in the garden in 2010:

The East Border of the Idea Garden in mid-summer.
 Undoubtedly, my biggest accomplishment this past year began in January when I started taking classes to become a Master Gardener.  Because I started gardening later in life, I wanted to catch up on all the basics I might have acquired through earlier experience.  For three months, our heads were crammed with all kinds of botanical knowledge, and some of it actually penetrated my long-term memory cells.  I still can't tell you what a monocot or dicot is, but at least I have a great reference book to look it up--should I ever need to know.

A small part of the County Nursing Home Garden in the spring.  Next year I will have to take more photos of this beautiful garden!
  While I took the class to learn more about gardening, I found added benefits I hadn't expected.  New friendships were formed with other class members, people whose eyes don't glaze over when you start talking about indoor seed starting or the different hydrangea cultivars, but actually enjoy these conversations.  Acquiring the necessary 60 hours of volunteer time at first seemed overwhelming, but this time, too, provided more than I expected.  Time to foster the friendships made in class as I worked alongside other interns and time to "pick the brains" of the experienced Master Gardeners.  Many thanks to Rosellen and June, co-chairs of the Sensory Garden in the Idea Garden, where I spent many hours, and to Phyllis and Carol, co-chairs of the County Nursing Home Garden, where I fulfilled part of my community service hours.  I learned so much from these dedicated and amazing ladies. 

In March Beckie and I made our second annual trek to Chicago to see the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.   Beckie and I always have a great time together, but  nothing beats a road trip for quality time and nonstop girl talk.  The Chicago show didn't disappoint with its fantastic displays, but the drive home through dense fog was a scary experience I hope I never have to repeat.

An even longer trip was made in March to Arizona to visit Older Daughter and her fiance.  While there, I had the chance to visit once again one of my favorite places in Phoenix, the Desert Botanic Gardens

  It's always a treat to leave the cold behind and soak up some warm sunshine while viewing wildflowers in bloom and the different flora of the desert Southwest.

Once the warm weather finally arrived in Illinois in April, garden work began in earnest.  I had begun digging up an area for a new flowerbed last fall, but didn't get it finished until spring.  Intended as a garden area to showcase my growing collection of lilies, it wasn't long before it filled up with other plants as well.  I think I must have spent 3/4 of my time on this area alone, but it's always fun to start a new garden, and hopefully next year it will be more low-maintenance.

Spring planting was interrupted for a week while I made yet another trip in early May--this time to visit Youngest Daughter in Portland, Oregon.  Many precious hours were spent catching up as I hadn't seen her in nearly nine months!  But her busy schedule left me with lots of free time, too, so I entertained myself several days by taking in the sights.  It was too early in the season for many roses to be in bloom yet at the famous International Rose Garden, but the show of azaleas made up for it--gorgeous, huge blooms everywhere!

I spent another afternoon enjoying the small but beautiful classical Chinese Garden in the heart of the city and learning about the essential elements of this ancient style of gardening.

L to R: Beckie, Cheryl, and Lisa
The highlight of the year had to be meeting long-time blogging friend Cheryl in person in September.  Cheryl and her delightful husband came all the way from the UK to visit the Midwest, stopping for a few days to visit with Beckie and me.  Lisa and her DB also came up from Indiana to meet Cheryl. What a wonderful few days we had!  Filled with visits to different gardens in the area, there was also ample time for non-stop gardening talk.  Friendships were strengthened and memories were made that will never be forgotten.

Later in September Beckie and I made another road trip to Chicago where we met up with a few other blogging friends.  Together with Monica, Linda, and Diane, we spent a leisurely day strolling through the Chicago Botanic Garden enjoying the beautiful early autumn displays.  And, of course, there was non-stop gardening talk as well:)

Gardeners are almost as obsessed with the weather as farmers are, and a review of the past year wouldn't be complete without looking back at weather conditions in 2010:

The year began bitterly cold and snowy.

Spring was a welcome relief from the long winter and reinvigorated my enthusiasm for gardening.  April surprised us here by being one of the warmest Aprils I can ever recall.

Instead of the usual April showers, we had continual days of sunshine, giving me ample time to get a headstart on the garden.  The unusually warm temperatures meant the spring bloomers were fleeting, but they were a glorious show of color while they lasted.

Soybean field in June

The warm and, for the most part, dry conditions lasted through May, but by June the showers arrived, and I thought they would never end.  Not only were the farmers' fields standing in water, but my roadside garden was flooded for awhile, too, drowning out all my zinnia seeds. 

But the top weather story of the year had to be the relentless heat of the summer and the drought that came with it.  By July the rains ended and didn't return until November.  Constant temperatures in the nineties that lasted well into September stressed many plants and created challenges for the gardener. The blossoms on a new Hydrangea paniculata 'Pink Diamond,' which I planted in late August, turned brown in a matter of two short days.  I thought I had lost it, but I cut off most of the blooms and watered it faithfully after that.  It seemed to recover, putting out new green leaves, but I'm anxious to see if it returns next spring. 

In spite of the drought, the vegetable garden survived, for the most part, producing the usual bounty of tomatoes.

In late August and early September, I spent many hours preserving some of the harvest, including a successful attempt at bread and butter pickles, which my husband loves.

Lack of moisture all summer long meant a more subdued autumn, but there was still enough fall color to enjoy a scenic drive or just to look out to my front yard.  Milder weather that lasted until mid-November meant I had more time than usual to get some fall chores done, including planting some new shrubs in front of the house and preparing a new garden bed for next spring.

The old hackberry covered in hoarfrost--December 19

The year ended as it began with a very snowy December--in fact, it has been the snowiest December on record with over 20 inches of the white stuff so far.  While I've seen enough snow to suit me, thank you, I must remember that it's a great insulation for the garden, and all that snow will eventually melt to provide some much-needed moisture for the soil.

Whew!  I didn't intend to make this long--thanks for hanging in here until the end.  But as you can see, 2010 was an eventful gardening year for me--now I'm excited to see what 2011 brings!


  1. Oh Rose, that was so enjoyable! Thanks for taking us through the year with you and your garden and all those travels. It was a highlight to see Beckie, Cheryl and Lisa as well. Congrats on that Master Gardener thing, maybe someday I will be able to do it too. The nursing home garden looks spectacular, how nice for the residents to have something so wonderful to look at. May 2011 be even better for you and yours! :-)

  2. It was fun seeing your year in a post Rose. 2010 was an eventful fun packed year for you. It was such fun meeting Cheryl and Stewart. I am hoping for another visit sometime. 20inches of snow is a lot to deal with. At least you know your garden is safe and sound all tucked in for the winter. Now that the holidays are over you can start thinking about all the flowers, shrubs, vines etc you can put in your new garden space.

  3. Nice review, I had forgotten it was this year you were in the MG class. I have yet to log in my hours for the SC class I just finished....though as you say, the hours come in a snap.
    Happy New Year to you.

  4. What a fun review! I found myself saying "I remember that, I remember that too" as I was reading along! It's been great to share your year with you through blogging!

  5. Rose, I never get tired of reading your posts, long or not. Congrats to the 2010 MGs! There was one gal in our county who logged over 200 hours, and this is her first year too. My record wasn't anything to brag about, but I did get more than the minimum requirement. You're lucky to have several options for where you can work. We have just one in Gadsden County, but it's a wonderful place, nevertheless.

    I hope your 2011 garden and weather are your best ever. Happy New Year!

  6. Good morning, Rose. It was easy to "hang-in" for this wonderful review of 2010. It's always a challenge to 'summarize' a year of gardening and gardening adventures. You had a most eventful year in many ways. I adore the first photo of your 'idea garden'. Your accomplishment of becoming an MG in your county is admirable. I just (finally)did the same thing last year and haven't finished my 75 volunteer hours yet... deadline pending. :-)

    Your visits with gardening friends were a thrill I know. It is so satisfying to meet in-person a fellow-gardener. Known only virtually to begin... then heartfelt bonds formed and a face-to-face is cherished.

    Happiest of New Years and all the best for endeavors in 2011.
    Blessings, Meems

  7. Rose, That was a wonderful read! I am here and now and it would be good for me to go through the year and appreciate what we all went through!The weather has been something else! Congrats on being a Master Gardener~I've loved reading about the gardens you've volunteered on this past year~Happy New Year! gail

  8. Frances, Glad you enjoyed the review. I consider you a Master Gardener already! I will have to take some photos this summer of the nursing home garden; it really is a beautiful place and much appreciated by the residents.

    Lisa, I do hope you'll come up again some time this year--we had so much fun! I'm already looking through gardening books for ideas for the new bed--this is how I'm going to get through the winter:)

    Janet, Congrats on completing the MG class, too! I didn't finish my hours till September, but I took the whole month of August off while my daughter was home.

    Rose, It is so much fun to have blogging friends like you to share these memories with!

    W2W, If it hadn't been so darned hot this summer, I probably would have completed my hours earlier. We had one guy in our class who must have put in about 200 hours, too. I went above the minimum, but no way could I put in that much time! We have several places to work in--it was hard to choose.

    Meems, Thanks so much for visiting! Another new MG heard from! The class was so worthwhile, I'm glad I did it. Yes, the visits from blogging friends were so special--it's amazing how bonds can be formed this way and how the people I've met turned out to be just as nice as they sound on their blogs.

  9. Gail, Thank you; I wrote this post as much for me as for anyone, just to be able to remember what all happened. I didn't realize just how eventful the year was--I even had to leave out many things so this didn't turn into a novel:) I think the weather was a major challenge this year.

  10. What a great review, Rose. Thanks for sharing all the beautiful gardens you were able to visit this year.

    You reminded me of what an early, warm April we had. I'm hoping it'll be the same in 2011.

    Happy New year - the year of the Rabbit by the Chinese Zodiac-so be prepared!

  11. Isn't it lovely to see photos of greenery and summer!
    You certainly have had a beautiful garden. (And produce.)
    The cold, icy conditions here prevented many people from seeing loved ones over the holiday. Fortunately I was able to be reunited with mine but the roads did prevent us from going out much.
    Big thaw now!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  12. Rose, it was an eventful year in the garden and out. Your travels are providing you with lots of great ideas for your garden. And now with you having the MG title you also have the knowledge to put it all into practice. :)

    Like others, I found myself remembering and they are wonderful memeories of friendships and fun. Who knew what worlds gardening would open up to us.

    My wish for 2011 includes all the usuals-health, happiness,etc., but for many more adventures with you in the garden!

  13. Rose it was a treat to look back on your year through these photos! Loved the portrait of the girls..I can now put a face to the names of bloggers I communicate with!
    I wish you a Happy New Year filled with good health happiness and much sunshine soon!Stay warm..from sunny AZ ..well today it's raining,that's ok..desert flowers need the rain! hugs Anna xo

  14. I very much enjoyed reading your year in review! The avenue of Crabapples and the frost-covered hackberry are magnificent.

  15. Glad you had a lovely Christmas despite it being a little more spread out. I really must visit the Desert Botanic Gardens next time I am out in Phoenix, I've never been, but I love the drama of the desert plants.

  16. Rose girl ! It is hard to shorten our memories of the garden year .. and hard to pick out just the right pictures and you did an excellent job with both of those categories!
    (I will confess I just had to stare and stare at that gorgeous Autumn tree ? LOL).. each year we learn more and more about our gardens and about ourselves, don't we ? and that is a wonderful accomplishment!
    I am so happy to say I have gotten to know you a little better each year as well .. here is to more accomplishments in our gardens and in our blogging friendships !! : )

  17. P.S. Did I say a VERY Happy New Year?
    wink wink
    Joy (lack of memory cells yet again?)

  18. What a post to treasure. I should get on board with these year end posts but haven't and am not sure why. Love your wrap up so much. Those pickles look splendid! I bet your husband will eat them all quickly. Happy New Year to you!

  19. I've been enjoying seeing more of these retrospective posts, and yours is especially joyous (LOVE that maple in its autumn finery). Here's wishing you a joyful 2011 and many more blissful posts, dear Rose!

  20. A lovely tour through the year Rose! That gorgeous fall tree should be on a calendar for sure. All the best for 2011 and a fantastic garden!

  21. Hi Rose,

    I enjoyed this immensely! I wish for you another wonderful year and beautiful garden for 2011! I love Portland, went there to see my big brother get married and the tulip farms were my favorite. The wedding was nice too, :)

  22. Happy New Year! I hope this coming year is as good to you as last year.

  23. What a year! I loved the last photo of the snow best of all. It was fun to see your flashback too. Happy New Year!

  24. Lovely photos, that hoar frosted tree is magnificent.

    Happy New Year Rose, and good luck with your course.


  25. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, what a busy & exciting year you had Rose. Hope 2011 brings you more wonderful memories. :)

  26. What a year you had! So much pleasure. May the pleasures continue and increase!

  27. Happy New Year, Rose.
    Those cacti are amazing.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  28. A lovely post ... it was a very good year for you, Rose, and hoping this one will be as joyful. Happy New Year, dear friend. (Hope to see more adventures of Thelma & Louise, back on the road again :)

  29. have captured the year with elegance and beauty. what wonderful photographs. it's fun to look back and realized just how blessed we are in our lives.
    merry new year to you and your family.

  30. Happy New Year! I loved scrolling through all these photos. You really are a talented gardener!

  31. Thanks all for visiting! It was fun to look back at the past year, and a good way for me to remember all that happened. Here's to an even better year in 2011!

  32. What a lovely round-up of the year. May 2011 be all that you hope it will.

  33. So enjoyed your 2010 review...
    Seeing Cheryl again was so fun.
    Happy New Year,

  34. Rose, I really enjoyed reading your review of your year! You really got around, girl! I wish we could have connected at some point, but maybe this year? Are you going to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show?

  35. Rose, You and I did accomplished some of the same goals this year! I also took the Master Gardening course and am in the process of working on the community service hours... I've been thinking very hard about a special project and one of them was a garden area at a local care center. Our group will be working on an area outside patients' rooms at the local hospital.

    Best wishes for 2011!

  36. It was good to look back at your year. Our weather was similar to yours.

    I keep planning on doing a post of my herb garden through the season, but may think about also doing a broader one.


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