Friday, March 24, 2017

Hindsight




Hindsight has the benefit of experience and experience is the best of teachers. Looking back to when I began this blog seven years ago, I had no idea where it would take me and what I would learn along the way.

Last weekend my computer crashed totally. Thank God, I had invested in a remote backup six months ago! It took a full day to restore my files. 

After the restoration was complete, I discovered that my software no longer functioned. Another day to find the startup discs and reinstall software like Photoshop. 

Just when I was beginning to feel like things had returned to normal, I was locked out of my email account for most of a day (some weird password issue). And if that wasn't bad enough, suddenly the only sound my iPad seemed capable of generating was static.

So here I am at the end of the work week, and I have very little to show for it.


Seven years of photography and my poor Mac is groaning with the burden of storing it all. I urgently need to find more storage and clean up my archives. Yesterday, I began the process of deleting some image files. It was funny to look back at pictures that I took in the early days of this blog. Some still make me proud, but others are grit-my-teeth-terrible.

I'd love to tell you that I had clear goals when I began this journey, but I didn't. Somehow this blog managed to determine its own direction and I just followed along. 

For the most part, the gardens I feature on this blog aren't grand, historic or famous. Instead they are the gardens that ordinary people have made. If nothing else, this has taught me that everyday people are capable of creating quite extraordinary things.


Experience has been a great teacher when it comes to gardening as well. If I could go back in time, I'd council myself to trust my gut instincts more. Too often I overthink things. Sometimes my first idea is my best idea. 

When I first started making my garden, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to create. That clearness of vision hasn't stopped me from having doubts, but even when I have gone off on some new tangent, I have always turned around and retraced my steps back to those first ideas. That initial bit of inspiration continues to serve me well. My only mistake has been questioning it.

In hindsight, I rushed into making my garden. I wish I had taken the time to plan a bit more carefully. Instead of guessing how much sunlight each area of the garden received, I should have taken the time to make a drawing of the property and make notes on the actual hours of sun each area got. I think I would have been surprised to discover how much shade the house casts on the front garden in the morning and the true impact that each of the tree canopies had on light.

Small failures have taught me to be more realistic about what I really can grow. Though I love woodland plants that require moist, loamy soil, they're just never going to prosper in my dry summer garden. Over the years I've come to the conclusion that there is no point in wanting what I can't grow. It is so much better to embrace the conditions I actually have.


I have also come to realize more and more that a garden starts with the soil. The successful gardeners I so admire feed their soil with compost and leaf mold. One of the projects I hope to do this spring is an overhaul of the layout of my compost bins.

It would have saved me so much money and heartache if I had created a nursery bed for new plants right from the start. In a large garden it is to easy to lose track of new arrivals and miss a critical watering. The perennials that you get in those four inch pots dry out so darn quickly even after they've been planted in the soil. My success rate with new plants is so much higher when I gather them into that nursery bed where I can keep a eye on them. I let them settle in and mature for a season and then plant them out in their final position in the second year.


Spring seems to have finally arrived. The other day I saw the first bee of the season visiting the snowdrops that have peeked up out of the soil into the cool air. Then yesterday, when I was walking the dogs, I saw a robin sitting at attention on the neighbour's lawn watching for a meal.

The garden is bare and drab, but experience has taught me not to worry. The garden looks barren now, but give it a few weeks. It's all there waiting for the days to get a bit warmer. Soon it will be as lush and green as my memory assures me it will be.



Finally, I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you.

I owe so much to the generosity of the gardeners who have welcomed me into their private spaces and allowed me to photograph their gardens. Thank you all!

There are times I feel discouraged, especially when it is almost the first of April and there are still pockets of snow on the ground. But then I will write something that gets a good response or I'll take a picture of which I am proud. Blogging forces me to struggle with my sentences and doing regular blog posts keeps me disciplined. Taking photographs only serves to make me look at things more closely.

Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog and left or emailed me kind comments.

Creating this blog has truly been a pleasure.

28 comments:

  1. And right back at you! I love visiting your blog, and even when I don't comment I enjoy reading your words, looking at the photos, even reading the other's comments (something I don't do a lot of places online). So many times you'll have an interesting, different, or otherwise informative article, and I learn so much! I see such lovely, achievable gardens presented here... and I think "I can do this! It is possible! I won't give up!"
    Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to reach out and share. I hope you will continue to feel like doing so for at least another seven years.

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    1. Thanks so much Kathleen! The gardens I show are an inspiration to me as well. They are achievable with imagination and a bit of hard work.

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  2. Your blog is one of my favorites! I echo the sentiment that I hope you continue for another 7 years. I am either learning something new or being encouraged by the lovely garden photos.Thanks for your dedication :)

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  3. I love the gardens you share and your own stories too! Sorry for the techno-disaster you had to go through, what a nightmare! Glad you're up again. Have a lovely weekend xoxo

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    1. Thanks Anne! I have enjoyed our friendship. It was certainly a tough week. I'll say it again, thank goodness I had a backup system!!!

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  4. Jennifer, as I read this post, I could not help but think that so much that you said not only applies to gardens, but to life in general. This is truly such a wonderful post! I am so sorry about all the computer, etc. issues you had. I always find that these things never happen one at a time, but in big groups!! :-( I do hope everything is resolved now.
    In closing here, let me just say, as I've said s many times, that it is always such a pleasure to visit you here, and I sure am glad that that you're here.
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    xo

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    1. Thanks for being such a supportive friend Lisa. I enjoy your original and thoughtful posts as well. I hope you have a terrific weekend too!

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  5. Your blog is the web highlight of my week.. I like to savor it, drool over the photos. Just now, I was thinking how beautiful a simple bunch of tulips and hyacinths are. Thanks for all your hard work - it's so appreciated!

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    1. Thanks so much! I am touched by your kind comment.

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  6. So glad you are up and running! Your blog is one of my favorites. I am always amazed how much information and inspiration you share with us with the gardens you visit, the research you do, and your amazing photography! And to top it off, it is free for the taking! I am so grateful for all you do and share with us. Think spring!

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    1. Thanks so much Karen, that's so nice of you to say.

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  7. Modern technology is a pain when something goes wrong, so glad you are up and running once more.
    Let's hope you are with us for the next 7 years, I learn so much from your blog!

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    1. Thanks Pauline! I've learned a thing or two from your blog as well.

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  8. I can only echo what other people have said, I don't often comment on your blog, but I do enjoy it so much.... from far off Australia. My husband and I have had many an enjoyable moment laughing over your dogs and rabbit stories too. As I have only been blogging for 2 years, I find your blog inspiring, and so glad you show such lovely gardens and interesting ideas...coming from a dry continent like Australia your posts are feasts to the eyes!! You have also made me realise that I must urgently get onto a back up for my Mac. Blogging is a lovely way of connecting, both with people and ideas. Many thanks, and may your posts continue for many years!

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    1. Thanks so very much! A love of animals is universal, but I am flattered that someone with such a different type of garden can find my blog interesting and enjoyable.
      Based on my experience, I highly recommend a remote backup. The "Time Machine" backup system only cost a few hundred dollars and was easy to set up. It creates a backup as I work. It certainly paid for itself last week.

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  9. I look so forward to your posts, for many reasons. I love your gorgeous photos, and I live vicariously through your beautiful pets. Thank you for your hard work in putting this together. You make it seem so easy, even though I know it's anything but!

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    1. Thanks Liz! It is tons of work, but it's also a joy to share my love of animals and the garden.

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  10. It's always a pleasure to visit you Jennifer,the gardens you visit are always inspiring, as you say, ordinary folk create them. Your pictures are always a joy too.
    So sorry to hear of your techie issues, I imagine that was maddening putting it mildly.Hope all is sorted and stays that way. Yes, hindsight is a wonderful thing, we certainly live and learn.xxx

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    1. Thanks Snowbird. Everything seems to be back to normal. I just have to watch that doesn't make me complacent. There is still too much stored on my poor Mac. I still need to do some housecleaning!

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  11. Certainly gardening is a journey....each year I learn more and more...I love the gardens you share because they bring inspiration. Most of my garden is partial and dry conditions and always trying new plants out and moving...you know what gardening is all about...

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    1. I am always moving plants around too Cathy. It's part of the fun, isn't it?

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  12. I just loved this post Jennifer and all that you mention are very true, from perhaps making a plan or building a nursery bed or taking more time with the compost. Mostly though, I love your voice when you write, your genuine kindness and sharing caring voice that always makes me stop and read or catch up if I miss. Your photos are always fantastic so I am very pleased you had them all backed up. Garden Gods were watching over you. Spring blessings, Brenda

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    1. This is the nicest compliment Brenda. I am really touched. Hopefully the Garden Gods watch over us all.

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  13. Yours is one of only two blogs that I read regularly. When I click on, I am ready to learn something new or be inspired to try something different. Your photography is worthy of being a photo blog, as well. I appreciate the work that makes it exceptional.
    It's spring, and I still have pockets of snow in the garden, too!

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    1. That means a lot Annie. I am sure there is lots I could learn from an experienced gardener like you too.
      The snow is gone today, but there are flurries in the forecast. Hopefully the snow won't last long. This afternoon I noticed that more snowdrops are up. The tiny iris and crocus are about to open as well. Surely that means spring is here at last!

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  14. This is why I love my garden. It is the best teacher ever. It thrives only when it has a well managed conditions, and yet again it teaches us about it. I tried to grow heucheras in a shady spot, and my garden thought me that bergenias will do much better. And they do!
    Lovely post!

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    1. I agree Aga. A garden is a great teacher and I know that I have lots of lessons still to learn.

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