Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Christmas always seems like the final stop at the end of a long trip through the fall. On the other hand, New Year's Day feels more like a precipice. The end of the year is a long way off and the journey is full of unknowns. Anything could happen in 2018...

Time marches on so efficiently on the internet! Bloggers, who focus on decorating and had their trees up in early November, already had their decorations down and packed away by the end of Boxing Day. Food and recipe sites seemed to have switched overnight from appetizers, party drinks and decadent desserts to detox salads and healthy, low-carb meals. For lifestyle websites and blogs, the new year is all about getting organized, setting goals and making resolutions.

To me, this all feels a bit too fast. It's a little a bit like sitting down to an amazing meal and then rushing to the bathroom to brush your teeth. I find that I want to savour the holidays just a wee bit longer. I prefer to linger at the dinner table and have a second cup of coffee after my meal.

Our Christmas tree is still up and won't come down until next weekend.

But I am slowly shifting my mindset to the new year. This week I will start to rough in an editorial calendar for the blog. 

Part of determining a direction to move this blog forward is taking a critical look back at the journey already taken. What worked? What didn't and fell flat with readers? 

Here's a quick look at some of the posts readers seemed to enjoy the most.

Candace's vibrant blue house and charming cottage garden was a huge reader favourite. The first of two posts featured the shady area toward the front of the property with a small waterfall and pond. 

Coming in second is this amazing garden in Mississauga. 

Years ago when Jamie first set out as a novice gardener to create the front garden of her dreams an old-growth forrest, which were once part of a large estate, made the task seem daunting. Foot by foot she transformed the space. Now over a decade later, Jamie's front yard is a fabulous example of the many possibilities for gardening in shade.

Two gardens tie for third place. The Little Stonehouse Garden had plenty of container magic and flowerbeds that mixed perennials with an abundance of annuals. 

Equally popular was a the garden of a regular reader. Teresa is a passionate gardener who has managed to fit a wide array of plants, trees and shrubs in a very modest sized urban garden. She invited me over to see her garden last July.  Filled with pretty vignettes, it was a pleasure to spend the morning with Teresa and photograph her garden.

In the "how-to" category, this post on eliminating goutweed attracted a big audience. So many gardeners, myself included, have unwittingly invited a plant home that spreads aggressively. 

Getting rid of a problem plant can be a Herculean task. In the third in the series of posts I wrote on invasive plants, I shared the method I used to eliminate goutweed from my front flowerbed. Here are the three posts in order: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3: How I Eliminated Goutweed from my Front Garden.

I am proud to report that the little fairy garden I did for a post on Creating an Ornamental Herb Garden held up really well all summer. Count on more herb-themed posts in the new year.

Posts on specific plants also did very well, so I plan to do more plant profiles in 2018. This post on Echinacea was a bit too long (even by my standards), but it certainly covered the subject well. 

A post on hardy hibiscus performed equally well.

To be honest, the popularity of this next blog post took me a bit by surprise. 

Swimming pools are a nice luxury, but it can be a challenge to incorporate them tastefully into a garden.  So I took a look at some of the many ways a pool can be integrated nicely into a backyard space. 

The positive response was much appreciated. It took me literally years to find enough good examples for a post.

In terms of public gardens, the blog post on the redesign of the Lucy Maud Montgomery garden in Norval, Ontario had lots of readers interested. 

It usually comes as a surprise to many fans of the classic Anne of Green Gables books that the author herself had rather a difficult, lonely life. Somehow out of hardship the beloved character of Anne Shirley was born.

I don't often get a chance to visit specialist nurseries, but this August my husband and I took a weekend and drove up to Willow Farm Grasses. I came away inspired by all the different ornamental grasses and I think readers did as well.

In the fall of 2017 my husband and I tackled a number of new projects. We laid out the foundation for a new stream and pond, added a big, new flowerbed and even did some preliminary work on a small thyme lawn. 

From here on in the garden won't get any bigger, but there are still lots of refinements I wish to make. I hope readers will continue to stick with me and follow along with my garden's evolution.

Sometimes I am a little slow in replying to comments, but I read and value every one. Positive feedback keeps me going. 

I'd love to hear if there is a subject or plant you'd like to know more about. Perhaps there is a style of garden you want to see more of? Is there a challenge or a problem you're struggling with? I appreciate any help you can give me with making this blog better in 2018.

Thanks again for following along. I wish you all the best for the new year!

P. S. I am extending the deadline for a chance to win a copy of Pretty Tough Plants so people who were busy over the holidays have a chance to win. Draw closes this Sunday, Jan7th.


  1. Hi Jennifer, I am an avid reader of your blog, enjoy & appreciate all your articles, especially the garden tours. I am in the process of moving from a northern garden in PA to gardening in AL.. a blank slate awaits me and I am excited about starting my new garden hopefully this spring. Please keep the articles coming as I will be referring to them often in the future :).

    1. Thanks Renata! I appreciate you taking the time to leave such a nice bit of encouragement. I wish you all the best with your new garden!

  2. Happy New Year, Jennifer!
    Little Blue House on the Corner was a very favorite of mine. Just loved everything about it.
    I always look forward to each of your posts, and I feel very fortunate to have "met" you here.

    1. Thanks so much Lisa. I am glad to have "met" you as well. The little blue house garden was amongst my favourites of 2107 as well.

  3. May 2018 be all you hope it will be, take each day as it comes, don't get in a tiss over things you have no control over and enjoy life

    1. Thanks for the advice Jo-Anne. All the best to you in 2018 as well!

  4. I can't imagine any of your posts falling flat; I enjoy each and every one. Thank you for what I know is a great deal of time and effort on your beautiful blog!

    And we leave our trees up for the 12 Days of Christmas; I am never in any hurry to take them down! That was part of the agreement when I gave in to artificial Christmas trees, that I could put them up as early as I wanted and leave them up as long as I wanted!

    1. I appreciate you saying you enjoy all my posts. Most do pretty well, but the occasional one does fall flat.
      I am glad I am not the only one who hates to put away the decorations early. All the best for 2018!

  5. I don't always comment but I enjoy every one of your posts. As I live in Australia, all the gardens you feature are just breath-takingly gorgeous. The detail in the gardens, the carefully painted pretty houses, and posts like ''the Little Blue House'' are quite an inspiration. I also enjoy all your posts about your dogs and rabbit, frequently funny and/or poignant.
    I frequently share those posts with friends. Best wishes to you and your family and your dogs, for 2018. I look forward to more lovely posts in 2018.

  6. Your blog is like a good gardening book to me. In the cold, dark days of winter, I go back and reread many of your posts, especially the garden tours. I have been inspired by many new-to-me plants in those gardens. Your photos are wonderful, and your writing so informative. Thanks for all the time, heart, and work you put into this blog. It is a wonderful resource I re-visit over and over. I am retiring from teaching, so am excited to have time to refresh and renew some of my beds. (If my body holds up!!!) Wishing you the best in 2018.

  7. Happy New Year Jennifer! You know I adore your blog and dreamy photographs. I am right there with you about the holidays. We don't take our tree down until the 6th of January so we will be busy with that this weekend. We are still eating away at all the cakes, cookies and chocolates from Christmas. Healthy eating won't kick into gear around here until mid to late January. So I feel either a little behind everyone else or that I am hanging on to the season just a little longer than the rest. I took a break from blogging after the fall so I could focus on family and catching up on some much needed household tasks like painting several rooms in our home and organizing the garage and potting shed. I must get back to blogging again. I have missed my online garden friends. All the best for 2018 and I look forward to more garden goodness from you!

  8. Happy New Year Jennifer! I like to take it all in as well. Life is too short to rush through everyday and sometimes we need to just stop and appreciate all that is around us. I look forward to another year of gardening with you, as I enjoy every one of your posts and look forward to them. The visits to the various gardens are my favorite and your beautiful photography of each one is amazing. Best wishes for much happiness in 2018 and may your gardens thrive!

  9. I look forward to your posts and I've been inspired by so many creative and lovely ideas. It's so nice to have your blog to dream over in the cold months. Here's to many more wonderful photos as we gear up for the new gardening year! Both gardens, plants and of course, your "boys".

  10. Thanks for this overview of the past year, Jennifer. I haven't been spending as much time blogging this past year, so I know I missed a few of these. I will definitely have to check out your post on hardy Hibiscus because I have been wanting to add one to my own garden for some time. Your posts are always so informative and beautifully illustrated; I think I've "pinned" more ideas from here than any other garden site. Best Wishes for the New Year! And I just finally took my tree down, too:)

  11. Your blog always makes me think of a gardening magazine, only better. The photography is beautiful, it's well written and you tackle such a breadth of garden topics.

  12. Your garden is amazing and the photos are so gorgeous!

  13. I always love your posts! So much to see and learn and gorgeous photography. Can't wait to see what 2018 brings. :-)


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