Thursday, January 3, 2019

Looking back and Moving Forward into 2019

A photo taken by my dear husband.

When my father called me on Tuesday morning to wish me a happy new year, he told me he had celebrated into the night at a party with live music, singing and dancing. Myself, I fell asleep on the coach shortly after dinner. Goodness, my 93-year-old father has put me to shame!

When I woke up around nine, I found my husband had already done the dinner dishes. How grateful am I that I have a husband who does the dishes all on his own even after a long, hard day at work! To close our wild New Year's Eve, we grabbed our umbrellas and took the dogs for their nightly walk. The drizzle was so heavy it might better be described as rain. Mild temperatures and rain on New Year's Eve in Ontario. How very odd that seemed! For our walk, the boys wore their sporty red raincoats because they'd be drenched otherwise. Even so, I still had to dry them with a towel when we got back.

We finally crawled into bed sometime after eleven. My husband drifted off to sleep almost immediately, but I lay awake long enough to hear the first of the fireworks at midnight. Welcome, 2019!

Buddy (on the left) lived to be almost twenty. The bunny with his buddy Piper (on the right).

I am not sad to put 2018 behind me. It was a difficult year. First, our oldest dog passed away and then our pet rabbit. The most difficult loss of all was my Mom in October. I am glad that I still have my Dad to fuss over (though perhaps the worry is unwarranted after hearing about all the singing he did on New Year's Eve. I always knew he loved music, but I had no idea he loved to sing until recently. Myself, I sing like a toad. Obviously, singing on key is not a gift he has passed on to me!)

Even my blog had its difficulties in 2018. Google made technical changes and page views dropped just when they would usually start to peak. Never have a come so close to quitting altogether. Somehow I have managed to rally my spirits mid-summer. Tough times seem to have stirred a renewed determination.

For me, taking a look back at the posts in 2018 is an important exercise. What blog posts resonated with readers and what fell flat? I have begun to put together my editorial calendar for 2019 and it's always helpful to look back at the previous year with a critical eye towards improvement.

For you the reader, I hope this is a way to catch up on any posts you might have missed.

In the past, I haven't written a lot about indoor gardening, but there is such a renewal of interest in houseplants, it's a missed opportunity.

This post, in which I featured one of the more quirky houseplants in my personal collection, was very popular. A few readers commented that this odd-looking plant looked "ghostly". For me the fuzzy, grey foliage makes me think of Q-tips.

I have been doing more plant profiles on Three Dogs in a Garden. In this very popular post, many gardeners were intrigued by more unusual forms of Rudbeckia, a common cottage garden plant: Lesser-Known Rudbeckia.

Finishing second was New Perennials from Proven Winners. No surprise there! What enthusiastic plant collector doesn't like to read about all the new plants coming to market in the spring.

Two further plant posts, Baptisia: How to Grow It + Newly Introduced Cultivars and How to Grow Bearded Iris, were also very well received.

An experiment that got mixed reviews were blog posts on creating themed gardens. Creating a Fragrant Garden Season by Season did not attract as much interest as I hoped, but Creating a White Garden did fairly well.

A Visit to Grange Hollow Nursery was the most popular of the public spaces I showcased. 

Grange Hollow is a family-run nursery located in Grey Bruce County just south of Owen Sound. Hardy perennials, annual flowers, herbs, heirloom tomatoes and a wide range of vegetable transplants are sold at the nursery, but what makes Grange Hollow stand out are the inspirational display gardens.

As always, I featured quite a number of private gardens. Two were reader favourites. Finishing second in terms of readership was A Pretty Cottage Garden that was photographed in late May.

The most popular private garden was a bit of a dark horse. I showed this garden with a bit of trepidation knowing that not everyone is a fan of garden gnomes (or in this case, the equivalent). 

I wrote passionately that Eva Martini's garden, "... speaks to the personality and imagination of the woman that created it. You know a little something about her by the time you wonder the pathways and stop at all the little vignettes. And I think that's great." 

Judging from the number of page views, readers agreed.

I also tried a slightly different approach to showing a private garden. With less focus on the garden's story, and more concentration on ideas readers could use was the post 10+ Ideas to Borrow for your Garden.  Mining a Garden for Inspiration: 10 Ideas to Borrow this Spring did even better.

The most popular post of 2018 was 10+ Numbered and Identified Shade Planting Schemes by a landslide. No surprises there! Shade gardens are a real challenge for most people. Combining perennials with trees and shrubs is also a difficult task in both sun and shade. 

Looking forward now into the year ahead, both my husband and I am super excited about installing a waterfall, stream and pond. Last summer we laid out the watercourse, planted the flowerbeds at the water's edge and built the two bridges that will cross the stream. 

Now we need to go back in, dig out the area out and lay the liner. A pump will create a waterfall at one end and a second pump in the pond will recirculate the water. 

I am not sure if the pond will be deep enough for koi, but I am looking forward to 
watching fish and frogs in our new pond.

A bee on my Monarda.

 Just two dogs in a garden now.

Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavander' out front.

I am also hoping to build a rose trellis, rebuild our compost bins, lay paths and finish the area at the side of the house. 2019 is going to be a busy year!


  1. I love all of your photographs, but the photo with your two Collies looking beautiful and regal with your flowers is my favorite. Your Collies look like they were just getting ready to run and play. Your Sable Collie reminds me of two Collies from my past. They were wonderful dogs.

  2. Thanks Susie! Actually they are Shelties (Scrap is especially big as Shelties go). Very much like Collies, they are wonderful dogs. I am pretty sure that Piper was egging Scrap on when I took the picture of them on the bridge. Piper loves to tease Scrap and make Scrap chase him around the garden.

  3. Jennifer, I enjoyed reminiscing with you. I'm looking forward to seeing your new water feature. We want to add a water feature too, but probably won't get around to it this year. Happy gardening in 2019!

  4. A water feature is on our long term garden/landscaping plans... I will be watching and taking notes from your experience!
    I am glad you persevered in your blogging. I think yours is my absolute favorite gardening blog, and I am always excited to see you've posted again. Thank you for keeping on!

    1. Thanks Kathleen. I am touched that my blog is a favourite. As I said in my post, we are super excited about the pond. The trials and tribulations of building it will certainly make it into my spring posts.

  5. Always enjoy your blog..Beautiful pictures I can get good ideas from...So glad you are keeping at the blog, would have missed you!

  6. Our family had 2 losses right at Christmas, 2 lights went out and 2 stars were born. Losing those we love is so difficult. I have to admit I did learn some vital information from your post on your mother's passing....I have to prepare a bit better for my astral journey. Happy 2019 to you and your wonderful blog!

    1. I am so sorry for your losses and at Christmas time too. It's lovely that 2 stars were born. I am sure that eased the pain of your losses just a bit. I think I also realize that I have not given my own astral journey enough thought. Happy 2019 to you as well. I hope there are happier days ahead for you.

  7. I think I should comment more often - your blog is something I look forward to and dearly miss f it isn't there! So glad you haven't thrown in the trowel! It's always interesting to see other gardens, and we live in Massachusetts, so seeing gardens far from us is a treat. And I love to see your dogs. Losses of loved ones are hard; my garden keeps me going and sets me straight. Best thoughts to you and yours this coming year!

    1. Thanks for this lovely comment Kay. I really appreciate it.

  8. I very much enjoy your blog, even though I'm in far off Australia. In fact your lush garden photos are even more inviting to look at during the middle of a heat wave here in Canberra, when our gardens and landscapes become dry and listless. I can very much identify with your poignant account of your mother's death, and your father's vulnerability. Last but not least, I also understand the heartbreak of losing a much loved pet. So I look forward to another year of your lovely blog. Happy New Year!

  9. Thanks so much Gerrie! I am touched and flattered that you follow along from so fa away. We have the exact opposite of a heat wave at the moment. It was bloody cold when I took the boys out to play ball this morning. The dogs never seem to mind it. Me, I was glad to come in and warm up.

  10. Heartfelt wishes that 2019 will be a much happier year for you Jennifer. Please don't stop writing. I love it when you give us a peek into pretty gardens. Hoping you do so soon so I can forget about all the freezing cold weather.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Stephanie. I really appreciate it. All the best for 2019 to you too as well.

  11. I am glad to put 2018 behind me, too, Jennifer. I lost my sweet mini horse. Plus my garden suffered greatly from the terrible weather so I didn't find much solace there. I am so glad you didn't quit blogging. I love your pictures, but don't always comment -- I'll try to do better. Wishing you a much happier 2019.
    P. x

    1. I have seen mini horses and think they are absolutely adorable. It must have been heartbreaking to lose yours. Thanks for encouraging me to continue Pam. It always helps to get positive feedback. Happy 2019 to you as well.

  12. Dear Jennifer, I am so sorry for your losses this past year. I lost one dog to spleen cancer and one to bladder and brain cancer. And there are ongoing losses of family members who continue in bad choices that cause much grief. I'm sure there are many readers who this resonates with as well. Your blog is my favorite by far and I always enjoy reading it! I'm so thankful you have decided to continue and look forward to what you post in 2019. As far as your "astral journey" you know the Lord? His love, peace, and comfort can carry you through those difficult times. Jesus Christ died for our sins and paid the debt we owed so we can have fellowship with Him here and for all eternity in heaven with Him. My prayers are with you. God bless, Kathleen

  13. Thank you for the prayers and the kind words Kathleen. I am glad that you enjoy the blog. I am also sorry to hear of your losses. It's hard to part with furry friends. All the best for 2019.


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