Posted on 20 Comments

See the Movie or Read the Book – or Both!

Hayefield late December 2012

The calendar says it’s just turned winter, but as far as I’m concerned, we’re already well on our way to spring. I used to wait until March to do my outdoor cleanup, trying to get every last bit of enjoyment out of the garden before giving up on the previous year’s display. Unfortunately, the voles also got a great deal of enjoyment out of that approach, and I eventually had to switch to cutting down both the garden and meadow in mid- to late fall so the voles were forced to find other places to spend the winter.

At first, it didn’t seem fair that I had to give up so soon after the spectacular fall finale. This year, though, the process became much more interesting as I realized that the cleanup process isn’t so much about getting rid of stuff as it is about shifting things around.

The grasses are gone…

The Courtyard at Hayefield late December 2012

But now the veg garden paths are all nicely filled with the tops.

The veg garden at Hayefield late December 2012

The spaces that held cannas, dahlias, and other tender bulbs are empty…

The front path at Hayefield late December 2012

But the basement is filled with bags and crates of dormant roots and tubers…

Cannas and dahlias in winter storage at Hayefield

…and with boxes and pots of tender succulents too.

Tender succulents in winter storage at Hayefield

The manure bins are empty…

Empty manure bins at Hayefield

…but the holes left where I dug up all those tender plants are now filled again…

Alpaca manure in the garden at Hayefield

…as are the empty spaces in the veg garden where late crops kept me from sowing oats or alfalfa for winter cover.

The veg garden at Hayefield late December 2012

The flowers are all gone – well, except for those of sturdy little ‘Golden Starlet’ winter heath (Erica carnea f. alba)…

Erica carnea f. alba 'Golden Starlet' at Hayefield

…but my office bench is filled with boxes, bags, and envelopes of seeds all ready for sowing. And my goodness, it’s hard to get depressed by an empty garden when I have hundreds of seed packets to sort through – especially those that many of you shared with me over the last few weeks!

Seeds for 2013 at Hayefield

All of this moving things around is great physical and mental exercise, but it leaves me with a blogging problem: I can’t get away with post after post showing pictures of soggy alpaca manure and bagged-up bulbs to fill the time from now until March’s Bloom Day. So, it’s time to find creative ways to keep things fresh and interesting in this virtual world. If you’ve been here before, you’ve already noticed the first change: a new look for the blog. (Now WordPress can stop fussing at me for using an outdated, long-retired theme.)

The next new thing:

Hayefield: The Movie!

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, my camera has been on the Auto setting since I got it seven years ago. When I was playing around with taking the pictures back in September for my last post on panoramic images, I somehow managed to change that setting, and in the process, I discovered that – wonder of wonders – my camera can capture video as well as still images. (I really need to read the darn manual one of these days.) Well, that gave me the idea of taking it on a walk around the garden, which then led to having to learn how to edit video clips.

I’ll warn you now that the result is pretty rough, but if you have nothing better to do with the next 12 minutes of your life, I invite you to join me – and Daniel and Duncan, too – on a virtual tour of our fall garden. You can find the video at YouTube through this link: Welcome to Hayefield.

Tried and True PerennialsAnd a final bit of news…Tried and True Perennials is now available worldwide in Kindle format. Tried and True Perennials started out as a couple of blog posts and ended up turning into a 108-page book featuring twenty of my favorite flowering and foliage perennials. Don’t own a Kindle device? That’s ok; I don’t either. You can download free Kindle Reader Apps through Amazon and read them on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, or even right in your web browser.

For the next three months, at least, the Tried and True Perennials e-book is available exclusively through the KDP Select program, so I’ll no longer be selling the pdf version here. The Kindle edition has fewer photos, but there are still over 100 color images. (There are over 200 images in the print version).

In the process of creating the Kindle edition, I revised some of the text, updated some of the pictures, and changed the cover as well. I’ve made a new edition of the print version too, changing the cover image to match this one and fixing a few little things, but the interior text and photos of that one have basically stayed the same.

If you’re a fan of e-books, you can also find several of my other books in Kindle format, including:

Those links all lead to the book pages on If you’re in another country, you should be able to find them by searching for “Nancy J. Ondra” on whatever version of Amazon you usually use.

Well, that’s enough new and news to be going on with for now, I think!

Posted on 20 Comments

20 thoughts on “See the Movie or Read the Book – or Both!

  1. Thank you for the tour of Hayefield grounds…so many beautiful plants. I am encouraged that you usually shoot with AUTO and achieve such lovely pictures. I accidentally press the video on my camera at times. You inspire me to deliberately video. Like you, reading the manual never seems to make it to the top of my to do list.

    Thank you for actually watching it, Linda! I bet you could have a lot of fun shooting clips of your own garden.

  2. It’s nice to see the down season too! Good idea using the grasses on the path and thanks for letting us see your seed piles and bags of overwintered tubers and such.

    Thanks, Laura — I’m pretty pleased with myself for using the grasses to mulch the veg garden paths. Up to now, I’ve been using bark mulch, but it was expensive and kept washing down to the bottom of the slope. I had no trouble getting enough grass tops to cover the paths about 6 inches deep – and they were free!

  3. Love the tour of your garden, now if we just had Erica Glasener to do the audio.

    Wouldn’t that be great? It took all of my coordination to walk at a steady pace and hold the camera still at the same time, so thinking about talking was out of the question for this one!

  4. I just noticed your book on ornamental grasses along the side of your blog. I could not resist – I had to buy it. I love wispy lush grasses that flow in the wind. We seem to have a lot of windy days around here. I’m not that good at landscaping but I am going to try to incorporate some grasses around here. The photos look beautiful. I am looking forward to receiving it.

    … also I enjoyed the tour -beautiful

    Hey, thanks so much for buying the grasses book, Cheryl. The photos really are nice. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for taking the tour, too.

  5. Nan,

    Happy New Year! You are hitting the ground running for 2013. Like the new WordPress graphics, the “candid shots” of the end-of- season garden and the preparation of your tender Perenials etc. for the winter. The video was a new and unexpected treat. Actually the video offered some relief for all of the gardeners who have not had the pleasure of seeing Hayefield in person. Thank you for all you have shared with us in 2012 and thank you for what is still to evolve in 2013.

    Happy New Year to you and yours, John! I’m glad you like the new look and the multimedia experience; it was fun to put together.

  6. Happy New Year Nan! Glad to see I am not the only one with a full basement of goodies! God bless and I cant wait to share your garden in the coming year!

    Same to you, Brooke! It’s a great feeling to be able to look at all of those dormant treasures and think of the possibilities for the next growing season.

  7. First – HAPPY NEW YEAR!
    I´m so impressed with your film. I also have my camera set on auto all the time, but now I´m convinced I have to try to make a garden film myself.
    Your garden looks absolutely lovely, how big is it in square meters? Are you working it yourself or do you have any help!?
    It´s first now when you showed us the film one can understand how much beds you have and how wonderful the place must be. Thank you for sharing it with us!!!
    Susie in Sweden

    Happy New Year to you, Susie! I hope you give a video a try. It’s easier to do than you’d link (or at least, than I thought), as long as you’re doing it for fun and not expecting television-quality results. My whole place (including the meadow and pastures) is about 16,000 square meters; the part of the garden in the video is probably about 4000 square meters.

  8. Happy New Year Nan!
    Totally enjoyed the video. The boys (alpacas) are adorable. Love the new look on your blog. So looking forward to seeing what springtime has in store at Hayfield.
    You have such beautiful gardens!

    Hey there, Joan – Happy New Year! Thanks so much for visiting today. The boys thank you for the compliment, though really, I think they could have made a bit more effort to be personable for their first live appearance.

  9. The movie was sooo delightful. I had those unrealistic feelings of envy and greed. It reminded me of Monet’s garden when I saw it this fall. It was packed with plants accessed by wide paths. As I walked with you down those paths,I began to feel those familiar pangs of fatigue. Yes, the same ones I have when I see days of work ahead during the gardening season here. Your blog has me reaching for a catalog or car keys to address my urge to try some lovely combination inspired by your geeky messages. Thanks for coloring a snowy New Year’s day. Good health and discoveries in the coming year. Nancy Stone, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

    Hi Nancy! I know what you mean about the gardening fatigue: I sometimes get that feeling in fall, when I start thinking about having to cut everything down. Being stuck mostly indoors for the winter months is a good cure, though; I’m already itching to get back to work out there. I hope you have a great 2013!

  10. Hi Nan. I was just reading one of your articles on the subject of fall cleanup in ‘Garden Gate’. Love the pics in this post. I do the same thing with my Calamagrostis grass stems.

    Where do you over winter your tender succulents ? Mine basically become house plants but I kind of want to cut down on their care and see if its possible to induce some sort of dormancy in them. Then they could just get shoved away in the basement and forgotten about for a few months.

    Ah…that article was based on info from several years ago and went through several writers, so it doesn’t necessarily reflect what I’d actually say or how I now approach garden cleanup. Oh well. Regarding the succulents…well, I don’t much like plants in my living space, except for seedlings, so that’s why I stick all the tender bulbs, herbs, and succulents in my unheated basement. It’s my understanding that many succulents naturally have a rest period in winter, but they’re not like cannas and other tender things that die back to the roots: they still need light and occasional watering. I can get away with keeping them in the basement because they’re in front of a south-facing window, so they get maybe 4 hours of afternoon sun a day. I kind of doubt they’d make it very long in a dark basement, unless you set up some plant lights.

  11. I enjoyed your video – the sounds of the insects and the birds made it feel as though I was really paying a visit. I also appreciate your blog. Even though many of the plants you feature don’t fit my Southern California location, I gather design ideas from your combinations. I’m somewhat envious of the downtime you get in the winter – time to relax, reflect, plan, and rest overused/abused limbs sounds good to me. We get a bit of that here in the summer, at least when we’re prudent enough to hold off planting in 90 degree heat! Best wishes for the new year!

    Hi Kris! Sometimes I envy those of you in milder climates for being able to garden year-round, but mostly I feel very lucky that we have this “rest” period to get re-energized for spring. That, and having several bug-free months. Hope you have a great growing season!

  12. As I have followed your blog, I have just loved your garden and all the plant/color combinations. I’m even more amazed that you’ve had your camera on auto this whole time. And now I’m blown away at the size of your garden after watching the video. I too have accidentally put my camera on video, so I’ll have to try it on purpose one of these days and see what I come up with. I used the picture tagging trick that I learned from you last year to do my latest post. Thanks again for teaching me a new trick (I have my camera on auto too — I am a dinosaur in the techno world). I’m always learning something from you :-) Cannas survive our winters. They grow so well, instead of digging them up to save them, we dig them and toss them. Happy new year of gardening!!

    I’m so glad to know that you found the photo tagging info helpful, Toni. Regarding the cannas, I would have been horrified at the idea of digging cannas to throw them away instead of save them, but after having grown Canna indica ‘Purpurea’ for a few years, I’m starting to understand that. I love it for being so strong and vigorous, but its rhizomes are so big and increase so rapidly that there’s no way I could have brought them all indoors. So, I left a few clumps in the ground to see if we’re warm enough yet for them to overwinter outdoors here.

  13. Green! I love the new color of your blog, and it will magically match nearly everything you post… The video is great! I, too, wanted to see some details and hear you talk about a few of your favorite plants as you do in your blog, but seeing the overall effect of walking around Hayefield was fantastic…

    One aesthetic/design/philosophical thing to consider. How full is too full? As a fellow plant lover, I love to jam stuff in and let it go crazy – plants up, down, and everywhere – bubbling into paths, crawling up walls and supports…

    but in your video when you get out of the gardens closest to your house and into the shrubbery area and the paths widen, the feeling is more relaxed and peaceful, isn’t it? I think the contrast is great. It reminded me of a visit to Beth Chatto’s garden. I really enjoyed the place and the plants and her amazing nursery, but it wasn’t until we were driving through the swet English countryside in an open convertible that I took a deep breath and felt relaxed. I was taking in too much for too long in her garden. It’s the opposite of a Zen garden where some westerners are left feeling disappointed by the “nothingness” of the “empty” spaces and distinct lack of flowers…

    I’m thinking I would like to have a similar situation to yours here at Corte Eremo – a plant-packed area to satisfy my botanical interests, and then more open, grassy spaces to feel more relaxed and less visually stimulated.

    Hey there, Clark. I think it’s normal for personal gardens to evolve like that, don’t you? Filling up that very first bed or border can be a challenge, but then you get up some momentum in collecting plants and can’t keep up with making new beds (or you run out of space), so you really have to pack them just to get the plants in the ground. If you’re lucky enough to have the room to expand, you can eventually put some more time and thought into creating new areas with seedlings or divisions of the original “drifts of one,” giving that more relaxed look. And yes, I’m not surprised that you like the new green theme!

  14. Just wanted to compliment that new cover photograph for “Tried & True Perennials”. Those defined, robust plantings with an enchanted bloom color palette are made even more magical by the covered gateway. Somehow, the inclusion of a man-made structure provides scale and invites us to imagine a journey through the garden. Is that vine on the gateway arbor a perennial? Looks like morning glory……

    You’re right, Eric, that’s ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory. I like that photo too, and apparently so do a lot of other people. Someone posted it on their own site without my watermark, and since then I’ve seen it all over Pinterest with no links back to here. And people wonder why I ask that they don’t copy my photos! Anyway, I figured that if people liked it that much, and I had it both vertical and horizontal format, it was a good choice for a cover image on both the Kindle and print versions of Tried and True.

  15. Nan,
    I enjoyed the walk through on video. You amaze me with the amount of work you do, and your masses of blooms make it all worth it. Love that you started out with Daniel and Duncan too. I’m looking forward to seeing more video from you. Happy New Year and may your garden be the best ever! Sandi

    Thanks, Sandi. At least it made a nice change from our currently snowy landscapes, huh? I wish a great 2013 growing season to you too!

  16. Nancy, I love the video! It felt like I was walking right along side you, hearing the birds and cricket’s, and the wonderful crunch on the gravel. Oh, and the plants, and wonderful flowers! Thanks for sharing! Very nice to finally meet Daniel and Duncan!!!! They are adorable! Geri

    Thanks so much, Geri – that’s exactly the experience I was hoping people would get from the video. I can only imagine what my neighbors would have thought if I’d been out there talking out loud while filming, though I suppose maybe they’re used to my weirdness by now. The boys thank you, too!

  17. as i live in Greece,zone 9b,I was really socked by your last post, as it made me realize how hard you must work each spring to revive your wonderful scenery.thanks for sharing. maria

    I’m so pleased to have you visit, Maria. Really the plants do the work; I mostly just supervise!

  18. I didn’t think it was possible, but somehow, watching the video, I’m even MORE impressed by your garden than I was before! It really was like getting a personal tour (and a I agree with those above…the sound of the gravel crunching underfoot adds that extra level of delight). I love how your garden keeps “unfolding” in layers. Each time you rounded a corner, there is a new vista to admire. At one point towards the end as you went back into the Courtyard, there was a large clump of Pennisetum, with their blooms so perfectly backlit…truly took my breath away. I admit, I have all your books…and keep waiting for your next one (hint, hint) :-D

    Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year to you too, Scott! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the tour. It’s definitely a different experience than just seeing the pictures. Thanks for getting my books, too. I’m not sure you’ll find the next one very interesting, because it’s much more of a beginners’ book. But, I do have one in the proposal stage that I think you’d like!

  19. What has happened to Erica Glasner? I loved her on Gardener’s
    Diary on HGTV and feel cheated since she is no longer there. Lynn

    I miss it too, Lynn. Erica visits here, so maybe she’ll see your note. Or, you could visit her website ( to see what’s she’s up to at the moment.

  20. You are one of the most organized people I know. My little camera does video, too, but I’ve only made really short videos like during the Halloweeen snowstorm. Maybe I should do a short virtual Rose Viewing this year. I hope your voles have all left your less hospitable garden. They have been an enormous problem here. too.

    Hi there, Pat! A rose-viewing video sounds lovely right now. Yes, the voles seem to be gone from the garden, at least. I still haven’t gotten around to clearing the grass away from the base of the woodies in the meadow; I’m hoping that they’re not hiding out there.

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