2020-A Great Gardening Year

Hearing from everyone how awful this year has been- I agree! Until I remember everything good that came from the garden.

If you don’t have a garden, I commiserate. Gardening has kept me sane and quite busy this year.


I recycled my Christmas tree for the birds. Try that this year instead of setting it out for the trash.

Cody sampling the bird offerings
Supplies to decorate the bird tree


Yes, February has blooming flowers!… and they are called Hellebores. Plant these for winter flowers and all year-long foliage. And deer resistance! Float them in a bowl to enjoy them up close and personal.

Rare yellow Hellebore
Flower arranging in February


The Rebirth of the Victory Garden during COVID is going strong! Lots of new gardeners decided to try planting veggies and had a great year with the weather. Rain kept coming to keep all those plants happy and there was a lot of harvesting going on.

I had a bumper crop of cabbage this year, so I tried my hand at making sauerkraut
Raised beds with irrigation are the way to go
I harvested celery for the first time
I loved these ‘mushroom’ type tomatoes
Throwing straw mulch on my veg garden


This spring was an unprecedented year for swarming of the bees.  As a beekeeper in Maryland I am on a swarm capture list. That means when people have a swarm in their yard, they look up who to call who is closest to them. I got many more calls than I have ever had to capture swarms – at least two dozen. In previous years I got maybe two or three. The bees were really restless this year and I can’t tell you why!

Swarm forming on tree
Two swarms on a sport net that I captured
Suiting up


During COVID, everyone was making bread feverishly. I put my own spin on it with ‘Garden Style Focaccia’. 

My first attempt at decorating with edibles
Focaccia bread with edibles
Focaccia bread rising in my machine

It turns out you can making delicious bread that resembles a beautiful garden.


Starting a new Facebook group called #Bouquetoftheday jump-started me to plant lots of annuals and perennials to use in flower arranging. My aim during COVID was to create a ‘bouquet of the day’ with only flowers and foliage originating from my garden, greenhouse., or by foraging locally. And I had lots of new discoveries and old favorites that I showcased in my post ‘Growing Heirlooms-Old Fashioned Annuals That Rock!’

A bucket of cut Dahlias
Limelight hydrangeas for a #Bouquetoftheday
Pink roses for a #Bouquetoftheday
#BouquetoftheDay in the spring
Small #Bouquetoftheday


Lavender!! Enough said… July is the month to grow and enjoy all the myriad uses of this wonderful calming herb.

Lavender in abundance at Star Bright Farm
Dried lavender wreath
My dog enjoys me picking my lavender!
Ahh! Sublime Lavender ice cream!


Late summer is the time for my annual trek to see the DBG in Delaware. In the five or six years that Delaware Botanic Garden has been evolving, this year was one of the most ‘garden worthy’ years to see. COVID notwithstanding, I visited and was thrilled to see all the progress.

Brian Trader, Executive Director, masked up in the temporary visitor center
DBG  Meadow during COVID, photo by Amy Sparwasser

Planted Rhyne Garden showing lots of color in the spring, photo courtesy of DBH
Aerial view of the meadow, photo courtesy of DBG


I always try to visit and showcase local horticulture gardens or farms. One of my favorite cut flower visits was to Floriculture Microfarm, run by April Lutter, in southern Pennsylvania. More and more people staying at home need ‘flower therapy’ or “stunning florals grown with love” to stay sane and Floriculture has a winning formula. A small horticultural business that brings joy to many home-bound people, it works on a subscription basis as well as selling at a local farmer’s market.

April at her home with a fresh picked bouquet
Selling at the Hereford Farmer’s Market
White anemones and orange ranunculus that April raised
April is having an old log cabin restored at her place do house some future workshops and classes


The month of October I decided it was my year of the tomato! Yes, you read that right. Usually September is the peak harvest for me of tomatoes, but this year, the tomatoes just went on and on. I was eating some at Thanksgiving! I did a lot of harvesting, freezing, and canning in September and October, of my favorite home-grown vegetable of all – the tomato.

This was my top tomato producer- ‘Cream of the Crop’- a striped grape tomato that kept on giving all season long
‘Solar Flare’ got my vote for most beautiful and delicious
Upside down tomato cornbread
Everything I need to make sauce

In addition, I visited another local stellar garden called Star Bright Farm in White Hall, MD, full of aromatic lavender, rosemary, lemon, balm, and rose geranium. A scent destination! I got there late in the season and it is on my visit list for spring of next year.

Star Bright Farm
Star Bright Farm’s lavender, photo courtesy of Star Bright Farm
Cherry tomatoes grown on trellises
The tuteurs in the herb garden at Star Bright Farm


When the days get shorter, temperatures drop, and shrubs are laden with berries, it is time to create my porch pots. All the old annuals are ripped out of my front pots and instead of looking at ugly empty pots the rest of the year, I created decorative porch pots, using evergreens, twigs, and berries to lift my mood.

Setting out my materials for a porch pot
Seasonal porch pots branches stuck into soil) will last for months
Sticking winterberry branches into the ground around my lamp post


Dried flowers are back in style from the seventies and eighties and I see them used everywhere and featured prominently on Instagram. It is a great way to use your flowers for winter arrangements that will brighten up your house for months.

60′ long dried flower garland made from over 30,000 dried flowers and grasses inserted into a pittosporum base hanging in the Great Hall at Christmas. Cotehele, St Dominick, nr Saltash, Cornwall, UK, photo by Carole Drake
Dried peonies retain their color for months
Dried Williamsburg wreath, photo by Amy Sparwasser
Strawflowers, hydrangea, celosia, goldenrod, and marigolds are in an arrangement that will last for months
Boxes of dried flowers prepared and counted, ready to be attached to the pittosporum base of the Christmas garland in the Great Hall. Cotehele, St Dominick, nr Saltash, Cornwall, UK, photo by Carole Drake
Dried flower tree at Winterthur in Wilmington, DE

Here’s to another successful Gardening New Year!

3 Replies to “2020-A Great Gardening Year”

  1. 2020 was a weird one for sure. I agree, working in the gardening, beds, on the farm, and with plants in general keeps us busy and our minds off of what is going on in the world around us. At least we can make improvements and accomplish a lot in our own space. Happy New Year. Take care, stay well, and be safe!

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