An Interview with Beth@PlantPostings


“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  ~John Muir




It’s time to bring you another interview with an amazing person I have grown to know in the blogosphere.  As you might remember, after receiving and award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you.



So for today’s interview, I am talking with Beth@PlantPostings.  I met Beth over 5 years ago when I started my garden blog.  We seem to connect so easily.  We both gardenlessonsgardened in Zone 5, and my weather was very similar to Beth’s in Wisconsin.  We both enjoyed native plants, and quickly started a shared seasonal meme…really Beth started hers first, Garden Lessons Learned, which inspired me to look at seasons differently.  And from there, Garden Lessons Learned spun off Seasonal Celebrations.  I love how both these seasonal memes have enriched my life.  And both will be starting for the new season around December 1st.



Beth is a wonderful writer, photographer and gardener…and she has other hidden talents too.  So let’s meet Beth……..



Hi, I’m Beth. I call Southern Wisconsin home, but I have a bit of wanderlust so I enjoy traveling when the budget and the calendar allow.


I’m a mom (of two wonderful young adults), a wife, and a communications consultant. I’m also a lifelong gardener, a Wisconsin Master Naturalist volunteer, and an amateur photographer.


I’m often distracted by wildflowers, pollinators, and scenic overlooks. My husband and I both enjoy hiking, so we spend many weekends on Wisconsin’s amazing trails.


I like to experiment with plants—pushing zones, playing with microclimates, and practicing companion planting. My garden is organic. For at least the past decade, we’ve found natural ways to keep garden pests, invasive plants, and plant diseases at bay. It’s actually a fun challenge!




1.I really love this picture of you Beth!  Let me start by asking, why did you start your blog?


It’s a very long story, but I’ll try to be brief. My career has always included writing and editing as part of my job description, and I’ve been a gardener and plant-lover my entire adult life. When my kids were young, I came across a software package that was an encyclopedia, of sorts, of plant life. So the interest has always been there. But I guess the turning point came when I realized how to merge the writing with the curiosity and love of plants. I started tracking all the plants in my garden and learning the details about them. I inquired about writing for an online gardening publication. The editor accepted some of my work and suggested I start a gardening blog. I haven’t looked back since.





2. Beth I really enjoy my visits to your blog, and have always been intrigued by its name.  What is the significance of the title of your blog?


Thanks, Donna. This is the embarrassing part. Starting a gardening blog became a “must do” very quickly for me. I didn’t want to spend months or weeks analyzing it, because I was afraid I wouldn’t do it. So, I started researching names that were already claimed and those that were available. When I found out “” was available, I grabbed it (registered the URL web address)! I couldn’t believe no one had used that simple URL for a blog. Since then, I’ve always been a little sheepish about the simplicity of it, but someone at the Garden Bloggers’ Fling said the nicest thing to me—in effect, that she liked it, and that it was easy to remember. I shared plans to potentially change it, and she said she thought it was perfect the way it is. ūüôā




January3. So what keeps you blogging?


I can’t think of any other thing I’ve done (besides being a mom) that has been more rewarding. The combination of gardening/botany with photography, writing, and making friendships with like-minded people around the world has truly changed my life. I occasionally need a break from it, but I always want to start back up almost as soon as I start taking a break. It’s not something I have to do; I don’t get paid for it. Instead, it’s a hobby … or maybe it’s better described as an avocation. Perhaps that’s what motivates me—I enjoy it, so I do it!




February4. I couldn’t agree more with you Beth.  I like your description of blogging….it does feel like an avocation.  What are some of your creative endeavors that make your heart sing?


I was going to pass on this question, and then I recalled situations—not really creative endeavors—that have happened through grace. These are the moments that fill my soul with joy. I think of them as gifts from God. When I happen to be in the right place at the right time to witness small miracles of light, of natural occurrences, of interactions with other species … those are pure moments of bliss. I get the feeling most gardeners experience these moments from time to time, because we’re so aware and appreciative of the world around us.





5. Beth, I really love how you expanded the question….yes creativity, nature, small miracles and bliss.  As you are immersed in the creativity around you, what is your creative process?


Ha! Well, I have about 10 blog post ideas rolling around in my head at any one time. Some of them come to me in those moments of grace mentioned in the previous answer. Others relate to other aspects of my life that seem to spill over into the blog. Finally, when I’ve tried a gardening technique or had experience with a particular plant, I like to share it just as I enjoy reading about other gardeners’ experiences. Some of the ideas stay in my head a very long time until I have the courage to share them. I may never muster the guts to post some of them, but then maybe that’s a good thing. ūüėČ




April   6. Let’s stick with the creativity theme a bit longer, and explore what new form of arts or crafts you would like to learn?


Good question! I always like to try new things. But one thing I’ve always wanted to do is play the harp. I’ll probably never do it (too expensive), but I have this romantic notion of being a harpist in hotel lobbies, at weddings, and for other events. I like the idea of sort of being in the mix of activity—setting the tone and being on stage, while at the same time sort of being in the background.




May7. Oh I love the idea of you playing the harp, Beth.  You never know, you might find someone willing to give you a few lessons.

Let’s shift direction a bit.  I know you have traveled to many wonderful places, so where would you like to travel next?


My next trips will revolve mostly around family events in California and Arizona—both wonderful destinations and I’m thrilled to be able to attend. But, there’s also a very special trip on the radar for 2017! I hope it will materialize. I’ll keep you posted on the blog!




 8. I also have family in CA and AZ….beautiful spots to visit.  And I look forward to hearing about the special trip!!  OK, here’s a fun question….Tell me what famous person or not so famous person you would like to meet?


Another great question, and there are so many people! The current Pope is pretty awesome. I would have loved to have had a discussion with John Muir. I also find people like climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe fascinating. She’s brave enough to share her strong religious faith and at the same time her understanding of science and the impacts human activities have on our shared planet.


You brought back John Muir to me through your blog.  And I wanted to celebrate your appreciation for him, so I did include one of your favorite quotes at the top of the post.





  9. Beth, what is or would have been your dream career or job? 


I’m living the dream now. Making a living as a communications consultant and having a gardening blog on the side is pretty nifty. Maybe I can combine the two someday in a plant-related book. ūüėČ


Now that would be wonderful!




August10. As gardening is a great passion of yours, what is your creative process when gardening?  Do you have a special type of gardening or garden style you love?


I’ve been blessed with some wonderful garden mentors who’ve practiced various styles of gardening. Regarding my own style and process: I try to start with the big picture. What ecosystem am I dealing with? What plants are here? Which plants will grow best in this location? How can I make it aesthetically pleasing with “curb appeal” and still keep it wildlife-friendly? My gardening projects vary with the seasons, my budget, and my curiosity.




September11. I really like your thought process Beth…we have a similar style.  I know you love native plants and wildlife.  Can you tell us how you came to learn about native plants and what about them inspires you?


I’ve always been fascinated by native plants and wildflowers. I love to hike and photograph the plants I see along the way. Also, a large section of our property is woodland. We’ve chosen not to develop it. As far as I know, it’s never been developed. It’s always exciting to see what plants pop up naturally every year. We do try to remove invasive species, but that job continues every season. We want to try to support the native plants that are naturally here because they best support the native pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. With that said, some sections of my garden include non-native plants, but they’re mostly located near the house.


How special to have a woodland on your property.  I have always wanted to own woodland to preserve it.  




October12. Is there anything else you want to share with us?


The garden blogger community is such an inspiring group of people. I feel blessed to be part of a global community of individuals who, like me, love plants, and share a mission to make the world a better place.



Didn’t I tell you Beth is an amazing person….I hope you enjoyed her fabulous vision of life and creativity.  And yes, these are her incredible photos of her garden and surrounds.

Isn’t her love of wildlife, and passion for gardening contagious?  And she is just an all around really nice person; generous, caring and so helpful.  I count myself lucky to know her through this virtual world.  I hope one day we will meet up, and share some time in a garden setting maybe with a bit of harp music!



I leave you with another one of Beth’s favorite John Muir quotes:

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”  




Here is where you can find Beth….please make a point of visiting her.






All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Photos are the sole property of Beth@PlantPostings, and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.

Conversations In The Garden: On Growth


‚ÄúFor a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn‚Äôt understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.‚ÄĚ ~Cynthia Occelli




It seems appropriate in late autumn to look back on the garden.  As I assess my garden, weed and clear a bit of debris, I look for the changes my garden has been going through.  How it has grown, and what future paths it may take.



And with this time¬†in my garden, I also look inward. ¬†To reflect on where I have grown and¬†how far I have come this past year. ¬†Autumn spells the time of moving from the full moon of summer to the waning moon….a great time of introspection…of restoration and preparing for the dreaming time of winter.



DSCN8714So what do I see in my garden as it declines and goes back to the soil…to the roots? ¬†I see¬†seeds forming everywhere. ¬†Nuggets of wisdom that are forming on the plants, falling to the ground or flying on the breeze to land and grow again. ¬†Perhaps morphing a bit, growing bigger and stronger plants.



Seeds are amazing.  To me the giver of life.  They hold everything that is needed to grow a complete plant that bears fruit or flower.  They symbolize the cycle of life.  And when I hold seeds in my hand, I am grateful for their work.



In order to grow, we do have to crack our hard outer shells, much like a seed. ¬†We draw in nutrients to help us set down deep roots. ¬†Then we grow from those core roots finally producing fruit. ¬†But it doesn’t end there. ¬†As that fruit holds the seeds to continue the cycle of life. ¬†During autumn, I look for the seeds that are being formed inside of me. ¬†Which will I give nourishment to so the fruit of my dreams is¬†realized.



DSCN8712My garden¬†is the perfect spot to reflect on life. ¬†And my life seems to follow nature….follow the seasons and the cycles of the moon. ¬†And while the seed represents my life, I think it also represents my soul. ¬†So I come to sit with my soul now in the waning garden, under a waning moon. ¬†To meditate in silence, clear the debris and make room for new growth to come.



We are growing constantly even if we don’t immediately see it. ¬†Nothing in nature remains the same, and so it is with us. ¬†And as the changes I have gone through this year reach the nourishing light of day, I am grateful for them all. ¬†These changes represent times of learning and growth.



So now I take seeds into my hands in autumn, and cast them upon the barren soil wishing them gratitude with water and light….planning and dreaming in winter to see them sprout in spring. ¬†There is no fear as I wait and dream….just pure joy and anticipation for changes yet to come.




So how is the garden of your life?  What dreams have you been casting onto the soil?







Special Note:  The pictures here are of Autumn grasses from my garden this year, as nature prepares to cast the seeds produced.  Letting them rest as she turns her energies inward to replenish herself.




I leave you with a few additional words On Growth.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.


All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Reframing







I move on slow footsteps,

In the opposite direction

To the farthest shore

To sit with myself.



Away from conformity, from perfection,

From fear and moral outrage.



Turning my face toward the moon

A softer reflection catching my tired eyes.

Seeing through a darkness revealed

A truer light less inflamed.



Casting long shadows of beauty all about me

Only seen when glimpsed from this new vantage point.

Empathy-A different perspective gained,

Found as I move on slow footsteps,



In the opposite direction.



 © Donna Donabella 2015



As I was contemplating the strife of life and the tragedies in the world, I was feeling sucked in…becoming enraged, hopeless and fearful. ¬†And in an effort to pull myself out of this and look for a solution, these words came pouring out. ¬†I believe we need more compassion in this world, but first we have to start with empathy….both will make a huge difference in the world.




I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

moon collage

I am also linking in with the I Heart Macro meme hosted by Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday, and with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.  


And I am joining in another wonderful meme at  A Spirit of Simplicity.  It is called Tuesday Afternoon where Kara celebrates a nice slow day in a busy week.  Check out her blog and the meme on Tuesday.



If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 





Special Note:  The pictures above are of the full moon in October right around Halloween.  Below is the almost full moon from the same month.




I leave you with a few additional words about reframing my outlook on life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

reframing moon

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Wildlife Lessons: Turtle Surprise



“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” ¬†~James Bryant Conant



On a warm, late summer day, as the pond was fading to fall, I spied some movement that did not look like a frog….I thought what I saw in a flash just couldn’t be. ¬†But then when I checked later, I saw this little head peeking out of the water….it is a turtle, I yelled as I ran into the house to tell my husband!



DSCN8650Oh my, what a wonderful new visitor to our pond.  But who was this handsome fella?  As I searched the Internet for eastern US turtles, there was no doubt this was a painted turtle (Chrysemys picta).  A very shy painted turtle I named Tommy.



These turtles are the most widespread native turtle in North America. They love slow-moving fresh waters with dense vegetation, so our pond was perfect for Tommy.  He was looking for a new home, and he seemed to find one here in our garden.



There are 4 different painted turtles, and I learned ours is most probably a midland painted turtle.  Midland painted turtles can be found from southern Ontario and Quebec, to the eastern states down to West Virginia, and over to the midwest states south to northwestern Alabama.  They are usually not found along the eastern seaboard where the eastern painted turtle reigns supreme.



adult turtleWe have never seen a turtle in our pond.  This large adult visited our front yard in 2011 as he made his way from the wild area pond to a pond or nest in the woods across the street.  Large turtles cannot get into our garden and pond area because of the fence.  But a smaller young turtle, like Tommy, could and did.



Painted turtles eat aquatic vegetation, algae, and small water creatures including insects and fish.  Our young turtle settled for vegetation and insects (we have no fish) in our pond as he hunted along the pond bottom and skimmed the surface too.



Painted turtles have many predators and are most vulnerable as eggs hunted by garter snakes, crows, chipmunks, gray squirrels, skunks, groundhogs, raccoons, and red fox.  The hatchlings are also easy prey for fish, bullfrogs, snapping turtles and snakes.



Of course the adults are more protected by their hard shells from many predators, but theyDSCN8190 can still fall prey to ospreys, crows, hawks, bald eagles, and raccoons.  Tommy is small and easy prey (he definitely hid a lot among the lily pads).  Painted turtles do defend themselves by kicking, scratching (look at those claws) and biting.  And they can right themselves when flipped upside down.



Painted turtles mate in spring and autumn. Females dig nests on land and lay eggs between late spring and mid-summer. Hatchlings do not leave the nest immediately. Instead it is thought in our area that they arrange themselves symmetrically in the nest (to keep warm) and overwinter to emerge the following spring.  And still with all their protection, hard freezes can kill many hatchlings.  Tommy was a lucky turtle.



During winter, the adult turtle hibernates, usually in the mud at the bottom of water like ponds. The painted turtle can survive extended periods of below freezing temperatures because their blood can stay cold, and their skin resists ice crystals in the ground.



DSCN8645The painted turtle is active only during warm days when it basks for hours on logs or rocks to regulate its temperature. We would see Tommy basking daily in the afternoon, on the pond edge amongst the dense vegetation.  Because it was late summer, the sun did not shine for long periods on the pond so the only warm time of day was afternoons.  It is interesting to note that at night, the turtle drops to the bottom of the body of water or perches on an underwater object and sleeps.



Our pond is constructed from a polyurethane liner, and we knew that it was too small to sustain a growing turtle. So Tommy would not be able to dig down far into the mud without digging through the liner which would empty the pond. ¬†So we decided to move him to the wild wetlands down the road. ¬†We trapped him in a live trap with shrimp and lettuce. ¬†Then we found the perfect safe, secluded spot and released him. ¬†He immediately went to the¬†body of water there. ¬†Lots of vegetation, cover and mud to make any turtle happy. ¬†I was sad to see Tommy go, but we knew our pond was not the best home for him… good luck Tommy. ¬†Thanks for visiting and bringing joy into our lives. ¬†Live long and prosper!





Here are some interesting facts and folklore about Painted Turtles:

  • Four U.S.states (Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Vermont) have named the painted turtle their official reptile. ¬†Ours, in NY, is the Snapping Turtle.
  • Adults in the wild can live for more than 55¬†years. ¬†Good news I hope for Tommy.
  • Fossils of the¬†painted turtle have been found showing they¬†existed 15¬†million years ago.
  • Many Native American tribes regard the turtle as having strong feminine powers.
  • Algonquian tribes have tales that tell of the painted¬†turtle playing the part of a trickster.



With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.




I leave you with another thought about turtles.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

turtle pause

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-15.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.