Seeing is an acquired skill when it comes to gardening. And probably when it comes to life in general.

I’ve lamented about the extensive invasive infestation we took on when we came to Windy Knoll. The woodlands look like they’ve endured decades of suffering for it. Impenetrable stands of berberis, dotted by euonymous burning bush, wineberry…and probably a century of random bottles, metal, and human debris. You get the idea.

This year was the most ambitious yet for work on the garden, managing the weedy meadow (the former owner’s name for the tangle of brambles and nasties in the savannah before the woods). More on that another time.

Some say you shouldn’t do anything until you have lived in a place for a few years and gotten to know the land and what is already there. While there is some truth to that, if you have enough knowledge to carefully and purposefully remove the bad stuff, it does allows the legacy seed bank (both good, and bad) to begin to regrow. The invasives must be managed (stilt grass and wineberry just never seem to want to stop coming up), but there have been such delights. Wood asters were a highlight this year.

This winter we will start renovating the back woodland. Walking in it is difficult going, but when I do, its promise is everywhere. The things to be thankful for — many lindera bezoin (spicebush), a few really good, very old and stately trees, Christmas ferns, and this year, a fiery display of sassafras. The more I stare, the more I see.