Garden Musings

Make New Year’s resolutions for your garden.

Bees and butterflies partake of Tithonia's nectar.

The ending of one year and the beginning of another is often a period of reflection – the good times and not-so-good times of the past year – and the occasion to make resolutions for the year ahead. We consider behaviors we want to alter and goals we’d like to achieve. Losing weight, eliminating stress, and spending more time with family are pledges often found at the top of resolution lists. But what about making resolutions for the garden? Here are my garden resolutions for 2016:

Keep ahead of weeds and never let them go to seed.
As the manager of a local garden center, my work schedule is crazy busy in spring. It is nothing to work long hours for several weeks leaving little time to get into my own garden. The weeds can get a colossal head start and I end up playing catch-up the rest of the season.

If weeds grow long enough to set seed, they scatter thousands of potential progeny. Left unchecked, they can quickly take over a garden. If a shortage of time prohibits pulling, cutting off the seed heads will buy me time.

Monarch Promise is an annual asclepias.
Monarch Promise is an annual asclepias.

Make the landscape even friendlier for monarch butterflies.
I will plant more milkweed for monarch butterflies. The loss of habitat has decimated their population and we can all help by planting milkweed. Instead of planting the invasive type (Asclepias syriaca), I will plant Asclepias incarnata, commonly known as marsh milkweed. They grow at least four feet tall and two to three feet wide. Ice Ballet is a white-flowering variety. Soulmate has rose blooms. Both prefer a moist site in full sun.

Asclepias tuberosa, or butterfly weed, boasts brilliant orange flower clusters on plants growing one to two feet tall and wide. It requires very well-drained soil and full sun. It will be a pleasure finding space for butterfly weed in my rock garden.

I can’t wait to try Monarch Promise – an annual milkweed variety introduced by Hort Couture with variegated foliage and red and orange flowers – in my containers. It would be incredible to observe a monarch’s amazing life cycle up close and personal on my deck.

Cantigny Park is a lovely public garden.
Cantigny Park is a lovely public garden.

Visit at least one public or private garden every month.
Experiencing other gardens is inspiring and energizing. There are so many plants to discover, ideas to glean, and fascinating gardeners to meet.

In the winter, conservatories with superb collections of plants under ceilings of glass delight. During the growing season, garden walks offer a wealth of new ideas – new plant combinations, design styles and methods of gardening. And I have always wanted to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden in spring, summer and fall to photograph the seasonal changes.

Spend time enjoying the garden.
This may be the hardest resolution for me to keep. There is always something to do and not enough time to do it. But we must all remember why we garden. Whether it is to produce food for our family’s tables, grow prize-winning roses, provide habitat for wildlife, or create beautiful combinations in containers, we are garden artists.

Our notion of gardening guides our green thumbs as we create. Let’s take a few moments to stroll through the garden stopping to pop a handful of blueberries in our mouths, breathe in the fragrance of the roses, or admire butterflies fluttering from flower to flower.

These are my garden resolutions for 2016. What will your garden resolutions be? How about reducing the use of pesticides, planting (or enlarging) the vegetable garden, or experimenting with new combinations in your containers? Set a few goals and garden with me!

6 thoughts on “Make New Year’s resolutions for your garden.

  1. First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Kudos!

    1. Thank you so much Jarrett. I am probably not the best example to follow. I am usually sitting on the couch with the television on, family all around, and dog and cats walking across the keyboard. I just get my thoughts down first not worrying about sentence structure or grammar. Later I go back and clean it up. I would suggest just starting to write – who cares if it is the beginning?

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