A resolution: I promise to be in my garden

December 31, 2006|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,Sun Columnist

THIS IS THE DAY WHEN people vow to do less of something in the new year. Less eating, less smoking, less television watching, less gossiping.

The New Year is like Lent. People are always giving stuff up -- in effect, creating holes in their lives or their daily routines where some guilty pleasure once existed. Chocolate, red meat or alcohol.

But resolutions never last. If they did, we wouldn't need a New Year every year. The healthy, happy, restrained person we had become would just continue into the future, indefinitely. There would be no need to restart the self-improvement process every January.

That's why this year I thought I would try a new approach. I resolve to do more of something. More gardening.

I should give up pasta, Diet Coke and Law & Order. But I will just end up feeling bad about myself when, by Jan. 12, I have tumbled off the wagon like a turnip.

So, in 2007, I resolve to do more gardening.

I resolve to have my beds cleaned out and cleaned up by the end of February, so I can take advantage of the first warm days of March. While I wait for spring, I will have my pruners sharpened and oiled.

I resolve to take out my garden journals and update them with everything I did last summer -- and to make a plan for this summer, fixing all those unsatisfactory areas that only I seem to notice.

I resolve to stay on top of the late winter / early spring weeds and have the beds mulched by Easter.

I am going to plant more -- and different -- annuals this year, and change them out the minute they look leggy or ragged. I will dead-head more this year, and cut back the perennials in time for a second bloom.

I resolve to clean and disinfect my pots before I plant my container gardens.

I am going to test my soil this year. And then I am going to amend it, according to its needs. That's the first piece of gardening advice I ever received, and I have never done it. It just never seemed sexy or fun. This year, I will do it.

I am going to watch for the first signs of mildew and black spot, and go after bugs and diseases right away.

I will stake tall, flowering plants before they are bent and broken, I promise.

I will plant more cutting flowers and try my hand at making bouquets for the house. I will find a permanent spot for my herbs.

I will visit garden centers every month to see what is in bloom and bring home something new.

I will prune my 'Nellie R. Stevens' holly just before Christmas and use the trimmings to decorate.

I will plan for seasonal bloom in August.

I resolve to wear sunscreen and a hat.

I am going to mulch again in the fall.

I am going to call my little friend Dimitri over to see the praying mantis family that seems to have taken up residence in the ornamental grasses beside my front door. Their babies are always on my screen door in the evenings, waiting for me to get home.

I resolve to invite my girlfriends over for champagne and a "bloom-breaking" party in early July, when my daylilies are at their short-lived peak.

I resolve to walk the edges of my beds every morning with a coffee cup in my hand.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

To hear an audio clip of this column and others, go to baltimoresun.com / reimer.

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