Like most people, I enjoy torturing myself by making New Year’s resolutions. They usually consist of lofty expectations that would be great if I could actually keep them, but just like most other people, I generally fall short of doing so. This year, instead of some kind of self-improvement scheme that will only go down in flames, I have decided to come up with a list of gardening aspirations that I think I will be able to commit to.
First off, I’m going to allow myself to give up on growing vegetables. It’s not that they don’t work out, or that I don’t believe that it’s admirable to do so, but mostly because I don’t find them aesthetically pleasing. There, I said it. I know many gardeners who are absolutely in love with their home grown veg, and good for them that they are. I think that if I had a large amount of land I would really make a go of it and try to grow everything I was planning on eating with my family, but I exist on a small plot of land in Berkley, and I simply don’t have the room to do anything significant towards my dietary needs. Maybe if I were to only grow vegetables then I could do it, but that sounds really depressing to me. My favorite part of the year is when all the flowers are in bloom, and I get to enjoy the beauty that I have created for myself. Anyways, there are some nice farmers markets around, and I like the idea of supporting the people who have committed to the farmer lifestyle. Maybe someday I will get the acreage that I dream about, and can settle into an agrarian lifestyle, but until then, I will be quite happy surrounded by all the flora I can grow.
“Allow myself to give up on growing vegetables.”
Another thing that I resolve to do with my garden this upcoming season is to learn to appreciate it more. I tend to be very critical of all the imperfections that I find amongst the plants and hardscaping. I can become downright obsessive over any little problem that emerges. A couple of years ago, I was messing around in my front garden and one of the neighbors happened by and paid me a compliment. Instead of taking it graciously, I delved into a semi-rant about what was wrong with this, and how I was mad at myself about not doing better. He calmly smiled and gave me some great advice. He told me that I was looking at it too closely. He said that what I needed to do was to step back twenty feet and look at it from there. From that distance, he said, all the little imperfections melt away and all that you are left with is a beautiful garden. I like that. I need to commit to the twenty-foot rule. All the hard work that is spent on your space is just a wasted effort if you can’t learn to see it correctly.
I want to make sure that I have as many people in my garden that I can. Nothing brings me joy like sharing my space with others. I love seeing their reactions to what I have accomplished, and I enjoy spending time with them in what has become such a sacred area for me. I have already signed up to be a part of a neighborhood garden tour, but I want that to just be a jumping off point. It is very apparent to me, writing this in the frostiness of a Michigan winter, that it is too easy to let the gardening season fly by without properly utilizing the wonderous rebirth of Spring, the blazing glory of the Summer, or the comforting crispness of the Autumn to their fullest extent. These do not have to be grandiose affairs, with flutes of champagne and fancy canapés. Simply getting together with good friends in a beautiful setting is more than sufficient.
“Let all the little imperfections melt away.”
I will resolve to have some sort of a plan with my space. In fact, I would like to fully redesign the whole garden, which was birthed from chaos, and move everything around in a way that makes sense. My only goal in the beginning, was to slowly take away my lawn and replace it with plants. I accomplished this by digging out small amounts of sod at a time and grabbing whatever plants I found interesting (and affordable) at the moment that I was doing it. Somehow, the overall aesthetic is pleasing, but it does scream of anarchy. There are even some things that I liked at the time but have now grown tired of. For example, the first season I got into gardening, I purchased some Walker’s Low Catmint and thought it was really a great perennial. This last season I have come to believe that it is boring and takes up too much room. That said, I believe that I’ll will find a good home for them with someone who will give them the love that I am sure they deserve.
(Featured Imaged Eva Bronzini)
There is a prominent place on my resolution list for increasing my knowledge of all things floriferous. This last year, I really started to pursue education in the fields of Botany and Horticulture, and if nothing else, it made me realize how little I know, and how much I want to learn. I took a course through MSU’s extension program and have become one of their Extension Master Gardeners, but I feel like I have only scratched the surface of how much there is to understand about all the greenery in our world. Honestly, I felt the same way when I graduated college. It’s like that scene in The Wizard of OZ where the wizard hands the scarecrow a degree and tells him that it’s the only thing separating him from other people. I know, he immediately starts spouting off some equation, but he probably already knew that. You hear a lot of things when you’re a scarecrow on the side of the road. I’m sure that Dorothy wasn’t the only person wandering by. There could have been some mathematicians on their way to a conference in the Emerald City.
“Increase my knowledge of all things floriferous.”
I resolve to not get so caught up in gardening this next year that I forget other pursuits. Pretty much all I cared about before I got into gardening was music. I also have a lot of side hobbies that require attention. I should also mention that I have a young child who likes to spend time with me. I guess this particular resolution would fall under time management. My wife always tells me to “time block”, which sounds like a good plan. I have tried implementing it, but I’m really bad at following plans. Maybe I should set alarms for myself throughout the day. That seems to be the only way I remember to do anything anymore. Thankfully we all always carry alarm clocks on us. What I’m saying is that gardening is wonderful, but there is a whole world of interesting things out there, so don’t get bogged down with only one thing. Otherwise, all you will ever talk about at parties will be gardening and people will be interested at first, but then as time goes on, they will slowly back away from you until you are loudly talking to no one about how tall your Zinnias got this year.
Resolutions are a great and noble thing to pursue each year. They force us to take a hard look at our shortcomings and help us to make a positive plan for the future. They also should not be taken too seriously. I think it would be great to stick with a couple of these, but I know myself well enough to not get too upset if I spend 2024 plodding along like I did in 2023. After all, 2023 wasn’t all that bad, and 2024 doesn’t have some special power to be completely different. At least this year I’ve written them all down. Honestly, as long as I’ve enjoyed my garden this upcoming year as much as I have loved it this past year, I won’t worry too much about how I get there.
Happy New Year!