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Garden Resolutions

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, January 12, 2001

New Year’s: how would I like to change my gardening habits? This year my resolutions can all be summarized by “stop being so greedy for more: slow down and take better care of what I already have.”

For many years I have responded to spring with a joyful splurge of acquiring new plants. I'm choosy: a plant has to be suited to the conditions in my garden, and not require a lot of fussing over. But I read Horticulture Magazine, avidly studying the new plants every year; there are always plenty to tempt me. In addition I’ve had plenty of excuses: new beds I create, that need to be planted.

But the slugs are reducing my hostas to shreds by July. I have slug traps, which I usually manage to fill with beer at the beginning of the summer — and then forget to clean out and refill regularly. And I have learned to cut back the New England Asters before the fourth of July, so they don’t grow six feet tall and then flop over in September when the flowers are too heavy for those long stems. But there are many more flowering plants that would look better if I controlled their height; I have just not learned to get around to all of them. And my poor irises haven’t been fertilized for three years.

It’s not that I don’t don’t like doing garden maintenance. Tending the garden feels to me like brushing my hair, a kind of grooming that is satisfying both to do, and to see the results of. My problem is the porch full of plants I have bought in spring, that are languishing by July because they’ve grown too big for the pots, and desperately need to be in the ground.

Sometimes I sit down to gaze at the beauty in my garden, and all I can see is what needs to be done. I know that I need to relax, to accept that a garden is always unfinished. But I have been making my discontent worse by being greedy.

Can I cut back ordering from garden catalogs — say, allow myself just one order? Can I drive past the garden centers I encounter along the road, only go when I have a specific spot to fill and time to fill it? Can I refrain from starting any more new bedsuntil I’ve finished the ones I started last year and didn’t get done by frost? I will enjoy my garden more if I can.

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© Copyright 2001 Catherine Holmes Clark