In the Garden of Resolve

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

Gardeners know that the calendar year is an artificial construct. It’s not even so much that the new year really begins in spring, as that to everything there is a season. Consequently, I find the concept of New Year’s resolutions rather alien to my thinking and way of life. I am resolving to do better at one thing or another throughout the year as it is brought to my attention. This blogging challenge put me in mind to share some of my garden-related resolutions with you.

  • Most important resolution: Get stronger. They say a gardener’s hands are her most important tools, but what good are hands without strong arms, shoulders, back . . . you get the idea. I’ve learned from personal experience that gardening is a lot more fun when the heavy work isn’t such a struggle. And increased strength decreases the kind of muscle sprains that can sideline a gardener who doesn’t want to spare a minute on the sidelines. But yeah, it takes time to build up strength–and maintain it. And every gardening season I eventually start stealing from my weight lifting time to spend more time in the garden. So right after the holidays I resolve to get back to weight training, and go beyond my personal best. By the time spring rolls around, I hope to be lifting more weight than when I quit the last time. I go to this site for inspiration.
  • Longest-standing resolution: I’m not getting back into starting plants from seed until I can get them in the ground in a timely manner. Starting them under lights when it’s still snowing is great. But when it gets warm enough to work outside my time and attention are split, and the extremely pot-bound seedlings (the ones not killed by lack of water) finally get planted in mid- to late June. I finally decided to stop the madness until further notice. Seeds that are directly planted in the ground, such as larkspur and poppies, are still okay.
  • Most-broken resolution: This is an extension of the resolution above. Filled with disgust at my inability to maintain my flower beds, I vowed to quit buying plants all together until I could clean up my act. The exceptions followed almost immediately. I accepted plants from friends. (This at least adhered to the letter of the law: I didn’t buy them.) I decided replacing plants that died over the winter was permissible. I rationalized that I couldn’t write an article about the best places to buy plants in Ithaca, NY without actually buying some plants, now could I? And, well, at least I limited my fall bulb buying spree. Plant lust is a force to be reckoned with. In the end, I brought home less plants than usual, but my most weed-infested beds have yet to be rehabilitated.
  • Most embarrassing resolution: “I, Kathy Purdy, do hereby resolve to throw out, discard, compost or otherwise get rid of any and all cut flowers which no longer look good, including but not limited to faded, wilted, and petal-less blossoms, and especially including all plant material which is growing mold or has started to smell.” I don’t know why this is so difficult for me to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s dandelions my kids picked out of the lawn or flowers I cut from the garden and carefully arranged, I am somehow oblivious to the signs of decay until one day waking up as if from a dream and realizing there are half a dozen or more vessels of desiccated or putrid former plant life on various windowsills and counters. I’m obviously suffering from the synergistic effect of several bad habits, but when I’m preparing to toss a prostrate dandelion and a young voice pipes up, “Don’t throw that out, it’s still pretty!” I begin to wonder if a genetic component is also involved. I’ve been working on this for several years but have seen only limited improvement.

How about you? What resolutions of a gardening kind have you made–and what prompted them?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

kerri December 25, 2006, 1:06 am

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas Kathy. I’ll be back to catch up with your posts next week.

Kathy Purdy December 21, 2006, 7:59 am

Jennifer, I am about an hour further east of Ithaca, in Broome County, but Ithaca is my favorite city also. I wrote an article for the Northeast Edition of Horticulture on what gardeners can do in Ithaca. (Details here) Didn’t have enough space to include everything, so focused on the nurseries.

Growing your own herbs is a good way to save money and a great way to break into gardening. For more gardening blogs than you dreamed existed, go to

Kathy Purdy December 21, 2006, 7:43 am

Kim, Ki, Stuart, and Carol: None of us is perfect, eh? I don’t have a corner on that market? Thanks for the admissions. I continue to maintain that the gardener’s motto is: “Just wait till next year!” Could a pessimist ever last in this hobby? I hope you all get good gardening presents. And as Carol says, Here’s to 2007!

Jennifer Lynn December 20, 2006, 11:39 pm

Hi Kathy, are you from Ithaca? I’m from western New York. Ithaca is by far my favorite city. I will definitely be back to check your site. I’m a novice gardener and would like to dabble into a herb and spice garden for myself.

Kathy Purdy December 20, 2006, 8:43 pm

Anthony, thanks for stopping by. Hope you get a better blueberry crop next year.

Achish, maybe you will start gardening?

Mama Duck, that Lil Duck of yours is quite a character.

Carol December 20, 2006, 7:48 pm

Excellent resolutions for gardeners. I too have trouble keeping a few flower beds cleaned up and weed free (or with fewer weeds than flowers, don’t want to set too lofty of a goal here).

Here’s to 2007!

Stuart December 20, 2006, 3:53 pm

Great resolutions Kathy. I too suffer from #2 as I’m so eager to get plant seedlings started that I plant far too many – more than I need anyhow – and then have trouble planting them out.

Excellent article.

Mama Duck December 20, 2006, 11:27 am

I hope the working out really works for you, I need to do more of that this next year as well. Wonderful goals, I love them and what a sweet blog you have here!

We also participated in this project, stop on by if you get a chance!

Ashish Mohta December 20, 2006, 11:13 am

It really need a heart and mind to put on ones commitment and resolution.I have taken some and i will do it.

I also got entry in darrens project.

And i am feeding your blog.There wont be another chance to meet so many bloggers

Anthony December 20, 2006, 9:04 am

Hi Kathy,

Excellent resolutions and I wish you the best of luck achieving them in the new year.

I’m also guilty of starting more seeds than I have time to plant. My grow light rack can hold 144 seedlings but my spring is usually spent creating beds and hauling compost and other chores that keep those seedlings in my basement!

And good luck with the ProBlogger contest. I’m still working on my entry and probably won’t finish until the very last minute. I should probably resolve to get things done quicker in 2007. πŸ™‚

Ki December 20, 2006, 7:25 am

Hi Kathy,
I’m terrible about keeping resolutions so I gave up making them a long time ago…no guilt trip for me πŸ˜‰ Great that you still have the fight to do so. I’m the same about dying flowers. Maybe we’re just too busy to notice or just accept decay as a natural process and don’t think too much about the flowers wilting and dying?

Kim (Blackswamp_Girl) December 19, 2006, 7:38 pm

I’m glad to know that I’m not the only gardener who is guilty of keeping dead flowers around too long! πŸ™‚

I’ve been thinking about my gardening resolutions… there are so many that I should make. Honestly, though, will I ever even work on them?!