It’s January and we are soon to experience longer days and shorter nights. Mother Nature has been generous with precipitation so my hellebores or Lenten and Christmas roses are in good form and the fleshy buds are beginning to swell in preparation to bloom. Instead of specific resolutions, this year I plan to garden more mindfully—to plan more and enjoy gardening in the current moment. Most good gardens owe their beauty and efficiency to proper planning. I love the process of planting so much that often my planning is more of a fleeting thought as I plop a new plant into its new home. Such impulsive planting leads to regrets and replanting. Much time, aggravation, and physical work is incurred when a minute or two of planning could have resulted in the completion of a satisfying task.
I believe good gardening practices begin not in the soil but in the mind of the gardener. The next stage is to put the plan to paper—it’s much easier to draw out the garden plan on graphing paper and evaluate the options than to be in effect a mindless gopher digging holes with abandon. Sure, such planning requires patience, commitment, and effort but planning needs to be considered as important to the act of gardening as planting the seeds and setting the plants.
Gardening is nothing if it’s not considered a process—the plans made in the cold winter with good gardening books and those beautifully printed mail order catalogs can be as fun and rewarding as actually working in the soil. I really enjoy shopping online for specific plants and doing a little “window shopping” without the guilt of knowing trees were sacrificed to bring me a printed page. I have learned that it is important to read the descriptions for matching colors than to rely on the highly variable “screen colors”. Winter is also a great time to view instructive videos made possible by our state’s extension service and presented online. I find that the videos on pruning have been invaluable and a pleasure to view. Just search under a request such as “how to plant a fruit tree” or “how to prune roses” and the extension services of many states can be accessed. Just be careful to evaluate the information as it relates to the southeast region. Some to the measures necessary to protect plants in Maine are not necessary for our warmer climate.
Winter is also a great time to make some purchases of new garden books. The prices are great at this time of year and time spent on gardening in summer months can be spent reading in a comfortable chair and in front of a warm fire (or gas logs). Reading about gardening can revive the passion of gardening as we could possibly discover a new collection of plants. I fell in love with succulents after reading Gwen Moore Kelaidis’s book titled Hardy Succulents, and am currently reading Taylor’s Guide to Ornamental Grasses edited by Roger Holmes.
I hope all of you, gardeners and non-gardeners alike have a productive and positive New Year. Remember that a little gardening with your mind will save you over working your back and hands.