Set 2011 Gardening Resolutions You Can Keep

One pleasant way to stay connected to our gardening hopes and dreams during the dull, gray days of winter, is to start visualizing gardening projects we're happy to complete: Gardening Resolutions.

First, re-examine unfinished, or never-started, projects from the previous year. Try to understand why those projects were not completed – did you simply run out of time, or was the project just not that important to you? We spent most of the 2010 growing season on screening our 300-gallon propane tank from view and learned that two large projects in one season is one too many.

Clear out anything, plant or hardscape, that isn't working and replace it with something that will. Gardening is supposed to be fun, not a struggle.

Next, make a short list of maintenance, clean-up, editing, and hardscape projects that can be started before the growing season gets into full swing. Start with the most urgent tasks, since there is always more work than time to complete it.

Each year, identify at least one project that will have a major impact on how the garden looks, or how you use the space. This year will see an expansion of our deer exclosure, although we have yet to resolve site-specific problems caused by the need for a gate where it crosses the driveway.

Finally, think about what new plants can go where. There are numerous good ways to organize this: By color, plant type, desired habitat, architectural or cultural properties of the plants themselves, period architecture of the house, etc.

We tend to organize by color. In front of the rock, wood, and copper propane tank screen purple climbing heirloom roses and blue or purple clematis will join the lavender, blue wild ryegrass (confined in pots), sea holly, a purple iris, and two blue dwarf junipers.

We're also looking forward to seeing the white crocus, daffodils, and tulips we planted in the white and fern garden last year, as well as mixed pink and purple tulips that will provide color between the bloom time of the daffodils and the lilies.

In some spots, like the mature blue garden, we just have to watch, maintain, and see whether any additional or replacement plants are required.

Others, like the new "courtyard" seating area out front, will make their debut this spring. We'll have to see how closely the hardy ferns we planted last fall come to creating the look we want.

Whether your garden is old or new, gardening resolutions provide a structure for defining what you want your garden to become, as well as a path to take you there.

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