A New Year, a fresh start. Time to take stock and make

some resolutions regarding landscaping and the garden. My

goal is to create a garden, which offers delight to human

visitors and a habitat for wildlife. The trick, which I haven’t

mastered yet, is to balance the desired result with the time

and energy available, taking into account our barrier island’s

environment with its changing climate. Here are my New Year’s

gardening resolutions. Time will tell how well I keep them!

I resolve to:

Develop and stick to a long-range plan based on Florida

Friendly Landscaping practices. See http://www.floridayards.org/

for landscaping tips, examples of landscape design, and

lists of plants that require little care, water or fertilizer and

that attract wildlife. The site also has an interactive landscape

design guide.

Improve our sandy soil by adding organic matter, to compost

and use mulches for weed control and moisture retention,

and to water and fertilize no more than needed.

I’m determined to get rid of declining trees and shrubs I’ve been coddling

since hurricanes Matthew and Irma; as painful as it is to admit defeat.

Make life easier by eliminating most annuals and adding hardy biennials

and perennials to make beautiful beds and intriguing vistas. I’m continually

learning about using plant color, texture, and form to create original patterns.

Work on getting rid of aggressive non-native plants that require major

pruning and create giant mounds of yard trash.

Plant more low-maintenance fruit trees like a graceful Pomegranate (see

photo), loquat, or mulberry and grow more easy-care edible

herbs and plants like nasturtium, Everglades tomato, okra, and sweet potato.

Start seeds in cells instead of buying insect-infested plants from nurseries

to throw out all those years-old seeds and mystery seeds I’ve been saving.

Germination and vigor are never optimum with old seeds; although I’ve had

remarkable success with Italian Genova basil seeds I bought in Florence a

decade ago from a little sliver of a garden shop tucked into an alley behind

the Palazzo Vecchio. When I lived in Florence in the 1960s I bought seeds

from the current owner’s father.

Share more plants and cuttings. I treasure the pass-along plants that have

been given to me over the years and I like knowing that a bit of my garden is

giving pleasure to others.

From experience, I know this last resolution is going to be the most difficult to keep. I make it year after year and will continue as long as I garden because I think it’s the most important one of all. I resolve every day to find time to relax and contemplate the garden and all it offers – simply enjoying its beauty, the ever-changing play of light and shadow, the sea-breeze rustled leaves, and the goings-on of all the birds bees, butterflies, box turtles, friendly snakes, numberless lizards, and Old Blue, the neighborhood’s remaining peacock. I believe that

What I think of as garden meditation is the best way to slow down time in our hectic, over-crowded lives.

Happy Gardening to all of you in the coming year!

Photo courtesy of Edible Plant, promoting edible landscaping in North Central Florida

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