A Gardener’s New Year’s Resolutions

The gardener being me.

Every year I resolve to be a good citizen. Every year Piano Player laughs, “We’ll see how long that lasts.”

By “good citizen” I mean that when I get into the car, I will not crawl up another car’s bumper just to keep eight other vehicles from cutting me off on Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

I will not look longingly at my middle finger when someone who has used the right-turn-only lane up near Mulholland to beat the traffic, suddenly wedges in a right angle in front of me as I'm creeping along in the left lane.

I will not flinch every time I try to turn right into my driveway and someone lays on their car horn.

I will refrain from spewing expletives at dog owners who let their pets run off the leash around the corner 20 feet ahead of them; and when they catch up to their pet—now with teeth bared—only to say, as I’m nearly apoplectic, “my dog’s friendly.”

I will bite my tongue the next time some tall stranger steps up behind me at the ATM and sneezes/coughs directly onto my head.

I will not spin around like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" when bicyclists wearing earbuds go racing down the sidewalk and whiz past me and the dog.

My Good Citizen period never lasts more than three weeks.

And I might add, I hate New Year's. The time for silly hats is royal weddings or St. Patrick's Day. The dropping of the ball is for the Chicago Cubs. The only countdown I follow is the number of pinkelponkers I’ve pulled off the dog’s paws over the past three months (we’re well over a hundred). And the only New Year's I liked was the year I met Piano Player and it was 12 degrees and we took the bus to a club and he donned a satin top hat and I wore my grandmother’s sweater from the 60s.

Here’s my gardening resolutions anyway. But fair warning: take it with a grain of salt.

1. I resolve to plant flowers for bees and butterflies to snack upon. Also, I’m putting in bushes that enable crickets and grasshoppers to hide. Why? Too many gardeners want to eliminate these creatures who, by the way, pollinate flowers and vegetables. 

2. I will feed the birds. And if a squirrel sits on the feeder, so be it.

3. I resolve to sumo wrestle my root-bound lavender, lantana and salvia into submission by dividing them and re-potting or giving them a place in the ground.

4. I will plant one tree in a barren parkway to make up for wanton butchery, also known as “tree trimming.” I have considered an entire island of plantings on the parkway but I have to be realistic.

5. I shall stick to a budget. In this economy, it’s essential.

6. I resolve to follow the rule of green thumb: repetition and not to buy every gosh darn plant that strikes my fancy. It looks like a nursery center exploded in my garden.

7. I resolve, as a writer, never to use the overworked phrase “bring the outdoors in” and, conversely, “extend your living space to the outdoors.”

8. I will always put the right plant in the right place. Easier said than done. But if a plant requires full sunlight, and I don’t have any place with the six solid hours of exposure, I will surrender.

9. I resolve to take breaks. Like most serious gardeners, I develop instant OCD once I get started. Being in the flow can be euphoric, but believe me, your lower back pays the price.

10. I shall relinquish my dream of creating an English cottage garden with foxgloves and roses. This ain’t England and I’m no Jane Eyre.

Have a healthy, peaceful and verdant 2012!

Heidi Birker December 27, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Marla, you may want to try Nyger (thistle seed) or safflower seed in your feeders. Squirrles don't like either of them. I no longer lose my bird seed to the little marauders (cute as they are).
Marla Hart February 10, 2012 at 06:39 AM
Heidi, I just realized you left this great tip. It's hard to outsmart those squirrels and I agree they are so cute and wily!
Marla Hart February 10, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Heidi, I just saw your great tip. And you're right on two counts: it's near impossible to outsmart squirrels and they sure are cute! I will try those seeds.
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