Sunday, December 28, 2008

You say you want a resolution, well, you know...

I never make New Year resolutions. For me New Year is a time for clearing things away, not cluttering up my brain with vows and intentions, particularly when I know I'll never stick to them. Spring is the logical time for resolutions, because you can put them instantly into effect.
I gave up smoking in the springtime (five years ago, if you must know). One unseasonably warm evening in April 2004, I wondered to myself why I was sitting in my garden enjoying the balmy air -  and simultaneously polluting it with my cigarette smoke. I haven't smoked since. Now, if that had been January 2004, I wouldn't have been sitting in my garden, and I might still be smoking now.
Most of my bad habits are at their worst in spring. Impatience. Carelessness - especially failing to take account of other people's feelings (or even just to take account of other people). Arrogance - thinking I know best about everything.
These bad habits manifest themselves most obviously in the garden. The number of times I haven't dug quite a big enough hole for a plant, simply because I hit a piece of old paving or some other obstacle and couldn't be bothered to dig the whole thing out. Sometimes I've forgotten to add organic matter, and carried on planting without it because I couldn't be bothered to scramble my way out of the border again to fetch it.
I often forget all about my children for hours while I stand and work out a new bit of planting. (OK, they're probably on the phone or out with their friends, but even so...) Even worse - from their point of view - I might drag them to visit a garden I want to see. And I insist on growing all sorts of unsuitable things in unsuitable places, despite the learned advice of nurserypeople and other experts.
I never get around to doing any of the things that I really should do, that don't cost anything apart from effort, such as potting up seedlings, or taking cuttings. 
So this spring, I'm going to try to become a real gardener. I'm going to do things properly. I'm going to think carefully about what I'm going to plant, and prepare accordingly. I'm going to plant things within six weeks of acquiring them, instead of leaving them to moulder in a corner for months on end. I'm going to grow things from seed, instead of telling myself that I don't have room. I'm going to try to nurture things, rather than boss them about. (And that goes for my kids, too.)
Good grief, I'm glad it's only December 29. It's going to take me three months to gear myself up for all this.


nancybond said...

I think that is a very wonderful goal, and a great reminder for the rest of us. I hope you and yours had a very nice Christmas, despite your recent loss. I've been thinking of you.

Gail said...


Loved the post title, but really loved the post! If I might borrow your beautifully written about bad habits...I can copy and send it to my family by way of an apology for neglect, arrogance, and general bossiness. Thank you for a good smile this evening! Happy New Year and good luck with the resolution revolution.


Zoƫ said...

I gave up smoking almost 3 years ago, to keep a 20 year old promise I made to the iGit, before we got married, to give up! A belated Valentine to him was a smoke free wife so I bit the bullet 14th February 2006! One of my better life choices I have to say.

I recognised aspects of myself in what you wrote, perhaps there is something in astrology? We share the same birthday after all.

It sounds like a large challenge, old habits are difficult to break, but you have mastered one of the toughest habits to overcome, so I expect this will be a cinch for you.

I shall look forward to seeing the Meconopsis seedlings sprouting, tee hee!


patientgardener said...

You made me smile - I drag my kids to gardens every summer. We have been talking about what to do this summer and they have requested no gardens!!!! I think at 16 and 18 they have had enough which you can understand.

I never dig a big enough hole either - I get worn out too quickly and as for plants waiting to be planted out I have some going back to last August on the patio!!!

My resolution this year is to be more discrimating about what seeds I sow (I have cancelled my subscription to Amateur Gardening partly to avoid the weekly packets of seed!) and to be more ruthless when pricking out. I have 20 odd teasels in need of a home at the moment!

Sylvia (England) said...

I think you are right Victoria, winter is not the best time to keep resolutions. Making resolutions when the time is right is much better.

I like your list, I hope to get all my plants (those that should be in the garden) out of pots this year! I say this every year and just collect more. This year we made so many major changes I was digging plants up and putting them into pots - now I have even more than usual.

I am just glad we are past the shortest day and spring is on its way. Best wishes Sylvia

Kim said...

Victoria, I admire your determination to make changes. I had to laugh when I read them - not at you, at me - because I've made some of those resolutions. We won't talk about how they ended up. I like your desire for less plant bossing about, and I think that's one I'll try. Although it seems like the plants always do what they want no matter what I say. Good luck, and I look forward to a follow up post with your thoughts on how things turned out.

MNGarden said...

Lofty, but oh so worthy goals. I would be happy accomplishing any of them.

Thanks For 2 Day said...

Hi Victoria,
I smiled at the title...and I enjoyed the post! I kept seeing myself there, thinking and doing exactly the same thing! It was reassuring to see that because I thought I might be one of the only 'gardeners' who does those things:) Apparently, we have the right to call ourselves 'gardeners' even when we don't always dig deeply enough, or use proper soil, or neglect to plant what we have sitting out,etc...I will think about some of these resolutions, but I know in my heart I most likely will not be changing the way I do things! Have a Happy New Year:)

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Victoria, I have had the same resolution for the last 25 years or so 'I shall not start to smoke' and I have manage to keep it.

Perhaps I shall add one this year, I certainly ought to 'Don't plant to many seeds' and try to keep every single one alive! I makes me 'potty'....I end up with +300 pots to nurse each year! / Tyra

Victoria said...

Wow, that seemed to strike a chord!
Nancy, I hope you and yours have a very happy and peaceful new year after all your worries this Christmas.
Gail, I'm glad I made you smile, but having read your blog, I cannot imagine you being arrogant and bossy!
Zoe, I haven't forgotten your meconopsis! They are waiting to be planted along with a packet of firecracker vine (Mina lobata) and a nasturtium from Thompson and Morgan called Cobra.
PG: I wish I lived nearer. I'd like some teasels!
Sylvia, good luck with the pots. I sometimes wonder whether mine breed when I'm not looking.
Kim: I daresay we'll both be making the same resolutions next year too :D
MNGarden: So would I!
Thanks for 2 Day: I had fun writing this post, but it kind of wrote itself. I find blogging is a bit like psychotherapy sometimes: it lays bare things that you hadn't really thought about until you start typing. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Tyra, have a very happy new year! And I hope you don't get driven too 'potty' this spring.

Lucy Corrander said...

A New Year's Resolution to make very precise Spring Time Resolutions - interesting!

Given that you are an expert gardener now - well, you'll be a mega-gardener by next Christmas!


VP said...

Oh this did make me chuckle Victoria :)

I finally gave up on NYR's last year when I retired (extraodinarily early BTW) and felt NYR's were just too piddly to deal with when such life changing events were happening. I came up with 4 New Life's Resolutions instead. They're the guiding principles I want to live by going forward. I don't set any specific targets to achieve (that's too much like being at work again), but I have a look at them from time to time to make sure I've done something new in each of them since the last time I looked. I'm happy to say I've found them much better than setting something specific on January 1st and finding I've broken them by the end of January at the latest.

I do like the sound of setting NYRs in the Spring though. Perhaps it fits as March 25th used to be New Year's Day in the old calendar?

Victoria said...

Lucy: I don't think so, somehow!
VP: I'd love to hear more about your New Life's Resolutions. I didn't know that about March 25. I guess that's why the tax year starts in April, maybe, because the end of the year was the traditional time for changing property etc. They probably adjusted the date when the calendar changed. Fascinating.

Anne said...

Hi there, just found your interesting blog. How about a resolution to check out thinkingardens (, and maybe even, if we're lucky, contributing to the thinking?
Would be great!
Anne Wareham

VP said...

Hi Victoria - you'll find a link to my New Life's Resolutions in my sidebar under the New Reader heading.

I only found out about it recently. If you add the 11 days we 'lost' when the calendar changed, you arrive at the 5th April, so I think that's why we have such a peculiar date for our fiscal calendar. I haven't found anything to prove my hunch yet though.

Victoria said...

Anne: Thanks so much for stopping by. I've put a link to Thinking Gardens under Inspirational Sites in my sidebar (keep scrolling down...), and I'd really encourage everyone to check out the website. It's just the sort of thing you want to read at a time when we're all thinking about the new year and new ideas. It's like the mental equivalent of a good cocktail - a White Lady, perhaps.

easygardener said...

I think I'll stick with the lazy gardener approach then I won't suffer too many disappointments. When I actually do go that extra mile it will be a pleasant surprise and I can feel all smug :-)
Good luck with your valiant efforts at self improvement - Happy New Year too!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Hahaha. Yes, three months it will take. You sound very much like me, or, we have the same issues. I tend to ignore my wife, and young marriage, far too much in spring and summer, and if I'm "interrupted" while planning or digging furiously outside, woe be to you. I'll try if you try.

perennialgardener said...

What a thought provoking post Victoria. I don't usually make resolutions on New Year's either for the same reasons. As far as our bad habits in the garden, don't be too hard on yourself. We all have done the same things ourselves to be honest. Have a Happy New Year & hope next season brings you some changes you can be happy with in the garden. :)

Susan Tomlinson said...

What a lovely, thoughtful post. It reflects so well my own hopes and struggles!

themanicgardener said...

Strike a chord? Sounds like a symphony. I'll chime in by saying that I loved the title--very clever--and the post too, which made me grin in wry self-recognition, especially the part about being unwilling to go all the way to the garage for the compost, or the right tool, or whatever. And we don't even share the same birthday. (I think.)