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.