Reflect back on your garden and look forward to your garden, what worked what didn’t. Winter time to plan!

It is hard to believe we are already at the end of another year but the calendar says it is so. We hope you had a happy year, full of interesting experiences and lots of growth, in your gardens and in your life. It is a common practice to use this changing of the calendar to evaluate our lives in view of the year gone by and to make resolutions, plans and dreams for the year and life ahead. This is a good practice in our personal lives but also as we look at our gardens and landscape. Take advantage of the short winter days at this time of year to reflect back on what did well in your yard or garden this year and what was disappointing or frustrating. Remember we are working with living things and there are many variables each year led by weather and rain as they affect your plantings. Just because something did not work one season doesn’t mean it will never work but if it doesn’t work for several seasons you probably need to try a different kind of plant and we are blessed to have hundreds, even thousands of plant choices for any given spot.

Some folks keep their garden records in their head while others keep a garden diary with notes, their successes and misses and even their timing on planting, flowering and fruiting. In our new high tech world many folks do their record keeping and planning on their computer. There are many software programs that make this relatively easy to do. There is value in our personal lives and in gardening to pause and evaluate what is working and what is not working, to assess our strengths and our weaknesses and to ponder the resources we have available and the resources we are missing to have a good chance at success. We need to be realistic about what we have and what is possible if we want to be successful.

Once you have assessed what conditions you have and thought about what has done well and what has not performed well it is a good time to think about what you want, what you dream of and what you want to work to accomplish this next year and in future years. In the garden we can think short term like colorful annuals and vegetable gardens or we can think long term about shrubs, foundation plantings, fruit trees and even large shade trees, pecans and walnuts that can be for future generations. When setting resolutions and goals I always think of this quote from Benjamin Mays,” The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”

Take some time to dream of what you want to do in your yard or garden this next season and over the decades ahead and then set some goals to help you get there. Do you want to add more shade trees to your property? Do you want to start a personal orchard or add some grapes, raspberries or black berries to your yard so you can pick fresh fruit and berries? Have you dreamed of adding a butterfly garden, vegetable garden or water garden? Would you like to add a new flowerbed, build a patio or outdoor entertainment area or install your own hobby greenhouse to raise some of your own plants and overwinter your favorite plants? None of these things will happen unless you have a dream and make plans for your life and for your yard and gardens.

Once you have a plan and a goal, visit with your local nursery or garden center for inspiration and direction. Consider attending classes or workshops at your local nursery, the county extension center, or Myriad Gardens. Visit the local bookstore and find gardening books that address your dream. Most of the seed catalogs arrive at this time of year and it is a lot of fun to flip though them and pick out a few new plants to try each year whether from seeds, bulbs or plants. You can always search on line or visit with fellow gardeners for insight and information. Just be careful when reading books, garden magazines and on line to see where the information is coming from and try to find information for our part of the country. Articles on plant materials and timing from Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Florida or California will often not adapt well in Oklahoma. It is best to trust information from local nurseries, gardeners, Oklahoma State University and the extension service.

We hope you and your family had a joyful and blessed Christmas and we wish you a healthy, prosperous and happy new year full of new growth, flowers, fruits, berries and nuts!

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