IF I Had The Courage To Make New Year’s Resolutions
by Jim McLain
by Jim McLain


Jim McLain lives and gardens in the Yakima Valley of Washington state. He has been a vender at the Selah Farmers’ Market and has written gardening columns for two weekly newspapers.

Jim is presently the garden columnist for the Yakima Herald-Republic daily newspaper and contributes to the Yakima Valley Master Gardener column that appears in the same newspaper

January 8, 2006

If you are among the many fine folks who faithfully make New Year’s resolutions every year, it’s time to write your resolves for 2006. If you have never made any resolutions, this might be the time to start. And what could be better than making resolutions about your gardening?

Me, I never make resolutions of any kind. I’m sort of like the fellow who lived with his significant-other for thirty-five years without benefit of clergy. Over the years they built their dream house, raised three fine children and started their own highly successful business. When a friend asked him why he didn’t just go ahead and get married, his answer was, “Oh, I’m not ready to take on the commitment that marriage calls for!”

I have been happily married for 50 years, but making New Year’s resolutions is a commitment that I’m just not ready to make yet. But if I ever do, you can bet they will be about gardening.

Maybe I’m as wishy-washy as Lucy says Charley Brown is, but that’s okay, I would rather be wishy-washy than take on a passel of resolutions I might not be able to keep. But here are the resolutions I would make if I could muster up enough courage:

· I resolve not to buy more seeds this year than I can plant. I’m talking about packets of seeds that don’t even get opened. (If you can live up to this resolution, “You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din!”)

· I resolve not to buy any perennial, shrub or tree I won’t have room for. But they all look like pleading puppies at the animal shelter! They always look at me as if to say, “I love you! Take me home and plant me!” How can I possibly resist?

· I resolve to plant everything I buy as soon as I get home. Oh, that’s so easy to say, but there are all kinds of good reasons for procrastinating: I’m too busy. The weather isn’t right. There’s still plenty of time. We might have a very late freeze….

· I resolve to replace any perennial that hasn’t lived up to my expectations after a couple of years. I have babied some plants far too long that were never-do-wells or turned out to be just down right ugly. After all, they aren’t my children, so I can’t be charged with homicide if I put them out of their misery and bury them deep in the compost file, can I?

· I resolve to follow the maxim, “A place for everything and everything in its place”. I’m thinking about garden tools: A place for every tool and every tool in its place when it’s not being used. I spend half of my gardening time looking for tools I have misplaced, and some were in my hands just a few minutes earlier.

· I resolve to buy a birdbath for my garden this winter. I faithfully fill the birdfeeders, (Actually, it’s my wife Myra who keeps the feeders filled.) but I know that winter is the hardest time of the year for birds to find water. And I will buy a heating unit made just for birdbaths to keep the water open and available.

· I resolve to help a youngster learn the joys of gardening this year. There’s that little Dennis the Menace down the block who keeps stomping on my flowers. I could invite him to plant a few pumpkins or sunflowers in a section of my garden that he can call his own. Or maybe I will ask my granddaughter if she would like to plant some flowers and vegetables to enter in the fair.

· I resolve to memorialize a loved one with a rosebush in the rose garden at our Yakima Area Arboretum. I will call Mikal Heintz at the arboretum (248-7337) about the modest cost, and the Lower Naches Garden Club (Bless them!) will do the planting.

· I resolve to learn the botanical names of my perennials. Then I will sound like an expert when I reel off the name to visitors. I will find all the help I need from “Fine Gardening” magazine’s pronunciation guide on the Internet ( It even has an audio to help me pronounce those tongue-twisting Latin names.

· I resolve to go on Garden Tour 2006 next June. The six Yakima Valley home gardens featured on the tour will give me a world of ideas to use in my own garden. And all the proceeds from ticket sales go to help the arboretum.

· Finally, I resolve to plant “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” For starters I’ll plant an heirloom tomato, maybe Radiator Charley’s Mortgage Lifter. For something new, I will try a vegetable I have never grown, possibly rutabagas. And a gardening friend is sure to offer me a start of that perennial I have been admiring. Finally, I’ll plant a flower that is true-blue, like wild flax or forget-me-nots.

Dear reader, feel free to help yourself to any or all of my if-I-were-going-to-make-resolutions. As for me, I just need more time before I’m ready to make such important commitments. Maybe next year. But in the meantime, I wish a happy year of gardening in 2006.

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