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Over the course of a good many years, I’ve decided that January first is a good time for working in my garden rather than for making resolutions. First of all, I rather like digging in the beds and starting new plants from old ones. A person can feel pretty confident that something good will come from such activity, which is more than can be said for all those resolutions.

A resolution is intimidating simply by its nomenclature. Think about it. “I resolve…” Do you remember what “resolve” means? It falls somewhere between “I’m so pumped I’m ninety-five percent there already” and “I might give it a shot someday when I’m bored and I’ve run out of chocolate.” As I see it, resolve is a promise to myself, and I hate to lie to me.

In the garden, though, I don’t make resolutions. I wander around and see what calls to me, and that turns into the plan for today. At this time of year, there are so many things to do! Where I live, not far from Los Angeles, the temperature today, January 1, 2014, is hovering around 75 degrees. When I walked out the back door this morning, I was greeted by a tree full of camellia blossoms, which suddenly popped into striped pink beauty about a week ago, a Christmas tradition. Even if nothing else is blooming at this time of year, I can count on the camellias.

This year, though, I still have roses, alstroemeria, and chrysanthemums, none of them as prolific as they were a little earlier, but bright spots in the garden nevertheless. My rue plant is blooming, clusters of yellow flowers among the charming blue-gray leaves of the herb. The yellow marguerites just won’t stop, either, and the bushes have grown so big that they’ve overspread the naturalizing areas where narcissus and Dutch iris spears are working their way up. The oranges are ready to eat, although we’ve lost a few to splits in the skins of the potted dwarf navel (my fault: I failed to be consistent with water) and I’m still eating cherry tomatoes off the bush. The stupid strawberries, which I thought I’d completely dug out and given away last year, have not only survived in hidden niches, they’ve also spread their runners out until I have probably a hundred plants again, blossoming so I can’t bear to just yank them and toss them in the greenwaste can.

So, who needs resolutions with so much to do anyway? For this particular day, I started some cuttings, sifted a whole bunch of compost for starter pots, and trimmed back the star jasmine on the east fence. Because we’re in the midst of drought again, I still have to go out and water. Soon, maybe tomorrow, I want to get some volunteer seedling palms put in pots before they become too deeply rooted to deal with. In a few weeks, they’ll be fodder for free Craigslist ads, along with strawberry plants and sword fern. I know I’ll have to do that because I’ll never bring myself to throw all those extras away. I won’t make it a resolution, though.

If you’ve made your list, and plan to stick to one or two or a dozen ways to improve yourself or your life this next year, good for you! I promise I won’t check back in a month or two to see how many of them got lost along the way. If you’ve already chucked the idea of resolutions, good for you, too! You probably have a garden of some sort in your life to take up the slack.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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