Thursday, January 01, 2015

Garden Resolutions

Garden Resolution Time!
by Brande Jackson
 As we move into kicking off a brand new year, it only seems appropriate to think about ‘resolutions’. Going to the gym and stopping a bad habit often top the list for many, but for those of you that identify as ‘garden geeks’, thinking in terms of ‘botanical promises’ can also be helpful.
With that in mind, we present to your our suggested “Garden Resolutions for 2015”:
1. Compost more
Compositing is the best! Maybe not as exciting as Beyonce or ice cream, but it’s sooooo easy to do, and the benefits are numerous: you reduce waste going to a landfill, you feel less guilty about food that inevitably gets tossed, and you get the best free, (mostly) organic fertilizer you can ask for! There are all sorts of ways to compost, and a quick search online (we recommend using Pinterest!) will yield numerous possibilities. It need not be expensive, either: a compost pile can be as simple as that, a pile in a corner of your garden, or it can be a bit more involved with pre-fabricated containers that speed up the work that nature does.
2. Be adventurous
It’s easy to fall into a ‘garden rut’: sticking with the same tried and true plants can be fine, especially if you know what works for your garden, but at the same time, be bold! Go beyond your normal range. Try out plants that offer contrasting foliage and color. Try growing plants you can eat. Try out plants that just sound weird and funky and cool and fun to grow!
3. Plant your new babies ASAP
Many a plant has left our nursery only to meet its demise tucked away in the yard of a well-meaning garden geek that just never got around to planting it! The plants you buy at the nursery do in fact have a shelf life, they aren’t meant to live in that little container forever. Try to make it a habit to get them into the ground, or in a pot, or even into a bigger container within a week or two after purchasing.
4. Get your tools together
This is a resolution we at Johnnye Merle’s are going to try to follow this year. Our tools are a bit of a mess: some broken, some dull, some taken over by our four year old nephew... Keeping tools in good shape isn’t just about organization, either: dull blades on clippers and sheaths can actually damage plants with rough cuts, if not cleaned properly tools can carry disease from plant to plant, and bad tools make gardening a whole lot less fun. Search online for some ideas on how to best store your tools to keep them in tip-top shape.
5. Go native!
Look, we all have those plants we love and will baby and grow no matter what, and that is fine…so long as that only represents a small percentage of your yard. Despite the wet conditions this winter, the bottom line is that we live a bit of a “life of illusion” in Southern California when it comes to water use and the plants that we choose for our gardens.  Going native isn’t just about saving water: native plants provide an important habitat for wildlife, including the bees and other pollinators that are critical to the health of your garden, and the larger ecosystem. We have a huge selection of native plants in our nursery, and are happy to show you ways to go native AND look good!
6. Ditch the lawn!
On that same note, maybe this is the year that you give up your lawn - it’s much easier than you probably think! Many cities are now offering rebates, meaning, getting rid of your lawn and replacing it with drought tolerant plants could be just about free for you (depending on where you live) AND save you money on water in the long run as well. We have a simple, straightforward design package to help homeowners “ditch the lawn”, you can learn more at:
7. Spend more time in your garden
Yes, this sounds very touchy-feely, but studies have proven that gardening is a great antidote to stress! According to an article in USA Today last year, there is even a field emerging called “horticulture therapy”, which is aimed at using gardening to help people cope with anxiety and depression, and even recover from surgery. Don’t think of your gardening time as merely a hobby, you are beautifying the landscape, helping out our ecosystem, AND helping your brain!

Hopefully this list inspires you to get outside and dig in the dirt!
Brande Jackson is the owner of Johnnye Merle’s Gardens, located in Country Roads in Old Town Orange at 204 W. Chapman.  She can be reached at  She is also a teacher, and offers classes on art, creativity and gardening.

1 comment:

Susan Krzywicki said...

Yes! Garden with Natives!

Ecological, aesthetic and gives you that unique California look.