This Year, Stop and Smell the Roses

By Jeff Rugg

January 1, 2014 4 min read

Are you in the habit of making New Year's Resolutions that involve self-improvement? Scientists say we often fail at such resolutions. Maybe habits are hard to change because they don't involve other people. We might be better at keeping resolutions that help other people or the environment.

Gardeners enjoy the seasonal changes in the landscape. Even in the middle of winter we are thinking about gardening and planning on making changes as we get each new garden catalog in the mail.

In the vegetable garden, plant one plant or a whole row of plants whose produce you will give to your local food pantry. Learn about foods from other lands by trying at least one new vegetable that you have never grown before. Not that adventurous? Then try at least one new variety of tomato that you haven't grown before. You may be surprised at how much the family likes the new vegetables, and you will be prepared for some year in the future when the old standard tomato variety that you have always grown in the past is no longer available.

Resolve to make your landscape prettier to other people by trying new plants in your garden. Don't just replant the same red geraniums in the flowerpot on the patio. Skip the Dracaena spike and asparagus ferns by the front door, and try mixing up the flowers in new combinations.

To help your garden and landscape grow better and healthier this year, I have a few more suggested resolutions. Repeat after me.

I resolve to protect the environment by adding more mulch to my flowerbeds where it will save water and decrease weeds, saving me money on weed killers and protecting the environment from unnecessary chemical weed-killer applications.

I resolve to protect my trees by taking the money-wasting mulch off the trunks of my trees, so they stop making it look like that mountain of mulch is holding the tree up. Mulch piled on tree trunks kills trees; it doesn't help them.

I resolve to save time and money by pruning my trees and shrubs in their natural shapes, not forcing them into squares and balls.

I resolve to find out what disease or insect is affecting my plant before I pollute my yard with poisons that are used for treating something else. Saying "It can't hurt" isn't really true.

I resolve to use less water and less weed killer by mowing my grass at a higher height. The longer leaves will support a bigger root system, so it will need less water and fight off weeds.

I resolve to start a compost pile and add to it regularly, so that I don't have to waste money by buying compost for my garden.

I resolve to take my power tools and lawnmower for servicing and sharpening. Properly adjusted tools pollute less and sharp tools work better, making them safer.

I resolve to order more catalogs from, as it is the source of the most comprehensive list of gardening catalogs available anywhere.

And, lastly, I resolve to enjoy my garden more by eating outside more often, strolling through the yard to smell the flowers without pulling any weeds and having at least one party with family and friends to enjoy the garden, too.

Email questions to Jeff Rugg at [email protected] To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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