Debra Prinzing

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Gardener’s Resolutions

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

In early 2005, Cool Springs Press published the Washington & Oregon Gardener’s Guide, a book I co-authored with the wise and gifted garden writer Mary Robson. We combined our talents to share years of garden experience to help readers plan, plant, and maintain a beautiful and healthy garden.

The book is filled with our personal recommendations of plants that thrive in the Northwest, presented in a concise, helpful format. The major challenge of writing WOGG, as we called it, was to limit ourselves to 186 individual plant selections, from annuals to vines. No gardener wants to be told she has to “choose” a finite plant list!

Our fabulous publicist, Lola Honeybone, who now runs Media Workshop, a Nashville-based book PR shop, suggested that Mary (shown at left) and I develop a lecture to accompany our book-signings and appearances. She dreamed up the title “Seven Habits of a Highly Successful Gardener.” Lola’s clever angle brought Mary and me together for a 2005 lecture at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle. It was so much fun to plan this talk knowing Mary and I would have a friendly give-and-take as we walked the audience through our Seven Tips.

Later, our friend Richard Turner, editor of Pacific Horticulture, asked us to turn the lecture into an article. Here is the article, from the journal’s Winter 2006 issue. It seems appropriate to share this as we approach 2009 – and I encourage you to adapt these tips for your own New Year in the Garden:

Seven Habits of a Highly Successful Gardener

Gardeners in the west enjoy the unique luxury of living with few rules about what’s right or wrong in the way we grow our plants. We appreciate and adapt to our garden’s cultural conditions. We are overwhelmed with a seemingly endless selection of excellent, healthy and suitable trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vines, bulbs and ground covers from which to choose for our landscapes.

In the Pacific Northwest [my former home], we’re particularly lucky to have temperate conditions where it’s not too hot – and not too cold. This welcoming, plant-friendly climate bestows added blessings. Imagine how hard it was for us to compile a regional gardening book and limit ourselves to only 186 great plants!

Perhaps the horticultural excesses in our lives call for a little discipline. Certainly, we want to be good stewards of our gardens, both to ensure our immediate enjoyment and the long-term health of the plants and places we tend.

So, with apologies to the original “7 Habits” author Steven R. Covey, we offer the following Seven Habits of a Highly Successful Gardener: