I’m stoked about 2021! With the prospect (sometime this year) of having visitors, to hangout in-person, and to share my harvest, I am excited about the possibilities for my garden. There’s something special about meeting with friends or neighbors to chat about what’s growing in our respective green spaces, whether cultivated or wild. 

Garden planning has always been something I enjoy, but this year it takes on special meaning.

In reality very little time goes into actual planning for my spring garden. I wake up one morning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, I smell the flowers and wonder, “What will I plant?” Lucky for me I am able to walk the aisles of Berkeley Hort most any day to see what new and wonderful plants are available. 

Water-frugal plants, bee-friendly plants, and edible plants are all still popular categories and top sellers in the nursery. But what I want to focus on in my garden this year are those that give me personal pleasure, and the two top categories are fragrance and bird attraction.

The reasons are simple. Life is short, space is limited, and these things make me happy!

We all know what strong memories and emotions can be stirred up by simple smells, and the garden is one of the more likely venues for such stimulation. With this in mind, I have compiled a list (available from your sales associate) of plants with fragrant flowers and/or foliage for Bay Area gardens. Some of my favorites include the heady scent of roses on a warm day, the musty smell of wet boxwood leaves, and the minty aroma of Yerba Buena under foot.

This whole bird thing has crept up on me over the last 15 years. Maybe it is just part of getting older; I slow down, take notice, and get pleasure from stuff I wasn’t aware of before. Attracting birds is actually fairly easy. Provide cover in the form of leaves and branches, provide a source of water such as a birdbath, plant trees and shrubs which produce berries, and most importantly, avoid pesticides. Healthy soil is the first step for any bird garden. 

There are still occasionally gloomy days when I’d rather go back to bed with a good book. But then I think about moving around outdoors, and what better place to seek solace than in the garden? It can be a nice combination of meditation AND exercise. That hour working with a hoe will give me a good workout! For me, the pure pleasures of hearing the birds, smelling the fresh clippings, and feeling that I am in direct contact with my garden make the inevitable aches and blisters worthwhile. 

As the vernal equinox comes and goes, embrace this as a time of moving forward in life and in the garden.

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