If you are like me, very little time goes into the planning and preparation for your 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?” Unlike me, most of you probably don’t walk the aisles of Berkeley Hort each day to see what new and wonderful plants are available.

Water-frugal plants, bee-friendly plants, edible plants; these are all still popular categories and top sellers in the nursery. But what I want to focus on in my garden this year are Personal Pleasure Plants. And the two categories that top my PPP list 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 aromas, and the garden is one of the more likely venues for such stimulation. With this in mind I have compiled a list (available at our sales counter) 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 10 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.

As Election Day approaches I cringe at hearing the political rhetoric, the anger, and the inability to compromise. I am bombarded with misinformation and pseudo-science both in mainstream-, and social-media. There are days when I’d rather go back to bed with a good book. But then I think about moving around outdoors, and I have always felt that there is no 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 without the expense of a gym membership! 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 spring equinox comes and goes, embrace it as a time of moving forward in life, and in the garden.