I began writing for Northwest50Plus back in 2003 when it was NW Senior News. I remember how unqualified I felt, writing for seniors — people with so much more life experience.

What would a youngster like me be able to convey to members of the golden age when I was still so unpolished? I almost talked myself out of a job.

Thankfully, my editor Trude Crow and fellow correspondent Gloria Clark believed in me and afforded me an amazing opportunity to share my love of gardening with all of you.

How time flies. For 15 years, I’ve been privileged to introduce a new year of gardening, sharing my hopes, goals (and foibles) with all of you. And guess what? Now I am a senior, too.

I was feeling rather nostalgic in preparation for this column, so I dug around in my files. My very first January column had a quote from famed gardener and writer Louise Beebe Wilder. Although her Januarys occurred many decades ago, the words she penned are still timeless nuggets of truth, perfectly apropos for this New Year and new gardening season:

“In his garden every man may be his own artist without apology or explanation. Here is one spot where each may experience ‘the romance of possibility.’”

Isn’t this the truth? At no time of the year do our gardens possess such possibility than right now while they are mostly dormant, save for a few winter bloomers. With chores at a minimum and weather not so pleasant, we can spend our time indoors, pondering and planning for the months ahead and the chores that will improve our little slices of paradise.

This is the romance — what can be. Boy, is my garden going to look nice this spring and summer.

So what special changes will you be making to your garden? For me, moving a few shrubs that outgrew their locations is a must. They will go back by the fence, so they grow unencumbered.

I will also be expanding my edible garden area thanks to the removal of a wood shed. I’m thinking I’ll grow more “Aroma” strawberries since they were the finest tasting of any strawberry I’ve ever grown and produced berries up until late November.

Maybe you’ll be growing a new vegetable or fruit in your edible garden. I always say we should grow and experience at least one new plant every year.

I’m also continuing to improve the corner garden that I wrote about a few months ago.

Even if your space is small, you can grow something different in your containers. Maybe a fancy foliage plant instead of flowers, or a cute new ground cover to edge the sidewalk.

One thing is for sure, we’re lucky to live here in western Oregon where the temperatures are relatively mild, the humidity is low and our summers are reliably sunny and pleasant. No wonder my former Master Gardener coordinator called it the gardening capitol of the country.

Please share your ideas and goals at gracepete.blogspot.com.

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