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Native Gardening Resolutions

It's time to ring in the New Year! For many of us, New Year's resolutions usually involve cutting back on life's little pleasures and are almost impossible to keep. This year, add some joy to your life by rejuvenating yourself and your garden. Planting colorful wildflowers and spending more time outside make for a healthier, happier and more sustainable lifestyle in 2008. Here are a few suggestions for your gardening resolutions list:

Go native!
Embrace your region's natural heritage by planting native plants and wildflowers. Because they are already adapted to local conditions, native plants, grasses and trees are beautiful, drought resistant and easy to maintain. Save on energy costs and add beauty to your yard by placing native trees and shrubs as shade and windbreaks around your home.
Explore our native plant database and Find native plant species suitable for your area

Weed out invasive plants.
Invasive plants may appear to be green and beautiful, but they are a growing threat to native plants and landscapes. Help preserve regional diversity by removing these silent invaders from your garden. Be aware of invasive hitchhikers - check for pieces of invasive plants that can attach to your belongings or drop in your garden. Make sure the seed mixes you use don't include invasive plants. They spread quickly! If you can't part with your invasive plant, remember to contain, control or cage it.
Find alternatives to invasive plants.

Feed your garden the natural way.
Recycle organic waste in your own backyard with a home compost bin. A compost pile minimizes landfill waste because you can add leftover vegetables, coffee grounds and yard clippings. Composting stabilizes soil structure, reduces erosion and runoff, improves water-holding capacity and suppresses plant pathogens. Home compost bins can be found at most home and garden centers and nurseries.

Purchase a rain barrel.
Water your garden and wash your car with pure water - fresh from the sky! Install a rain barrel to capture mineral and chlorine-free water. By harnessing rainwater, you'll save on water costs, reduce runoff and prevent erosion and flooding. Rain barrels are inexpensive and easy to install. To learn more about rainwater collection, pick up the book and DVD Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged, which is available at the Wildflower Center Store with a free bottle of rainwater, fresh from the clouds, January 12 and 13.

Take a hike!
Get new ideas by visiting parks, forests, prairies, creeks and other native plant habitats. Explore the Wildflower Center's demonstration gardens, filled with a diverse variety of native flowers, to gather innovative gardening ideas. The Homeowner Inspiration Gardens are particularly useful for this.

Stop and smell the wildflowers.
Gardening is meant to be fun, so plan manageable activities. Resolve to spend more time enjoying the beauty you created by picking out a perfect spot in your garden where you can take in the tranquil sights and sounds of nature. And always wear sunscreen - and a protective hat.

Happy New Year and happy gardening from the Wildflower Center!