It's January and the seed catalogs are piling up faster than the snow drifts. With all those gorgeous pictures and lush descriptions, how is a gardener to choose? Here are some tips.
First, do NOT dive into that pile and start filling out order forms. DO put on a coat and take a walk around your gardens. Even if there's a foot of snow on the ground, take the time to look at your annual beds, your vegetable garden, and the places where you want to put containers or hanging baskets. Make notes on how much room you have and what kinds of things might work well in each location. Consider where you have sun and where you have shade. Now, go back inside, fix a hot beverage and begin.
No, don't begin with the catalogs. Start with your garden diary. You do have a garden diary, don't you? If not, at least collect those old order forms and half empty seed packets from last spring. Make a list of what worked and what didn't, which varieties you want to plant again and which you want to banish from your garden forever. Also make a list of things you want to try for the first time. I make it a policy to plant at least one new species or variety each year, just for the fun of it.