Plant of the Week: BERRY HEAVY® Gold Winterberry holly

Here in West Michigan, we’ve seen winter arrive in fits and starts, but the lake effect snow machine will soon be in high gear, there’s no avoiding it. When that happens, our landscapes will be blanketed in white.

That’s why we need bright berries in winter. Truthfully, if you’ve got good snow cover, the red berries stand out a little more. But on gloomy, cold-winter-rain days, a golden winterberry is, well, golden.

We selected Berry Heavy® Gold Ilex verticillata for its big, bright golden fruit. It’s a stunning choice for landscapes and cutting gardens. Berry Heavy® Gold grows 6-8′ tall and wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 3. It will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Like other Ilex, it will need a male pollinator to produce fruit; we recommend Mr. Poppins®.

This cold-hardy native plant will grow fairly far south (USDA zone 9), so even folks who have sleet instead of pretty snow can grow it.

It will grow in most situations as long as the soil isn’t alkaline. Wet soils? It loves them. Clay soils? Those are OK, too. Winterberry will tolerate the air pollution of urban locations and can shore up the stream banks in more rural settings. How wonderful is that?

The only limitation of winterberry is that it doesn’t look like much until fall and winter, which makes it a tough sell in the spring. So let’s do the world a favor and get the word out about this awesome species.

Here’s a 30-second video that you can pass on to your friends and fans if you want to share a little more inspiration.

New Year’s Resolutions

Have you made any resolutions this year? Chances are you are in one camp, those who often make a resolution to improve their lives in some way, or those who feel it pointless to make a resolution, only to fail later in the year. I mean, who can blame those second-camp folks? 365 days is a lot of time to try to keep doing something you probably aren’t all that fond of.

I’m in the middle, sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. Actually, most of the time, I don’t. It’s hard to build a new habit! Particularly if it’s something you’re not terribly fond of. I mean, who’s saying, “I’m going to make sure I eat ice cream every day.” or “I’m going to sleep in past the alarm more often.”

The point of a habit is to keep doing something until it becomes second nature, an ice cream habit is easy, but working out, not so much. I recently listened to a podcast about building good habits. On this particular podcast, they recommended a few things to help new habits stick. But the most helpful were these two things:

  • Make the good habits I want to develop easy to do
  • Associate a unique reward with the new habit

So, if I want to try to re-engage my workouts, I need to make my exercise space (in my house) easier to use and deliver a unique reward when I engage in the activity.

Right now, my treadmill is folded up to make room for a little Christmas tree in our basement rec room. So, I’m going to put away the tree and fold down that treadmill. Plus, I’ll get my headphones working on the downstairs TV so I can watch a favorite show, one that I can only watch while I’m on the treadmill. Finally, I will do the workout before I begin my work day…then the time I want to use doesn’t get eaten up by random things that come up when I get home from work.

I can also equate this to gardening. I am terrible about caring for my tools. Mostly because the barriers to care are so great. My garden sink is messy, and the counters around it are cluttered. So I tend to drop them in a random container at the end of a gardening session. But if I create a space that has an alcohol sprayer and special hooks to hang my tools, it will be easier to clean them after every use. Plus, I’ll know where I put them!

So this winter, I’ll start with the workouts, and come spring, I’ll add in the tool cleaning space. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, if you’ve decided to build better habits, best of luck with yours!

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