Daydream Believer

By Jim Sollecito

Isn’t this just the right time of year to sit back and daydream in living color? Never mind what we “should” or “could” have done in 2022.

Instead, look ahead. Think positively and imagine a direction that leads to new exploits or at the very least, new results.

Want proof? Try drizzling some honey on your pepperoni pizza. Then see how two dissimilar elements relate in a delightful manner not previously experienced. And I say, why not? If not now, then when?

The world seems very black and white now, but that will change. Just as the white snow melts, gently revealing a rainbow of spring and summer hues. From the ground up, the sky is the limit when it comes to color combos.

Of course, we’d like more results with less work, so plant selection can make a big difference. For example, if a plant doesn’t make a seed (sterility), it is 1) non-invasive and therefore less problematic and 2) can tend to be a repeat or even perpetual bloomer.

Every year more and more of these new varieties are developed and become available for our home landscapes. Like the plants my wife, Megan, captured in this photo.

But it’s not just about picking the right new plant variety. It is also how you care for plants. As for us, we always plant perennials with a mulch of organic compost. Considered living mulch due to the live microbes and their continuous renewable life-cycle. These are wonderful natural stimulants to healthier plants with bigger flowers and better color.

Remember that Cornell University never recommends using dyed and preserved colored wood that not only doesn’t add anything positive to the growing environment, but also spurs the advent of the horrible Artillery Fungus that plagues many homes with black dots that last forever on siding.

Oh, people often ask why a particular plant didn’t flower as long as it had in the past. Most of the time the answer is the weather — something that is out of our control. A late frost or unusually early warm spell can radically reduce flowering. But cool daytime temperatures can extend bloom time, so weather can work in our favor sometimes.

I routinely talk with plants people, asking what went right and sharing what went wrong. Then try to figure out how to learn from that. I have a whole compost pile of plants that didn’t live up to their hype, at least not in my landscape. We have all eaten chicken that sadly gave its life in vain. A bad meal is no big deal. You know, throughout my life, I am a big believer in the credo that if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t trying hard enough. It’s not only the best way to learn, it’s the only way sometimes. Most people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.

Change can be hard, but it’s the only way to grow. We need to keep improving, even if just by small steps. With a little help from us, our landscapes will improve, too, and explode with unbridled potential. And I just can’t wait!

Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in New York State. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 315-468-1142 or