This time of year offers us the opportunity to reflect on what is truly important and meaningful in our lives.

The conclusion of another year gives us pause to consider priorities and the giving of ourselves in the form of commitment, time and energy.

It is a time of hope, anticipation and resolve.

One of my reflections is the opportunity I get to write this column.

Looking back on what I have written over the last four Decembers, it was fun to see the variety of topics I covered.

A few were: Christmas carols with a nature theme, environmentally conscientious ways of disposing of Christmas trees, popular Christmas traditions, holiday herbs, a “nature” version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” tips for growing poinsettias, plant issues with December freezes, growing Christmas cacti and traditional Christmastime plants.

This time of year there are so many fun topics, and I have tried to highlight them, especially since many consider it a very slow month for gardening and landscaping outdoors.

Several things in my yard need attention, and, weather permitting, I will start working on them soon.

There is freeze damage on many of my large, leafy varieties.

I have a lot of summer growth on my perennials that need to be pruned away.

The leaves from my neighborhood cottonwood trees are literally everywhere, covering up plants and mulch, not to mention the driveway and porches.

My potted plants need to be uncovered when it warms up, cleaned out and watered.

My fall-blooming annuals seeded and need removing, and many of my shrubs need re-shaping.

No matter the time of year, there is always something to do outside.

I love to imagine what it all will look like in springtime, and make new and improved plans for the new year.

Christmas has, so quickly, come and gone.

It is time for a new year, new looks, new priorities, and for this column, new topics. I look forward to it.

Happy New Year to you all.

Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at

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