This is the time of year for New Year resolutions and if you are wondering what the top three changes Americans want to make in their lives they are a healthier lifestyle, more time with family and to reduce stress.

Monrovia Nursery in Dayton, Ore., and online at monrovia.com, is a wholesale grower of plants and a promoter of gardening as the answer to all three of these goals.

Here is how some of the easiest-to-grow plants for Western Washington can help you reach your personal goals for 2017.

Healthier lifestyle

Whether you want to lose weight or just enjoy better nutrition, living the garden to table lifestyle is the best way to get the nutrients your body needs. Fresh -picked produce packs a big vitamin punch and your body was designed to absorb vitamins and minerals from food not pills.

Recommended plants: Swiss Chard and kale are two leafy greens high in Vitamins A and K and provide other nutrients people need who live in areas of little sunshine. These two leafy greens love our cool and cloudy weather and provide a harvest even during the winter months.

Tip: Grow Rainbow Bright Lights Swiss Chard in a container garden close to the house for easy winter harvest. Snip off the outer most leaves and add to salads, soups and stews.

More time with family

Dedicating more time to your garden, whether it be flowers, vegetables or a well-maintained lawn can be the gateway hobby to quality family time. Teaching children a skill set (how to mow, prune or harvest depending on their age) is more interactive than taking them to a movie or competing in video games.

Even without an outdoor space, children can learn to re-pot houseplants or make an indoor terrarium.

Recommended plants: Train topiary by growing boxwood and teaching a youngster how to clip and snip a living plant into creative shapes. Although the animal-shaped topiaries at Disneyland may be labor intensive, a twice a year trim is all a ball or box shaped boxwood plant needs to stay tidy.

Tip: Grow boxwood in a container so the cube or ball shape can be moved around the garden as a visual accent or focal point. Monrovia nursery recommends dwarf boxwoods for small space gardening such as‘Green Gem or Dwarf English Boxwood.

Reduce stress

Fresh air, exercise, the sounds of nature and fragrance all combine to make even a short time in the garden a natural way to lower blood pressure.

Scientists from the United Kingdom have documented a bacteria - bacterium vaccae - from the soil that activates the calming center of the human brain. It is no wonder horticultural therapy is used to treat depression and mental health problems aggravated by high stress.

Tip: Grow lavender for the calming fragrance, but remember in our rainy climate to plant this perennial on a mound or in sandy soil with good drainage. Do not water lavender as it thrives best on rainfall alone. In Western Washington, the lavender varieties that best survive our wet winter weather are the English lavenders such as Hidcote Blue and Munstead.

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