Thursday, March 31, 2011

Garden journal escape...

     I know that as a gardener in Pennsylvania I should be accepting of snow at this time of year, but I am weary of it today.  As it started falling Tuesday afternoon, fluffy and white, I put on a brave smile while thinking, "Yes, it is here again, but it will certainly not lay on the ground for long." Two days later, I am kind of itching to move on with life, for more color and less white.  Even four-year-old Grace, who was anticipating this winter's snow starting last July (no joke), said this morning, "I wish the snow would melt so that we could have more flowers again."

   So here we are, learning perseverance through the seasons of life by waiting as patiently as we can for these last snows to fall... watering the earth, hydrating the roots, giving respite before the heat of summer... and putting the cold weather in perspective by writing down the happenings in my garden journal.

   This is the third year that I have used a date book as a garden journal... which is an all-encompassing journal for me that holds my notes from my garden book reading, monthly calenders where I can record the main blooming attractions, days to write down my gardening tasks, notes from gardens we visit, plants I buy, and brainstorming for new combinations, bulbs, annuals, etc.  And a place where I can record the weather each year so I know what I expect... mostly.

   A glimpse of three years of March... this year definitely containing more snow than the other two. I  feel a little panicky when I look out the window right now, but looking ahead to April in my past journals brings calm assurance that the snow will stop... by June for sure.

   A view of how I organize myself: blooming plants & combinations on the monthly calender (left) and tasks in the day-to-day blocks (right).

   A sneak-peek at my Thompson & Morgan seed order for the season (right)...

   A look ahead of what to expect in April... this record from 2010 (below).

  Rosemary Verey, one of my gardening heroes, encouraged new gardeners to "take note as you go" (Rosemary Verey's Making of a Garden, 17).

   Learn to build up your knowledge of plants, not only to be able to recognize them but to know what growing conditions they like or dislike, when they will flower, what their leaves will contribute before and after flowering, how they will relate to their neighbors.  This knowledge comes only with familiarity, observation and experience (pg. 17).

   I have enjoyed being more methodical about the art in my garden.  Recording my thoughts and schemes has helped me both to fully appreciate the moment and to learn more through reflection by reading past entries.

Perhaps this is your year to start a garden journal too?

For anyone wondering: I have really enjoyed using these Brush Dance date books, after finding one in a Floridian gift shop in 2009 when my husband and I were on a get-away.  They are beautiful and earthy. 


  1. Julie, you have my sympathy for your snow and my awe at your organization! My garden journals have lots of excited comments when seeds sprout ("The radishes are up, the radishes are up!!!") and then they dwindle away to nothing by midsummer, to be topped off by a desperate get-me-through-mid-winter seed list. I love the idea of a date book rather than just a notebook--it makes the year-to-year comparison look so clear. And the way you separate the monthly calendar view and the to-do list makes tons of sense.

    Hang in there! (June isn't that far away.) :) It looks like you have all kinds of wonders to look forward to in April.

  2. I have kept a written garden journal for many years, but two years ago, when I finally purchased a digital camera, my journal went 'on-line'. However, I still keep a written one, usually very messy looking, with the weather, whats in bloom, and any purchases and what they cost. Interesting to read back on them over the years.

  3. I'm always fascinated to see and hear about people's garden journal ideas. This year I started my own - its a big book with lined paper. I've taped photos of my gardens and containers and wrote notes on what I planted, when it bloomed, and what (if any) problems have come up. Its all new to me, but so far I'm liking it. Like you said, its a way to look back and reflect.


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