November 9, 2016
Keeping a Garden Journal
Years back I was cleaning out my container and pot pile and had to ask myself, "Where did all these pots come from?" Had I really planted all the plants that grew in these pots, and if so, where were they?
As I swatted at gnats and contemplated where all the plants were, I remembered the advice of my Master Gardener friend Bill, who had encouraged me to keep a garden journal. If I wrote this stuff down, I would know what was going on in my landscape and garden.
So it began, small at first, just listing the seeds and the plants that I put in my different gardens. Then I started keeping track of how well the plants did, when they flowered and if they—gasp—died. I also kept track of my maintenance activities, such as fertilizing, mulching, and pest control. Weather data began to be entered, and frost dates and rain fall amounts were added. Frustrations with squirrels, rabbits, and the neighbor's dogs were logged and dated. My battles with invasive plants like ruellia and skunk vine were documented, as were the control methods that did or (mostly) didn't work. The names of friends who gave me plants are in the journal pages, and just like ancestry.com, I am able to trace back the lineage of the pass-along plants to famous or infamous horticulturalists.
The garden journal is a place to dream and plan for the future landscape. Inspiration doesn't always knock twice for me, so it is best to get it down on paper. My garden journal certainly isn't a gathering of hard horticulture data, but it does track the ups and downs and comings and goings in my garden. It also serves as a reminder that my garden has survived droughts, late freezes, and brushes with hurricanes in the past and gives me hope that it will again.
Journals don't have to be fancy; many great garden journals that I have seen are kept in a spiral-bound notebook that the kids weren't using anymore. Keeping a history of your landscape and garden will enhance your gardening experience. Add in a photo or two, and you will be amazed at the changes in your garden and in the gardener as well.
-- Wendy Wilber