For the Love of Gardening  

What works & What doesn't...


GARDEN JOURNALS

SAVE THE DATE....

No, this is not about a wedding or party date, but more about saving the date that it rained on your garden.

I now realize if I don’t keep track of what I do in my garden, and when Spring comes around once more, I may pull up that tiny plant I nurtured all last  year.  Believe me, I have done that.  Ouch!

Save-the-date means to record, in some manner, the essential things you do this year; things that will either teach you something, jog your memory about something else, remind you where you moved that plant, how much you spent or best of all, what worked and what didn’t.

You can use an old school scribbler, an Italian leather-bound journal with hand-tied vanilla coloured paper, a three-ringed binder or a scrapbook.

Here are some of mine....


I have used them all.  In the summer, I scratch down notes, make sketches, bundle the tags, pile up the receipts and when those cold, dark winter days get a bit overwhelming, I lug them all out and sort them - like hoarded treasures. 

Each colourful plant tag holds a  memory.  If I hadn’t loved the plant in the first place, I would not have kept either the plant or the tag…then again, if I did plant it and it died, I really need to know what happened.  I try to keep track of rainy days so I have an idea how much watering I did, or didn’t do.

The scrapbook idea appeals to the artist in me.  Pretty tags, a bit of calligraphy, some poetry here and there make it a fun project … but I also keep track of how I planted that tree, shrub or rose,  and where; maybe even why I put it there. 

Of course, I also take a lot of photos.  It’s funny to look back and see how excited I was when the first bit of green came through in the Spring.  Yeehaw… now, I look to see what is in bloom, what bugs are eating it, what I should feed or not feed.  Keeping track of those things does matter if you want to learn more from your garden.

A three-ringed binder is actually the best idea because it is easier to add or move and change pages.  I used to fool myself into thinking that sequence didn’t matter as long as it was pretty, and in the big scheme of things, it really doesn’t, but to learn and grow (pun intended) I like to have things in order so I know what blooms first or last.

The plastic pages created for business cards, work well for plant tags.  You can see both front and back, helping to jog your memory when you read your notes and forget what a plant looks like.  The game of using the Latin word becomes less of a game when you have to look up the name over and over… having the tags nearby, makes a difference. Besides, they are pretty.

And, some days I  need to be reminded this is what we started with only a few short years ago.

And then following summer?   Would I have remembered what it looked like  under construction with no notes or photos?

And two years later, it changes again and now I have a record of what worked and what didn't. For example, the Dogwood in front of the statue died under the shadow of the Black Walnut behind it. So did the Dappled Willow just to the right of the statue's shoulder. 

Below, you can see the new Redbud Tree and read the story here.

Saving the date we plant something helps to remember when it blooms, how tall it gets and when it needs some attention which will be evident from the photos we also include in our garden book.

And saving receipts?

Wow, it’s amazing adding up what we spend… that can be scary but a good reality check.  Sometimes that $25 plant is more than worth it.  When the “Itoh” Peony (a new peony that has the best traits of both the old-fashioned peony and the tree peony) was first advertised, I found one rather by accident.  When the price was $35 instead of $100, I bought it.  Even though I didn’t know much about it, I knew that I could take a risk for that price where I wouldn’t have full price.  There was only a hand-written tag with the name of the peony - that’s all but research back home told me the rest and what a beautiful bargain it has been.


Another reason for keeping receipts, is that some garden centres give guarantees for a tree or shrub and you would need the receipt if it dies.  You have a better chance for a refund if you can show how you planted and cared for it. There are pages that have neat pockets for receipts.

Few receipts name or describe the plant.  Make your notes on them so you will know what you bought and how much you paid.

It pays to do your research before you shop.  Carry a wee note book in your bag with your wish list….Do I? Sometimes; but I always ask some important questions if I don’t know:

will it grow in my zone?

How much light does it need? 

How much care?

And how hardy is it? Meaning, will I have to take special care to overwinter it.  If I am prepared to take it on, and the price is right….  I take it home. (sometimes I take it even if I don’t get all the answers….

I think it is in a gardener’s genes to take on a challenge or two for a stunning bloom).



Take regular photos  of your garden and date them.  You’ll be surprised to look back and see the changes… sometimes, week to week or day to day or even year to year. 

And when I look at this photo, I see how far we have come and the changes made along the way, even just the following summer.

Especially when roses bloom.  One day, a tiny bud and the next - a full glorious bloom.  How wonderful to lift your spirits on grey winter days and see the garden just two years later.

So save those dates, tags, receipts, pictures and notes. 

Let your garden speak your story, your history.

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