Why Keep a Garden Journal?
We Texas gardeners have wonderful opportunities for creating a variety of gardens. The state is quite diverse as far as soils and climate zones are concerned. Needless to say, there is a large collection of plants available to us as we begin to create beautiful gardens. We also know there are many elements to balance in order to garden successfully.
Keeping a garden journal will help you keep track of how your garden grows. You will discover which plants thrive, which ones struggle; and best of all, you will discover many surprises. More than just record keeping, journaling is a way to trace your growth as a gardener. Writing down your favorite moments in the garden may help you decide which plants to add or which to replace. How does your garden make you feel? You may discover you prefer one season to another. Maybe your style of gardening has changed. A journal will help you track the evolution of your garden.
As gardeners know, weather is a huge factor in plant performance. By keeping track of air temperature, the amount of rainfall, and drastic changes (storms or droughts), we can see which plants survived and plan better for next year.
Has the environment in your garden changed? Trees and shrubs that were once small may have matured and created a shadier garden. Keeping a list of what you plant, where and when you plant it, and the source of the plant will provide useful information for the future.
Further, keeping up with what’s blooming when, and how long is another reason to take time to write daily or weekly in a garden journal. You might be surprised at how many seasons your garden features beautiful blooms or colorful foliage. Some of the best color combinations happen by accident and remembering which plant blooms and when it blooms from year-to-year is not easy. But with good journal records, you may recreate pleasing plant combinations and avoid repeating mistakes.
How often you fertilize, prune, and water are other things to keep in your garden journal. Which techniques have been most successful? If you have a particular pest or disease problem with one plant, what methods were effective in eradicating or controlling the problem? If your roses were beautiful last year, when did you prune them and how much did you prune? When did you divide your phlox and where did you plant the different varieties of spring bulbs?
Getting started with your garden journal
By keeping daily records, you can check your journal and chart your most successful garden practices. Whether it’s how and when you propagated a favorite perennial, when the first bluebonnets came into bloom, or the scent of a particular native vine, your garden journal will provide the ideal format for keeping in touch with your garden and what it can teach you.
Here’s how to begin:
• Designate a day and a time to write in your journal. You might discover that early morning coffee time or the end of the day works best.
• Use a favorite pen and keep it with your journal. Write brief, clear notes (rainy and cool with temp around 60°F, daffodils and jonquils are in bloom. Redbud and dogwood trees are starting to open. Planted a 10-gallon ‘Oklahoma’ redbud on the east side of the house.)
• Keep a 5”x7” envelope tucked in the back of your journal to hold photographs and pictures from catalogues or magazines that inspire you. Be sure to identify and label photos.
• List existing trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs, including a sketch of where they are located. This will be especially helpful over the years when you make changes in your garden.
Once you get used to journaling, you may find that you look forward to writing about your garden as much as you enjoy adding new plants.
Download and print a sample garden journal – My Garden Journal