Simple Record Keeping for the Garden
Fall and winter can be good times to settle in and plan for future projects. One thing that helps is keeping records, making lists and collecting clippings all in one place
A garden journal can help when sorting out a new garden situation. It is all different gardening in the mountains where the seasons, although still mild, are a bit more extreme than in Southern California, so keeping records is one way to organize new garden information. The lows are in the teens and the highs in the 100s. Here in our Mediterranean climate, it is wet in the winter and dry in the summer. In summers we can get 30 days of 100 degree temperatures. All these facts started out as notes.
My garden journal started with a family calendar on which I recorded when the different plants bloomed. I didn’t know when the flowers, especially our rich variety of wild and native ones would bloom so this list was a great help reminding me. The next year I made a separate Bloom Calendar.
Sunset Garden Book Notes
I won’t likely discard my Sunset Garden Book because in it, I have kept notes of most all the plants I’ve grown and ones I’d like to try. I was taught to never dog ear book pages or write in my books, but apparently I have somehow filled this book with highlighted entries, notes, squiggles and drawings. N = native, D = Drought-resistant, etc. I’ll have to pass up their new edition out last year.
Five years before starting the garden here, I had started collecting clippings of naturalistic gardens knowing I would move from a suburban lot to a mountainside acreage. I seemed to lose interest in cottage gardens completely, switching gears, thinking now about a sloped garden with stunning borrowed views. I collected information on deer resistant, drought resistant and California native plants.
My clipping notebook is divided into sections for Inspiration, Small Projects, Natural landscape, Plants to be cultivated, Resources and Wildlife. Also Native Plants, Fire, Water, Tools and Notes.
Since my awareness and interests have changed over the years, I go through on Winter days and toss articles that no longer appeal to me. All these notes and records have served as well loved resources over the five years of gardening in earnest in the Sierra foothills.
Clippings are nearly out-of-date now with the beginnings of a paperless society. Pinterest and simply keeping an Idea File on my computer desktop have lessened my interest in magazines and I rarely clip them anymore!
Since much of my time is spent online, working at Flea Market Gardening, I easily ‘right-click and copy’ photo and gardening ideas to that file.
List of plants each shopping trip
Luckily, I started a list on notebook paper of all the plants bought on each plant shopping trip. The common and Latin names and the color and characteristics of the plant were noted. I included where I shopped and the date and what the objective was if any.
In the beginning even before we moved, these records show that I planted rosemary and lavender along a retaining wall and also bought a few plant treasures that I had dreamed of growing. Most of these early plants died from lack of water (we still were coming up to ‘camp’ only once a month and water had to be hand carried to each plant. Foolhardy, foolhardy…. My notes are evidence of many failures.
Now, I treasure these plant lists and refer to them often when a certain plant name is forgotten or when figuring the plant age.
I keep plant tags in a Zip-loc bag, have for years…
Garden Records 2.0
Garden records on the computer have been mostly in the form of photo files. I keep an All Garden Photos file and label them with the plant names. I also keep a file of Best Garden photos. I use two external hard drives that back up to each other to keep our photos.
Entering plants into an online database
I have about half my hand written plant lists entered into the Dave’s Garden ‘Journal’ database and the nice thing about that is that the plants you enter are linked to their Plantfiles. I find it very easy to search for plant information on the internet, but it’s nice to have their search feature when looking for a specific plant. Note the file for ‘Deceased Plants’. More evidence, but also a source for remembering past mistakes.
Idea file on Computer desktop
Instead of buying magazines any longer, now that they have increased in price from $3.99 to $7.99 or higher, I now keep an Idea file on my computer desktop of photos from garden tours and photos found online. This is where I go first when implementing a new project. It helps me to schedule these projects on my calendar and do them, otherwise why keep a file in the first place? Dreaming to planning, planning to doing. Get’s the job done and the garden beautiful.
Other ways to keep records are garden diagrams, garden record templates and card files. One garden record I never keep? Receipts!
What are your garden records like,…do you keep them?