The habit of keeping a garden journal can bring many rewards. For me, journaling is almost as much fun as gardening itself and I treasure my journal books.
There are many reasons for keeping a journal: to make a record of facts that are good to be remembered, and who among us can remember them all unless we write them down. The writings can help you keep track of individual plants and the garden as a whole. "Where did I sow those poppy seeds?" It is a good place to corral your lists - a list of what you did each month, a list of planting dates and bloom times, list of tools to buy, etc.
And how can we journal without mentioning all the joys of nature - the birds, butterflies, the frogs, squirrels, sunshine, and rain etc. Document your dreams and plans for the future. This makes at least some of them more apt to happen. When you write them down you can return to them time after time. It can make you remember what worked and and also the mistakes you never want to make again. Like gardening, journaling can be therapeutic. It is a place to "share" all your joys and loves and it can be a good outlet for creativity.
What type of journal should you choose? It can be anything from a small blank book to a computer with many choices in-between. You might want to determine, before you purchase anything, what kind of journaling you want to do. I knew better than to commit to a day by day journal book. My first one is a small book with a pretty cover which I wrote in at my leisure. I dated some pages but mostly kept an account of my activities and feelings about my garden. The second, a spiral bound with partly structured pages - a "fill in the blanks" type. The third is a spiral bound with larger, mostly blank pages but is divided by the seasons. I did it in a scrapbook/journal manner. When spring came (last year) I needed a new one and got a still larger, loose leaf binder. I am inserting all the pages and some large envelopes.
As I said in part one, there is no right or wrong way to journal. You need to find the way that works for yourself and make it yours! If it becomes like dreaded homework the purpose has been defeated! I would predict that each of you would journal similar to the way you garden. If you garden in straight lines, all neat and all business, you might do your writing in deliberate straight lines, all neat and all business! If you garden in hodge-podge patches your journaling may be the same, with doodles and scribbled notes. While I don't always achieve my desired look in the garden I am a "decorator" gardener. Both the garden and the journal needs to be pleasing to the eye or I am not pleased! That's one reason why computer journaling is not for me. I suggest that you keep the book visible. "Out of sight - out of mind happens!
(Both of the large cards above lift up and have journaling on them)
Through the years I have noticed so many gardening quotes, many from famous people like Longfellow, Thomas Jefferson, Emerson and others. How do we still have what they said about gardening? They kept a garden journal and/or they included thoughts about gardening in other writings.
Journals are great keepsakes to be handed down through the generations. So, let me encourage you to document your thoughts about gardening and the daily dramas that play out in your garden. Who knows, many years from now someone may learn from your written confessions of failures and be inspired by your successes in your horticulture brag book!
This article was first written for my Rose Society's newsletter. I hope you have been inspired. If you already journal tell me about it. If you decide to start a journal of any kind please come back and tell me how you are doing.