Posted November 2009
If you have trouble remembering the names of the plants in your garden or the last time you fertilized, then consider keeping a garden journal. A garden journal is a great way to get organized and keep a record of what’s happening in your garden. This can be a big help to both the experienced gardener and someone just getting started.
Garden journals are available at bookstores or specialty stores, but it’s simple to make your own. You can personalize the design, track the things that interest you and make it expandable. Then, you can use it year after year and change it whenever you want.
To get started, you’ll need your computer, a word processing program and access to a printer.
Supplies• 3-ring binder
• Cardstock or 67 lbs. vellum paper
• Index tabs or dividers
Page designEach page will have a header, placeholders for the information, margins and text. A basic page layout has a header at the top of the page, room for information in the middle and a decorative border.
Keep the same font, decorative design and page layout throughout the journal. This creates a professional appearance, and it simplifies the task. Find a style that suits you by looking at other journals or marketing literature like brochures and newsletters.
For my journal, I kept the layout simple – title at the top of the page and a border on the right.
My binder is pink and frilly, so a cursive font keeps the same style. I scanned the binder and saved the images sized for clip art and borders, so the pages and binders match. But any clip art, photo or decorative design can be used to decorate the pages.
Text placeholdersTables inserted into the page layout keep information tidy. The number of rows and columns depend on the information to be recorded. Once created, tables can be copied and pasted as needed.
For example, In My Garden page, there are four tables. Each table has two columns and five rows. The text is centered in the cell and aligned it to the left.
Dividers and pocket pages
Dividers keep your journal organized. Dividers can be purchased or make your own using cardstock and index tabs. Just print clip art in the center of a page and add an index tab.
Pocket pages are handy additions to the journal and keep loose items together. Just fold a piece of cardstock in half. Slip the folded paper onto the bottom of another piece of cardstock. Then, glue the sides down. You’ll have pockets on both sides of the page.
Information to includeThe purpose of a garden journal is to keep track of what you planted, when you planted it, how to take care of it and if it worked for your garden. Once the pages are created, the information can be recorded by hand and retyped later.
The most important consideration for your journal is what to include.
• Title page
This is the cover page for the journal. A title and clip art is all that’s needed.
• Garden layout and layout key page
The garden layout is a sketch of the garden. A grid created by inserting a table makes drawing easier and keeps everything in proportion. Leave room at the bottom for a key to list the symbols used to represent items in the garden.
The garden layout in my journal has a table with 30 columns and 40 rows and light-gray grid lines. I used a circle to represent trees, a triangle for shrubs and an X for perennials. A number beside the symbol makes each one unique. In addition, sidewalks and pathways are shaded and the rock borders of the flowerbeds are indicated by dash lines.
First, sketch your home, driveway, patios, sidewalks and pathways. Next, fill in the flowerbeds, trees, shrubs and perennials. Create a key at the bottom of the page. On a separate page, list the symbols and the plants they represent for the entire garden.
Use a pencil so mistakes and changes can be corrected easily. You may need to rewrite or retype your list to keep the symbols in order for easy reference.
Since you’re working on a small piece of paper, you won’t be able to include everything. But be sure to include dominant features and plants.
• Photo pages
Photographs keep track of how your garden has changed year after year. Panoramic shots or wide angle shots reveal both the good and bad. Close-up photos of favorite plants lets you can enjoy them year round.
• Plant profile for gardens
Plant profiles keep information about your plants all in one place and at your fingertips. This section identifies plants, tells how to care for them and where they are located in your garden. Print multiple pages to have plenty of room to list all plants.
My journal has plant profiles based on where the plants grow and includes the following information.Common name
Botanical name and/or cultivar
Type of plant
When to plant or divide
When to prune
• Vegetable and fruit cropsName
Record what you planted, when you planted it and how well it did.
Date seeds started indoors
Date planted in garden
Seed or plant source
Fertilize date and mix
• Record of seedlings and cuttingsPlant name
Keep track of how well your seeds and cuttings perform.
Seed or cutting source
Date seeds germinated
Total days indoors
• Record pageRain
Keep track of rain and gardening tasks.
• Pocket pages
This is a great place to save plant labels, garden articles, postcards, notes and other inspirations.
• Note pages
Keep notes on problems and victories.
Create your own garden journal and start keeping track of how your garden grows.
Sharon Bowen is a feature writer for the Hot Springs Village Voice newspaper. She gardens with her husband at their home in Hot Springs Village.