Garden Journals – A Compromise

There’s nothing like April 15th, Tax Day, to remind us how much we wish we kept better records. I have matching boxes of good intentions. A box of receipts thrown together from the year with barely decipherable notes that need to be turned into reliable tax deductions. And a box of empty seed packets that I intended to turn into a nice scrapbook with dates of germination, bloom and pictures of blooming flowers.

April 15th is the day to make the best of good intentions and turn all those scraps of paper into a tax return.  Today also happens to be an unexpected snow day so I can put some efforts into making a garden journal.

If you are an organized person who can follow through with a journal, there are few things more inspiring than a scrapbook of data and beauty and I encourage you to go ahead.  But if you are the sort of person like me who has lovely abandoned journals with four pages of writing, I encourage you to find shortcuts.  My digital camera has made it possible to keep a garden journal.

How to keep a virtual garden photo journal Take pictures of all the plants and projects and designs that interest you.  Make sure your camera’s internal day and time is set to the current time.  That’s all the upfront work you have to do.  When you are inside on a cold or snowy day, you can use your computer’s picture organizing software to do the rest.  I do a search for pictures to take in April.  The computer picks all the Aprils out of my photo files and I can see the date the dandelions covered the field next door, or when the wildflowers bloomed.  Wondering what to add to the perennial beds?  I pull up files from July and can see where there might be holes.  In Fall when I want to put more bulbs in, I pull up the April and May photos to see where the tulips bloomed so I don’t slice through them trying to plant more bulbs.  If you are ambitious, you can tag your photos with plant or location names so you can do more focused searches.

Take your pictures to the next level. Now, this is radical for people like me with thousands of files of great photos.  Print some of them out! A friend of mine puts them in a scrapbook she keeps on a table where she serves ice tea to guests. Like so many gardeners, she is always apologizing for her beautiful garden not looking as good as she’d like.  We share tea and look at pictures of flowers that bloomed last month or will bloom in the Fall. We’re amazed at pictures of the garden when it was bare dirt or the children were little.  Photos are easy and happy to wait in your computer till you search out the beauties and wisdom of the past.

Keep a record of your garden and the natural world around you. The pictures don’t have to be great…they just have to be enough of a record so that your memory fills in the details.

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