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The Garden Journal: A Diary for a Better Garden

January 3, 2021

Garden Journaling to Reproduce Success

Being organized in our gardens and on the flower farm is a constant challenge, and over the past few years I have started a new habit with a new tool: The Garden Journal. Taking notes, drawing bed layouts, creative sessions and the like have helped create new landscapes and areas on our property, and have also resulted in some beautiful new additions and varieties. Think of it as your creative space, where you can plan and outline the steps to a new year of gardening. It’s also great for those of us that have become forgetful with age :). So, before I give some suggestions on what to put in your garden journal, let’s take a quick second to define the qualities of a great gardener’s diary or journal. These are compiled from my own trial and error, and are a complete personal journaling preference, but hopefully they help you choose the right one.

  • Bound garden journals are creatively limiting. – I’ve tried a number of bound, static journals, and I have found that they are always a set way of planning or thinking based on the designer. You should be free to add pages, clippings, new page types, sections and anything else at a whim. A free, open binder type is refreshing and allows creativity in your journal setup, as well as it can change over the seasons or years with you.
  • Make sure it is has a water resistant cover. – i started out years ago with a spiral bound, el cheapo journal left over from the kid’s school year. The garden is a wet dirty place, and water and pen journal pages don’t mix. Spend some extra moola and buy a leather covered journal. Leather naturally repels water, is a pleasure to hold and will last years. And there is just something about opening a leather journal that makes the creative juices flow.
  • Use pencil, not pen, to journal and change. Making changes is part of the gardener’s ethos, and pencil let’s you take an eraser to paper, and make changes on the fly.
  • Use different paper types. I’ve come to realize that for me, a journal requires different types of paper to force a mood: blank for creativity, lines for structure and thought, and a grid for planning. This is just me, but i finds it puts me where I need to be as I add content.

Ok, so now that we have a quality garden journal to create a diary of our daily thoughts, just what do I put in it? Mine is a mix of science, methodology and idea. The best part is you can choose what you put in, and what you leave out. Here are some ideas for journal content:

  • Science – Ok, like it or not, the garden is like a big science experiment: Ph, depths, distances, mixes, sizes and types. It is also a series of trial and error experiments, based on elements and combinations, and recording results. I am sort of a geek, so logging what i plant, soil characteristics and the end result interest me. Once again, maybe not your thing, and the best part is, you can omit this section of content ;).
  • Design – some people can just walk out and build a great garden without a plan. For me, I need to have a layout, plan and overall design. The journal. becomes your record and plan to a new or better garden. Logging dimensions, varieties and a list of seed, bulbs and plants makes sure your grand idea becomes reality. Easy way to make a shopping list.
  • Dreams – what do you want your garden to be? Nothing helps develop your long term vision like a journal. Jotting down ideas, must haves, wants and more provides a reference as you build your garden over the months, seasons and years. The garden journal is definitely a creative space for all those things.

Just a quick set of thoughts. If you want to start journaling your garden experiences and thoughts, see our Leather Garden Journal and Diary.

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