Keeping a Garden Journal

Summer has ended, and our plants have grown and changed throughout the season. The start of fall is a great time to evaluate your green spaces for what you enjoyed seeing and what didn’t quite live up to your vision. One way to keep track of your thoughts is a Garden Journal. A written (or digital) record of your collection can serve several purposes.

What you Have:

Write a list of the plants growing in each space, include small notes like height and width or season of interest. This can act as a quick reference sheet if you want more of the same plant.

What you Want:

As the seasons progress, note any period of time when your space looks wonderful, and when it needs something new to make it pop. Find things in nearby gardens that look good during the downswings and take notes. Remember that many garden center plants come from greenhouses, so their blooms may not be a reliable indicator of their bloom time in the landscape.

If you find a plant you are like the look of in a catalog or article, write down its name and what conditions it prefers, as well as possible spots in your garden where it would thrive.

What Needs to Change:

Sometimes a plant isn’t performing as well as expected. If a plant is stressed, it may just need to be moved to a different spot to take off. Take notes of what isn’t working so you can come back at the proper time to move it.

What Work Needs to Be Done:

Cutting back perennials brings fresh flowers and foliage out, and trimming shrubs can encourage bushy growth. Keeping notes of when things need attention is helpful for the next time you are in the garden, and for future seasons. Note which plants need to be divided, and start making plans for where to plant the divisions.

What Questions you Have:

As you notice things around your garden, write down questions that come to your mind. You are more likely to follow up with research, and it gives you a chance to write down what you learn.

There are no rules on what to put in a Garden Journal, or how often to use it. You can keep it as simple or complex as you find useful.

Prepared by Lindsey Smith, Collections Curator