Garden Wisdom Begins With A Garden Journal
Gardens in the American Revolution
Imagine this scenario. It’s the fall of 1776 and British battleships are gathering off the coastline of Staten Island. George Washington has been ordered by Congress to hold New York City.
Remarkably, he stops reviewing his maps and documents – and writes a letter.
It wasn't just any letter. This letter, to the steward of Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate in Virginia, provided exact instructions on how he wanted one of his gardens laid out.
It must have been his sense of rebellion and fighting spirit that led him to declare that he only wanted only native species in his gardens – no English trees or flowers.*
Learn more about George Washington’s gardens here.
Even as England’s battle ships challenged our shores, President Washington’s thoughts went to his beloved gardens.
*Ironically, when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams toured England’s gardens in 1786, they realized they were full of American species, because the English had imported many of their plants from the Colonies during the early 1700s.
The Nation’s first green thumbs
In her book, Founding Gardeners: the Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation, Andrea Wulf shows us a side of our founding fathers that we probably didn't learn much about in school.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison were all avid, and at times obsessive, gardeners.
- Thomas Jefferson planted all the seeds brought back to him from the Lewis and Clark Expedition in his gardens at Monticello. He also kept a “garden book” that recorded all his garden activities and relationships with other gardeners.
- John Adams often wrote in his diaries and letters how he longed to be at the gardens on his farm at Peacefield, rather than embroiled in political battles.
- James Madison is often thought of as the “forgotten father of American environmentalism.” In his time, he tried to stop Americans from destroying the forests and soil.
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece." Claude Monet
Anyone who loves gardening knows there’s nothing quite like planting flowers and vegetables and watching them grow and produce. Seeing my Autumn Joy Sedum, Lamb’s Ear and Russian Sage pop up each spring still gives me a thrill.
Have you ever noticed how spring just smells different, too?
My garden represents artistic expression and family tradition. It’s where my husband and I sit with cups of coffee or glasses of wine, enjoying quiet moments and watching nature.
The wonderful thing about a garden is that it represents something different
for everyone who produces one.
A garden represents our hopes and expectations for the future.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Audrey Hepburn
A thing of beauty
Anyone who gardens can tell you it’s not happy little flowers and sunshine all the time. Gardening can be downright frustrating. A variety that grew like gangbusters two years ago now won’t produce even a single bloom. Some years, no matter what you try, not a darn thing works.
A successful garden is as much about what you're trying to prevent as much as what you're trying to encourage. What gardener hasn't gotten more than a little testy over bugs, deer, ants and rot?
Over time gardening failures can cost you big bucks. How will you remember what worked well and what didn’t so you won't repeat the same mistakes?
Keeping a garden journal is a step in the right direction.
“Gardening is a humbling experience.” Martha Stewart
Why keep a garden journal?
A garden journal should be a natural extension of planting and caring for a garden. Creating a garden journal gives you a reference of all your epic failures and successes for later years. It's important to remember these details as your garden expands or if you move and have to start all over again.
"Having a gardening journal helps you keep track not only of progress, but look for signs or patterns to identify plants hurting", comments fantastic gardener Pol Bishop. "Handling multiple backyard plants requires organization and a systematic approach."
What you’ll learn here
In this blog, you’ll learn about a product that can securely store, organize and protect all your precious garden know-how notes, plans and ideas. We’ll also give you a few tips for what to include and how to organize your garden journal.
We can’t promise that keeping a garden journal will turn you into master gardener, but you will have a sense of accomplishment and direction as you develop this useful resource.
“Gardening is how I relax. It’s another form of creating and playing with colors.” Oscar de la Renta
The UniKeep Garden Binder
You’re more likely to stick with a method over time if it’s fun and easy to use. There are many types of binders, journals and notebooks out there, but there’s nothing quite like the Unikeep Garden Binder Kit. It's a complete kit that comes with many of the essential accessories you'll need to get started.
Best of all, with a UniKeep case binder, your stuff won't fall out. Go ahead and fill it with notes, seed packets, sketches, articles and photos – they’ll all stay safe and secure in the UniKeep case. You can also add more accessories as you need and take your organizational skills to the next level.
- Choose from three lovely designs (two for flowers and one for vegetables)
- UniKeep’s rings are made from flexible polypropylene so you won’t pinch your fingers, so rearranging your pages is easy and pain free.
The UniKeep Garden Binder Kit includes:
- Five 4x6-inch photo sheet protectors
- Five 3x5-inch photo sheet protectors
- Five 5x7-inch photo sheet protectors
- Five single binder pockets
- One pack of 8 tabbed dividers
- One 8.5x11-inch page protector
UniKeep Tip:There are many sizes of protector pages that you can use for plant id tags, seed packets pictures and so on. Purchase a few extras so you’ll be ready when inspiration hits!
How to use a garden journal
If you learn one thing from this blog besides why using the UniKeep Garden Binder is a way to get start your garden journal, you should know this:
It’s completely up to you how to use it and what you decide to include.
A garden journal can be as simple or as detailed as you want. You can use it to track your progress and get more done. Use it as a daily log of garden tasks and results. It can be your inspiring, messy, dirt-smudged treasure, stuffed full with garden ideas, articles, sketches and photos.
“I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I work in the garden.” John Erskine
Use a garden journal:
As a Scrapbook
- Add photos, embellishments, stickers, favorite gardening quotes, sketches, flower pressings
- Keep pretty photos and articles about your “dream garden”
- Include special poems that inspire, or stories about things that happen in your garden
- Notes on special happenings - how you enjoy the garden
As a Nature Journal/Diary
- Observations and thoughts, what types of visitors (both welcome and unwelcome) are attracted to your plants – bees, hummingbirds, fire ants, etc.
- Inspirational quotes, special gardening books you’ve read/planned to read
- Sketches of ideas
- How weather conditions affect different plants
As a Traditional Record Keeping Journal
- Planting dates and special techniques used
- Lists of expenses – flowers, fertilizer, tools, etc.
- Soil techniques – watering, fertilizing, pruning
- Garden Design – what was planted where
- Flowers – lists of what you have, what you would like to try and where
- Plants to avoid
- What needs to be removed and what grew well where
- Chores - weeding, mulching, feeding, pruning. deadheading, cleanup
- Store seed packs and plant ID tags
More tips for what to include:
- What is overgrown and needs attention
- Insect and disease problems
- Flowering and fruiting times
- Photos to document what you planted or to track progress from year to year
- Pest and animal resistant plants
- Titles of gardening books you’ve found useful
- Dates when perennials were divided
- Areas of the garden that need work
- Soil preparation – compost, fertilizer, peat; what was used to turn and aerate soil
- Seed start dates – dates first planted; seed variety, supplier information, batch number
- Planting dates – dates planted; special notes/fertilizer, water
- Plant descriptions - annual/perennials/vegetables; height, spread, how many were planted
- How/when did you prep the garden after growing season
- Vegetable crop rotation notes, yields and dates of harvests\
How to organize a garden journal
There are so many things you can include in a garden journal, and just as many ways to organize it. Select a way that makes sense to you. We’ve included a few category ideas to get you started.
"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." Aristotle
Garden journal categories:
- Planting bed
- Plant type - herbs, lawn, trees, flowers, vegetables, bushes, perennials, annuals
- Month or season
- Annuals and perennials
- Plant inventory
- Challenges and inspirations
- Combinations that work and ones that don’t
- Stores and websites
- Fertilizing and crop rotation schedules
- Your favorite flowers/crops
“You know you are a hard-core gardener if you deadhead flowers in other people’s garden.” Sue Careless
You don’t have to own a home and yard to enjoy the benefits of having a garden journal. A garden journal can be just as useful for gardens in pots, planters and raised beds. It’s also fun to share with family and friends.
There’s a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment that comes from having a well-organized and planned garden. Have fun playing in the dirt!
If you have a creative project or hobby, look to UniKeep for an extra creative edge or organization solution. Our binders and products are available in a full line of styles and sizes, for everything from photos, crafts, video games and recipes to wallets for CDs and DVDs.
Contact UniKeep at 1-800-829-8117 or click www.unikeep.com