Becoming a garden journalist.

Picture of Paul Travers

Paul Travers

Now that we’re all locked down and having to spend more time in our gardens than we ever have before, why not engage with your space and get some useful stuff done?

A great place to start is to make a garden journal.

First, draw your garden up to scale as accurately as you can – even a rough pencil drawing is fine – and make a note of what plants are where, as they poke their noses through the soil this spring. Even the most accomplished gardener can forget what they’ve planted if they don’t keep detailed notes.

Whether you’ve just moved in and don’t know what’s lurking underground at all, or if you’re waiting to move and can’t remember what’s where, it’s a great exercise to do.

If you’re planning to move, a journal is a great way of figuring out if there are any plants you’d like to take with you when you go, and it’s a great gift to leave your buyer so they can step right into their new garden, knowing what they’re working with.

Little sketches like this are also invaluable if you’re thinking about getting a garden designer in, because they can see if there’s anything existing in your garden that they can work with. No horticulturist likes ripping out perfectly good plants!

garden journaling page 1

If the garden is new to you and you’re not good at identifying plants, you can download a handy plant identification app. They’re very clever: you take a picture of your plant and the app compares it to a huge database and suggests what it might be.

If their database is stumped, you can even choose to send your picture to a specialist to have a look at. They’re also super handy if you’re walking through a park and see something you love, then you can identify it and order one for yourself. There are plenty to choose from in the App Store but I’ve used Garden Answers and Picture This which both work well.

A good tip is to draw your garden template up in nice dark pen, then get yourself some tracing paper, or even just a notebook with thin pages, and trace your garden out again and again for a month-by-month update of activity in the garden.

garden journal page what's happening

You can note what’s happening when, what you loved at the time, what smells, what colours, what birds, even what weeds! It can be a scrappy or as artistic as you like. You could even try your hand at painting something in your garden, or taking a few pictures.

When you plant something new, tape a bit of the seed packet or tag to your plan, or even a clipping from a plant catalogue. And, if you’ve got some seeds left over, keep them in a little envelope for use again next season.

No matter how big or small your outside space is, keeping a garden journal is a great way to keep tabs on your space: give it a go!

Bea Rodger, garden design consultant, @bearodgergardens

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