I have decided to undertake a little project to catalog all the plants in my garden this summer.
I know! Such excitement and anticipation to see an entire catalog of all my plants here at May Dreams Gardens!
Or perhaps you are thinking, ‘what a slackard Carol is that she hasn’t been cataloging her plants all along’.
To start, I won’t be reaching for my laptop to develop a big spreadsheet and start entering in all the plant data. That will come later, probably in the winter when the garden is dormant and there is time to do the data entry. Or perhaps later I’ll put all the plant information on the web, patterned after the excellent plant profiles on the website of MSS at Zanthan Gardens.
Whatever I decide to do, none of that high tech stuff will be going on at first.
I want to develop a catalog with actual pages, and pictures, tags, and notes based on the plants as they are in my garden. I want to end up with something I can hold in my hands and take out into the garden with me.
I’ve been thinking about how to go about doing this and decided to use full sized sheets of paper, 8.5 x 11, one per plant, and put them in a loose leaf notebook, organized alphabetically by garden. Front garden, east side garden, west side garden, back garden by patio, perennial border, vegetable garden.
I’ll start with the plants I have tags for.
I have tags hanging on a bulletin board in my garage, pictured above, tags in drawers, tags in pots, tags in plastic bins. I’ll go hunting for all of them and round them up. I don’t think I have as many tags as I have old seed packets, but I have quite a few.
Then I’ll take a first pass through the tags to divide them into piles for:
– ‘Still growing in my garden’,
– ‘No longer growing in my garden’,
– ‘I don’t remember this one’.
Oh, and maybe I’ll have a special pile for ‘I regret planting this in my garden’.
It will be sort of like what they do on those organizing shows, only I won’t put the plants in piles, just the tags.
Then I’m going to catalog the plants one at a time, tag by tag.
For those plants that don’t have tags, if I know what they are, I’ll take a picture of the plant in flower to print and include in the catalog. If I don’t know what a plant is, I’ll probably post about the mystery plant to see if others can tell me what it is. That has been very effective for me in the past to find out what a plant is when I have encountered a mystery plant or weed. There are some very smart “plant people” eager to help identify mystery plants posted on the web!
All this cataloging won’t replace the recording I do in my 10 year garden journal, which is mostly snippets of what I observe in my garden each day, plus what I do. To be precise, my 10 year garden journal is really more of a chronicle. A typical entry might be like the one for June 5th of this year:
“Mowed the grass front & back #16. Picked 113 strawberries.”
Did you catch that #16 next to “mowed…” ? Do you know what that is? Yes, it is a count of how many times I’ve mowed the grass this year. I just started doing that last year, keeping track of how many times I mow. I don’t know why I record that kind of trivial info, but because I do I can tell you that even though I started mowing the grass this year a full week later than I did last year, I am ahead of last year at this time by one mowing because of all the rain this spring.
Or an entry might be like today’s entry which will be:
“Rained 5.5 – 6 inches in morning, started on garden catalog”.
I know, it’s pretty mundane information, trivialities really, but it is information that I like to refer back to, so that’s all that counts.
My advice to you if you keep your own garden catalog, chronicle or journal, is to write what you want to remember, not what you think others might want to know and you’ll be happier with it in the long-run.
And then someday, someone might read what you wrote and find it interesting, even in its simplicity, just like we’ve found my grandmother’s diaries from the 1920’s interesting now, even though she wrote what might have seemed mundane to her at the time.
What have you recorded about your garden?
Do you have a catalog of all the plants in your garden?
Do you have a chronicle documenting the events of your garden?
Do you have a journal which contains some of everything… plant lists, records of various events, and your stories and thoughts about your garden?
Do you have advice for me as I start to catalog my garden?
What do you consider your garden blog to be, if you have one? I’ve read posts that indicate that for many gardeners, the garden blog has replaced the hand written garden journal. That’s nice in some respects because it makes a garden and gardener’s thoughts more readily accessible to everyone in the world.
But it is sad, too, to see the handwritten journal going by the wayside because sometimes discovering an old journal provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.