Saturday, April 13, 2019 3 comments

A garden diary can make you a better gardener

Get creative when creating your journal (Photo courtesy Esty.)

There’s nothing like early April freezes and blustery winds to make one long to turn the calendar ahead to May. Thumbing through enticing and beautifully photographed garden catalogs helps brighten these dreary days, but doesn’t completely console me. I fear it will take the sight of a jaunty jonquil or the intoxicating scent of a Damask rose to melt away my winter blues.

Fortunately I know exactly how long it will be until I can get a sniff of my first spring posy,

because over the years I’ve made notes of when my roses and other important plants will begin their new parade of blooms.

Climbing Cecile is always first to bloom
For example in looking back at this year’s wall calendar, I’m confident that around April 22nd, I’ll see at least one showy Cl. Cecile Brunner in the garden. It has been blooming around that date since we moved to the mountains and never disappoints. I also know my polyanthas like 'Lovely Fairy' are among the last to bloom so I don't fret if they wait till late May to take a bow.

'Lovely Fairy' is a sport of the original 'Fairy' introduced in 1932

I also know I can plan on seeing male hummingbirds zipping around the garden about that same time. For several years Ive made a note of the first time I spotted the tiny jewels. Last year they were late - April 17th. But according to my notes, theyve arrived as early as April 7th.  

Hummers arrived April 10th this year
 Fireflies will light up the evening sky beginning May 15th -- a sure sign that summer is on the way.

Anticipating the day the garden will burst into bloom can be a tonic on a cold spring day. But having a rough idea of when each variety will be at its best is helpful when planning special events, whether it’s a family bar-b-que or an outdoor cocktail party.

Plan parties for dates when the garden has been traditionally in full bloom

Your “diary” needn’t be more time-consuming than jotting down a plant name on a standard calendar, then updating bloom dates yearly.

Or get a small notepad and keep track of plants you add to the garden each spring. Then while suffering from the winter blahs, go back and evaluate each addition’s performance.

That brief evaluation can be a money saver if you are like me and keep buying perennials  that won’t tolerate the cold in my zone. Note to self: this year when you are enamored with Spanish lavender at the garden center, remember it must be considered an annual!

Lavandula stoechas is charming but only hardy to USDA Zone 8

My diary efforts are fairly simple, but don’t dismiss the idea of doing a more elaborate journal. Some people add photographs, even their own paintings to notations about plants, insects, weather conditions and so forth. Such a journal can be an invaluable garden tool and an informative heirloom.

Keep notes about your tastiest tomatoes
I wrote extensively about my vegetable garden one particular year. I only kept the notebook going for a season, but still enjoy going back to reread my entries. And it’s probably no coincidence I had my best veggie garden ever while I was so attentive.

So if you’re suffering from flower withdrawal and the winter blahs, consider sowing some spring aspirations now in a personal journal or diary.

It may just give your gardener’s soul a chance to blossom early.
Photos in your diary will give you hope beautiful blooms are on the way