Thursday, March 23, 2006

Keeping a Gardening Journal

By Christina VanGinkel

Have you ever noticed how one idea leads to another? I had to come up with an idea to do with a group of kids this summer recently, (you can read about it over at, and I ended up deciding to have them make a journal. I would take photographs of local flora and fauna with my digital camera, and the kids would use the pictures as models to sketch from. The more I put the idea together, the more I liked it. I also thought that it would be great to make a journal of my own, not of the local habitat, but of my own backyard and garden habitat.

By creating a journal of this year's going ons around the place, I would not only be making a log, something I have done before, but an actual pictorial journal to look back on both in future years for comparisons, but also to be used during the next winter to better help me plan the following year's garden. We are planning to add features over the next couple of years that will appeal to our grandson, but also keep his wandering little feet out of the main areas, and by keeping a journal of this, I think it will also grow into a wonderful remembrance for him to look back on when he is much older.

Instead of making a journal as I plan to do with the kids, I intended to invest in a journal, actually several of them at once, so over the next few years, I could make one each year, and they would all match. The only problem with that, was when I tried to find a blank journal, but one with a cover theme that would be fitting a garden theme, I kept coming up with journals that were already filled. I actually found a couple that looked intriguing to the point that I ordered two of them to read, but quiet, as I am not suppose to be buying any more new books this month, already having spent my allotted budget, but I figure it is more of a research thing than actually just buying more books! The two I ordered were The Gardener's Five Year Journal by John Ashton, which does include space to keep your own notes, but is also filled with notes and information from John Ashton on how to improve your gardening skills, more of a workbook than a journal. The second book, In My Garden: A Journal for Gardeners, does have room for notes, but is filled with photographs that the author herself snapped. I want to use my own.

I did find one journal that would have been ideal, though in my opinion it was a bit small, at only six inches by eight inches overall. A Fiorentina Renaissance Garden Journal, it was hand crafted with a leather cover, and a lovely flower border. There were a few notes in the beginning of the book, but otherwise it was a simple journal just waiting to be filled with the sort of information, pictures, and sketches, which I hope to fill my journals with. At a suggested price of just over one hundred dollars though, I think it was a bit out of my price range. For someone looking to give an exquisite gift to a gardening friend or loved one, this would be an ideal gift!

When I was about to give up and just use a couple of nice notebooks, I came across the spiral bound Tracy Porter garden Journal. I like the lined pages, but it was also on the slight end size wise, at only 7.5 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches. This prompted me to keep looking though, as I figured that if they made blank journals for gardening such as this one, there had to be more around, I just had to find them. So as I write this, my search continues. If anyone knows of a good-sized journal that would be ideal for the sort of project I am interested in doing, be sure to leave me a comment! In the meanwhile, I will also keep searching and if I find something suitable, I will do the same.

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