Monday, December 25, 2006

Create a Garden Scrapbook

Having a scrapbook of your garden allows the gardener to keep a record of both his gardening successes and failures. Whether your garden is still blooming or dormant, this is a great time to begin a scrapbook or notebook that will serve as a history of your gardens most beautiful moments and most spectacular disasters.

I use a three ring binder that will hold both photo pages and personal notes concerning my efforts in the garden. I do not create scrapbook pages for my pictures since I use my book more as a gardening record than a memory book. This is not to say you could not create a working history of your garden that is both informative and decorative. If you do choose to take the more creative path and create a decorative garden scrapbook, just remember to wash the garden dirt from your hands before searching through your notes as to whether impatients thrive in the back yard or slowly wilt and die.

Scrapbooking is huge right now and a visit to your local craft store will present you with numerous possibilities for creating a scrapbook. Stickers add a surprising element to scrapbook pages. They can be bought individually at specialty stores or you can look for packs of stickers that can be adapted to a gardening theme. Even children's or teacher stickers can be used to put a " wow" or "You go girl" on the page containing your best roses or homegrown tomatoes. If pressing flowers interests you, this scrapbook may be the best place to press and store your favorite flower each year. Your scrapbook will remind you of your garden even when the snow is falling outside. That can be quite a pick me up when winter seems to drag on forever.

Pictures are a must. Photos of your garden in bloom not only remind you of the beauty you created last year but give you visual evidence that yes, you really did plant a perennial there last year and it is not blooming as expected. Photos remind you where bulbs are planted and what color they are. While we all think we will remember where our bulbs are planted, without documentation or physical markers in the ground, it is very easy to forget where flowers are planted. Photos allow you to rely on more than just your memory when you suspect your garden is not as lush as last season. They also serve to remind you that your garden was never as lush as you thought it was, and yes you did forget to increase your plantings this fall. An accurate record can prevent a gardener from dividing bulbs or perennials prematurely or buying duplicates of plants that already live but have not yet bloomed.

I also use the photo pages to keep the plastic plant markers that come in store bought plants. I then know I have an accurate record of exactly what plant I bought the year before and how it grew in my garden. I even keep markers of plants I have tried in other gardens to remind myself what type of experience I had with that plant and whether I should be seduced by its' beauty again. It serves to remind me that the picture I see in the gardening book or on line is not always an accurate representation of what the plant looks like in real life. If I find a plant attractive on line or in a book, I check to see if I have found the same plant attractive before. Often I have and my scrapbook prevents me from wasting money on plants that to not live up to their pictures.

Notes are an important part of my record keeping. I record what type of plants thrive and which have been tossed in the waste heap. I note the success of garden products and remind myself of the products that were a waste of money. I note where my herbs have grown well and where they have merely limped along. I also keep a copy of my garden plan. I rough out where my perennials are planted and insert a garden plan in my scrapbook. I compare this plan with my garden's actual performance and become aware of problems early in the season. My notes as to whether my garden blooms in a timely manner or if my plants are blooming irregularly has prevented me from planting annuals on top of late blooming perennials and reminded me to buy annuals for areas where my bulbs have bloomed before their time. My bleeding heart plants were attractive until July last season. This was unusual and required my impatients to make their home in pots for May and June. My notes will help me remember this when fundraising flower sales comes around in late April.

My garden is a work in progress and constantly changes. I keep old garden plans in the back of my book along with information and markers of plants that I am currently not interested in. I also use that trusty three hole punch to include computer print outs in my garden book. I then know I have accurate information concerning gardening issues I have researched. I can then begin my research in my own garden book and start from scratch only when I need to update my information or research new topics. I have never really figured out where these pages belong, so sometimes they are located behind the applicable garden plan and sometimes they just get stuffed in the back of the book. I am sure you will do what works for you.

A working notebook or a creative scrapbook, either create a memory and important notes concerning your time in the garden. Digital cameras and computers allow the gardener to create a scrapbook in a computer file. It may be a little difficult to add pressed flowers, but you only need to worry about keeping the keyboard clean. Each method has its' own appeal, and will work for different gardeners. Whatever method you use, keeping notes on what works and what does not allows a gardener to spend her gardening time more effectively. The pictures of your garden in full bloom are also a pleasant reminder of why you spend time gardening at all.

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