A Smart Garden Journal

By Linda Wiggen Kraft

Garden journals are the best way to keep track of what your garden is now and what you would like it to be in the future. While standing and working in the garden thoughts will come up about changes to be made in this year’s or next year’s garden. If those thoughts don’t get recorded with details, often the changes don’t get made. A journal is a great way to get those thoughts “down on paper”. But the typical paper garden journal in book form has been a failure for me. These journals start out as lovely bound books on the shelf in the bookstore. Paper journals in the garden are a bad combination of water, dirt and paper. They really want to live inside in a clean space, but where I need to use them is outside. If I leave the journal inside to stay clean and dry, and later try to remember what garden changes I was thinking about hours or days before, those thoughts are gone.

This year I am creating a “smart” garden journal, which I know will be more successful than the ones I have tried to keep in the past. By “smart” I mean I am taking lots of photos of my gardens on my smart phone. I’m keeping a photo record of my ideas about what needs to be changed. Case in point, next year I am going to plant more daffodils. The question is where to plant them in the fall. I have some daffodils but not enough. I need to know where the existing ones are so I don’t plant on top of them and where the bare spots are so I can plant there. I’ve have this thought of more daffodils for a couple of years now, but come fall I’m at the loss. So this year I am doing the smart thing by taking photos of exactly where I can plant more bulbs and a general garden shot to show how pathetic my existing daffodil plantings are. The general shot is an inspiration to plant more and the detail shots show me exactly where.

My camera, which happens to have a phone in it, is always in my pocket. I easily take it out to answer a phone call. I can easily take it out of my pocket to take a photo or ten. Usually the photos are enough to let me know the details of what garden changes I want. If I need to also write some details I put that info in a note app in my phone to be joined with the photos later. Each time I work in the garden, I take a photo at the end of the day to show what I have done. I try to find a good angle to show the entire garden and take photos from that same spot over the growing season. If there are clouds in the sky or it is cloudy I let the diffuse light of clouds blocking the sun give a better showing of the garden. It may not seem important at the time, but that record gives me lots of information. The date is on the photo, which helps immensely to show the changes over the days and weeks of the garden’s growing.

When I am inside able to look at the photos, I easily sort through them. I delete the really bad photos, but keep most and put them into albums. These garden albums I can see on my phone and computer. The same photo can go in multiple albums. Some of the albums include the good garden photos to show others, the “before” garden photos that may be waiting for next year’s “after” shot and photos of plants I love in an album titled “plant more and more of these”.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also a mandala artist and workshop leader. Visit her blog: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com/blog or her website: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. Call her at (314) 504-4266.