You know you are a gardening geek when you proclaim you are going to undertake a project to catalog all of the plants in your garden, AND you actually start on it and have something to show for your efforts.
I have 13 pages to show for my efforts, so far. “Thank you, thank you, waiting for applause to quiet down.”
Let me tell you more about how it is going.
To get started, I gathered up all the plant tags I could find, in drawers, in flower pots, in little stacks on shelves, hanging on a bulletin board in the garage. I gathered them from everywhere. It’s amazing how many places there are to put plant tags.
Then I cleaned the tags off and brought them all inside where I sorted them into different baskets, just like on those organizing shows on TV. The categories are based on locations in the garden, plus there is a basket for “these plants are dead” and one for “I don’t remember these plants, where are they?”
After sorting all the tags, I left them to age in the baskets by the fireplace hearth. This step is strictly optional. If you are following along, you can skip it and go right to the next step.
The next step was to decide what I wanted to record about each plant and write up some catalog pages. I did this late one night, and decided I would include type of plant (perennial, tree, shrub, vine, etc.), botanical name, variety, common name, when I bought/acquired it, where I bought/got it, how much I paid for it, where it is in the garden, and ‘notes’.
Finally, I was ready to write up a few catalog entries. I did this for several newly acquire perennials, not those aging in the baskets, since I knew most of the information for the new perennials. On each page I diligently recorded the information in my own handwriting and taped the plant tag to the page. Then I put these ten starter pages in a binder.
By the way, like most people, I don’t like my own handwriting. But for some reason, I think this catalog needs to be handwritten. I want to be able to take it out into the garden and add notes to the notes section.
The next morning, I looked at my catalog pages and decided that I did not like them.
What I didn’t like was that the information was there, but in a different order and place on each page. It didn’t feel right to me. It felt sloppy, like information was missing. If you are going to keep a plant catalog, it needs to be done right!
So I made up a catalog page form in MS Word, printed off 10 of them and re-did the pages I had done the night before. Much better! Now the information is on the same place on every page.
Here’s a sample.
I’m not sure why I even wrote up a page for the Delphinium, as I hardly expect it to return next year. If it does, great, it's in the catalog! If it doesn’t, I’ll have to add a note to the catalog page for it and move it off to a section called “In Memoriam” or "I Tried" or something like that.
One other advantage of using the form is if I ever do decide to put the plant catalog into an MS Excel spreadsheet or simple database program, the information will be in the same order and place on each page, which will make that task much easier.
My goal is to do a few pages a week, while I’m watching TV, reading your blog, or just sitting around. Before I know it, I’ll have a nice May Dreams Gardens Catalog of Plants to remind me on cold winter days what is buried beneath the snow in my garden. I’ll also use it as a handy reference on the 15th of each month for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, in case I can’t remember the name or variety of something blooming in my garden.
Remembering plants that are blooming in the garden in January and February is not a problem, since there aren’t any, but May, June, July, even August can get pretty “florific” around here. The catalog will come in handy, no doubt.
If you are following along and are also planning to create your own plant catalog and would like a copy of my plant catalog form, drop me an email and I’ll send you the MS Word document as an attachment.
If you have suggestions on what else to include in my plant catalog, leave a comment, but don’t delay because ‘pages are being added daily’, at least weekly.
Or if you would just like to leave a comment to encourage me to keep going with this project and finish it this summer, go right ahead!