Garden Journal Entries

You can tell a lot about gardeners by reading their garden journals.

Are they bumblebees or ants in their approach to gardening? What do they grow? What climate do they live in?

Are they recorders of details and facts? Or are they observers of feelings and thoughts?

What do these garden journal entries tell you about the gardener who wrote them?

May 20, 2002: High 55, Low 40. Still record cold, 4th frost warning in a row. Mowed grass. Watered all pots to help protect from frost.

April 22, 2003: High 54, Low 36. Fothergill, Kerria in bloom. Bird nest in crabapple

May 1, 2002: High 66, Low 49. Spring has arrived today! I can hear the birds calling each other in the trees. The sun is bright, the sky is a light blue and the columbine are blooming in brilliant shades of maroon, pink, purple, and blue. The entire garden seems to call out to me to abandon all else and be only a gardener today. Welcome, Spring!

May 7, 2005: High: 70, Low 50. I sat in a lotus position in the center of the garden, meditating on the newly mown grass until I was at one with the chiggers. Went inside afterwards and spent time looking up "chigger bites" on the Internet. I won't do that again!

So which entries are from my garden journal?

I'll confess that I haven't always kept a garden journal, and I'm not one to count my blog as my garden journal, though certainly through my blog I can look back over two years and get a good idea of what's been going on in my garden.

I started my current garden journal on January 1, 2001, and have faithfully recorded something on "most" days.

I say "most" days because there are some days that are blank with only the temperatures written down.

But that's okay because it is my garden journal and it suits my purpose.

What's in my journal? Dates of first harvests, first blooms, and major weather events like frosts and rain and heavy snows. Records of when I mowed the grass or planted something new. The daily high and low temperatures. And tucked in the back are my seed lists going back to 1999.

It's full of trivial items that are of no importance to anyone else. My penmanship is poor on some entries, and after eight years of using the same journal, the pages are getting a little smudged with dirt.

But if the house caught fire, I think I'd grab my garden journal on the way out, from the spot on the kitchen counter where it always is.

Maybe one day someone will look at my garden journal and try to guess what kind of gardener I was, in the same way that we read my grandmother's short daily diary entries from 81 years ago and try to guess what her life was like. But I don't write entries with that in mind; I just fill the pages with information that I think I'd like to keep track of from year to year.

So have you figured out which of the above entries are from my garden journal? What's in your garden journal?


  1. I think the "one with the chiggers" post is a fake. But I have to say, I never have columbines blooming on May 1st, so that would be my second choice.

  2. This is a fun post Carol. I have journaled for several years in a 51/2" x 81/2" sketching journal. This year at Christmas I asked for a journal like the one you use.

    We had just been reading my DB's Grandfather's journal much like this one. It is such a treasure. I hope in the future my grands will enjoy reading some of what I write.

    I think your journal entry of April 22, @003 could be the real deal but since you are usually a little more wordy I will choose May 1, 2002 as the real entry.

  3. I'll say all are garden entries except the last one - no gardener ever just sits in his or her garden. I'm planning on posting about my adventures in gardening journaling. I'm on my 2d book like yours. While the amount and length of entries varies greatly with the seasons, major events in life and major work on the house are noted inside. But it's the handwriting itself that tells so much of the story. I have even written "Can't write - holding baby."

  4. It's the May 20th. You like to write down when you mow the lawn.

  5. Carol, I love your journal. It is so lovely and I like the fact that it has all the same day on one page.

    I keep a daily journal, but it isn't just for gardening. I do jot gardening stuff in there and I do the weather everyday.

    I think I need to put this very nice gardening journal on my wish list.

  6. Now that is a garden journal I like!

    The May 7, 2005 entry really made me laugh.

    I think April 22 would be yours because, if I remember correctly, you have both the Fothergill and crabapple.

    I'll just take a guess and say that all of them are.

  7. 'Tis a puzzlement, Carol. But I'd venture to say that number 1 is fake because : I don't think the lawn would have grown enough to mow when it's in the 50's in May and I don't think you'd water pots to protect them from frost-you'd bring them in or cover them.

    As to you sitting in a lotus position admiring your newly mowed lawn, perhaps the 70 degree temperature had something to do with that ?

  8. How neat. I wish I had a gardening journal like yours. Mine consists of my day planner with notes here and there. It works I guess but I love your journal!

  9. My guess is that one and two are real, Carol, but not 3 and 4. It isn't just the style.... the weather is too darned perfect in the last two entries.

    I used to be a fairly good garden journalist, but not any more- Thomas Jefferson would not approve.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. Hi Carol, I treated myself to a garden journal like yours after reading your Christmas gift suggestions, and I really like it. I've kept a regular journal since college, but never an exclusive garden journal, so this is a new experience.

    I'm going to guess that April 22 is genuine, the rest fake. I know you have a Fothergilla (I bought one of those after reading your post too--but I'm really not trying to copy you!). The last two don't sound like your writing, and like Carolyn, I don't get the watering pots to protect from frost.

  11. Hello? Carol? Baby sister here? When are you going to tell us the real one?

  12. Kathy, Here the columbines usually bloom in late April. They are some of the first perennials to bloom in my garden, other than the bulbs.

    Lisa, Really, I'm a little wordy? And I saw your post on garden journals, you have a wonderful history of your garden in yours.

    Mr. McGregor's Daughter, I look forward to reading your post about your garden journals.

    Sherry, Maybe. I do write down when I mow the lawn. And last year I kept count of how many times I mowed the lawn. How cool is that? Or is that geeky?

    Debbie, I think you'd like this 10 year journal, especially since you are all ready in the habit of writing in a garden journal.

    Robin's Nesting Place, You do have a good memory! I do indeed have both Fothergilla's and a crabapple.

    Carolyn Gail, Actually, I generally start mowing the lawn sometime in April, and that cool May weather was kind of a fluke that year.

    Gardening for Fun, It's not so important to have a garden journal like mine, as long as you have one that works for you and that you can refer back to.

    Annie in Austin, Now you've got me thinking about Thomas Jefferson and his gardens!

    David in Greensboro, NC, We were only expecting a very light frost, so I thought that the plants in the pots would survive it if they were well-watered. I probably pulled them up close to the house, too, where the radiant heat from the brick would create a little microclimate a few degrees warmer. I'm glad you like the garden journal and the Fothergilla. That's what blogs are for, to learn from one another!

    Sister with the Homestead (Sherry), I will now reveal to you and everyone else that... the last two journal entries are fakes. I made them up. Give the prize to Annie in Austin. I generally write facts and observations in my garden journal, not tell stories about my feelings about the day. But maybe I'll start doing that!

    Thanks all for the comments!
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  13. Thanks for giving the answer - it's fun to be right! Maybe it was only luck, but I prefer to think there were little grey cells involved.
    Very nice garden game, Carol!


  14. Grrr. I left a long comment yesterday about reading Thomas Jefferson's garden journal (even before I saw Annie's comment) and somehow it doesn't seem to get sent. Was it because I was reading via the Blotanical reader instead of directly. I wonder.

  15. Hi Carol,I love the Garden Journal. My book is much less grand. Lined paper with cute dividers you stick onto the pages.I have only started this year though.Its a basic record for me as im doing sooo much stuff.
    I want a five year one like yours :)


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