Garden Journaling

This, my darlings, is why we record what is happening in our gardens. The beauty of the image sustains us through the coldest and hottest months of the year. More importantly, it keeps us from slitting our wrists when our gardens look like

this. Need I say more?

When I first started to garden, I was quite fastidious about chronicling when I was to prune what, and what I was to plant where. After many years of gardening, I perform a lot of these things chores instinctively, and perform them as the seasons' dictate, usually without prodding from my calendar. But as I try new vegetables, shrubs and ornamentals, and as I age,  I have learned to record gardening performance as well as garden practicalities...the peaks and troughs as well as the timing and technique. 

Journaling is my ongoing reminder that to every gardening ying there is a yang. For every success, there is a failure. The cycle always repeats itself. Beauty is followed by ugliness, which teaches us to savor the ephemeral beauty even more. It seems like common sense to remember this, but common sense often goes out the window when in the midst of a gardening tragedy. Words on paper...written in one's own hand...can be comforting.
I look at it as an exercise in self-defense and self-preservation and yes, hope...stubborn gullibility that THIS year will be the most beautiful of all. 

In the historical past of course, this documentation was done out of necessity; out of  survival...aesthetics, trends, and horticultural fads not the main motivation. But in my garden realm, I record out of vanity, out of hope, out of the thrill of victory 

and the agony of defeat.

And because I am filling a void, learning something new, growing new neurons, lengthening telemeres, and discovering new and exciting reasons to wake up each morning.

If you garden, you know full well that maintaining a record of your garden (as erratic as that my be) is as much about optimism as pessimism. It provides an illusion of control, a dream of perfection, a glimpse of horticultural self-actualization. Driven by the same motivations mothers feel as they fill baby books and document accomplishments, monitor developments, and yes, make dangerous comparisons.

We garden scribes happily, perhaps naively, record the: plants/vegetables/succulents/bulbs/corms/tubers/starts/seedlings/tropicals/annuals/perennials/trees/shrubs/cultivars/herbs/cut-flower arrangements/recipes and elixirs we want to cultivate in the future, as well as care instructions, planting time, placement, best-case-scenarios and domestic utility. A lot of work, but with a high reward/high risk relationship. The poetic translated into the practical...and thus creating...the poem itself.

My favorite journal/calendar is the Lee's Ten Year Garden Journal, find it here, or if a wall calendar is more to your liking, find some here.  And pray that Mother Nature is propitious in 2014!

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