When I worked at my old job in a TV station, Melissa was my intern. She moved on of course—got an MBA, a big job, bought her first house. And then she became my intern all over again–this time in the garden.

Her progress makes me proud. Melissa is quick, curious, hands-on, never afraid to get dirty, and passionate about gardening.

She suggested this blog. I’ll let her tell you why in her post—we plan to trade them out.

But this Christmas—I suggested another kind of record keeping for Melissa. I gave her a bedside garden journal, a pencil and told her to start writing things down.

“It doesn’t have to be beautiful, or even complete. But it will be extraordinarily useful,” I told her. “And it will be fun.”

We paged through some of my old garden journals, full of dirty thumb-prints, faded plant tags and lots of not-too-pretty pictures. Ugly, messy, but they are packed with great information. And they have their own quirky charm.

Kind of like my garden, the journals have evolved in layers.

But Melissa’s generation lives in a paper-less world. This will be a tough sell.

So I gave her an assignment:
Print 5 pictures each season. Stick them in the book and note—why you like them—why you don’t—how you can improve.

That’s Melissa’s assignment. We’ll let you know how she does. And you can let me know how I do with this blog writing.

“Write fast and short,” she tells me. And I’m afraid I’ve already gone too long. But one final note about journal keeping—the great Elizabeth Lawrence, whose books taught me more about gardening in the South than any single source — said her mother, would get up every day, walk outside and write down what was blooming. What a charming way to live. CMR

Photo: Pages from my garden journal show notes and Polaroids from Winter 1995, reminding me what Spring bulbs to order and where to plant them in the fall.