Sooner or later, all gardeners need to write stuff down.  Plant tags get lost.   Plant names slip your mind.   Before you know it, you don’t know what you have. 

Trust me on this.  A friend will ask you about something, like the beautiful Edgeworthia buds above, and you’ll draw a complete blank that will bother you for days… ( Don’t know what it is about Edgeworthia–It’s one of my most treasured plants, but the name always slips my mind. )

So at the very least, write your plant names down in a handy notebook that you can reference in hurry. 

You can buy very pretty books for this.  Over the years I’ve filled my share of blank books and pre-printed garden journals.   I love looking back on them all.   Still what seems to work best for keeping up with my plants is an old-fashioned,  three-ring notebook. 

Notebooks can be pretty too.  Here’s one I just covered with fabrics and customized as a gift for  friends Ivy and Megan.   Inside I put the following suggestions for keeping up with their growing garden.

Suggestions for keeping garden notes:

  • At the very least, keep an alphabetical listing of your plant purchases.  I made 26 copies of the very low-tech inventory sheet (included), put at letter at the top of each and keep a running tally that way.  Save a blank master sheet for scanning.  You’ll find you have lots of “Ss” and few “Zs” in your plant inventory


  • Keep the book out so you’ll be reminded to fill it in.  During busy times, I collect the new plant tags in a box and fill the sheet in on dark winter nights. 


  • Since I order a lot of seeds, I’m adding a special inventory section for my seed orders this year.  I think I will just copy the orders and save them by year.  That’s also a good was to keep up with favorite seed vendors. 


  • I also enjoy having a section for reference photos in the garden journal.  It reminds me of how far I’ve come and how things have grown.  This is especially useful for plants that go dormant, like spring bulbs.  Take pictures when they are blooming so you know where they are, and where to add more in fall. 


  • Old to-do lists are also nice to save.  Looking back on them gives me a nice sense of history and accomplishment. 


  • And I save big receipts in my garden note book…furniture, reed fencing, those kind of supplies.  It’s handy to have anything I might need to order again close at hand. 


  • Finally, any dreams, wishes and plans for the garden should go in your note-book.  These can be quickly written notes on dirty scraps of plant wrapping, or nicely sketched drawings on sheets of graph paper—I’ve done them all.  They’re useful, thought-provoking and food for thought in my garden education. 

 A new year of gardening begins tomorrow.  If you’re not already keeping a garden notebook, make a resolution to write stuff down.  Your busy brain will thank you. 

And–no need to buy a new three-ring binder.  The Scrap Exchange in Durham recycles sturdy notebooks at 25 cents a piece.  It’s thrifty and green. 

Happy New Year to you all–