August in Alabama means that you’d better get up early if you want to get any gardening done before the mercury climbs into heatstroke range. While I’m waiting for evening and another stolen twilight hour or two outdoors, I like to work on my garden journal.
Between its pages are plans and sketches for present and future plantings, notes on successful and not-so-successful varieties of veggies or flowers, information on where seeds were purchased or traded, pictures of different stages of the garden’s seasonal lifetime…lots and lots of interesting stuff.
My own garden journal started with a Moleskine notebook, which I chose mainly because I loved the creamy paper and the beautiful craftsmanship with which these classic Italian blank books are made. (And don’t worry. Despite the name, no skins of any kind — not even leather — are used. The covering is a special kind of oilcloth over bookboard, completely critter-friendly.) Unless you are inclined to bind your own notebook, Moleskine is the most durable home for all your garden secrets. They are not inexpensive (9×5 inches for around $15-$18 in bookstores) but they last forever and tolerate treatment that would wreck a lesser notebook: gluing seed packets and labels to the pages, for example. And each Moleskine has a deep tagboard pocket inside the back cover, which is handy for stashing garden-related papers, clippings and receipts. Ahhh! Notebook perfection.
Every journal is different. Mine leans heavily toward drawings, because I can never resist the powerful urge to draw everything. But other gardeners use photos to add visual content to their journals, or simply default to unembellished text. If you prefer the three-ring-binder approach to recordkeeping, Homestead Gardens offers a printable garden journal on their web site for folks who like to stick to the facts. For a more eclectic approach, check out Adrienne Jones’ whimsical garden journals with plantable pages. Once you have your journal under way, have some fun with it. Add some beautiful botanical rubber stamp designs. Press flowers or leaves between the pages. Invite a small child to draw your garden on a blank page. Be on the lookout for postage stamps with plant images (there are lots of them out there) to spice up the occasional page of text. Think of your journal as a place where your ideas can germinate.