Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Keeping a plant journal

My Plant Journal

Since October 2008, I have been keeping a plant journal.  I have a thing for journals and little blank books, so I had a bookshelf full of them.  My intention was to fill them with my important thoughts over the years, be it a novel, lousy sketches or a journal.  I was thinking that I really needed to start keeping track of important events concerning my plants and decided that one of my little blank books was perfect for the job.

My current plant journal is a small earth-tones journal made by Paperblanks from their "embellished manuscript" collection.  I chose the Vincent van Gough journal because of the small garden scene drawn on the front.  They also make a couple of Mozart and Beethoven journals with music on the front, as well as Rembrandt sketches and even Shakespeare's writing.  On my journal, the wrap over piece magnetically attaches to the front.  The journal measures 7"x9" and has 144 lined pages.  The pages have just the right number of lines to be spaced correctly for my handwriting.  Paperblanks makes a bunch of really cool looking journals, including some with Asian art on the covers, while others are simple leather-bound books.  I purchased mine in the gift shop of Nathaniel Hawthorne's house in New England.  But I have also seen them sold at several local book stores. :)

I have been using my journal to keep track of when I purchase new plants, where I got them and how much they cost me.  Then I track when they bloom, when I notice anything weird about my plants, when I bring them in, put them out, prune them, etc.  It has been a fun experience and I think it will prove valuable as I continue forward and wonder when certain things happened.  It is also a nice compliment to my blog.  I will write in my journal as things occur and then blog about them on a more regular (twice a week) schedule.  So, even though I took a trip to a wonderful greenhouse a couple of weeks ago, it's not going to be on my blog for a couple more weeks.  In the meantime, my journal (and my camera) will hold all of the important information that I need to remember for my blog post.

My Gardening Sketchbook

One day I wanted to sketch up a little idea for a terrarium that I wanted to plant.  But I wanted to be kind of messy and my plant journal was much too neat for this activity.  So I grabbed another journal - one of those lab books with the black and white marbled covers and gridded pages for drawing plots easily.  This journal has become my sketchbook for when I want to be messy and make plans.

Sketch of my plans for a 10 gallon Anubias paludarium
I have drawn up some plans for different terrarium and paludarium plantings, some sketches of my greenhouse plans and also made some lists of plants I would like to order.

Initial planning sketch for my greenhouse
These two journals are very separate things in my mind.  In my plant journal I use pencil and write pretty neatly.  In my sketchbook, I use a pen and scratch things out.  It's much more messy.  It's kind of like my two journals are for the two halves of my brain.

Do you keep a plant journal?


  1. Great advice for everyone to journal their gardens. That way they won't dig into dormant plants and bulbs.I keep records also but your drawings are so much better than my scratches.

  2. I have two journals too Zach. One to keep track of new additions to the garden as well as the names of some of my older existing plants (so I don't forget, lol) and the other is to document future projects and ideas.

  3. Zach, I must say that your journaling looks much more appealing than mine! I have been using Garden Tracker software (www.gardentracker.com) for years now. I can keep track of purchases, where all my plants are and include a diagram, seed starting logs with an option of adding a photo of the seedling, and even print out plant labels or envelopes for seeds. You can include pictures of the plants you have in your garden- and all journals can be printed out. It also includes worksheets to take in the garden with you so you have a place to jot things down, i.e what you watered, fertilized, what is in bloom, and where etc. The seed starting sheeet that you can print out, I don't care for because it logs only one variety and I so too many at once. I have made my own and they are available on my blog for anyone to use (through box.net)

    But like I said, none of it is as eye appealing as yours! I need to work to make my notebook look better this year! Ah, a project!

  4. That looks so organised! I never thought of having to mark where seeds are located and stuff - but then again we have a small garden. My blog is where I try to keep track of things I have planted and how fast they grow and stuff.

  5. Your plant journal looks inspirational. Holding something like that in my hand might make me want to go back to paper! Gardening is all about tactile, pleasurable things, isn't it? But so far, most of my plant journaling is in the form of the blog.