Down-to-earth gardeningOne of the best gardening practices I have learned is to keep a garden journal.
By: Carrie Barre-LiBaire - Extension Educator, Alexandria Echo Press
This time of year I like to reflect on the past summer’s successes and failures in the garden. So last weekend while I was transplanting daylilies and peonies, I grabbed my gardening notebook and wrote down some observations so I wouldn’t forget come next spring.
One of the best gardening practices I have learned is to keep a garden journal. I tend to romanticize the previous year’s garden after a long cold winter, so writing down what worked and what didn’t keeps me grounded and prevents me from making the same mistakes the following year.
As the only female in the house, I have taken pity on them and planted a red garden. Ever notice how men like red flowers? Little did I realize that the “Lady in Red” salvia I chose would explode into three-foot shrubs. Those three plants choked out every other plant that I have in that bed. I am hopeful that they are truly an annual and won’t show up next year or I will have a mess. I made myself a note not to put that particular salvia in that bed, but it would do wonderfully somewhere else where I need a lot of color in a hurry.
And the Monarda! Commonly called bee balm, for good reason, is a busy gardener’s dream. I have never had one before this year and I chose “Raspberry Wine,” a double flowering type and I absolutely love it. I didn’t really get it when other gardeners would sing their praises, but now I do. It has a great form, great height and attracts honey and bumble bees constantly. I will definitely add another one (or two; try and plant the same type of plant in odd numbers) next spring.
At one of the chain stores I found the most pathetic weeping pussy willow and knew I could save it from certain death by inexperienced teenage summer help. I talked the manager down to next to nothing, as healthy ones can be quite expensive. I pruned off all damaged wood and babied it and now it looks like a green Cousin It. The branches reach down and run along the ground and it is so thick a child could hide inside it. It’s a little startling when you first see it, this huge mass of green, but I have a weakness for weeping forms so I really do enjoy it. I have written myself a note to prune it right before it blooms so I can force some pussy willows to have in the house in early spring.
In my garden journal I keep lists of plants I need, those I don’t (Stellas!), ones that didn’t make it through no fault of my own, sketches, and inspirational ideas that come to me on dismal winter days. It’s my most valuable gardening tool, and if you don’t have one already I really recommend that you start one. By looking back, I realize that in some years I have grown as much as my plants!