Gardening Journal

Finding Home

I looked at  14 houses the day I was introduced to my home.  Tired and  feeling the pressure of a rapidly approaching closing, I was certain I’d be homeless in just a few weeks. The selections were running together and not one of the homes I’d walked through had impressed me.  The last house I stopped  to see didn’t  appear any more promising. The interior was traditional, when contemporary is more my style.  The decor was dated,  dark, and decorated in a style I call “Hunt Club Country”.  The walls were swathed in  floral wallpaper in maroon, forest green, and royal blue, and the windows were dressed in lace.

I sat down at the kitchen table to review the sales brochure and rest.   With a sigh I laid the items on the table and started to rise from the chair. My vision moved from the materials to the window and I fell back into the chair with a thud, eyes fixed on the scene found in the back yard framed by the bay window.

A deck walked out to the pool, which mirrored a pond perched at the edge of the lot.  My eyes drank  greedily the signs of color to come. Although winter’s cold heart had reeked havoc and left its dried up, dead remains, the bones of the garden were peeking out from beneath piles of fallen leaves and unadorned shrubbery. Some of the lovelies were already peeking their heads above the ground, tempting me with a glimpse of what was to come.  The observant realtor saw “SOLD” in my eyes and he was right for my heart moved in that day. It was love at first sight; I’d found home.

My gardening experience in my prior home was nominal.  A few annual flowers graced the sidewalk and circled the mailbox, but little else was added.  This home served up a feast of flowers –  a buffet of cultivars  – many of which I’d never seen.  Overwhelmed, I made it my first order of business to do an inventory of my garden and chronicle the types of plants, the bloom dates, and the myriad of colors.  I drew a simple diagram and used symbols  to indicate where the plants were located. When each plant bloomed, I chronicled the date and color.  I also started a photo gallery of my  plants to accompany my diagrams.  And with those diagrams, my first gardening journal was born.

Do you have a yard you long to see blossom? Even if you’re starting with grass and not much else, you can begin planning the garden you’ve longed for. Let’s get started!

Start Your Gardening Journal: Print out the garden journal forms I’ve provided and place them in a binder.  Divide the areas of your home. I used Front Yard,  Side yard (Dogwood Tree Side), etc.  If you have many beds – especially if they are large or you wish to do more with them- you might want to use a separate sheet just for that bed.  I did that for a large island in my front yard.  Write down everything in your yard, every tree, shrub and flower.  If you don’t know what something is – ask a neighbor or take a portion or a picture of it to a local nursery.

Next, gather information on the plants you have in your yard – much can be found on the internet. Develop a plan to maintain the items you have.  Is something dying or not looking well?  Do you dislike a plant or would you like more color somewhere? Many times people put plants in a location that is too sunny or shady for it’s living space.  Don’t trash the plant – move it!  If it’s doing poorly in a sunny location, move it to shade.  You’d be amazed at how many times I’ve lost a plant due to my pushing my will onto the plant (might be a life lesson here!) instead of making sure the plant is in the right habitat.

Attend Gardening Classes – Many area nurseries offer free gardening classes.  In our area, I post these classes online.  You’ll learn from professionals and can ask questions when a plant in your yard has stumped you.

Stay in the Zone: Before adding additional plants, make sure you know your zone.  In the Asheville, NC area, it’s 8, in the Upstate of South Carolina, we’re 7B or 8.

Save Those Tags: The tags and information provided when you purchase a plant is valuable information.  File it in a plastic sleeve behind your diagram of that area.  Planting depth, sun requirements, and color bloom are just a few of the things you’ll learn from plant tags.

Set up tabs in your notebook for the following areas:

JO RAE’S 5 P’s:

  • PLAN


  • CALL – Keep cards and phone numbers of gardening vendors you have used or those friends have recommended.  Mulch providers, lawn care experts, nurseries, tree services, all need to be filed here. Make a note if you use someone and WOULDN’T use them again.  For those who do a good job, file extra cards to pass along to neighbors and friends.  Your referral may reap you free services in the future.  At minimum, you know you’ve helped a fellow gardener.
  • CHECKLISTS – What to do When (like the ones I share on my site)

Garden Journal Cover Page

My Garden Info

Garden Areas

Fruit & Vegetable Garden

Gardening Chronicle

Gardening Class Notes

Seed Labels & Notebook Label

Seed Inventory

  1. Vonda Skelton, 22 February, 2011

    Wow, Jo Rae, what a great resource! Thanks!

  2. jorae, 22 February, 2011

    Thanks, Vonda!

  3. Linda G., 23 February, 2011

    Jo- Please come and help me with my yard. It’s a mess. I can’t get it all done and my Japanese irises need thinning something awful.


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