Monday, February 28, 2011

Documenting The Garden

I've been sharing my lists with you for the coming growing season. Now, I'm going to share with you the "records" for Garden on Sherlock Street.

We closed on our house in December of 1997. We moved in the first weekend of January 1998. All we knew about the garden was that there was a fruit tree, two large bushes, a handful of small evergreens and some perennials along the foundation. Everything was asleep.

My wonderful husband and I took a landscaping class from our local horticulture extension agent that February. We received a lot of written information, a template of circles, a ruler, graph paper, transparent paper and great advice. Our first "homework assignment" was to measure our garden and draw it on the graph paper. In addition to the size and shape of our garden, it shows all the hardscapes. Anything not soil or plant. It didn't look like this when we started. I draw in changes as we make them to the garden.

On one of the transparent papers, we made notes of what we had in the garden when we moved here (turns out it was a cherry tree which has since died, two lilacs, some arborvitae, Russian sage, purple irises and sedum autumn joy), what we hoped to have in the garden and conditions outside the garden we needed to consider such as planting tall evergreens along the driveway to screen the view--done!

On the other transparent paper, we draw all of the trees and shrubs. Since these are large plants that take a serious commitment to plant or remove, they get their own layer on the large maps. I update this layer as well.

From the large maps I made smaller maps. I photo copied the front garden with the hardscapes, trees and shrubs, and the back garden with the hardscapes, trees and shrubs. I made multiple copies and use them to mark where different things are in the garden: paths and walkways with yellow highlighter, soaker hoses with orange marker, ground covers, perennials and bulbs. For the perennials and bulbs, I use numbers on the maps with a list of the plants and varieties along the sides. I use pencil because something gets erased every year.

Front Garden

Back Garden

I also keep the tags, catalog descriptions and receipts of as many plants as possible. A lot of my plants were given to me by friends or family so I'm guessing on those plants sometimes. I have a pocket for trees/shrubs, bulbs, ground covers and perennials for both the front and back gardens just like I have the maps for those categories. I try to write the number from the maps on the tags. I never leave the tags outside with the plants. They won't last and I'd lose all the information. I'm considering making some plant markers that can survive our weather; but as of yet, nothing in the garden has a label by it.

My plan hope is to make a list of all the plants on the computer so I can search it easier. My little maps work fairly well and I will still use them, but a searchable list will help with finding the info I need about a particular plant.

I also need a place to put garden ideas and information about plants I hope to add to the garden. Every gardener should have a wish list!

I've seen some great ways to organize garden records on blogs this past year. What ever plan you use, try to keep up with it. It will keep you from accidentally digging up something because you forgot it was there while it was dormant. Been there, done that.

I also started keeping the lists and notes about the vegetable garden and containers from previous years so I can check on what I did.

This year, I'll also have this blog.  Yea!!

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  1. Wow, you are so organized! I love the plans you drew out!

  2. Oh my gosh, you are a serious gardener. I have no plans whatsoever, just do things as the inspiration strikes. It's no wonder your place looks as lovely as it does, with all the thought and time that goes into it all.

    Enjoy and I look forward to seeing your gardens again this year.


  3. I could learn a lot from your record keeping...

  4. You do look so organized, that's fantastic! For the past 4 years I've planted, transplanted, and dug around so much I think this year I'm just going to sit back and see how it grows in - but I still have the Annuals of course to plan.

  5. Wow - you are organized! I like planning but I've never put together a landscape plan for the whole yard. I have ideas of what I want where but an overall outline would be very helpful!

  6. Holy cow! It looks like you used a compass at one point. I think I may draw the line on a compass. And, there is NO WAY I'm tackling the whole yard at the same time. Well done by you.

  7. Oh my, you are so organized with your gardens! I keep my tags and receipts but that’s about as organized as it gets for me. I am trying to mark things in the garden better but I take the easy way out and just punch a marker into the ground. Okay, I am so lazy compared to you with keeping records. I so should take some notes from you girl…

  8. Dear Sherlock Street, Your garden plan looks most professional and is, I am sure, a marvellous record of your gardening activities. I am a great believer in documenting garden planting schemes etc. since it does help one to avoid making the same mistakes over again. It is also most intriguing to look back over plans from previous years and remind oneself how much progress has been made.

  9. When you find those outdoor garden plant markers that last. .let me know. I tried the zinc ones with the special marker. .JOKE!! The writing was gone by the middle of the season. maybe one of the little engraving tools would be the way to go!! Also the little zinc plant markers seem to get mangled up and the little tags that have the writing don't stay on well. I'll look forward to what you come up with!!

  10. You are so organized-wow! I need to get better organized like you. Your maps are great. I do have a plant list on Excel. It works well and is easy to keep up with.

  11. I kept a journal of my gardens last year. I've gotten it back out for this year and do like to review what did well last year. Good luck with your planning. Looking forward to your gardens this year.

  12. ~meemsnyc
    Thank you.

    Well, it started because we wanted to plant trees. We didn't want them to be too close to the house, to each other, to shade the vegetable garden, etc. Once I started mapping the trees, I just kept going right down to the bulbs. :-)

    Thanks. But, I think each person finds what works best for themselves. I've discovered different ways from different people.

    It's fun to try different annuals each year. I let my perrenials settle in for awhile and am moving a few out of the front garden this year where I'm concentrating on larger sweeps of plants right now and leaving the back to the crazy mix of flowers.

    As I told FlowerLady, it all started with the trees. I don't do it as much now but several winters in a row, I would photo copy the basics that we had and draw different paths and dreams of beds all over the place to see if it fit.

    Yes, a compass was used. Both the kind with a moving needle outside by my former boyscout husband and the pointy kind with the pencil by both of us on the paper. Have I mentioned that my husband loves maps. He was all over measuring and drawing the garden. The layers for perrenials and such are all mine, but he really worked on putting the largest map together when we started.

    You seem to do well planning different areas of your garden. I like seeing where everything will go (and if it will fit--although maps are not fool proof with that one either).

    ~Edith Hope
    Thank you. It is amazing to see how the garden has evolved both two dimensionally and in life.

    Thanks for the review of the plant markers. I noticed the other day that the permanant marker I used on the milk jugs for my winter sown seeds is already gone. One good snow and it washed off. I think we need a way to write on rocks. I've seen some great markers made with cement and letters you press into it, and old silver spoons hammered with letters. But, I haven't invested in any of those ideas. If you see something good at the garden show, let me know.

    Aren't you the lady with the charts of all your leaves? :-)
    I like the idea of using Excel so I can sort the plants anyway I want.

    A journal sounds great. I've seen a lot of nice ones preorganized to fill in but have never tried one. Yours will be a big help.

    Thank you.


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