I love gardening and I always thought that it would be nice and beneficial to journal about my gardens. I would start out with all good intentions but that was about as far as I would get until I discovered photography, especially digital photography. I take a lot of ''artsy'' close-up photos of flowers, birds, bees and other residents of my gardens then use these photos for greeting cards and prints. However, I have found one of the best applications for my photography now is to do my garden journaling with my camera and a few notes.
A lot of my journal photos aren't aesthetically pleasing, but in them I am documenting what is blooming in a specific garden, if there is a weed or insect invading an area, what color is needed to enhance that area or if I need to put something in there to fill a void. I also take pictures of my trees and bushes after they have lost their leaves to see where to trim when the time is right. I take pictures of my cut flowers so that I will know the following year which ones are available at certain times for friends and for fundraiser bouquets. After gathering seeds from the plants, I print pictures to include with the seed packets to show what the plant is, the color of the bloom and bloom time. It is interesting to see the developments of a garden area over time, and photo journaling helps me to see that transformation.
Reviewing photos of my vegetable garden allows me to see where the tomatoes were planted last year, so I can rotate my plots, and where under all that snow there should be carrots.
To organize my photos, I make one folder entitled ''Gardens'' and I divide that folder into sub-folders for each month. As I download photos into my computer, I file the garden photos into the appropriate month folder. I also add a caption if I want to remember something specific about that plant/bloom or garden, such as who has asked for seeds for the red poppy, etc., or if there is something unusual about that plant.
I like to print ''mini-albums'' by the year of what was happening in my gardens. These mini-albums are very inexpensive and can be used as brag books or given to people that have consented to let me photograph their gardens. They make a very nice ''thank-you'' gift and are greatly appreciated by the recipient. One could also use a spiral notebook and add other pertinent information such as articles, seed packets and receipts and/or warranties for the plants or a note on how well the plant did in your garden.
If writing or regular journaling isn't your thing, try using your camera to help do your journaling. You don't need to have an expensive camera, and it gets you out to appreciate your grounds even more. When the winter rolls around, you can enjoy your gardens all over again, and when those seed catalogs arrive, you won't have to try to remember what color that daylily was that you really liked or what would look good in that tricky spot in the shade garden.
Happy photo journaling!
The mission of the Chautauqua County Master Gardener Program is to educate and serve the community, utilizing university and research-based horticultural information. Volunteers are from the community who have successfully completed 50-plus hours of Cornell-approved training and volunteer a minimum of 50 hours per year. For further information, contact Betsy Burgeson, Master Gardener coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension/Chautauqua County, 664-9502, ext. 204.