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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

Take More Photos, Make More Notes!

One thing I’ve learned from gardening is this – you can’t have enough photos and notes.

I take photos on my phone and it seems like I have far too many, but often the one that I need isn’t there. Where is a good photo of Fama Blue scabiosa? I need it for our website! Where is the zinnia photo that I need for Instagram? And if I could find a photo of lemongrass the way it was in June, I’d know how tall it gets and that would help me plan what to seed around it next year. Without photos, I just don’t know.

I said you can’t have enough photos, but that’s not quite true. If you don’t have a system for organizing them, they’re worthless. Worse than worthless, really, because you’ll waste time looking for things. Modern phones can help, because they’ll automatically date photos so you can search by season. But if you take the time to make a few labeled albums, you’ll do better. One album for photos of roses, one for shots of large arrangements, one for growth of a given flower bed through the seasons. You get the idea. I don’t always do this myself, but when I do, I find it saves me time.

A garden journal or calendar with notes is also essential. For the past twenty-plus years, I’ve bought a large spiral bound calendar every year, the kind with two pages for each month and space for notes. Notes from these calendars have been invaluable to me over the years. When did Restormel sweet peas bloom when planted the weekend after Thanksgiving? My notes tell me. When did the Anna apples ripen? It’s all there, month by month.

Now that Don and I keep a garden as part of our business, record keeping is more important than ever. I plan more carefully than I did when I gardened for pleasure (see my post on Lulls and Gaps here). I have Excel docs for each year, with all our flower crops, seeding and planting dates, notes on flowering times and vase life. I now use a much larger format calendar, but the idea is the same. I still take lots of photos and try to organize them, but now there are more. And often, the one photo or note that I need isn’t there, so I’ll say it again:

Take more photos, make more notes!

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