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In my side yard which is mostly shade, I have tried a variety of perennials that thrive in a woodland setting. Read more »
Make your garden even more welcoming to birds and butterflies: turn it into a certified wildlife habitat. Read more »
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Spring brings in the most wonderful colors and here is a fun way to add a touch of color to your gifts! Read more »
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Available online and at your local retailer May 2014 Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with... Read more »
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I always look forward to school being out for the summer (more so than my children, probably!) and the change of pace means we... Read more »
This fun project is a great way to send a little love note to your child. These lunchbox notes can be slipped into a backpack... Read more »
Here is a fun craft for St. Patrick’s Day that is not only adorable, it makes kids stop and think about how lucky they are. Read more »
Children love our Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the handle that’s shiny, bright and smooth, not “sticky” or “bumpy.” Teachers and... Read more »
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The first time you try our PowerGear® Super Pruner/Lopper, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear... Read more »
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Plant labels and garden-shop receipts bookmark my attempts to mark my garden’s progress through the seasons. What have I learned?
For one thing, I could use a secretary. Keeping up with the goings-on in my garden requires diligence, and I haven’t always lived up to my ambitions. But everything I write down teaches me something — even if it’s something I’m still working out. When did my husband and I finish the spring job of mulching the flower beds? On July 8th. When did the hummingbirds leave for the winter? Our last humming-bird sighting was September 29th. What happened to the melons? Crop failure! The melons, my journal notes, were overpowered by the squash plants. Next year, I’ll separate these two.
Carl Klaus, an essayist and gardener who keeps a careful garden journal, reminded me, back in January, to “write about what’s on your mind,” and I have allowed myself to wander in the pages of my journal. It’s not always even about my own garden: Mr. Horsley, who farms about 100 acres in our county in Virginia, sowed soybeans in a field he rents from our neighbors on June 4th. This seemed significant, and I wrote it down right next to observations about a yellow-billed cuckoo in the red oak. My journal notes — repeatedly — that this year was a great year for butterflies (and spiders) in the garden, and that our friends Judy and Steve came to visit in early June, when we made strawberry jam. I didn’t really need to make a note of that: we do it every year.
During the course of the year, I made a checklist of the trees in the garden and sketched plans for a new obelisk, which my husband and I built in June. The rhythm of the peonies and roses didn’t earn as much attention this year as my new vegetable garden, but I took a little time for each, consolidating my records on our peony collection in May, and making a note of a big day pruning the roses in early March.
Every year is different. We seem to like to reduce our calendars to simple schemes — spring, summer, winter, fall; baseball season, football season; flowers, snow — but a journal full of observations about weather extremes (snow in May, a warm day in January) and fresh juxtapositions and changing enthusiasms, helps us shake off these colorless generalities. My observations in my journal seem unpredictable, because so much of life really is, thank heavens. A journal, taken as a whole, turns into more than notes — almost into a play, with scenes that shift from the flower beds to the apple trees to the meadow. Without meaning to, I’m writing a book about my garden, and exploring my place in the nature of my own back yard.
A long relationship with a garden journal allows you to look back, and also to plan for the future. “What shall I learn of beans, and beans of me?” Thoreau asked in an essay on his bean field in Walden. “I came to love my rows, my beans, though so many more than I wanted,” he wrote. My garden journal — which records a pretty good bean harvest for this year — gives me lots to think about. Some of my thoughts fluttered away with the butterflies, but I tried to capture what I could in my journal. I wonder what I’ll learn next year?