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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 »
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The Salsa Rain Barrel System makes it easy to collect up to 58 gallons of water for your garden and lawn. Our rain barrel is ma... Read more »
Make the most of National Craft Month by preparing some craft kits for your children - let them explore color, texture and dif... 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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Embellishing a plain shirt using a reverse appliqué technique is easy - and your kids will love their personalized outfit! 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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Introduced to the world as a quality fabric scissors, the Original Orange-Handled Scissors redefined the standard for cutting p... Read more »
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 »
Our Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter with a 45 mm blade makes cutting a wide variety of quilting materials comfortable and easy. A cu... Read more »
Keeping up with the inventory — the plants that come and go from the collection — can be part of the fun. This bit of rainy-day bookkeeping reveals a lot about both the garden and the gardener. A record of your developing plant collections shows clearly which plants you really specialize in; it helps you keep up with the many kinds of daylilies, hostas, and daffodils in the garden, and gives you a place to officially note their colors and bloom times. It also helps you remember when you planted what and how the plants performed over the years. The notes on plant collections in your journal may even include reminders of plants you intend to buy, creating a record of your ambitions and good intentions in the growing life of your garden. Your journal can be tremendously informative.
Galen Gates teaches graduate-level courses in perennial plants at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and worked for almost 30 years as director of plant collections at the Chicago Botanic Garden. He took his professional habits home with him, too: he created a spreadsheet to keep track of the plants in his own back yard.
You don’t have to get fancy, Gates says. “I write down what month and year I purchased it, what I paid, where I got it,” he says. When a plant dies, he makes a note of that, too. “I want to know — and it’s helpful to know how long things live.”
My own inventory is more idiosyncratic than the Gates’s computer spreadsheet, but I basically follow his example. On my working list of native perennials, I write down each plant’s Latin binomial name (Iris virginica, for example) and common name (Southern blue flag), along with the height of the plant and its requirements for sun or shade, and moisture. Then I note where I planted it. My list is typed up, annotated in ink, illustrated with a sketch of the four flowerbeds near the front porch, and smudged with dirt. Some of those plants are just memories now, and, like Gates, I need to add a symbol or category for plants that just don’t make it in my garden — along with observations about what went wrong.
When my husband and I decided to consolidate our notes on the trees and shrubs in our garden into spreadsheets, I flipped through old garden journals, extracting details, while he typed. Our spreadsheets brought home the extent of our collections of boxwoods, roses, witch hazels, hollies, magnolias, and oaks. In addition to the basics, we recorded each tree or shrub’s size at the time it was planted, and left a space for comments. The printout— which, of course, is tucked into my garden journal — is annotated by hand on odd occasions. The trick is to also update it in the computer.
Formal lists and spreadsheets can help you organize the succession of blooms in your flower beds, keep up with the varieties of peas and beans you have planted over the years, and help you remember which of your dozens of kinds of daffodils is which. Spreadsheets will probably never replace thoughtful notes about great plant combinations and the proliferation of butterflies in summertime, but they are a useful tool. In your role as curator, you’re creating a formidable record of your garden that you’ll be glad to have.