Garden Journal Series: Weather or Not

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


Journal cover

Every season has its charms and challenges, and working with — and around — the weather can be a little daunting. Spring brings both deluges and daffodils; over the years, I have found myself making ample notes about both.

My garden journal’s weather pages tend to document the extremes: the dates of big snowstorms, the effect of extended droughts, high winds, hail storms, and heat waves. Sometimes I dedicate a page to recording the temperature over the course of a blistering week in August, or tuck a daily weather report in between the pages. Snapshots sometimes illustrate my notes to show the very local effect of weather in my garden.


page of journal with snapshot


Keeping track with the weather helps me keep my gardening efforts in perspective, and reminds me that I should be trying to collaborate with nature, not fight her. Like every gardener, I try to push the seasons a little bit, taking advantage of a warm spell to set out transplants a little earlier in spring than I otherwise might, for example, but I know from experience — and from the pages of my garden journal — that every year is a little bit different. And what could be more wonderful than that?


page of journal with weather chart and snapshot


Most gardeners are amateur meteorologists, trying to perfect their understanding of the climate and the effect of the changing weather in their own back yards. We buy thermometers, rain gauges, and weather vanes, and consult barometers to find out whether the weather will accommodate our plans to plant roses, set out tomato seedlings, or get in a few hours of quiet weeding. Gardening calendars and the Old Farmer’s Almanac are useful guidelines, but they’re never focused quite clearly enough.


snowman in the garden


Years of experience watching the clouds roll by do not necessarily translate to an ability to forecast the weather with accuracy, but good notes are a big help. Above all, a gardener's notes on the seasons, temperatures, wind, rain, and snow become a personal, back-yard weather almanac, helpful for planning next year's garden, and perhaps for solving some of the mysteries of the performance of this year's crop. And they’re usually fun reading. Like a bolt of lightning, my weather notes illuminate my efforts. Like a clap of thunder, they remind me that nature has the upper hand.