Journaling Your Garden

“A book is a garden carried in one’s pocket.”
– Chinese Proverb

Ken Kesey once said, “Plant a garden in which strange plants grow, and mysteries bloom” (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). You can virtually eliminate those “mysteries” by journaling about your garden. By using this easy journaling approach, you will have a garden that not only looks good, but will remove the guesswork out of taking care of your plants.

Try as I might, I find it difficult to remember every name and detail of the plants in my garden, so I use a 3-ring binder to document all of the plants, bushes, and trees within my garden. I find this journaling approach extremely helpful. I love all kinds of plants and have a variety in each nook and cranny of my garden. By journaling about each of my plants, it helps me keep my plants healthy.

Materials needed:

  • A 3-ring binder. You can purchase one at practically any grocery store, mega-store (like Wal-Mart, Target, etc.), or business store (like Staples or Office Depot). I use this old 3-ring binder. Nothing fancy, but some of you might like to make yours more decorative, you know, Martha Stewart style.
  • Next, purchase a simple A-Z index guide and place it in the binder. Again, you can purchase these packets at the same stores I listed above.
  • You will also need a 3-hole punch to insert all of the information you are about to collect into the binder.
  • Getting started:
    The attached “Individual Plant Profile” form is one I use to document each plant in my garden. When I purchase a plant, I record the plant’s information listed on the nursery’s tag or from research I’ve done to ensure I have all of the pertinent information for the plant’s care, such as:

    • The plant’s name, family, genus, and cultivar
    • Whether it’s a perennial, annual, or tropical plant
    • The height of the plant at maturity
    • Spacing (how wide the plant gets)
    • The plant’s sun exposure (does the plant require shade, partial shade, or full sun?)
    • The plant’s hardiness zone (will it survive in your climate?)
    • Bloom color
    • Bloom time (does it bloom in the spring, late spring to early summer, summer, or fall?)
    • Foliage type
    • Propagation methods
    • Awards (has the plant won any particular awards?)
    • Planting instructions
    • Gardener’s notes

    Once I fill out the form, I attach a picture of the plant and/or the plant’s tag I receive from the nursery to the back of the page. I might also attach information I have gleaned from websites I’ve researched.

    Once done, I three-hole punch the sheets and place it alphabetically by the plant’s name under the appropriate index letter. And wa-la…you’re done!

    Refer back to your guide as often as necessary. If you see that your plant might be failing or thriving, document the plant’s failures and successes. Perhaps your pH level was out of whack, or it’s just not thriving because of pest invasion, or maybe it’s being over/under watered. Whatever the reason, document how you resolved each of these issues, so mysteries no longer abound in your garden.


    “[Your] mind is a garden.
    [Your] thoughts are the seeds.
    [Your] harvest will be either flowers or weeds.”

    – Mel Weldon

    Journal it, or harvest weeds!

    About Jen

    Jen is owner, author, and creative mind behind Bakerette. Jen eats a vegan diet and recently converted Bakerette to a plant-based website that offers a smattering of healthful recipes! Jen is author of the cookbook Festive Feasts: Meals and Memories from Halloween to Christmas, which can be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


    1. This would be a great companion system to my date book garden journal.


      Thanks for sharing this great idea!

    2. I’ve kept a 3 ring binder for keeping track of my plants for years. What I also enjoy is a regular garden journal where I write as often as I like and include plants purchased (with price), plants blooming, things that I want to change in the garden, current weather, etc. But I also include family changes and events. Perhaps these journals will be something to pass down to my grandchildren, perhaps not, but I certainly enjoy looking back and seeing how the garden and my life has changed.

    3. I love this idea with using the binder. I have a huge pile of stuff just waiting to be organized. Thanks for the helpful tips! I have always found that when I blog about things in my garden, I keep better records.

    4. I wish I had one of these! I always think I’ll remember and then I don’t. I think it’s great to take a photo of the plant locations too. I have a bunch of the fancy Heucheras and I can’t remember which is which!

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