Monday, February 18, 2013


Did you know bookkeeping is one of the few words in the English language with three double letters in it? No? probably got better things to do!

So keeping books and records. A comment from Beth Behr on my last blog post made me think about the bookkeeping and record making I do. I'm a lazy diarist and don't record things on a regular basis, at least I hadn't until I became a collection holder and was suddenly REQUIRED to keep records for posterity but also because as a collection holder I am supposed to be a bit of a nerd and fascinated by all things related to my collection genus/species.

Don't get me wrong I am slightly obsessed and probably do micro-observe their every motion, flower, stalk and fleck of disease but I am not as driven as some of my counterparts. About 3 years ago I began noting in my appointment diary sowing dates, planting dates, when things flowered, how long they flowered for and so on, not religiously but when I remembered. In May, when all things collection are at their most abundant, I found my appointments no longer had any room and forget the notes page to the side, swamped with entries about Iris performance. Not so good for business management.

So on a visit to Staples for printer ink I picked up a silvery page a day diary very cheaply, we were 5 months into the year! and started scribing in there all my noticings and comments. As Iris season died back I began to write about my other plantings, growings and cuttings, thrivings, sowings and so on. It was sporadic. Some pages would be chock full of info, neatly laid out and headed up but other page chunks lay empty. Of course something was probably going on but I simply didn't find the time, or effort to update the notes.

Year two I found a bright orange diary ( I love bright orange in a diary) and was more fastidious. I copied in planting info from the year before a bit like copying over family birthdays for a work diary. The Iris only book emerged from this dairy as I found once I started observing there was far too much to be recorded. The orange book however did get more entries than the previous year and I learnt some things about my growing conditions, the plants I'm growing, my garden and my allotment. For example I learnt that I planted my Nicotiana way too late and potted them on even later, getting them int the ground at the last possible minute dimply did not give them enough time, in my growing conditions and last years low light, to put up a flower stalk. Lesson learnt. This year they are already in a seed tray, yes in February, and I have planned the potting on day too.

Year three is this year and following some investigation on Twitter and google to find a great gardeners diary without breaking the bank I decided to buy a nice diary from Moleskine AND a note book to match, from Sainsbury's of all places. I've located both by the seed box because my own experience is that I will make notes if the book/diary is handy and forget if not. This year I've also taken to recording the weather (curtesy of my iPhone app) basic stuff like temperature and overall conditions. So far most of January read RAIN or SNOW, which will be good to know for next year.

I am finding the diarising and note taking a great way to keep all thoughts gardeny together in one place. To be able to explore ideas and keep good records is helping me develop not only my skills and my garden but also to bring ideas to clients and their gardens, having tried and tested it beforehand, in my own set of conditions. And knowing how things behave in your conditions helps you understand how they might behave in another set of conditions.

I expect how I use the diaries and notes will develop and morph with the years, I do hope so.

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