MARK & BEN CULLEN: There are many benefits to keeping a gardening journal
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Have you ever given up on some of them?
Well, it’s not too late to create a new resolution. Most fail because they are awful. This isn’t a topic about losing weight or saving money, so we think we have a much less terrible proposition: a garden journal.
A garden journal will provide many of the benefits that these dreadful resolutions are meant to provide.
This will improve your memory as a prompt for seasons to come.
It provides reminders of the many things you planned to follow or just remember.
It will make you a better writer because the only way to improve yourself is to write.
It will educate you by allowing you to dwell more consciously on what you have learned in the garden, and it will save you money by helping you plan your garden more effectively.
Most importantly, it will allow you to get the most out of your garden by encouraging you to dwell more deeply on your gardening experience.
Fortunately, you don’t have to embark on this garden journaling journey alone. Sisters and writers Helen and Sarah Battersby have just published the 30th anniversary edition of the Toronto & Golden Horseshoe Gardener’s Journal.
Originally published by well-known Toronto gardener and writer Margaret Bennet-Alder, the Battersby sisters took it over over five years ago and made several incremental improvements by adding the Golden Horseshoe to its official watershed.
Divided into three sections – Journal, Records, and Sources, the Journal keeps your garden deliberations organized, with quick reference in the expansive Sources section for local vendors and professionals who can help guide your inspirations.
This is Mark’s favorite section, which he (true denomination) frequently uses when researching a native plant nursery, horticultural company, or a real person in the gardening business. Want to connect with someone who has experience and knowledge about peonies, daylilies, aster or aspidistras? You will find them in the guide.
In the Journal section, there’s plenty of room to collect your thoughts, with seasonally appropriate prompts to keep you up to date with things in the garden, including helpful tips from experienced gardeners. There is ample space on each page to write down highlights of your gardening experience each day.
Sowing, growing, and keeping records are increasingly popular garden hobbies, especially if you like to be organized. Personally, it’s quick to admit that plants bought and planted are often overlooked, even by Ben’s 30-year-old young spirit. It doesn’t help that none of us appreciate the sight of plastic plant tags, however useful they may be, dominating the landscape.
Templates for keeping records of seed purchases, plants and yields are built into the gardener’s journal, with room for notes to observe your successes and a pocket to store small plastic plant tags.
It is true that we pay the price for our habits, good and bad, exponentially as we age. Gardening and journaling are two habits that have served us well over the years: proven by the Journal’s original author, Margaret Bennet-Alder, who is in good health at age 95. This makes her a role model in this season of resolutions. Rumor has it that she only gave up writing work to take care of other interests.
Get your copy of the Toronto & Golden Horseshoe Gardener’s Journal at any Sheridan Nursery store, as well as at the Toronto Botanical Garden and Royal Botanical Gardens stores or in line.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, animator, tree advocate, and member of the Order of Canada. Her son, Ben, is a fourth generation urban gardener and graduated from the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them on markcullen.com, to Instagram and Facebook.