Is Your Outdoor Diary On Your Phone?

Oct 28, 2016 | Gardens

Some years ago when we lived on Pratt Hill Road in Spencertown, NY, one of our neighbors had a historical document in her attic. Up on the second floor, under the eves in the storage area, someone had kept a written diary on the walls. Notations such as “April 24th – First bobolink spotted” and “September 15th – first hard frost” were listed. It was a mystery who kept this attic diary, and why it was written almost out of sight in the rafters.

There are some people who get pleasure out of keeping annual records. Over the years many farmers have written diaries that document frosts, rainfall and planting dates. Such diaries provide a window into how the weather and climate has changed because some of these records were kept before this data was being formerly collected.

Some gardeners keep similar notes along with their lists of plants used in the garden, animals sited and other significant events in the natural world. I have to admit that I’ve never been one of these record-keepers unless you count the blog posts I’ve written over the recent years. (Side note: this brings another thought to mind. Wouldn’t it be great if somewhere, someone collected blog posts so that these first-person records would be kept even after those websites were long gone?)

It occurred to me today that many of us keep a visual diary on our phones or computer photo libraries. I was scrolling through my pictures today, looking for a fall shot of the plant I’m featuring on the radio tomorrow, when I noticed that in 2015 we had a killing frost much earlier in October.

Those who regularly photograph their plants and gardens are keeping records through the years. We can use those photos to compare weather, plant growth, what has thrived in particular years and more.

Is your garden diary written, visual or non-existent?

On October 18th in 2015 I covered the Golden Delicious Pineapple Sage in my garden to try and protect it from the predicted frost.

On October 18th in 2015 I covered the Golden Delicious Pineapple Sage in my garden to try and protect it from the predicted frost.

My sheets didn't work and these pineapple sage plants were damaged before they even came into bloom.

My sheets didn’t work and these pineapple sage plants were damaged before they even came into bloom. Here is how the plants looked on October 19th.

Compare and contrast to how the 'Golden Delicious' Salvia looked this evening, on October 28th. They are in full flower, and there is no frost predicted for several days to come.

Compare and contrast to how the ‘Golden Delicious’ Salvia looked this evening, on October 28th. They are in full flower, and there is no frost predicted for several days to come.

In 2015 my lakeside perennial bed looked like this on October 27th. The Amsonia hubrichtii was in full, yellow, fall color and most of the annuals had already been cleared from the beds because they had died in earlier frosts.

In 2015 my lakeside perennial bed looked like this on October 27th. The Amsonia hubrichtii was in full, yellow, fall color and most of the annuals had already been cleared from the beds because they had died in earlier frosts. The only annuals still alive in this bed last year at the end of October were some random Nicotiana and an occasional Verbena bonariensis.

In 2016 the annuals are still growing well in this same bed and the Amsonia hasn't begin to turn colors.

In 2016 the annuals are still growing well in this same bed and the Amsonia hasn’t begin to turn colors.

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