Excel anyone?

WendyB(5A/MA)December 20, 2009

Back in the beginning of the season, I decided to attempt to measure bloom saturation in my garden for the season. Every 7-14 days or so, I would walk around everywhere and record my observations. I wasn't sure (and still am not sure) what the final visual would be to represent my findings. But I thought I would at least gather the raw data and work on doing something more with it over the winter.

Well, its winter tomorrow. I just finished the data entry of the raw data. Now I am scratching my head to figure out how to represent it visually in some sort of graph or chart. Of course, I don't know Excel graphs or charts, which doesn't help!!!

This is pretty tiny, but it gives an idea of what I am starting with. I have formulas in all the tally columns. I got the idea of the 5 levels of bloom from the Landscape Message report. It wasn't enough to measure on a scale from 1 to 5. I wanted to preserve the bloom cycle from starting to peak to done. I also have each specific garden location noted, but not sure I want to take it to that level.

So any clever people and/or Excel wiz's out there to point me in the right direction?

I uploaded the actual spreadsheet to Google Docs so you could see the whole thing. Of course, Google spreadsheets won't have the full power of Excel, but you can take a look at the data. It seems to have converted very well.

Google doc spreadsheet version of BloomChart2009.xls

And here is a mini snapshot excerpt:

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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)


I'm not an expert at Excel, but I do have a fair working knowledge. I used it a lot when I was working. I think that you may need to represent by plant species/variety rather than by date in order to see how the garden progresses through the season. If I'm understanding what you want, it would be possible to create a line graph chart where each plant is represented by a unique line (various color and patterns) in a left-to-right progression of the season. The lines would peak where that particular plant was in full bloom, dropping down both before and after that. To me at least this seems like it would be a good visual. It will take some time and somebody who is good at creating the charts from the data. I applaud your efforts! I wish I were that organized!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2009 at 8:53PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

You have 3 variables: plant species, date, and extent of bloom. A 3-dimensional column graph would be one way of looking at the data. If you click on the link that I've enclosed, you'll see an example of this type of graph at the very bottom of the page. Imagine this same graph with weekly dates instead of the monthly dates shown, your plant name instead of the product name, and the extent of your bloom cycle instead of the monetary amounts shown. As far as the extent of bloom, it may be easier for graphing purposes to assign a number to it instead of a name. So, beginning of bloom would be 1, beginning of full bloom would be 2, etc. I would make the end of bloom equal to zero rather than 5, though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of 3-D column graph

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 12:54AM
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I'd split it up by garden. Create a chart with the dates along the top and the flowers within the garden going down. This fill in the cells with the appropriate color. If you also want to indicate intensity you can put something within the box to indicate where it is in the cycle, like:
Begin :
Beg-F ::
Full :::
End-F ::
End :

Front Garden 4/15 4/30 5/15 5/30 6/15 6/30 7/15
Iris reticulata
Magnolia ÂLeonard MesselÂ

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 8:44AM
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This is great input folks. The amount of data is overwhelming. This gives me some focus. That tutorial looks great. Can't wait to try it.

I think the take-away here is that there are many different views I can put together from this data. And it will probably take several types of charts to highlight different aspects. A plant's progression, a specific garden's progression, overall site progression.

Last night I tried a few things just selecting data and picking charts to see if anything meaningful came out of it. (yes, I dropped the last column "end". seems useless). It was clear that there was too much for me to show clearly as-is. So I settled on making a table just out of the total lines. (I did it manually, maybe thats the underlying magic of the pivot table).
THat yielded something a bit more promising. I did come up with something visual, although not overly useful:

I think the fact that the bars are so skinny is because my dates are a single point in time and not a period of time like a week or a month. I think even in the pivot table chart, that will be true too.

When I initially started gathering the data, I knew it would be impossible to record the start-date and end-date of every plant. But maybe I ought to approximate the "blooming period" anyhow.

Lisa's per-garden view would be very helpful in planning purposes, but I'm not sure how to get here from there. I wasn't even consistent in the plant naming throughout the season. I started with common names and evolved to latin names as the season progressed. I tried to go back and fix that up somewhat, but I'm sure I did not. I probably should have all the plants in a database that I can draw from with their official names. That's another project I've wanted to do for a long time. Then I could add the per-plant color too. oh-oh... the never ending project...

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 9:50AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wendy, you are quite ambitious...lol, and I do like the way your mind works. :-) I love gathering useful information about the garden and this sounds like a great project. I am not an Excel expert either. I use Excel a lot, but I don't have the time or inclination to learn all I could to use it better, so I try simple methods which seem to work well for me. If I understand what Lisa was trying to suggest, it sounds similar to something I was thinking. I like to use the 'fill' feature on Excel and can easily imagine using columns and cells to form a 'calendar' of bloom. Using the column headings in a weekly progression, you could fill in each week of bloom for each plant. The first column would list all your plants, perhaps organized by garden bed and separated in groups vertically down the page. Across the top, you could use a column heading for each week progressing horizontally across the page. You could fill the cell for the weeks the plant is in bloom, with the color it presents and get an overall view of what is in bloom during which weeks and what colors you have going on too. You can also write in the cells with the color filled in and use the beginning date of bloom and the ending date of bloom. You can also paste photos right into the document simply by dragging and dropping and each plant name in your column can have a photo to go along with the name. I have a picture in my mind of how it works and I hope I am explaining it in a way you can follow. I have not used Google Documents and don't have the time right now to produce a sample document for you, but if you need a better explanation, I will give it a try.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 8:56PM
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I think what you are proposing is a whole new data input exercise. And it would certainly be a great result. But I would like to generate something (semi-automated) using the data I've collected -- not just the gathered information, but the actual data cells. Is that what you had in mind? Can I get there from here?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

You are probably right, Wendy, that I am suggesting something different than you are. I can see that you have collected more detailed data then I am suggesting using, and you are trying to use 'formulas' in the cells. But on the other hand, I am suggesting more details on each plant, you seem to be collecting an overall amount of bloom in the garden. I'm not quite following where you are trying to go with it. As far as being 'automated' you want some of the information to be automatically updated somehow? Or are you trying to get Excel to calculate the percentages for you? I'm not sure what you consider 'bloom saturation'? Are you trying to measure what percentage of your garden is in 'full' bloom at different points of time? Are you just trying to figure out where you might have a gap in bloom?

In your above graph, it appears that you are putting the weeks to track on the left, where I am suggesting using them across the top of the page and instead of percentages of bloom being tracked, you track the actual plants in bloom, using individual names down the left side of the page. My way you would end up with a graph of sorts, only in cell blocks of color rather than lines. Across the bottom of your graph seems to be percentages of your garden? Is that right? So that you have more in bloom in July than April.

I don't know if my suggestion will give you what you are looking for. It would show you where you have the most in bloom during the season. It would show you where your plants are beginning to bloom and where they end, and if you were trying to view when you had plants in 'full, peak' bloom, you could do that by intensifying the colors for those plants during the time period of their peak. I don't see a way to automate that though. Perhaps my way would be too labor intensive since you have a LOT of plants and to do a chart of individual plants might be overwhelming.

Have you ever had a catalog from Weston Nurseries? They have the kind of charts that I am talking about in the back of theirs to a smaller degree than I am suggesting. For shrubs, perennials and specialized ones for Rhodies and azaleas. They are only trying to track where the bloom periods are for each plant though, not 'peak' bloom.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:54PM
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> I'm not quite following where you are trying to go with it.

me either!!! I guess that's the problem! LOL

I guess I should have developed a more specific vision of what I wanted to achieve, before I started collecting data.

The data I have seems to demonstrate "bloom saturation at given points in time". When I tried to use the detail rows to have Excel craft charts from it (automatically), there was just too much unorganized data and variables and nothing got better visually. There are almost 1100 rows, perhaps 300-400 individual plants.

So I abstracted out the tallys for the several points in time and low-and-behold, I have most bloom in July. I knew that without going through all that effort!!! LOL

I do have the Weston catalog and I am looking at the Herbaceous Perennial Flowering Calendar (pg 291 of 2004 catalog). And I agree. In order to be really useful, I have to take it to that level. They have grouped by color. I would like mine to be more dynamic. I might want to group by color, by garden location, by cultural needs, by height, depending on the task at hand.

So guess I've just got to bite the bullet and get that database started and include all the details, including bloom period. I will have to guess a bit. My collected data is just an approximation because I don't necessarily have start-date or end-date. Maybe I can still incorporate the weighted peak bloom somehow as a plant detail.

If I get it all in a database per plant, I can use that as the data source to feed to excel or whatever to produce reports-on-demand any way I want.

In the data collecting that I did I was not good at even naming the same plant consistently at its various points of observation. Sometimes I would use common name, latin name, even different abbreviations and format. So the names I have are pretty useless as is in Excel. Only I know that "daylily Franz Hall" is the same plant as "hemerocallis Fran Hall". LOL

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 11:23PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wendy, you are a very detail minded person. :-) I am sure you will figure out a way to make this work out for you in the end. I am completely in the dark about how Excel can generate reports etc, so I can't be of any help there.

If you take your time and enjoy the process you will end up with something very useful and something interesting to do all winter. I agree, there are many directions you can go with it. I think it may be difficult to use one document for all your plants in your garden. Perhaps you can group a series of worksheets according to Garden Bed or location into a folder. I have named my different beds for ease of reference. For instance, Long Border Gate section, Long Border Middle, Long Border Far, Maple Corner, etc. And abbreviate to 'LB Gate', etc. You can start out small with one small area and see if it produces what you are trying to achieve. I would think guessing at some of the information will work and next year, you can replace the guesses with the actual dates as you collect them. I use my camera for that purpose. I attempt to get outside and take a photo of every plant on the first day it blooms. So if I want to find out what day it started blooming, I only have to go to the photos to find out. I'm not as consistent with the end of bloom photos.

Yes, I did myself the favor of choosing which way to refer to my plants in my notes when I first started. Almost always the latin name. I have found this year I was getting lax though and the common names were creeping in there.

I am also trying to fill in the gaps of where I would like more bloom. I came at it from a different direction last year. I started a small document called Five on Five. Making a list of the five plants that are the mainstay of the garden and have the most impact, for each of five months, April through August. I quickly saw which months were lacking and filled in with 'potential' mainstay plants for those months. I use this list to prioritize shopping and make purchases to increase the amount and varieties of these plants. For instance, Japanese Painted Ferns are a mainstay plant, so I pick those up whenever I see them on sale, usually looking for varieties that I don't have. The same with Epimedium, which I am collecting.

I will be very interested to see what you end up with and maybe I can learn something new about Excel, one of my most used programs. :-)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 11:56PM
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Well, I may not be so far away from per-plant info after all.

I tried something out. I ungrouped the date-groups and then I was able to sort the entire table by Plant-name and then by date. That yielded this, for example:

That shows there is hope for a meaningful per-plant entry. Notice the progression of the bloom sequence.

But then there's this plant:

Spelling errors DO count!!! The progression is unclear.

But in any case, this will allow me to normalize all my plant names and locations. Then I think I can put something together. Those date-groups (whats blooming how much at this point in time) were really throwing things off.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 12:53AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Looks like you have a starting point Wendy. I just love to sort too. What did we ever do before Excel? [g]

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 4:16PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Very cool, I wish I was as organized as you are. I do have a blog..aka excell spread sheet that has aloud me to organize plant..variety..location..color..ect.
The only benefit of this blog over your excell sheet is the ease of associating photographs (ie color range) to your graph.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 7:53PM
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I am making more progress. Pm and I were sharing some ideas offline. I was just exploring some of the auto formatting things that Excel 2007 offers and I discovered all sorts of goodies. If I convert my "X" values (floriforousness on a specific date) to a percentage per week, I can come up with this:

I think the 2nd auto-format style is the best.

Above is a prototype with just some information. I would also have a column for location (garden bed). Then I can sort by plant name, by location, by florifousness, by some other attributes (color code?), whatever. I can also create subset views of certain time periods and/or locations.

The prototype shows a lot of color together. In reality (alphabetical or however), the color splash would be spread around.

The type of auto-format can be customized to a degree. I can't choose the color of the color scale per-plant. All cells must be the same format which includes color. Maybe in really Super Advanced Excel I could programmatically use a color from another column to use to draw the scaling. I'll defer on that for sure. But I will try to include good color RGB information per plant for future expansion.

This is fun!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 12:42PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wendy....that is looking great! I like the second auto format the best too. I also like the way the color is graduated for the percentage of bloom. I would love to know how you calculated the percentage of bloom and how you use the 'auto format' function if it wouldn't take too much effort to explain.

I was thinking of listing my plants in batches according to location but I may consider using the location column. It is another way to sort the information, which would be especially helpful when you move plants as much as I do. [g]

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 6:15PM
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I just made up the percentage for now. When I invented my original system of BEG, BEG-FULL, FULL, FULL-END, END I kinda sorta had a percentage in mind, like so:
BEG = 5-30%
BEG-FULL = 30-80%
FULL = 90-100%
FULL-END 30-80%
END = 0-30%

So, for my database, I will just pick a set of values like 20, 60, 100, 60, 10 as averages and use them. I think it will convey approximately the right information. If I ever am insane enough to gather this data again, I will just note a percentage as I walk around.

As far as the auto-format, do you have Excel 2007? The feature is specific to 2007. First, You select a group of cells. I selected D10 through I12. Then on the Home Page on Styles tab, there is a Conditional Formatting choice. Just scroll through to pick a format style. You get a preview as you scroll. Select More Rules... to further customize, but I don't think I did that at all.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 10:13PM
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Another thought if anyone takes on a similar task...

As I was gathering blooming data during the year, sometimes it could be confusing depending on the plant. My original intent was to simply capture the state of bloom on the plant. But as I procedeed, it was clear that some plants were more floriforous than others in the same state.

For example, I could have two hydrangeas in two locations, say rear and front. Front hydrangea might be in full bloom and very floriforous with 12 blooms. Rear hydrangea could be a dud and be in "full bloom" with only 3 blooms. My system couldn't distinguish how much a plant was contributing to the WHOLE garden. I didn't really obsess over it or deal with it in any way. I still gave them both their 100% value. But I point it out for you to think about.

I know... I know... crazy with details...

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 10:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wendy I am glad to know that the percentage of bloom was just an estimate...lol. I was imagining you had entered some complex parameters and set a formula in the excel sheet to calculate it. [g] Personally, I am quite content to just know when each plant begins to bloom and is finished blooming and what is blooming at the same time. I imagine that when you are estimating percentage of bloom, let's say for daffodils, you are counting that you have maybe 20 daffodils and only 5 of them are open so far, so you have 25% bloom? That is definitely something that is more information than I need. You must have a particular reason for wanting to know that.

I have Excel 2008. It does have auto formatting on my menu and I did try it out and can see the examples of what it will do. I had already formatted my spreadsheet the way I liked it manually and didn't find an auto format that improved upon that for me. So I am happy with how it is working out so far. I have a start, but it will be awhile before I will have any meaningful time to complete it. It's nice to have it sitting on my desktop to work on when I get the urge and the time, though. I had already done a Plant Inventory last year and was planning on updating it this winter, but I think I am going to like this format better. I would not have changed it if it were not for your thread, so thanks. :-)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 11:19PM
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yeah, it might be too much info for me too sometimes. Actually, I didn't invent the idea. The idea came from the Landscape Message report. They chart Stage of Bloom on indicator plants and they use the BEG,BEG-FULL, etc. concept. I thought that was interesting and I visualized some sort of bell curve when done. Start-dates and end-dates can be hard to capture in a large garden. I've tried before and I missed a lot and put a lot of pressure on myself to try to get them. But if I had a percentage on at least two dates, the start and end dates aren't mandatory to provide useful bloom stage info. Either method will work. both is probably too much.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 8:28AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Yes, my garden is much smaller than yours and it does make a difference. I didn't mean to imply that I 'know' all the start/end dates of all my plants. Hardly...lol. It is a goal that I work on every year. It is funny how you can miss beginning bloom dates, when you are actually in the garden just about every day. It's a mystery. [g] I think the Stage of Bloom measurement does sound interesting and actually might be more useful in the end. I would like to see the 'visual' when it is done. The colors and shading of colors really would make a good visual and instead of sorting through a lot of data, you could know at a glance when your garden was at it's fullest bloom and where you had gaps.

I couldn't sleep the other night and worked on that spreadsheet for awhile and I am tickled with the way it is working out. I am trying to end up with one data base too, to replace my Plant Inventory that was much simpler. I love the ability to sort and search for information. I added new columns to mine. Date Purchased [just the year], Where purchased, and Location. I listed all my plants alphabetically and tried sorting and it works perfectly! You can look at the list for the info you are needing and then turn it right back into your alphabetical list. Then I followed those columns with the Monthly/Weekly Bloom columns, which I don't have all the information to fill yet. It will take me a lot longer to go back over my Journals to extract that information. But already I feel so organized. lol

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 11:25AM
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I'm glad you're having fun with it. Something about gardening and keeping track of our plants goes together. When it settles, will you show us a sample?

Do you know about Data Validation? While I was gathering my data, I knew I was being very inconsistent in my "location" descriptions. e.g. "right side" vs. "side right", etc. Its not important for a human reading it, but to make sense to store it, it needs to be the same name all the time. So halfway through the season unfortunately, I discovered this. I added a pulldown list in the cell to be sure I picked a valid choice:

Because I had already added screwy names, I allowed it to accept existing invalid entries so my previous cells were okay. Now to fix the old inconsistent names, I can select "validate" and get the bad names flagged:


    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 3:58PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Well, you are just full of great Excel tips, Wendy! :-) No, I was not aware of Validation. I did go looking for it and I see it listed under the 'Data' menu. I do have the Excel 2008 which is a little different then yours. I do get a prompt when I start to type. It will give me offers of what I've typed before that I can select. One of these days, when I have time, I would love to spend some time learning how to use Excel better. I do find it pretty easy and intuitive in general, but I am sure there is a whole lot more you can do with it if you know how. My daughter has given me a lot of tips too which has made it easier. She told me about the color fill in the cells and pasting photos into it.

Luckily, I already had a list of plants grouped by Perennial, Shrub etc and so I just had to copy and paste them into this spreadsheet. Then I was able to use the Fill function to take care of a lot of repetitive information at once. Another trick I use, is to write the word once and copy paste it if it is something I will write more than a couple of times. I like that Validation tool.

I have one rule that keeps me straight on Plant Names and that is to save the tag that came with the plant. That's my only rule. [g] I put them in my pocket, they come in the house with me, they might sit on a table for awhile, but eventually they end up in a tin I have set aside just for those. Then when I have time, if there are names I have forgotten or have been guessing at, I can pull out the tin and review and make sure the names are correct. In my journal, when I am getting ready to make any kind of order, I write the names and prices of plants I am ordering, so I have an accurate list of names recorded before they even arrive.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 5:55PM
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Re: I already had a list of plants grouped by Perennial, Shrub etc

Yes, category is good information to have somewhere. I'm planning to make a Category column, tree, shrub, perennial, etc. More sorting potential!!!

Eventually, I want to be able to do SQL queries to locate particular plants matching attributes (category, culture, bloomtime, height, color,...). I also envision a Status code for InPot, Planted, Dead. Or maybe quantity 0 indicates dead and filters it from view unless requested??? so many decisions! I have been giving this thought for several years now!

As far as plant names, yup I've got em all. My plant tags get taped to 4x6 index cards. But I'm usually too in a rush to go get the index cards and trust my memory - LOL - big mistake!!!. That's why I want a database or excel inventory, so I don't have to rely on the cards. I'm a real packrat...I save so much stuff, but when I want something, I would rather go search on the computer than physical places!!!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 12:03AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Yes, I have a category column too and had been thinking I will add a culture column or two. Maybe one for light and one for moisture. I don't plan on having a status column. I record that information in the Location column. If it has died or been given away, I record that info there instead of location.

You are very organized, Wendy. My tags are just thrown in a small tin. [g] I have that tendency to want to create systems and structure and files, but I found that if I made something too time consuming to keep up with I would end up not using the system. So now I have a simple journal system that works for me and that is the main thing I do. I use it daily in the growing season and less frequently in the off season. It is easy because I only have ONE place to look for garden information. I record everything on that one document, except detailed plant information. The format is one column for one day, plus topical columns when I want one. I try to use keywords consistently, like 'purchase' any time I place an order, so I can use the Find feature to locate it when I need it. I jot down anything garden related and add links and photos when I have something I want to include with the text. I write out the full latin names and the full name of companies I use to make it easier to search for them. It has worked better than any other system I've ever set up. I start a new Journal every year when I start making plans for next year's garden.

The only other document I have kept up with is my Plant Inventory list. This new spreadsheet will replace that. It will be more useful than that list and be the perfect complement to my Journal. Then I will have just the two documents to keep up with. I have to agree, keeping a file on a computer is much easier than keeping a box of cards and books. Especially since we are on the computer every day. The only drawback is the safety of storing all that info on the computer. I am always afraid that the computer will crash and I will lose it all. I have not yet backed up all my files. I don't have a second hard drive and I keep planning on putting my most important files on CD but never seem to find the time to do it. It is one of my NYResolutions to make that more of a priority.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 6:45AM
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pm, I can see why storing on CD can get easily put off. Thats a pain. How about even an SD card or flash drive? holds way more than a CD and infinitely easier/faster to store and retrieve things. prices way down on this stuff these days. Probably just the cost of one or two 1-gal perennials.

Re Location column: what would you do for unplanted plants still in pots? Maybe not so much for ones imminently on the way to a place in the ground, but for the ones that live indefinitely in pots. Do you have those?

Altho, the ones on their way soon to a place in the ground might even be good to record immediately just to be sure it doesn't get planted and forgotten to record for some reason.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 10:26AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wendy, I have seen the price of the memory cards come down. I never thought of that and I didn't realize they hold more than CDs. I have a card reader and suspect I could use that to add files to a memory card since I have those and not the flash drive. I wonder if a CD or DVD would have a longer lifespan than a memory card? I have blank DVDs but haven't tried to figure out yet if I could use those either. I imagine they hold a lot more than a CD. As you can see, I haven't even started down the road to figuring it out yet. Thanks for those tips.

As for location of plants unplanted, well two thoughts. One I hate having potted plants hanging around the garden waiting to go in, but I still end up with them too. I think to be thrifty, you almost have to. You see something on sale and you get it even if the bed they are going in is not prepared. So, I usually leave the list of plants purchased in my Journal until they are planted in the garden. If you wanted to add them to your list as soon as you bought them, you could leave the location column blank. Or you could label them 'in pots' for plants you keep in pots all summer intentionally. Or 'not planted yet' or some other phrase, for those that are in limbo. That way you could do a search for all plants not planted yet. I suppose if you left it blank, you couldn't.

I do have two pots that are planted year round and I hadn't thought of how to add those to the list yet. I guess I would give their location as 'Green Pots'. If I couldn't use color to designate which pot, I would use color and location of the pot.

I'm still mulling over whether I will add Annuals to the list. First I thought I would leave them off since they change every year, but now I am thinking it might be great to be able to pull up annuals by year since I change mine a lot. I have found myself trying to remember the name of a variety of a certain annual I used the year before and not wanting to go looking for it in my Journal. It is not easy to do a search of the Journal when you don't have a name. It takes more time to look through the purchases to find just the one I want. It would be easier I think in this document, being able to sort and come up with a compact list of annuals and then sort again by year. How will you handle annuals?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Isn't it great how useful computers can be!!!

I hadn't planned on annuals, but I can see the potential. Every September I take notes on this year's annuals. I call it "Annual Observations" in my journal. Cute, huh? I only write what worked and what didn't work and where. Its minimal and the only place anything about annuals gets recorded. I do save some tags in a bin, but hardly ever refer to them. Throw them away the next year. Yes, I have a journal sort-of but I seem to use it less and less each year. I just keep notes on oddball things I might want to refer to... how many yards of mulch I got and what beds it covered.. what date I sprayed the poison ivy...

It would be nice to rename this thread to "garden record keeping". I think garden record keeping is so interesting, we could probably have a whole forum for it! LOL

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 11:29AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

'Annual Observations'... my kind of humor. :-) I started keeping track of annuals because sometimes I get to the nursery in the spring and I can't remember which plant it was that I didn't have success with and I don't want to buy it again. I have done that. [g] I think the more my memory declines, the more record keeping I have to do.

I really enjoy my journal. I find something to write about every time I come in from the garden. Some observation about a plant or what I enjoyed most about the day, the light in the garden at a certain time of day that was great for taking photos, or which plant looks awful next to another and where I think I might want to move it to, etc. I write notes from visiting GW and a plant that someone reports they are happy with or a caution about another. Notes on nursery visits and whether they are offering what I like and sales and whether they were worth it or not. I can ramble to my heart's content. :-)

I don't know Wendy, I think we might be the only two visiting a 'record keeping' forum... LOL

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 12:51PM
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Okay, I'm done. Here's the final product. two different graphic representations. I think the 2nd one conveys the results stronger than the first.

It was quite tedious but interesting learning along the way, which was an objective of mine too. I had to do quite a bit of fiddling from my original format (which proved totally useless!).

Here's one of the interim versions with a formula that converted the "Observation Date" to which week of the month. I also calculated the week of the year, but didn't seem to need it.

Here's a formula that collapsed and merged columns L through P to a single column K. Then I copied K to J without the formulas and deleted K through P.

Then I had to create all the new weekly columns and copy all the data over (first sorted by date) and collapse all the rows so that I only had a single row (instead of several) per unique plant location. I went from 1055 rows to 337. Then sorted by location.

yeah, probably TMI, but I'm pleased with the results. It will be good reference for the future. And its a good start for my plant collection database.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 10:38PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Well, Wendy, it would seem that you are the Excel wiz. :-)
When you start talking formulas, you've lost me completely. Have never taken it into my head to attempt to learn it at all. I would have to really need it to try that. [g]

I do like the second graphic representation too. Are you planning to add any other columns to your document yet? I finished mine awhile back. I was not doing the weekly bloom percentage like you are and so it was pretty straight forward. I have the weekly columns all set but have not filled in any information yet. I would rather wait until the next growing season starts and pay particular attention to get it all right.

So now you are all set going into the next round of purchasing and growing! What are you going to do with yourself for February?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 3:44PM
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Ha! I hardly feel like a wiz! It was tricky to get there.

For February I think it is finally time to get everything into a database. Excel can get pretty unwieldy with a lot of information. It seems error prone too. I find and fix errors in one sheet, but I don't go back to all the other sheets where the data originated from to fix up something there. I would rather have more information in a single place in a database where I can pull out pieces of as needed.

Rest of February is get back on the exercise get-fit regimen that fell by the wayside in January.

Start updating my garden tasks to-do lists and wish lists to try to stay focused during spring cleanup.

Finish going through last years photo's and categorizing the good ones. I think I left off somewhere in July. I might consider starting to tag them. Not sure if thats worth the extra effort.

Start bringing up the tulips from the bulkhead for indoor flowering.

wash some pots that got missed in fall...

I suppose you will be doing winter sowing? Or has that already been done?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 4:32PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Yes, I keep my garden journal on Excel and it usually will last an entire growing season, but last year when I started pasting photos into it, I had to start a new one in the Fall.

We have started on the walking schedule again. Trying to stay consistent. I have had a Garden to do list since the fall, that I don't even want to look at it's so long. I can't add more to my wish list either, it's already too long and I don't know where I would put any new plants, aside from those I have already planned for. Getting the photos organized would be a great thing, before it gets completely away from me. I have not kept up with labeling and I'm finding it harder to find what I need now.

No, this year I have few plans to winter sow. Maybe in mid March I might start some annuals or maybe not. I am concentrating on moving around a lot of plants this spring so having winter sown seedlings just complicates matters. I will be getting out to start pruning soon.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 4:53PM
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