documenting a restoration

acj7000January 17, 2004

Gardens that stay the same and only require an occasional dusting off (lawn mowing) or polishing (meatballing) to keep them that way are worse than an urban waste land. At least the plants growing in the cracks are indigenous.

So, assuming you have one that is constantly changing what is the best way to record these changes or alterations.

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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

I am becoming enamored of the panoramic views posted on websites these days where you can use your mouse to pan around the site 360 degrees. Don't know how to do it myself.

On the LD Forum, the woman in FL who posted about her poor consult w/an LA put up one of these panoramas of her property. Very neat, new(to me), high-tech(again, to me!) way of documenting changes. Also saw one on the Old Sturbridge Village site.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 1:53PM
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John_D(USDA 8b WA)

I can't do the panoramic view, put I am collecting a series of digital photos recording every corner of my garden at different seasons (and in different years).

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 5:27PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Just make certain you DATE those pics! Found some old pics of my garden the summer after we bought this house--but could only date them because of the lillies (which I planted) in the pic. I've dated them NOW.

I've done a low tech version of the panoramic thing--you can stand in the center fo your garden and turn in a circle, photographing with each 1/8 th of a turn. Then you tape the pics togeteher. Actually, that's what Lilly did--but she did hers with a digital camera, which obviates the need for tape. Photoshop is a wonderful thing...


    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 7:37PM
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We have kept a photo album for every year we have been here (going on 18) using large 3 ring note books. Also we hang onto reciepts for the plants we hope to survive permanently. This has become very beneficial in evaluating progessive change. I have also done the 'panoramic turn' thing of taping pictures together. Have also done periodic journaling of the progress. Changes have been constant but we now feel our restoration has been successful and that we might eventually reach a point of fullfillment. EP

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 7:46AM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

I have had 2 gardening clients who keep extensive and thorough records. One was an opthamologist and organic hobby gardener; the other a daylily breeder and engineer. Both used the traditional ledger/diary method with copiuous notes detailing just about any and everything that went on in the garden: soil and air temps, planting out times, growth rates, comparisons of varieties, color and form notations, garden maps, measurements of bloom sizes, comparisons by year using different fertilizers--you name it! Fascinating what an inquiring mind can find to observe,measure,compare, and document.

I have friends who use the bound watercolor books to do more artistic and creative documentation: notations, watercolor and pen and ink botanicals, garden maps, etc. Then there are the scrapbook-makers: cut and paste seed packet and catalogue photos, their own photos, drawings, notations, garden maps, and so on.

I have done a bit of each over the years, but have come down to just typing up a list of what was planted each season, with a few handwritten notes about any outstanding successes and failures and noting any design or hardscaping changes. These lists are stored in a garden file on my computer. I've become more pragmatic as the time I have to spend on my own gardens has decreased.

How do you document renewal work that you have done on your own gardens, Tony?


    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 12:19PM
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spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)


I'm afraid I've succumbed to 21st Century technology to do this, probably an anathema to both history and gardening.

I use a database software to keep track of the specimens I gives you the ability to link pictures, track feeding, track propagation and hundreds of other parameters and tasks which I don't use. I mainly use it to keep track of the plants in the garden and, in turn, generate plant labels to use in the garden.

Since I started gardening in 1995, I've made heavy use of film, and now digital cameras to keep track of the garden. In addition, I use it to keep a record of where underground pipes, drainage and wires are for reference.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 3:01PM
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More on this please spectre. This could be the first in our FAQ.
Me? ginger 'member your sending out end of season bills on another forum and how in tune I was? well I am more your intuitive type with ambitions of being organised. Or using someone like spectre to organise it for us. I will be behind the door marked "Ideas Department".

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 6:48PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Got it. Me, too Tony.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 7:19PM
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spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Hello Tony & Ginger:

"Someone like spectre to organise it for us"color>? LOL That's like entrusting The Three Stooges to manage the Mars Rover Project.

I wasn't sure what you needed more info on, the software or the pictures I take, but I assume it's the former. I use a database called Compleat Botanica by a small software shop in northern California called Crescent Bloom. Basically, it's a SQL server-based application that has fields for everything horticultural. It's designed to wear many hats, and the users range from rank amateurs like myself, to ag scientists, to designers, to growers, to researchers, to collectors. Like most database apps, it's a little tough to figure out at first, but after a while, it's like running an organizer.

If you'd like more info, I included a link to the company's site where you can check out the software's features. It certainly has way more than I need, but it saves me a lot of hassle, especially since I have many rare plants in my garden.

Tony, if I didn't answer your question, let me know and I'll come back in. Take care.


Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Software Info

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 9:14PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

That's an incredible tool--have to look at it more closely later. Hope the current poster who is attempting to catalogue her collection takes a look at this.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 9:46PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

In my own case, documenting what changes in the garden is also more haphazard; using a combination of regularly taken seasonal photos, an origingal planting plan and plant list which is often subverted in the process of installing it, an attempt to have a permanent label/marker at the base of each important plant, and lastly, keeping a file with the record of all plants purchased and installed in each client's file/folder. I find the plant purchase records and photos to be the most usefull long term, and the as-built plans with locations of unseen underground systems an important complement to the planting info.

In the earlier days of my own private garden, I had a better handle on exactly what plants were installed where, but the various wild animals such as squirrels and raccoons have made this difficult to sustain over time, especially with the small plastic labels which get lost or mixed up over time. Wehn you have collections of plants which mix cultivars of only minor variations, it can be difficult to keep it sorted out over time once the labels have been "mixed up" by the local wildlife. In this case, photos are ever so much better, but also can be a nightmare to label and keep organized over time. I find myself debating to convert over from slides to digital photos, which would be so much easier to organize. For now, slides are simply organized in binders by client/subject/country, and hopefully I can remember where they are when I need to pull them for a presentation.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2004 at 1:07PM
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I use a camcorder alot. I like it more than pictures because you get the panoramic type views. In the winter I like to watch them because its just like a stroll in the garden.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2004 at 4:17PM
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Compleat Botanica runs ONLY on:
* Windows 2003 Server
* Windows XP Home edition
* Windows XP Professional edition
* Window 2000
* Windows NT

BUMMER. I'd have to buy a new Microsoft OS to run it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2004 at 10:15AM
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ScottReil_GD(z5 CT)

I am doing it with photos now but like Michelle's idea because A) you can do the winter garden tour like she said (with running commentary) and B) I'm lazy when it comes to organization; I'm in the same office with Tony, but I'm behind the Ideas for Ideas door...

    Bookmark   January 24, 2004 at 1:37PM
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