It's the Plants, Darling

Another way to keep track of blooms?
The humble graph

Blooming400

I loved reading what Garden Blogger Bloom Day means to different people, including that it serves a record-keeping purpose for many of you.  Plus, it's just fun to do.

For record-keeping there's also the not-so-beautiful but reliable bar graph, a wonderful vehicle for conveying information.  Each block in the graph represents one week of bloom, and as a group they clusters plants that bloom at the same time in a way that's really easy to grasp.  Each border or garden area has its own graph. 

The result:  I can see what times of the season there's not enough blooming going on.  When people ask to see something in bloom I can give them a good approximation of the dates.  And so on.  This first and only version in 2002, four pages in all, has served me well.

Posted by on January 15, 2009 at 6:01 am, in the category It's the Plants, Darling.
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19 responses to “Another way to keep track of blooms?
The humble graph”

  1. Excellent. I love a good graph. And lists. I love lists.

    Okay, don’t get me started…

  2. I make a very similar bar graph using a spreadsheet. I find this particularly useful, since you can quickly see the bloom length of any plant by scanning across. You can also see which months have a lot of flowers in the garden, and which have fewer blooms by scanning down the columns. It’s easy to see what’s in bloom when standing in the garden, but hard to remember accurately when you’re planning later, especially in winter. You can also quickly see if 2 plants you’re thinking of pairing have any hope of an overlapping bloom time. It’s very helpful to see the bloom sequence spread out in front of you.

  3. Marte says:

    Wow, what a great idea! This has never occurred to me. I would just write in my garden journal, “The phlox are blooming, etc.” I am going to make a graph right now! What a terrific way to spend a morning of 20 below zero: thinking of summer and flowers! Thanks so much for this.

  4. What a great idea! I would think coupling a graph (either handwritten or spreadsheet) with photos would give an even clearer picture. For example, from your graph it looks like there’s not a whole lot going on in Mar/Apr, but it kind of depends on just how many tulips and daffs you’ve planted, and how they’re distributed. Having a wide photo of the bed would help clarify some of those questions. Thanks for the idea. I’m going to try it.

  5. sarahammocks says:

    Oh I love the scan of the graph! Graphs are also good for noting seasonal differences when cross-referenced with garden notes. I’m very fond of my Molskine, but it’s not the best for drawing graphs in. What do other people use?

  6. gardenmentor says:

    I’ve really found that blogging has become the best way for me to track what’s going on in the garden when. Bloom day is a fantastic record keeper, esp. for someone like me who starts charts and never seems to keep up with them.

    Shame on me!

  7. I’ve never kept a graph.
    I don’t think I have what it takes to keep such detailed notes.
    But I have kept working garden journals in the past.
    Not too many years ago I ran into a gardener who had found 6 years of garden journals that I had written for an estate style garden that I maintained in the early 1980’s.
    She said that she often turned to the journals to find out what was going to happen in certain beds at certain times.
    She also turned to the journals before digging up a bed to see if there were bulbs planted . ( I was once a rabid bulb planter and planted over 10 thousand bulbs at this one garden over a period of 6 years ).
    It was rewarding to learn that the journals had been helpful to another gardener(s) many years later.
    Now a days I don’t keep a journal for my own garden but I find that Garden Blogging can help with record keeping.
    Here’s a small sampling of what is happening in my own garden this month :
    http://deviantdeziner.blogspot.com/

  8. This is very similar to a very popular old Cornell factsheet by Mower and Lee, Sequence of Bloom:
    http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/3269/2/Sequence%20of%20Bloom%20of%20Perennial%2c%20Biennials%2c%20and%20Bulbs.pdf

    It’s like your graph only with about 250 common perennials and bulbs with their bloom times here in the Northeast. It was last updated in ’92, before purple loosestrife was widely recognized as invasive. So please don’t plant it just because you saw it in this list.

  9. commonweeder says:

    Great idea! And I won’t need my husband to set up another computer program. Back to pencil and paper. Very useful. Thanks.

  10. Aunt Ida says:

    I set up a spreadsheet similar to the one on the Cornell site, but mine is in Excel and can be manipulated to group plants by height, water needs, etc. It can be downloaded at: http://sites.google.com/site/highprairielandscapedesign/

  11. My old-school, firmware garden journal was simply a 5″x8″ LOOSELEAF binder. Whenever I visited the garden (at the time it was a few blocks away from my apartment in the East Village) I started a new dated at the top and went through each area of the garden noting what was blooming, and whether it was in pre- peak or post-peak bloom. If something was particularly effective in the garden it got a little star next to it.

    The key to keeping it in a looseleaf binder was that I kept everything sorted by the day of the year, not the date. So May 1 might have been from 1984, May 2 1982, May 3 1987, and so on. With my journal in hand I could quickly tell whether things were earlier or later than previous years.

    It also made it easier to transcribe into a paper chart, as you did, so I could plan the year, fill in gaps, and extend the growing season. Unfortunately, I lost all my records – including a decade of photographs – when I moved to Brooklyn, so I don’t have any examples of it.

  12. I was inspired to do a graph like that by an appendix in an Elizabeth Lawrence book. However, as I wanted to compare years, I never ended up converting the multi-year data into graph format.

    http://www.zanthan.com/gardens/year/inbloom01.html

    After years of record-keeping, I’ve learned that in Austin it’s difficult to track any patterns.

  13. I just have written journals and sometimes get into trouble with things that I thought would overlap bloom time and don’t. But mine is a mostly green garden so it’s less of an issue for me than it might be for some folks.

    Last year I drew a graph, charting the daily high and low temps from March 1 to May 15. I based it on one in Hannah HInchman’s “A Trail Through Leaves.” I was amazed at how different it was seeing that data visually rather than as words or numbers. What was most striking visually were the big temperature swings and plunges.

  14. Susan, that looks like a good, simple way to track bloom and check for overlaps, gaps, etc. I think I just might try that, just as soon as I have some blooms again!

  15. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for sharing–this helps me so much in planning!

  16. Kathy says:

    I did that one or two years, but you know what I discovered? It was a lot harder to track the end of a bloom period than the beginning. Think about it: you always notice when a plant starts blooming, but when it stops blooming can slip your notice. I usually had to guess exactly what day it was I saw the last bloom.

  17. Michele Owens says:

    I have tried to do this, and promise I will do it in my next life. Lack the discipline, however.

  18. Dreamybee says:

    This seems like a great idea! Thanks for posting.

  19. That’s an amazing idea! Yes, I always just write ‘buddleia opening’ in my journal, but your idea is so much simpler and much more useful.

    http://www.fennelandfern.blogspot.com

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