We're all adapting to a strange new rhythm in our waking hours. No one is planning too far ahead in the future, we barely know what tomorrow will look like. But one thing is pretty certain — we'll be staying at home. Which makes it a brilliant time to reflect on everything you can see beyond your sitting room window. Take a look around in nature, at everything that grows, blooms, smells, buzzes and crawls. Use a garden journal to make a record what's happening on your balcony, in your garden, and in your daily exercise outdoors. It's a tried and tested method for capturing the joy, calm and mindful qualities of nature.
A journal to suit your style
Some treat their journals as a planning chart, noting which plants to sow when and where, when the vegetables can be planted out and harvested, and when to deadhead flowers. Others treat it as a space for art and craft, drawing the garden as it changes through the seasons, and making colourful sketches of the flowerbeds they've planted in their heads. Every method is equally valid, the point is to create something that you'll enjoy making, and will be pleased to look back on. If in doubt, take a trip outside with your diary and make a record of the observations and feelings you have when in nature.
Record it all in a notebook that you'll enjoy returning to, whether it's a repurposed exercise book, a ringbound notebook or a special leather diary bought for the occasion. For beginners, it might be easiest to start in a dedicated garden journal, with sections to help you know what to fill in, and which you can easily come back to later. Headers like "To Do", "Wish List" or "Observations" can help you get going.
The early bird catches the worm
Normally it's tricky to find the time to go into the garden every day, but then again, these are not normal times. And if you do have the chance to incorporate this new habit into your daily life, you'll be surprised to notice how much changes every day, and have newfound appreciation for this extra time for observation. We suggest you do a round of the garden every morning, observe what's happened in the last 24 hours, and write it down faithfully.
If you're pressed for time, a garden journal filled in weekly or monthly is just as rewarding, when everyday observations are swapped for the sweeping arc of time passing. Or you could choose one plant and observe it for 2 weeks while it buds and flowers.
Those with a planning disposition can use the upcoming pages of the journal as an organiser. It's fun to stick in the seeds that you plan to sow each month on the relevant pages, as a present to yourself. Then, when you get to that moment in the diary, everything's ready for you.
Finally, you can take the collage approach: paste pictures of what you notice into the pages of your notebook, and fill in blank spaces with inspirational pages from magazines. You can even press some dried flowers between the pages, ready for future DIYs.
If you feel the urge to create art in your journal, then go with it. Draw what your garden looks like in the different seasons, or focus in on one flower or plant and make a detailed drawing, just like illustrator Katie Scott. After all, a garden is a visual experience, and a picture is magnificent tool for capturing the freshness, bright light and greenery of nature.
A gift for yourself
Taking the time to consider and connect with the plants and animals you see in nature, and recording this in your garden journal, makes you live in and appreciate the present moment, away from worries, distractions and other obligations. It's one of the most meaningful gifts you can give yourself in these strange times, and will be something to look back on, when it's all over.