Gardening record books – a [p]review

My gardening notes, plans, plant lists and to-do lists have traditionally lived on various scraps of paper and writing pads. Which is fine…until Mr MBaF uses the other end of the same pad to design a shed. Then I lose track of all the scraps and pages.

But then Father Christmas brought me the RHS record book I’d requested, and shortly afterwards I doubled my library of gardening diaries with the Three-Year Allotment Notebook.

I’ve written a few lines in the latter, and not a jot so far in the former, so consider this more of a preview than review.

The first word I’d use to describe Joanna Cruddas’ allotment notebook is delightful. It’s full of gorgeous photos (by Edwina Sassoon) of some lovely plots, and the layout feels relaxed and helpful. Each month is bookended by three richly colourful photo-led spreads with hints and ideas (planning, watering, tools etc) and lists of seasonal jobs. Then there are three blank spreads of lined pages for notes Year 1, 2 and 3.

Plenty of space for notes in the Three Year Allotment Notebook

Plenty of space for notes in the Three Year Allotment Notebook

Lovely imagery and useful lists

Lovely imagery and useful lists

There is graph paper at the back for plot planning, and the inside of the back cover has a useful pocket for plant labels or other ‘stuff’.

You could argue that for near-enough £15 I don’t have that much more than the A4 lined pad I used to use, plus a few pictures. But I disagree because this book is gorgeous and lovely. I’ve tried really hard to write neatly in it so far, but actually I’m looking forward to taking this companion with me to the lotty and getting it a bit grubby!

The photos have also inspired me to make the plot a bit more characterful this year. I’m trying to think of how to involve Miss MBaF in making some flags or other spangles.

Now onto the serious business of the RHS gardener’s record book. And in contrast to the ‘delightful’ allotment book, this one is definitely more businesslike. It has antique fine art illustrations of plant specimens throughout, and the notes pages are divided into five columns for each year with space for notes on the weather, plants in bloom, tasks and notes. Towards the back there’s space for listing plants to buy, plant suppliers and gardens to visit. The paper stock is thick and shiny, and I don’t really want to get this one muddy.

More formal notes pages in the RHS Gardener's Five Year Record Book.

More formal notes pages in the RHS Gardener’s Five Year Record Book.

Although I originally envisaged I’d use it for both allotmentry and gardening, the RHS book is clearly and obviously designed for logging observations about ornamental planting. It’s probably more suited to much more experienced/skilled flower-growers than me, but I’ll give it a shot anyway, and try to write neatly for five whole years!

Maybe I should buy myself a new pen especially…

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