The dirt: Website offers virtual garden journal

  • Article by: KIM PALMER and MAUREEN MCCARTHY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 1, 2010 - 4:00 PM

A Minneapolis gardener launed PlantJotter, a place for gardeners to create a centralized, personalized journal.

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Plantjotter online garden journal

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How does your garden grow? If you're a gardener who likes to keep records, documenting what you did and how it turned out, there's an online notebook option designed just for you. Minneapolis gardener Barb Hegman recently launched a website, www.plantjotter.com, that offers gardeners a place to create a centralized, personalized garden journal.

Hegman, who's pursuing a master's degree in horticulture, surveyed 2,000 master gardeners about their journaling habits and formats, and used that feedback to design the site. But PlantJotter isn't just for master gardeners, she said. "It's an organizational tool that can be used by anybody."

The site, which includes a database of 1,500 plants, provides a place to store garden records, such as plant inventories, planting and bloom dates; journal entries and photos. It also offers seasonal, zone-specific chore tips and reminders, as well as the ability to create a personal "to-do" list. Customization is a key feature of the site. Hegman, who hosts frequent garden parties, for example, plans to use it to record what menu she served to which guests on which date.

"It's better than a paper journal because it's easily searchable," Hegman said.

If you dabble at gardening, PlantJotter is probably more resource than you need. But if you're a serious gardener, and you want to quickly retrieve data, this may be just the tool you need. You can try the site free for 30 days. After that, it's $21 a year or $45 for three years.

KIM PALMER

Pretty and practical

Rarely do so many beautiful words combine with so much plain common sense as they do in "Bulb" (Mitchell Beazley, $39.99).

Start with the title. British garden writer Anna Pavord wastes no words there or anywhere in this "very personal guide to 600 exquisite bulbous plants."

But she doesn't skimp, either. Readers can revel in her wry observations, such as what to do if the flowering times in the book don't match the ones in your climate: "Scribble 'Fool' in the margins and pencil in your own timetable."

"Bulb" would be satisfying if it were only Pavord's personal reverie with pert remarks. But it is much more. Nearly 500 pages and 600 photos focus on flowers from Acis to Zigadenus. Major species earn general overviews as well as individual specifications for dozens of varieties.

Pavord displays an awesome breadth of knowledge, enriched with the wisdom of one who has gained it by trial and error. "Gardeners might seek rules, but plants do not know they exist," she observes.

A few pages at the end cover the basics of growing bulbs. Those who want more detail will have to go elsewhere, but Pavord gives you all you really need to know.

MAUREEN MCCARTHY

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