Observing and Photographing Your Garden

By Janice Brown

As the holidays set in you may be tempted to forget about the garden. But as the cool weather settles, don’t forget to peek out the window from time to time to notice what your garden is doing during this time of year. This is especially important if you’ve recently moved into a pre-owned home because it’s a good idea to watch your landscape to see what happens through a complete cycle of seasons. And along with your observations, you may want to take a little time to photograph & observe your garden before you dig into the soil to do something new.

iStock_000027225634_LargeI’ve found that photographing my garden has been one of the most helpful things I’ve done over the years. I purchased a pre-owned home which had quite a few plants & bushes put in by the previous owners. To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the previous owners’ taste in gardening, so I wanted to get busy personalizing my garden right away. However, I moved into my home in September of that year, figured it wasn’t the right time do any planting, so decided to wait until spring. I was too inexperienced to know fall is a great gardening season in Houston! My inexperience turned out to be a stroke of luck because that gave me a few seasons to watch the garden. I noticed what died back & returned in spring, what popped up out of nowhere & what looked good during each season. To my surprise, in March a batch of gorgeous hot pink gladiolas came up in a spot I thought was empty. I took pictures of them because I didn’t know what they were, as they are smaller than most glads. The next year my picture came in handy, because the glads had disappeared & I couldn’t quite remember where they were.


Take note that flowers that come from bulbs often die back completely during two-three seasons, making them completely unseen until they pop up in late winter or early spring. Bulbs such as irises, narcissus or gladiolas can easily be dug up by accident if you don’t know they are there, as almost happened to me in the scenario above.


My garden changes a bit every year. I plant something new, move a plant from here to there or test plants die. The pictures help me remember where things that die back are planted, so I won’t disturb them in their off season. They also help me see what does well through the seasons so I can determine what to plant in volume. Most of all photos help me keep a journal of how my garden progresses & changes over the years. It’s fun on cold winter days to look back over the years to see how things have changed. But the most fun for me is having my photos on my phone, so that I can whip them out for bragging purposes at the mere mention of gardening!

Here are a few tips on how to photograph your garden & use the photos you take.

  1. Photograph each bed from different angles.
  2. Photograph the front, back & side yard as a whole.
  3. Do this each season or at least in spring, summer & fall.
  4. When you view your photos, note what is growing in each season.
  5. Note what you really like & what you don’t.
  6. Check to see if any plants multiply on their own and how quickly. Multipliers can be a good thing to fill in a space, but there are also plants gardeners call “garden thugs!” These plants don’t know their place & will take over if you let them.
  7. Lastly, note which plants do well with minimal care & which ones seem to be high maintenance.

Even now, observation is still important for me. My angel trumpets usually bloom in October, but to my surprise, here’s what I saw when I decided to see what was going on in the backyard the other day! I’m so glad I decided to do a quick observation!


Five to ten minutes every few weeks will be time well spent to take notes and pictures of your garden, saving you time & money later.


JaniceBrownOn the Grow is a garden coaching service launched by Janice Brown to teach people how to be successful gardeners in the sometimes difficult, Gulf Coast climate. On the Grow provides garden education for the home gardener, children in outdoor classrooms, neighbors in community gardens, and employees in workplace gardens. Whether you want a new idea for a girls’ night out, a new way to engage children in nature, or want to implement a fresh wellness program in your company, On the Grow is here for you. Your coach will take you step by step teaching you the basics, while presenting you with a fresh perspective by helping you experience the healing benefits of gardening. Our mission at On the Grow is to help everyone experience the joy of a garden and build a greater connection to Mother Earth. Connect with One The Grow on Facebook and Twitter!

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