When there’s a seasonal lull in routine work round the garden, it’s a good time to catch up on admin. Oh, I know that’s not the sort of advice you’ll find in any gardening book, but believe me it’ll pay you hands down and save you hours of fruitless aggro.
Hunt out all the instruction manuals that come with garden machinery, especially the expensive sort, and keep them all together somewhere safe, such as a box file (or shoe-box if you prefer) so they are handy to refer to any time you need to do some routine servicing or problem-solving. Alongside the manuals, keep all the makers guarantees, list of dealerships and associated bumph.
It also pays to keep the receipts as proof of purchase to validate any claims on insurance if any gardening gear gets pinched, or you need to send things back under warranty. You’d be surprised how many people end up having to replace a pricey piece of kit at their own expense, just because they didn’t keep the right bit of paper.
Even leaflets that come with things like tools, pond pumps, garden furniture or an elaborate barbecue are packed with advice on upkeep and proper storage to give it a longer life, and they’ll have the makers’ contact details which is handy if you need a spare part sometime.
But it’s not just ‘serious’ paperwork that’s worth keeping. Save your plant names, too. Some enthusiasts do much more than just stick a name-tag in alongside each new purchase as they plant it; they’ll keep a card index file with details of the nursery it came from, date and price, and any particular advice on cultivation or propagation they’ve been given – especially when it’s a rare or unusual plant that may be hard to replace.
But anyone who likes to know the correct names of their plants will often keep a plan of the garden showing the positions of plants with their names marked in, just in case labels go missing. Oh, it happens and it’s very annoying if your memory lets you down. Quite a few folk who don’t like seeing labels all over the garden will do this anyway, and then keep the plastic instruction labels from new plants filed away safely in a box so they can look up details of eventual size, special care, and pruning instructions.
Some folk keep a ‘visitors book’ and ask their friends to make entries – amusing or otherwise – when they come round. Some keep a record of all the stately gardens they’ve visited, and what they thought of them. Then there are people who like to keep their own ‘action’ garden diary, listing what needs doing, what’s in flower, or a reminder of plants that need to be moved, propagated or pruned when the right time arrives.
A working diary is a great way to keep tabs of the seeds you sow each spring; you can note down your views on a new variety, or which ones you want to grow again another year. And it can be fascinating to look back over several years records to see what you were doing, and how it all turned out. It’s how you learn from your mistakes.
Of course all this may sound just a bit pedantic; but it’s amazing how much pressure it can take off you.