Monday, April 13, 2015

List Making and First Blooms

 I am a born planner. When faced with a task, I make a list of what items I need in order to accomplish it, and a list of steps to take. This trait served me well in my 'former lives' as a school teacher, K-8 librarian and eventually school administrator. But when I retired to indulge my gardening passion, I just wanted to do it and figure out how as I went along. I soon realized this visceral and visual approach was not enough to accomplish my goals. I needed to write down my plan, give myself a timeline, and yes, make lists. At the beginning of each gardening year, therefore, I walk around my garden with paper and pencil and start making a master list. The finished list can look very daunting, but it is amazing how much I check off by the end of the year.

Today's master list includes a lot of hardscaping tasks, because none were accomplished last year due to my health problems and time spent in England with my mother's passing. It includes painting outbuildings, staining porches, and replacing broken fencing. Some are jobs H.H. and I wont necessarily do ourselves, so I write down who I need to employ and determine a timeline. My goal this year is to get the garden spiffed up before the end of June when we are open for a county tour. The weather has been awful, so we haven't accomplished much yet. This weekend we installed the new statue in the shade garden. You may remember a skunk knocked over, and shattered, the 'naked lady,' as my grandson's called her. I hope we made the new one a little more secure.

Allegrain's 'Bather,' our new 'naked lady,'

Picking up downed branches from all over the property, tidying the beds, and applying a 4 inch layer of compost to each of them, feature high on the softscaping list. This is a list of the real gardening. We made a start with cutting back those grasses and perennials that I allowed to stand all winter for interest and for the birds. I started some pruning, too.  I am not making any new gardens this year, because H.H. threatened divorce if I do, but I am renovating the Woodland Walk by adding lots more shade garden plants: brunnera, foxgloves, Adromeda, primroses, coralberry shrub, waxbells, and more hellebores. I am so.o.o looking forward to plant shopping

As I work in the garden this week I am disappointed to see that this extremely late spring means few blooms: only crocuses, two snowdrops, one hellebore, and this morning I found just a couple of daffodils open to the morning sun. I looked back at photographs taken in 'Aprils Past' and found very different springtimes, so I am including some of those pictures. But first, here are today's blooms. It is the season of Firsts:

First crocuses, 2015

First hellebore, 2015

First daffodil, 2015

First snowdrop, 2015

For my first blooms I am linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens where she hosts Garden Blogger's Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.

Back to list making: There are online resources to enhance your experience, such as Scribbles or Work Flowy. Personally, I am happy with a pencil and the back of an envelope, but I do like to type up my final checklists and print them out.

April 7, 2010

An article in Psychology Today explains how 'Making Lists Can Quell Anxiety and Breed Creativity.'
Of the six benefits cited, my favorite is
Combat avoidance. Taking abstract to concrete sets the stage for commitment and action. Especially if you add self-imposed deadlines. Carrie Barron

April 14, 2011

I agree with Branson that it is important to 'find a list method that works for you.' Click here for Richard Branson's top 10 tips for making lists. Doodles, bullet-points, charts what suits you best?' And I agree with Sidney Eddison, in her wonderful book, Gardening for a Lifetime, that prioritizing is essential.

April 7, 2010
March 15, 2012
April 9, 2014
April 7, 2010
April 9, 2014

At the beginning of each week I pick tasks from the master list and make my weekly list. This is a more detailed to-do list of jobs both large and small that I hope to accomplish that week. Each day I pick some of those tasks and, depending on the weather, I check off as many as I can. If I have little time that day, I pick something small, like staking a peony. I keep the daily list short to fit in with all my other obligations. I love the feeling of satisfaction as I tick off a box.

Like my garden, my seed starting was late this year. I set up the seed starting station, but didn't keep to my planned schedule. I blogged about my kitchen garden's beginnings here. I have learned that while list making is a great organizing tool, I cannot beat myself up if I don't meet my goals. I have found, however, I am more likely to reach my goals with lists than without.

Seed Starting Station takes over one end of the dining room.

List making has a long history and was practiced by many historical figures including Benjamin Franklin.
'The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible… And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists…'        Umberto Eco
Do you make gardening lists? If not, I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Happy Gardening,
Pamela x

The goldfinches have their yellow feathers. It IS spring!

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. I, too, am a notorious list-maker. Unfortunately, I just as notoriously never seem to stick to my list. I start out to accomplish one of the tasks on the list and, on the way, I get distracted by something else that needs to be done - and I'm off! My intentions are good, but we know where those lead...

  2. Hi Pam, I also make to-do lists, and not just for gardening. It is indeed satisfying to cross off items. The last thing on my list that I'll accomplish today is to attend garden club - that'll be fun! :)
    You have some beauty in your garden for sure. Sorry it's a little late, but it will come. We are a little earlier than average here. I have begun a hand-written garden journal, talking about the things I do each week and what's blooming. It will be fun and educational to review it in years to come. Happy Spring, Pam!

  3. I sometimes make to-do lists, but not usually for the garden. I'm not the most organized person, and when it comes to the garden, if I see it, that's the time to do it. It has been such a late spring. I don't have any daffodils yet, but the first crocus and snowdrops have finally come up, and are such a joy to see after the long winter. I started seeds, but I'm trying to use my new greenhouse, and it's taking it's time warming up enough for the seedlings to take off. I finally ended up putting another heater in there just to keep them warm enough. Spring is starting, though, thankfully!

  4. Yes I am also a list-maker, and it works on the long traject, not for the day I always plan too much in a day, I think I want too much and...there are other obligations. I love your first flowers of the year, first flowers are always most exciting.

  5. I make lists in what Mama called a 'harum-scarum' way. My greatest joy is finding an old list and checking to see how many tasks got done.

    What I really want to know is whether that double daffodil is 'Tahiti' -- one of my fragrant favorites.

  6. I used a gardening journal when I first started gardening, I find attractive stationery adds greatly to the joy of list making. I used it more for keeping track of what I'd done rather than what I'd got to do so my blog has taken over that aspect really so the journal doesn't get used so much these days. I agree, it's good to be able to cross tasks off a list as they get completed though. I'm sure you'll find that everything comes on in leaps and bounds now that spring has finally arrived, it may be late but everything usually catches up in the end.

  7. Keeping lists and a gardening journal are a wonderful way of keeping track from year to year and I enjoyed your list of "firsts". Spring may be late this year but you still have pretty blooms in your garden. Happy Bloom Day!

  8. You captured spring so very nicely with all the colors and textures.

  9. This post is enlightening. I had no idea there was a whole science of list making and that I could spend hours, if not days, learning about all about listing without actually having to complete anything on my to-do lists. It's procrastinator heaven!

    I have books dedicated to lists - each book represents a different area of my life which requires a list. I don't know why I bother with them though. If the mood takes me, I go off-list and do whatever I fancy. I must add "get some self-control" to my list. I'm not sure I have a book for it though. I had better add that to the shopping list.

    Happy GBBD!

  10. My garden is so small, so no need for lists. I can understand with one the size of your garden that lists would be very helpful. I am a planner though being an architect, so have direction is always something I do. We are not very far in the season either, just about the same as you with bloom.

  11. Oh Pam we are a lot alike here....I too have long lists of garden tasks that I pick and choose from each week and then tick them off when done....and I am not too far ahead of you. I also have loads to do especially with maintenance since the surgery last year and nothing being done.

  12. Pam, I am sure all will look spiffing when you are open for the county tour.
    You are so very well organised, I dont think our garden is really big enough to require a list. I have just been planting Foxgloves in our woodland, Adromeda! feel I am not acquainted with that one, off to look it up.