Calendars make handy to-do lists

It's embarrassing to admit that creating a garden calendar came about after seeing a similar monthly to-do planner in Martha Stewart Living.

Surpringly, when Stewart began hers, it was mostly blank. The epiphany there was that there are actually only a few key things we need to do each month to keep our lives running smoothly, especially in landscaping.

With so few tasks to keep track of, it's wise to put them onto a calendar so they have a greater chance of getting done. And thus, the garden calendar happily entered my life.

On it, you will find no appointments to design a landscape for a client, or to lecture at a symposium in Vermont. Those are work events, and landscaping is a loving escape from all that.

Hang the garden calendar where it's easily seen and even easier to jot down notes. This may sound nerdy, but I'll tell you where I hang mine: the master bathroom, on the wall behind the door. There, my garden calendar is ready with a pen clipped at the top. Perhaps yours will be in the mudroom, kitchen pantry or in your office. Wherever it is, make it easy to see.

Something good happened immediately with my garden calendar. It became more than a to-do list for landscaping. It became a garden journal. You know, those beautiful empty books you see and buy, hoping to fill with prosaic thoughts about your landscape.

It's ridiculous, I've authored five books and yet a gorgeous empty journal intimidates me. I'm guessing the same thing happens to a lot of us. Anyway, no such inhibitions will occur with your garden calendar. You'll find yourself writing down when the azaleas bloom, when you planted the contorted filbert tree, when you had rain and, hopefully, the day the complete water ban is lifted.

In late December, I sit down with my new garden calendar, as well as the one just ending. This is a time to review all I've done for the landscape and all the landscape has done for me, with its growth, blooms, fragrance, birds, butterflies and more. Then I write one thing for each month in the new year.

On the February page is always scrawled, "Cut back the liriope." Yes, I know to do this but I never seemed to do it at the right time until the garden calendar began. Since having it, I've realized it has become a landscape tool. Ironically, the to-do calendar in Martha Stewart's magazine has lately become chock full of stuff to do. If I hadn't first seen it back when it was barren I would think, "Shoot me, I'm not doing all of that."

Stone Mountain resident Tara Dillard designs, installs and writes about gardens. E-mail her at taradillard@agardenview.biz.