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A New Year in Jean’s Garden

January 1, 2013
coverThe year I began Jean’s Garden, the blog, I also created Jean’s Garden, the calendar, a gift idea I had been thinking about for years. (See A Year of Gifts from the Garden.) I wasn’t sure how the calendars would be received, but it turned out that they were a big hit with family and friends and are well on their way to becoming a holiday tradition. So in this fourth year of my blog, I’ve also created my fourth calendar.Last year, when I had some quality issues with the printer I had been using, I tried having a couple of calendars printed by Lulu.com (which came highly recommended by other bloggers) and was very pleased with the high quality of color reproduction (see A Doubly Good New Year). So I went back to Lulu this year, and here is the result:

January

February

January_2 February

March

April

March_1 April_1
May June
May_1 June_1
July August
July_1 August_1
September October
September_1 October_1

November

December
November_1 December_1
(All images were photographed by me in either my Poland, Maine garden or my Gettysburg, Pennsylvania garden, and all are (c) Jean’s Garden 2013. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Each year, I have tried to improve my calendars in some way. The switch to Lulu created some new challenges that I tried to address in this year’s calendar design. Lulu offers only one calendar theme with the clean, contemporary look I prefer, but when I chose the page layout of a single photograph with room for a caption, the resulting image was an awkward shape (too wide for its height); and I much preferred the white border around the images that my previous vendor offered. To solve this problem, I chose the Lulu page layout without caption, used the Picasa on-line software (free from Google) to add a white border around each photo, and used the photo editing software that came with my Canon camera to add a caption in the white border below the image. I am very happy with the way these look. The other challenge was the cover of the Lulu premium calendar. I like to use an image from inside the calendar for the cover, but because the Lulu calendar is printed on only one side of the page and spiral bound at the top rather than in the center, the cover is a portrait orientation, while the page images are landscape. Last year, I used a portrait-oriented segment from a collage as the cover of my Lulu version calendar; this year, I chose instead to use two landscape page images, one above the other, for the cover. Doing this requires careful selection of two images that work well together. The two images I chose (April and May) had a lot of similarities in colors and texture and had the added benefit of representing both my gardens. Again, I am pleased with the result.

One advantage of using Lulu is that the calendars can be made available for purchase by the public.  To learn more, click here.

Happy New Year, everyone, and best wishes for a wonderful year in your own gardens.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2013 7:32 am

    What a good idea! I will have to keep that in mind for next xmas.

    • January 3, 2013 9:42 pm

      Thanks for visiting, and do keep this in mind for next year (although I’m guessing that you also have knitted gifts to bestow on lucky family and friends :-))

  2. January 1, 2013 9:56 am

    Gorgeous Jean…I do want to make a calendar next year so this helps a lot to know some of the issues and how to work around them…

    • January 3, 2013 9:47 pm

      Thanks, Donna. Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned is that color saturation is greater in print than it is on the computer screen. I often dial down the color saturation on images from my blog before I upload them for the calendar. (An alternative would be to print out copies of the photos before uploading them. Or, if you are less prone to procrastination than I am :-|, you could have one calendar printed and shipped to you and then make any needed adjustments.) Just think how much time your newly retired self will have for projects like this next year!

  3. January 1, 2013 12:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing this technique with us – and your lovely photos, of course!

    • January 3, 2013 9:48 pm

      Thanks, Cathy. I was really pleased with myself when I figured out how to use Picasa to make borders around the images.

  4. January 1, 2013 2:00 pm

    Happy New Year! The recipients of your calendar are fortunate! Your images are beautiful and are a great review of your 2012 garden. I especially love the December image – of course I would, since snow is a rarity here!

    • January 3, 2013 9:49 pm

      Deb, I almost never tire of that winter view out the kitchen windows. (Well, maybe sometimes in late March or early April when I’m ready for winter to be over!)

  5. January 1, 2013 4:41 pm

    Your calendar is stunning Jean. These are great photographs and I’m glad you found a way to add captains to them. It’s always nice to know what flowers you are looking at.

    • January 5, 2013 11:13 am

      Marguerite, I could be described as obsessive about knowing the names of the plants I am looking at :-), so I never considered not including captions — it was just a matter of figuring out the best way to do it. I wasn’t sure I had enough good photos this year to make a calendar, but it’s amazing what’s hiding away in those digital photo files. Happy New Year.

  6. January 1, 2013 5:44 pm

    A beautiful calendar, Jean. I’m glad you’ve found Lulu to work for you. I agree, there can be a few awkward moments with photo layout, but overall I’ve found their quality to be unsurpassed, and I love that they don’t feel the need to plaster their brand all over the calendars either. I just hung our new one up this morning. I suppose that makes the new year official, doesn’t it? ;) Happy New Year!

    • January 5, 2013 11:19 am

      Clare, One of my New Year’s Day rituals is taking down old calendars and putting up new ones. It really does make it official. I’d love to see Lulu add a couple more contemporary style themes to their offerings, but I’m happy with my solution to the awkward image shape problem. I’m one of a number of people lobbying them to include phases of the moon as a calendar option; it’s a real pain to type them all in individually each year (and what I really want are icons for moon phases, which I haven’t figured out how to do yet). I was happy to see the last time I checked that the moon phases request had been updated from “we’ve heard this before” to “under consideration.” Thanks again for recommending Lulu, and Happy New Year.

  7. January 1, 2013 8:23 pm

    The calendar is beautiful! I love the idea that you were able to share your garden even during winter.

    • January 5, 2013 11:21 am

      Thanks, Kevin. It’s always a bit of a challenge to figure out how to represent the winter months in my calendar. If I had images of what is happening in my garden each month, I’d end up with 4-5 snow photos! I seem to be developing a pattern of some kind of indoor plant for January and a winter scene for December. Happy New Year.

  8. January 1, 2013 8:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing the information about Lulu.com. In the past I’ve made calendars to share but the fidelity of reproduction issue ended up being a problem, but these folks look like they’re worth a try. Also, congratulations on a lovely calendar of your own. And Happy New Year!

    • January 5, 2013 11:23 am

      Happy New Year, James. You might want to check Lulu out. The only color reproduction issues I’ve had are the ones that I had almost forgotten about from the old Kodachrome days — it’s hard to capture the color of blue flowers, and the yellows are a bit too strong. I’ve already made a note to myself for next year to dial up the blues a little bit and dial back the yellows before I upload my photos.

  9. January 2, 2013 8:31 pm

    Wow, you are really very inspiring Jean! Maybe i should think about it too!

  10. January 3, 2013 1:33 pm

    What a beautiful idea Jean. i wouldn’t have the forethought for a calendar but I love the idea…so touching. I have recently blogged a couple of ideas you could use in your garden though, or give to bird lovers. Hop over and take a look. http://www.giftfrippery.co.uk

    • January 5, 2013 11:29 am

      Andrea and Amanda, I think you’d be surprised at how easy this is to do in the age of high-speed internet and digital photography. This year, the holidays really crept up on me when I wasn’t paying attention, and it was December before I even began thinking about choosing images for the calendar. Once I had decided on images, though, I was able to prepare and upload the photographs in one evening and the calendars were printed and shipped 5 days later.

  11. January 6, 2013 11:08 am

    Your calendar looks beautiful. I was very happy with lulu last year so I think you made a good choice. You also figured out how to make the captions look nice. All my pages were landscape oriented including the cover. Maybe they have changed the configuration. Anyway, Happy New Year.

    • January 8, 2013 11:38 pm

      Happy New Year, Carolyn. On the Standard sized calendar (which I think is the one you used), all the pages, including the cover, are landscape oriented. But the larger premium calendar is printed on only one side of each page and hinged at the top instead of in the center, which makes the cover portrait oriented. I may decide to scale back to the standard size in the future.

  12. January 6, 2013 4:13 pm

    Hi Jean and a happy New Year! I’ve had the idea of making a garden calendar like this for some time now – especially since I recently completed my “year in the garden” series of photos – but it always works out to be rather expensive so I haven’t (yet). I see the daylilies have their fair share of months!

    • January 8, 2013 11:41 pm

      Sunil, The calendars can get a bit expensive; but it works out within my budget, I have a big family to buy gifts for, and the calendars have turned out to be a big hit. I do seem to get in a couple of daylily photos each year :-). (I usually have Siberian iris photos, too, but those got left out this year.)

  13. January 7, 2013 6:25 am

    Quality pictures you chose Jean.

    • January 8, 2013 11:42 pm

      Thanks, Alistair. I’ve been trying to improve my photographs, mostly by improving my skill at cropping images. I’ve been finding Saxon Holt’s series of photography lessons at Gardening Gone Wild helpful in this regard.

  14. January 10, 2013 7:21 am

    What a wonderful way to share your garden with family and friends – they are quite fortunate!

    • January 15, 2013 10:54 pm

      Jayne, To be honest, I’m not sure who gets the most enjoyment out of this, the recipients or me. I love the creative challenge of going through my photo archives to choose just the right image for each month.

  15. January 11, 2013 2:10 pm

    What a wonderful idea Jean – guess what my family are getting for xmas this year lol.

    Linda

    • January 15, 2013 10:55 pm

      Linda, You should definitely try it. It’s surprisingly easy in this digital age; and I’ve been amazed at what a popular gift the calendar is.

  16. January 13, 2013 6:33 am

    Visiting your blog the first time and I love the idea of your calendar.
    My private garden is located in Toronto – Guildwood Village.
    I write every year a review of the year gone by.
    Perhaps you have the time for a visit?
    Gisela

    • January 15, 2013 10:56 pm

      Gisela, Thanks so much for visiting. With all the gorgeous photos on your blog, you would certainly have great images to choose from for a calendar!

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