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A New Year in the Garden

January 1, 2011

Calendar cover 2011 (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Last year, I took on a project I had been thinking about for some time and had calendars made as Christmas gifts for family and friends (see A Year of Gifts from the Garden). In many ways, this was a very successful gift idea; those who received the calendars loved them. But this first attempt at creating gift calendars also provided learning opportunities. My 2010 calendars were printed in an 8 1/2 x 11 format, and I would have preferred a larger size. In addition, the paper that they were printed on tended to curl in humid weather (a particular frustration for my brother in Florida). I also found the color values on the images a bit off; many colors were oversaturated, and blues in particular tended to be muddy.

So my goal for this year was a calendar that would improve on last year’s with a larger format, heavier paper, and better color reproduction. Acting on a tip from Sheila, The Stopwatch Gardener, I checked out the offerings at By choosing their premium calendar, I could get a 11 x 14 inch format printed on heavy, laminated paper stock. I also realized that I needed to dial back color saturation from what I use for publishing images online. Although the Snapfish option ended up costing me considerably more than what I had spent on my calendar gifts last year (especially since Snapfish does not offer a volume discount), I am delighted with the results.

The most enjoyable part of the calendar gift project is going through my photo archives to find just the right images for the calendar. One rule I have for myself is that all the images must be from my own garden (including houseplants and containers), and I also try to choose images that are apropos for the month in which they feature. This year, I used a combination of landscape shots, close-ups, and collages. Here are my 2011 calendar choices (click any image to enlarge):

Amaryllis 'Apple Blossom' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) ‘Apple Blossom’
Dicentra spectabilis (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)
Snow on Forsythia (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Spring snow on forsythia
Geranium 'Brookside' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Geranium ‘Brookside’
Circular bed in early summer (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)The circular bed in early summer
Siberian iris collage (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Siberian irises (Iris sibirica) in the June garden
Entering the back garden (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Entering the back garden
Hemerocallis 'Mae Graham' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Daylily (Hemerocallis) ‘Mae Graham’
Rudbeckia 'Herbstsonne' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ (Autumn Sun)
Aster 'Bluebird' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’
Fall foliage (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)Fall foliage
Garden in winter (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)The garden in winter

I wish you all a new year full of happy gardening adventures!

21 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2011 8:54 am

    This is a great idea Jean. I have seen this done with family photos but this is a gift for everyone. Happy New Year!


  2. January 1, 2011 9:12 am

    Beautiful calendar, Jean. Your photos look great! I made some calendars at this year that turned out really well, using photos I had taken on our farm. You can view a sample page at I lucked out and ordered them about mid-December during a half price sale. I like their “croquet” style 11×16 ( and like the option to add your own special dates to the calendar.

  3. January 1, 2011 9:32 am

    Jean, you’ve chosen lovely shots for your calendar. It is fun to create ‘stuff’ from our photos, I so agree. Have a wonderful New Year both in ME and in PA! Mike & Michael just returned from a ski-trip at Sugarloaf; fortunately they were NOT on the chairlift that collapsed during one of the two days they were there!

  4. January 1, 2011 10:58 am

    Jean, I’m sure everyone was pleased to get such a lovely gift. I almost did the same thing this year using iPhoto (a fine product, with 10×13″ calendars coming in at $19.99), but was too busy in December to order in time. It’s wonderful to have some freedom again… and good to be back on Blotanical. Happy new year to you and those you love.

  5. January 1, 2011 11:39 am

    Jean your calendar turned out wonderful. This is great information also for those of us who may want to make our own calendars in the future. Happy New Year to you.

  6. January 1, 2011 12:05 pm

    Lovely calendar Jean! Wishing you the Happiest of New Years! Have a great gardening year!
    It was wonderful to meet you in my garden in 2010!

  7. January 1, 2011 1:36 pm

    As a long-time fan of your garden, photography and collages, I think the calendars you created are beautiful. Happy New year.

  8. January 1, 2011 1:55 pm

    What a wonderful and thoughtful gift Jean. I’m sure everyone was very pleased with their calendar. The photo of your back garden is lovely – those giant yellow flowers really caught my eye!

  9. January 1, 2011 9:11 pm

    These are fantastic, Jean. I hadn’t heard of Snapfish, so thank you for that information; I have a client who is looking at possibilities for creating a calendar for next year, and this might be a good option for them to check out. I’m glad we don’t have to pick a favourite because I don’t think I could…I even love the snowy photo. Happy New Year to you, and here’s to another great gardening year.

  10. January 2, 2011 12:07 pm

    aloha jean,

    what a wonderful gift and i loved seeing every month you chose to hightlight a particular plant coming into bloom…thanks for sharing with the rest of us your monthly blooms and happy gardening new year!

  11. January 2, 2011 5:27 pm

    What a great gift! I am sure your family and friends will treasure their calendars. I think you made perfect choices to represent each month. I am thinking this may be something I want to do!

  12. January 2, 2011 10:39 pm

    Your calendar looks beautiful Jean. I made one with Snapfish a few years ago, but wasn’t happy with the quality, so I’m glad it sounds like they’ve improved. This year for our 2011 calendar we used Lulu. They have a very large calendar option, 13.5×19″, and I was stunned at the quality. Just another option to look into if you decide on a different size or layout for next year. I love the challenge of trying to select just a few images for the year’s calendar, but you’re smart, I didn’t think of a collage! Best of all our friends and family seem to appreciate that the calendars are more meaningful, and for us it’s fun to look back on images from the previous year as the current one moves forward. Happy New Year!

  13. January 2, 2011 11:10 pm

    Love the calendar idea—maybe next year. Happy New Year, Carolyn

  14. January 3, 2011 2:41 am

    This is a very beautiful project for Christmas presents. I already love to do it years before, but cost of printing here is so high, maybe these calendars printed here can be worthwhile as fundraising for some causes. Your photos are great and your garden is teeming with life all the time, even in winter.

  15. January 3, 2011 2:37 pm

    Jean I remember the post about your 2010 calendar last year. I’m sure each person has really appreciated getting such a personal present from you. Your photo collection is just perfect for each of those months.

    Happy New Year.

  16. January 3, 2011 10:02 pm

    Jean, what a lovely calendar and great idea! Happy gardening plans-

  17. garden337 permalink
    January 3, 2011 11:10 pm

    Jean, I have never thought about creating a calendar for friends and family. What a great idea!


  18. January 4, 2011 12:30 pm

    As a complete non-photographer, I can only say I admire what you are doing here–beautiful photos of lovely content.

  19. January 4, 2011 8:01 pm

    Hello Everyone,
    Thank you all for your kind words about my 2011 calendars; I am very, very happy about the way they’ve turned out. Many of those who received them used the word “professional” to describe the look, which pleased my amateur self enormously!

    Noel and Andrea, When I said that I tried to choose images apropos for the month, I didn’t mean that the flowers I chose were in bloom in that month. lol, Maine is not the tropics! In fact, the December picture of the garden in winter is pretty much what my garden looks like for 4-5 months of the year, from sometime in late November until late March or early April. If I limited myself to what’s in bloom in the garden, some of the pages would have to be blank. So, even though bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) blooms in May-June, I used it for February because its hearts seemed appropriate for Valentine’s day.

    Marguerite, the giant yellow flowers in the July image are my favorite Rudbeckia, a cultivar called ‘Herbstsonne’; that’s it in close-up in the September image.

    Thank you to Laura, Helen, and Clare for sharing your own calendar experiences. I can now list the following as sources of customized calendars: FedEx (which I used last year), iphoto (recommended by both Laura and Helen), Lulu (recommended by Clare), and Snapfish (my choice this year).

    For those of you who are thinking about doing calendars but haven’t done so yet, I have found these are a big hit as gifts. I also want to emphasize how easy this is. Most of these sites give you choices of sizes, styles and finishes; they also allow you to include your own special dates and events. You choose what you want and then upload your photos (doing some cropping as you go to fit the size of the calendar pages). At both sites I have used, calendars were printed and shipped within 48 hours after I uploaded my images and placed the order.

    One caution: Don’t get carried away “cleaning up” your photo archives (that means you, Deb!). If you edit your images before you publish them on your blog (as I do by cropping, adjusting color saturation and contrast, and saving them down to a smaller size with lower resolution), save the originals, too. I find that I often need to go back to the photo as it originally came from the camera when I’m preparing the calendar images.

    Happy New Year to all of you.

  20. January 8, 2011 9:16 am

    Your pictures are beautiful. That collage of siberian irises is spectacular.


  1. A Doubly Good New Year: 2012 Jean’s Garden Calendar(s) « Jean's Garden

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