Phenology field journal example for crabapple trees 2019

by | May 22, 2019

It’s a typical spring here in the Cody/Yellowstone area – a few tremendously beautiful spring days and then another round of cold and wet weather. It’s spring in the west. During those few glorious days, the blooming trees here in town just unfolded into the warmth. I took a few minutes here and there to head out with a camera to document this phenology event and now have it added to my species account field journal as well as my phenology journal. I want to share that with you in this post.


When I lived in the mountains of Colorado, the big event with the trees was the emergence of the aspen leaves. After a winter devoid of color, the shot of green to the world always made my heart sing. It was a week-long event that brought me as much joy to document as the intoxicating fall colors. Taking photos allows me to savor life more fully. Documenting them through field journaling lets me anticipate the next round of nature’s calendar so I can appreciate it all again.

Now that I live in Cody, the flowering trees here in town take on that spring role. My favorite flowering trees around here are the white blossoming crabapple trees. Grandmother had one next to her house that provided the jelly I ate on my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout my childhood (and even into my adulthood). In my opinion, crabapple jelly is the absolute best there is. When we visited in August, I loved harvesting the ruby-colored fruit. Buckets of good memories. Now I enjoy the neighbor’s tree that hangs branches over the fence.

Mom also has an apple tree next to the house that blooms in concert each year with the neighbor’s crabapple tree. This year with the colder weather, the blossoms sat tightly closed, just waiting for the warmth. That came over four to five days before the current weather rolled in. It was enough, and the bees and other insects flocked to the opening blossoms. The constant buzz was amazingly loud as I stood there taking photos.


May 11 | Cody, WY | Neighbor’s Crabapple Tree: Buds tightly closed.
May 12 | Cody, WY | Neighbor’s Crabapple Tree: Buds not so tightly closed.
May 13 | Cody, WY | Neighbor’s Crabapple Tree: One blossom in each group opening up – I wonder if these are the ones that turn to the best fruit. Maybe next year I’ll figure out a way to mark the first opening blooms and see if there’s a difference in how they develop. I would think they would receive more pollinators than the others.
May 14 | Cody, WY | Neighbor’s Crabapple Tree: Nearly every bloom is open throughout the entire tree.


I see I haven’t fully documented this spring event since 2014. But that year we must have had a long spell of colder weather that stopped the unfolding because it took much of the month for the blossoms to open. As I worked on this entry, I now see other information I could add: photos of when the fruit ripens each year as that seems to happen over a week or two as it seems to me. But in reality, I don’t know that for certain…yet. I can also add in a summary page in the front of this section of my species account journal. But I’ll get to this as time allows. I love knowing that with the captures already on my hard drive, I can add this extra information in at some point either as photos themselves or sketches from them.

Phenology is the study of the seasons. It’s an easy way to start a nature journal to celebrate the seasons through observations while bringing nature more closely into your life. You can find my binders in my Etsy Shop. You can see large versions of the images used in my journal in this gallery.