How many times have you seen a plant in a garden and asked – what is that? You are hoping that they have a good memory, but a lot of the time they may know its common name, but not its full name, or they forget the variety.
Some people, knowing they can never remember everything (and that includes me) keep the labels that came with the plants in the soil. But as we all know, sooner or later they get lost, broken, or blown away in the wind. Other labels attach themselves to a branch, which we forget about until the leaves drop in winter and we see them hanging, possibly strangling the branch as it grows.
Get Out The Label Maker
Luckily my wife decided that was not going to happen in this yard. She used to be a librarian and knows a thing or two about categorizing, labeling and keeping track of things. She started experimenting with various labels and plant stakes and before long she was making readable and durable labels for all of the plants in the yard.
Each label has the Latin name, the common name and on the back the year that they were acquired. She also keeps a full database of every plant we have ever bought, where it is planted, where we got it from, other information about and is also working on a way to import the “plantalog” into this website.
The labels are heavy-duty zinc, the stakes stainless steel (she had been using galvanized steel and standard weight zinc, but they do not hold up in our climate) and the labels are with clear tape. She cleans the labels with rubbing alcohol before applying the label information. She has identified an off-brand label that in her opinion works as well as the official labels but at a fraction of the price.
These labels were admired by the manager of a local nursery (Hidden Acres), and she asked my wife to create labels for a couple of parks (Sue H. Elmore and Hoquarton) in Tillamook. These were parks that were created or renovated when the work on the 101 bridge in town was completed. She created well over 100 labels and has allowed park goers to known a little more about the plants that see. Hidden Acres also donated most of the plant material in the Sue H. Elmore park.
The second kind of labels we use in the garden are slate labels. Every year we buy a living Christmas tree. Most of them are totally Charlie Brown trees. We buy them because of some attribute that we really like, such as new needle coloration, or cone color. They are all small trees because we don’t want them over-taking the yard.
We write on these slate labels using a white marker and then spray it with a clear coat for protection. We mark the year in which it was our Christmas tree and then its Latin and varietal name.