Plant Labels and Maps

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Peter George
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-03
Plant Labels and Maps

This situation [how to remember names of plants growing in troughs] reminds me of a question I've almost asked about 1000 times, which is 'How do you label trough plants without destroying the trough's aesthetic? So now I've finally asked it. Any suggestions?

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Make maps instead.... and then fumble with sheets of paper out in the wind when trying to explain to a garden visitor who asks what that one is.  ;D

(A really good memory, and instant recall, would be ideal, but unfortunately, mine seems to be fading fast!)

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Peter wrote:

This situation reminds me of a question I've almost asked about 1000 times, which is 'How do you label trough plants without destroying the trough's aesthetic? So now I've finally asked it. Any suggestions?

For several large Sempervivum planters, I would draw a plan, using pencil rather than pen, to more easily erase and make corrections and updates.  This worked for many years, as I did not want to spoil the effect of the trough planting with ugly labels.  Having the plan available inside, served as a handy reminder and memory reinforcement tool as well.

Lori, it's happening again, we're posting similar things at almost exactly the same moment ;)

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

I have also seen rock gardens where people have made durable labels... somehow... and pushed them into the soil completely or partially, usually behind the plant, so that they are not obtrusive, but available, in case the plant's name goes suddenly AWOL from memory.  It would be wonderful if anyone who uses this method could comment here and enlighten us further on it!   :)

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

Skulski wrote:

Make maps instead.... and then fumble with sheets of paper out in the wind when trying to explain to a garden visitor who asks what that one is.   ;D

Hi Lori and Mark,
In these modern times it is quite simple to laminate each of your drawings, plant maps, sown seed lists, etc. for use in damp or windy situations, for preservation of important data or simply to look 'almost' competent in front of your visiting gardening luminaries.  :D

I type out each season's sowings (on the computer) and keep a laminated copy in the greenhouse or seed frame, another in a loose leaf file for reference when potting on and the original in the computers document file.  It then becomes quite easy to give each of that season's sowings an identification number i.e. 10/26 representing the year and the unique number for that packet of seeds and this number becomes the only thing that is necessary on labels, bottom or side of plastic pots, seed trays, etc. and if this is printed with one of those large black indelible markers then, hopefully, it might last more than three and a half days in the open air!?  :D :D :D

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

Skulski wrote:

I have also seen rock gardens where people have made durable labels... somehow... and pushed them into the soil completely or partially, usually behind the plant, so that they are not obtrusive, but available, in case the plant's name goes suddenly AWOL from memory.  It would be wonderful if anyone who uses this method could comment here and enlighten us further on it!   :)

I have also tried doing a series of 'normal' plastic labels (with a supposedly indelible marker) and then laying them out within a clear laminate pouch (side by side in rows, but allowing a 1/4" to 3/8" gap all round each label) and then carefully putting the whole thing through a laminator - each label can then be cut out as an individual laminated entity and the process repeated for double the effect and double the protection at twice the cost.  The laminates do, of course, still get stained and dirty, but are easily wiped and the lettering doesn't fade as quickly when protected in this way.  The thicker laminate sleeves are more effective for the outer skin.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

Another alternative that works quite well on troughs or screes is to paint (with enamel paints) a reference number on the bottom of a small flat pebble or rock that sits next to, behind or in front of the relevant plant. This number will correspond to the details recorded on yet another laminated sheet that can sit in the house until needed.  It is advisable to use identical pebble placements for all your plants thereby aiding location of same.

I must hold my hand up at this juncture and admit to not following much of my own advice for a number of years ... I have many unnamed and unfathomable plants in my own back yard and, more importantly perhaps, in my fading memory.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Interesting ideas.  I often end up with little plant label graveyards so finding ways to eliminate labels in planters and troughs is desirable.  Also need a way to be more flexible, to make any such scheme easier to update.  I took a cue from Ev Whittemore years ago, who always double labels plants, one label always buried to a certain EWNS compass orientation, or the buried label always in front of, or in back of, the plant in question, relative to the normal "approach" from a path.  I don't bury my 2nd label, but do always double-label everything.

These days one can also rely on digital records, such as the overhead shot I made on a recent Semp planter:
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=182.msg4157#msg4157

The labels shown in that photo will go away, because I don't really need them now.  I do plan on drawing a plan however, and it'll be drawn using a CAD program so that it can be easily updated and a new map printed out when needed. 

Cliff, I really like the idea of a laminated "cheat sheet" or list of plant IDs.  On something like a semp planter, that'll probably have the same plant inhabitants for years, one could print out a small business-card sized list of 10 or 12 plants, laminate it, then discretely place it under a rock that is part of the planting scene.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

I use plastic nursery labels. Write on both sides in pencil or better yet with an enamel paint pen. I trim them to length and lay them close to the plant, then place an appropriate stone over the label to hide it and protect it from UV rays. They get a little dirty but I can wipe them clean enough to read. With the information on both sides I feel more confident that it will not be erased. Some stones have three or four labels under them. 
The down side, is that you may have to pick up several stones before you find the hiding place. I have had a few labels get covered by silt filling in the gap beneath the stone but you can scratch the surface with your finger and find them readily.
My bigest problem with plastic labels is UV exposure.
I am toying with the Idea of buying a metal tape embosser, but the tapes can only hold one line of information. They may get too long to hide easily (I think that I may be able to fold them in half length wise and get by) unless I abbreviate the information. The juries still out on that one.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
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John P Weiser

Reed
Reed's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-10-09

One good way to use labels is to use copper or aluminum and write hard on a soft serface to make sure it indents well so if the pencil washes off you can see the imprint.

Albany, Oregon USA. Pacific Northwest, elevation approximately 200ft zone 8. Winter wet and Summer Dry. Hot enough to ripen the peaches.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

I used to use metal labels (zinc) purchased from the Paw Paw Everlast Label Co, which took pencil very well and lasted for years, the problem being that I sliced open my fingers a few times grubbing around plants with semi-hidden labels.  The zinc one would also oxidize depending on conditions and corrode.  I also used aluminum labels, they last without corrosion problem, but again, can be sharp (and they expensive).  I've seen softer metal labels (copper) at arboretums, and I'm sure they are very good and long lasting, but once again, expensive.  One would also only tend to label things that seemed like they'd be around for a while, versus using a much cheaper if not disposable label.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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