Not What – But Where?

january-25-2009-007-21Do you remember “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?”, “Where Is Waldo”, or “Where In The World Is Matt Lauer?” ? Hmm, that is a lot of quotes and question marks….oh well, let us proceed.
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Shown above, a crocus we just bought at the grocer’s, having nothing whatsoever to do with …wait a minute! It could show how we want to keep track of bulbs that are dormant in the garden since these will go in the ground after blooming. Yes, that’s it! A perfect bulb example photo, and current too, not from the files. january-25-2009-017-2The task assigned for this month by the creative fireballs at Gardening Gone Wild was to write about labeling and record keeping in the garden. This is a topic that touches us all, but maybe some are more affected, or is that afflicted, than others. The posts of other bloggers so far have shown baskets full of tags, photo records and labeling tips among other things. I do think the photos with text added, something I have been toying with anyway to prevent my photos being used without credit given, is an excellent idea that VP showed in her post.
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Shown above is Heuchera ‘Caramel’.
january-25-2009-012-2january-25-2009-016-2My efforts at having attractive and long lasting stakes have all been dismal failures. I have spent some wealth on pens and paint, not to mention the time spent writing and remembering what the name is of that lovely daylily that has been moved umpteen times in an effort to use some design principles rather than the usual imperative of  where is there an empty spot in this mishmash of growing things. Last year I thrust the tags into the ground near the new additions that came to live here. But those plastic tags have a way of breaking, fading, becoming dislodged and just disappearing into thin air. january-25-2009-014-2january-25-2009-015-2There were two types of plants, geums and crocosmias, that became collections as several different cultivars were purchased at various nurseries. I am not that familiar with the differences between them and the foliage gives no clue when they are not in bloom as to who is whom. Leaving the tags in the ground is my only hope for discerning Little Red Head from Emberglow.january-23-2009-019-2But, (what would our discourse be without the all important but), the problem here is not WHAT is planted, rather it is the WHERE has it been moved to? Somewhere in the garden journals is the name, as complete as the tag read at the time it was entered, if there was a tag, the day of purchase if we were being a good little gardener. If diligence is applied, that name can usually be located if needed. I have given up writing down where the newcomer was planted, with the knowledge that it will not be there permanently. Most of the large trees that were planted when we first began carving this garden out of the steep slope, large being a five gallon sized pot, are still in their original spots. Dogwoods and conifers, azaleas and hollies are old friends whose names we know well. It is the newer arrivals and the perennials that have been participants in a game of musical chairs. Always learning new design techniques and better combinations means that the little shovel that is dear to my heart is never put away in the shed, for it is in use daily, weather and health permitting, moving something to a better location.
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Shown above is the emerging Allium ‘Christophii’. Seeds were collected the first year after planting from the large round flower heads and sown in rows behind the knot garden. They were like tiny blades of grass for several years but last year some began to bloom from those rows and were moved to better growing locations around the garden. Notes were written about those locations, and photos will be taken to help us remember the where of them. That is until they are moved once again.january-23-2009-027-2Photo journalism can keep a record of what is planted where on a given date, but that is likely to change at any time. There will always be pictures of the garden taken. Well before blogging, even before the first digital camera, snapshots of the flowers and gardens where I have lived, from Pennsylvania to California to Tennesee to Texas and back again to Tennessee are secured in albums for posterity. With the march of progress the garden photos are now on discs and jump drives and even on the world wide web, but the placement of the plants is fluid, not static.
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Shown above is a photo record of Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’. january-25-2009-003-2It is a good thing that I love surprises, for each spring as the garden awakens, seeing who is growing in what bed is a delightful endeavor.
Frances
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Shown above is Fuchsia boliviana ‘alba’ with the cyclamen bloom entering the frame on the right and a begonia leaf wanting to join the fun on the left. The sunroom/greenhouse is party central at the moment. The Fuchsia was sent from friend Chuck of My Back 40(feet). Click here to read a recent post of his that I just love.
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53 Responses to Not What – But Where?

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Most of what I read confirms that it is nearly impossible to keep up with plant tagging. Geez. You would think a seemingly simple procedure of labeling would not get the best of the best. Ha… I gave up labeling long ago. I write it down but that is about it.

    Hi Lisa, you are right. There seems to be no good way to keep track of what is where in the garden. Every method has a fatal flaw. It is hard enough just to write down when something new is purchased and then try to keep the tag somewhere, anywhere! HA
    Frances

  2. Janet says:

    Good morning Frances, I know I should label or journal what is planted and where it is… most of my attempts do not have a good follow through. I do think that the photos from one year to another helps remind me of what is where.

    Hi Janet, good morning. This labeling is a dilemma with no good answer. Photos do help, as long as you haven’t moved something, especially bulbs! Anything that disappears for periods of time in the garden is quickly forgotten and something else plopped on top of it. Ooops!
    Frances

  3. Frances — it’s a challenge. I move things around so much. I start out organized and end up with lost plants — until they emerge.

    Cameron
    PS I still haven’t tried the golf ball tees. Hoping that the Musician forgets that it was his idea.

    Hi Cameron, it sure is. Moving the plants is part of the fun of gardening, remembering where they are is quite the challenge. I am wondering if the golf tees are tall enough? HA
    Frances

  4. Daphne Gould says:

    I have a very simple system. I intend to write my plant names down, but never do. I think I’ll remember, but a week later I forget. I think the plant labels that come with the plant will stick around so it doesn’t matter, but they always disappear. So I have six new “blueberries” that I planted last spring. I know there are 5 varieties, but I can’t quite remember what all their names are, or which one is which. I’m hoping I’ll write them down this spring if indeed the tags are still with each plant. I’m such a hopeless case.

    Hi Daphne, I love your method, the system of good intentions! HA. We follow that school of thought here too. :-)
    Frances

  5. Gail says:

    Frances, This is a dilemma. On one hand I love knowing what I have growing where, but I prefer the garden be tag free. But since I started blogging and falling in love with so many plants, thus acquiring a few more…I have lost track of what is where…Except the tags…I know exactly where they are! My plan/hope is that this spring I will id plants and photograph where in the garden they really are! Your photos are delicious today…Nothing beats a witch hazel flower! (It is raining on my newly planted, but yet to be photographed azaleas! Are you getting rain?) Gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. The witch hazel is a high spot in any otherwise dreary day, yet again. We need the rain, the pond is down so I can tell, but I so wanted to work in the garden today. Maybe later if it stops. I don’t like the way the tags look, but in the summer the foliage covers most of them. Right now the daylily hill is a sea of roadsigns! HA
    Frances

  6. Dave says:

    I need to develop a method for my madness. I found two hyacinths coming up this weekend that I bought Jenny for V Day last year growing under a landscape timber! A gardener GPS system would be nice…hmm.

    Hi Dave, oh no, rescue the hyacinths. Bulbs seem to be the hardest to keep track of since they do that disappearing act. They get moved just as much as the other things, if not more, as surrounding plants get larger and cover them up. I do move mine in bloom, it doesn’t hurt them a bit. GPS, I think VP wrote about that at the big gardens in England.
    Frances

  7. VP says:

    Thanks for the link love Frances! :) Our responses show there isn’t a simple answer to this month’s GGW question! Perhaps I’ll rename my garden to the ‘Garden of Benign Oblivion’ a la Gail’s GOBN ;)

    BTW my plants love playing musical chairs too.

    Hi VP, my pleasure. I am waiting for the comment that gives the perfect solution to this problem, for I am tiring of the white daylily labels as I look at them out the window. Oh my, three I’s in one sentence, that will never do. :-)
    Frances

  8. Joy says:

    Every year I vow to label what and where with those really pretty copper name sticks ? .. but by the time I burst out of the ‘gate” (like a race horse) all logical thoughts and plans go POOF ! and I just want to plant hunt after the BIG tidy up and thus the vows go by the wayside and a few surprises meet me every year .. something to look forward to ? .. I am trying to put a positive spin to it all but in general I am a failure at tagging .. big sigh !
    I have to go see that post now : )

    Hi Joy, let me save you the money on those copper tags, they get lost just like all the others and are even harder to find after they weather to a greeny brown. :-) Charts and photos are starting to look like the best solution here. I love the thought of you bursting out fo the gate, don’t go offstride! HA
    Frances

  9. Shirl says:

    LOL Frances, I loved this!

    My Mum has a wonderful view on my plants. She says that live out of suitcases as they are always going on their hols around my garden ;-)

    I am absolutely dreadful when a border finally gets to the stage I envisaged it at. Everything is in its place and looking great – then my companion had trowel and I mess it all up! Gardens need to keep moving don’t you think. We’ve got to keep them on their toes ;-)

    Oh yes… labels and tags and where I put what? Mm… tried all of the above and just usually just wing it ;-)

    Hi Shirl, thanks. That is charming about the hols for your plants, your mum sounds a delight, just like her daughter. Those plants do need to be kept on their toes and moving them is like plant shopping, only free! :-) Tags and labels…no solution so far.
    Frances

  10. Marnie says:

    I don’t move things often so it is easier to remember where they are. Frances, my beds probably aren’t as large as yours. The bulbs are the only plants I can’t always locate. I have them dotted everywhere so sometimes I will hit one accidentally.
    Marnie

    Hi Marnie, that would help, not moving things. Initially there were charts and labels and photos, but then the gardens changed, things died or were moved, new stuff added and the charts, which I still have, don’t help much for ID purposes. Bulbs are by far the hardest, and I move them just as frequently. No solution really, but thanks for stopping by.
    Frances

  11. Robin says:

    I don’t tag my plants, and I really should because my memory is terrible. I should at least keep a record of what is planted. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually start a garden journal.

    Hi Robin, it is so hard to remember, depending on your garden’s size and the gardener’s age! Having at least the full name of each plant, skipping the annuals, in a journal is a good idea. Just having them in some order so you can go back to look up that name has been beyond my grasp! :-)
    Frances

  12. Darla says:

    Oh my! I too, have had several dissapointments with name tags. I am just waiting to be surprised this year, I do have to move some things that grew a little larger than I expected this year. I guess we will all be a little surprised together, going to check out the link you posted.

    Hi Darla, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it’s a good thing we like surprises, for that is something that can be counted on in every garden!
    Frances

  13. Jean says:

    I think you’re right that this labelling is a problem with no good answer. I decided long ago that I didn’t like the look of plants with tags in the ground. Plus as you say, the labels disappear or partially disintegrate. I write all the plants in my journal (digital) and have names for the various areas where things get planted. But that only helps a little. I guess that’s one of the nice surprises of spring and one reason I anticipate it so much!

    Hi Jean, I agree, I don’t like the look of those labels either, especially in winter when there is little foliage to hide them. In the summer it is not so unsightly and the tag can still be found in needed. Unless it has been stepped on or dug up or had mulch piled on it. Having the info on the computer is a goal here, it may or may not get met, but the deciduous azaleas are recorded! :-)
    Frances

  14. Photos are great, but my main purpose of labeling is for guests in my garden. I, generally, know where and what things are. But being part of a garden tour, I labels for others. And photo-journaling can’t help me there. I need plants, genetically modified, with plant names and instructions appearing on every other leaf.

    Hi Jim, your tour labels are wonderful and a thoughtful way to keep from having to answer too many of the same questions. My plants have a way of moving all over the garden without my remembering that happening. Bulbs in particular are bad about not leaving a forwarding adress. Your modification idea would be perfect for the geums and crocosmias. :-)
    Frances

  15. Rose says:

    Frances, I am glad to see I am not the only one who sticks the original plant tag in the ground when I plant something new. The intention is to write it down later, but that doesn’t always happen. A few of these tags have amazingly survived for more than a year. The hardest part for me, though, is bulb planting. I had to try to remember this fall just where I had spring bulbs planted; I may be totally surprised this spring by what comes up and where…and all the empty spaces I thought had been filled up:)

    Hi Rose, oh you are not alone, I assure you. The trouble with leaving the tag, besides it breaking or getting lost, is not having it in one of the many spots where tags like to congregate around here. At least I can look through them for the name of that elusive whatever it is. Bulbs are the worst since they go into hiding. We will all be in for pleasant surprises come spring. HA
    Frances

  16. Randy says:

    Frances,
    we tried thos white plastic things to begin with too. Our garden looked like it was blooming thought bubbles we had so many of them. And, just like you said they fade and you can’t ready them after one year. We are using aluminum tags now and they are wonderful. I use aluminum chain link fence ties for stakes to hold them in place for daylilies, iris and what have you.

    Ah, Randy, a solution emerges! I will check out the fence supplies for those stakes, thanks so much! :-)
    Frances

  17. Brenda Kula says:

    Well, we all know I am one of the worst offenders of this habit. Try as I might, it’s like telling myself the indoor furniture (and the outdoor for that matter) must stay rooted in one place and never be moved to a different location. I become bored, possessed of too much energy and sudden ideas. And too many quirks of fancy consisting of: Oh, this will get much better direct light if I move it just a bit…
    Brenda

    Hi Brenda, it is like furniture moving LOL! And just as fun, but at least the furniture doesn’t go dormant on us so that we place another piece over top of it! HA
    Frances

  18. tina says:

    A gardener after me own heart! I am the same way-musical chairs indeed until the plant gets too big even for me to move it. I will figure out a good way to mark newly planted perennials one of these days though. My memory fails me too much. Icy, ICY HERE! Poor trees. Snapping left and right and the sound of the cracks ring out in the ice.

    Hi Tina, oh ice is bad, do stay inside warm, safe and dry. Only rain here, but I really wanted to work outside today, it has been way too long and I need a gardening, not just indoor, fix! When you figure out that good way of marking, let me know! :-)
    Frances

  19. Catherine says:

    I am terrible about labeling. They are all stuffed in a ziploc bag in my potting bench. Occasionally I go through them, noticing that some have been long gone or I don’t remember where they ended up. Every spring I’m surprised with plants emerging that I completely forgot I had.

    Hi Catherine, thanks for visiting, the ziplock bag is a good way to keep them together with the occasional winnowing out of dead things. Mine are all over the place, always muddy from the gloved hands just finished planting them. I started out with them all in one place, many years ago and that system has just fallen by the wayside. On the agenda is a real census, maybe it will get done. Or not.
    Frances

  20. chuck b. says:

    Oh, Frances–you are very sweet. How is that Fuchsia doing? It’s branching! That’s interesting. I’m sure it likes all that sun right now too. My gifts from you also look good. Hmmm–sounds like a blog post…

    Hi Chuck, my pleasure. There does seem to be branching and I repotted it after taking that photo yesterday for the base was woody and leafless after a mishap with the heat system right after it came to live here. The greenhouse got into the 90’s and the little fuchsia was drooping dangerously. It was revived with cool water misting, like everything else in the greenhouse but lost some lower leaves. It is liking the cool bright light of the room at the moment. Glad to hear the gifts are doing well too, nice to know. :-)
    Frances

  21. Jen says:

    I am going to try the photo-journaling also. Although I have a patio garden, I have over 250 containers in it. Plants that don’t survive the winter are the hardest to identify. ” What was this stick thing?” If I take a photo of the plant during the summer, I can store it in Picassa, and they can all be in the same web album. Easily accessible when I need to see them for reference.

    Jen

    Hi Jen, thanks for stopping by. The photos seem a good way to go about it. I have thousands of photos, and love them all :-) but find the written word works for me. Now if only they could get organized a little better. Maybe if I would stop blogging and DO something….. HA
    Frances

  22. Hi Frances-Maria i Sennan here-I can see that you are wating for the Spring to arrive-just like we are here in Sweden-We need to see the sun an feel it,s warmth and make everything start to grow
    So from me to you-Have a nice day
    Maria i Sennan

    Hi Maria, why thank you so much for those good wishes. You are so right, we are needing to see the sun, but it is hiding once again today behind those rain clouds and fog and cold. You too, have a wonderful day. I love your daily photos! :-)
    Frances

  23. Racquel says:

    I’ve been trying to document where I plant things in the garden in a composition notebook over the past year or so. The bulbs really are the issue, it never fails when I go to move something or plant something new that I end up digging up some bulbs in the process.

    Hi Racquel, it is hard to keep up with what is where and the bulbs are the hardest of all since they play hide and seek with us! I am forever digging them up too, especially the daffodils for they have been plopped everywhere to give color to the early spring garden. Too difficult to remember where they aren’t! :-)
    Frances

  24. skeeter says:

    I stick the plant tags from the pots in the ground by my plants when possible. I recently found a tag that was still in place covered up with mulch! The plant had died years ago! ha…

    Hi Skeeter, isn’t that the way of it? The tag is still there but the plant is long gone! HA
    Frances

  25. dawn says:

    I use ppastic forks/knives push in the soil so the handles are exposed, marked on the handles. My favorite is “Where’s the beef?”

    Hi Dawn, it took me a minute before I got it! :-) Brilliant, I hadn’t thought of that one! HA The plastic cutlery is a good idea.
    Frances

  26. Hi Frances, I love labels and tags. But they should be leatly written, then they are beautiful. But I agre sometimes you miss to tag some plants and that is annoying.

    Hi Tyra, thanks for visiting. The tags can be beautiful, but they don’t seem to stay put in my garden. It is in the winter when most of the plants get moved around here, maybe if there was a snow cover I would leave the plants in their original spots! HA
    Frances

  27. Frances~
    I am impressed with your determination and dedication to plant labeling and plant location.I’m trying to change my lazy gardener ways by working on a set of clay plant markers. We’ll see how they turn out.
    Hope you get to get out in your garden soon.

    Karrita

    Hi Karrita, thanks. I am not dedicated enough it seems, for there will still be plenty of surprises as spring unfolds. Already there are bulbs that I don’t remember emerging that have sent me back to the journals in hopes that I wrote down what was moved and to where. Your clay markers sound like just the thing for beauty and identification.
    Frances

  28. Goodness, that Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’looks like something prehistoric. I’ve been looking for a witchhazel, and this might be it! Thank you!

    Robin Wedewer

    Hi Robin, thanks. I can highly recommend Diane for her color and time of bloom. The fall foliage is gorgeous too. Jelena is quite similar and I have a new Arnold’s Promise that has not opened yet but is loaded with buds. Good luck with whatever you choose, they are all great. :-)
    Frances

  29. Monica says:

    Since we’re feeling all nostalgic, how about these lyrics from Culture Club: “Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?”

    Please.do.not.show.me.heuchera.foliage.intact.in.January.

    We have yet more snow predicted and we’ve been getting highs of 20.

    Excuse me while I have a plant withdrawal breakdown.

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Nooooooooooooooo faaaaaaaair(e) you warmer climate gardeners!

    There. Thank you. I now return you to your temperate climate and normal blogging behavior.

    Hi Monica, I am so sorry to hurt you or make you cry with intact heuchera foliage and I guess I won’t whine about our cold, sunless, wet days after days after days. It’s all relative. We are having the coldest winter since we moved back to TN with barely any outdoor gardening and then in freezing cold. Ooops, I said I wouldn’t whine, sorry. Your winter is much worse, but that blanket of snow is so good for the plants. And seed starting. I can’t wait to see your seeds begin to grow that have been outside all this time. Isn’t that a cheering thought? :-)
    Frances

  30. Monica says:

    Hi Frances, I actually have nothing against the snow. You’re right, it is a good insulator. It’s just that heuchera are one of my favorite plants… I may just switch them with hollyhock in my island list!… and seeing the sweet little darlings was just too much for me in a weak moment! I know you’ll understand and pardon my little tantrum! ;-)

    Hi Monica, you can have your tantrum here anytime. :-) Only some of the heucheras do that well here with our heat and drought. They are the ones with H. villosa in their bloodlines like Caramel and Citronelle and Brownie, the only ones doing anything here. We have killed many and now understand that they are not all created equally.
    Frances

  31. Then there is us who don’t label or keep records and then kick ourselves when we love something and have no clue what it is…not that I know anyone like that…really I don’t! Kim

    Hi Kim, HA, no record keeping means keeping life simple, or as simple as life can be with a 1400 pound large one hump camel male/it. HA
    Frances

  32. I have labeling woes. I’m pretty good about it really, but when I’m bad, I’m really bad. I’ll have some spring surprises!

    Hi Kylee, woe is us! HA Good thing we like surprises too, the bulbs here like to move around without my knowing remembering having moved them. :-)
    Frances

  33. Diana says:

    You’re so right about all the trials and tribulations in labeling the garden. I took pictures of my bulbs when they came up last year as an attempt to not plant on TOP of them , but then many of them didn’t return. Rats, foiled again!

    Hi Diana, thanks for visiting. Photos are a good way with the bulbs, but I have trouble remembering to include some landmarks in the photos instead of going with those super fun macro shots. Those don’t help at all!
    Frances

  34. Lythrum says:

    I used to have a basket of tags, but then I decided that I would scan them into the computer, front and back so that I didn’t have a basket full of tags taking up space. I tend to be the cluttery sort so anything that helps that is goodness :)

    Hi Lythrum, thanks now that is a great idea! I would make copies with them to put in my notebooks, I do love those notebooks since the tags are so unwieldy and definitely cluttery!
    Frances

  35. jodi says:

    I was struck by the subtleties of colour in your Diane hamamelis, Frances. Mine isn’t showing that much variation in colour yet, but last year was its first full year in our garden. And it won’t be blooming for another couple of months here…
    I’m working on my sad tale of labeling woe, but haven’t finished it yet.

    Hi Jodi, have I told you how glad I am that you are back circulating the blogdom? I have? Well here it is again, welcome back. :-) Diane is being quite color changing this year for some reason, normally she is more solid darker orange red. I like the yellow highlights, she much have gone to the salon! Can’t wait to hear your labeling tale, knowing it will be a goodie!
    Frances

  36. Siria says:

    I have no idea what most things are growing in my garden, and I get so excited when I see a picture of one of them in one of these blogs! I have tried writing it down and saving the tags, but for the most part, I have lost track. I’m trying to improve on this…maybe one day I too will be organized and labeled!

    Hi Sira, learning the names of your resident plants is a worthy goal. I too have recognized things from photos on blogs that are growing here and didn’t know the cultivar. People often will post a What Is This Plant and there are always lots of comments with good info. It is so easy to lose track of those silly tags. May we all get more organized! :-)
    Frances

  37. If there was any chance my grocery store would have a crocus like that I’d already be in the car with money in hand – what a color, Frances!

    Once upon a time I hung out with amateur plant collectors and we all used those Martha Stewart type metal labels with wire legs you pushed into the ground. Some of my friends didn’t just write the names, they inscribed both common and botanic name with an electric tool made for that purpose.
    It really did work pretty well.

    Down here I don’t have many named cultivars of any one plant so there’s less need for labels. Poking the plastic tags in near new plants hasn’t worked too well – the Blue Jays like to fly off with them.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Hi Annie, HA. The stores are beginning to show forced bulbs of all types. I often buy them on sale after the blooms are gone by if they are daffs or hyacinths. The tulips are not good at coming back after being forced. I had to have this one for I love those giant purple crocus in the garden and they photograph well and look good with the yellow daffs. I bought those metal tags too, Annie, and the electric engraver! Over time the metal rusts and breaks off, especially if the jack booted gardener steps on it a few times. The plastic tags are worthless and look silly in the winter. I really want to label the daylilies with so many, 78 at last count, buying the professional tags would call for a 2nd mortgage and they just aren’t loaning money on house equity right now!
    Frances

  38. Pam/Digging says:

    Like Annie, I’ve found that the metal/copper tags on legs work well if you use a ball-point pen to etch the name. But I’ve given up on labels in the garden. Like you, Frances, I move plants too often, plus the tags distract from the scene. I try to keep up with my plants through notes in my garden journal. I like the idea of labeling photos though, for my own purposes.

    Hi Pam, they are the best of the lot, those metal tags on legs, except the legs rust and then they break. Randy had a good idea with chain link fence ties for the legs, I am going to look into that one. One drawback with the metal stakes is they catch the leaves in the fall, making raking difficult. The photos are a good idea, with landmarks to help id the spot. Got to stop with the macros. I was looking at my daff photos to see what was where, I did take pictures of each variety, every one a close up so no idea where they are located!
    Frances

  39. gittan says:

    Oh Francis…I’m reading with tears in my eyes from laughting. I do have the same “problem” as you. Every spring is a surprise and I’ve never understood why =)

    Hi Gittan, thanks so much, I am so glad to have made you laugh. :-) The tags problem is vexing and the bulbs are always moving around behind my back! Your *moat* made me laugh too, even though I am sorry you are having too much of a good thing!
    Frances

  40. joey says:

    Indeed a dilemma, dear Frances. My 33+ year old perennial gardens remain in a constant state of flux. Once spring arrives, it’s constant digging, moving, dividing, sharing, and making room for ‘must have, newbies. It’s hard to keep track and why I prefer spring dividing rather than fall when many are dormant and hidden. I often dig up many bulbs, scratch my head, and plunk them back in, wherever! Surprises are fun :)

    Hi Joey, I like that, state of flux, it perfectly describes a mature garden such as yours. It is easy to keep track of a brand new garden with only a few young plants growing in it. As it ages and things seed about, or die, it gets harder and harder to keep track. And bulbs, well they are just a mystery! We do love surprises, though. :-)

    Frances

  41. commonweeder says:

    I’ve tried lots of different types of labels, the fanciest being little copper tags, very pretty, that you ‘emboss’ with your pen. Two problems. First as the copper oxidizes the embossing becomes harder and harder to read, and second, the fine wires used to attach the labels to the shrub are less than immortal which means that even if the tag is readable, it often falls ends up composting underneath along with the manure. I do try and put out big clear temporary wooden labels by my roses (planted in the lawn) during our Annual Rose Viewing for my guests.

    Hi Pat, thanks for stopping by. I have had the same results with the copper, and it is so pretty too, darn it. Photos and charts may be the best answer. Really it is the daylilies that I want to keep track of, and they seem to want to move about every year so the charts have arrows with lines snaking all over the paper. Kind of modern art there, HA
    Frances

  42. gittan says:

    It just hit me that I have a tag that I write on with a lead pencil on and it stays readable for at least a couple of years. I’ll look in the store to see if they have got them yet. If they have I’ll send some for you amonge with the seeds I’ve promest you.

    Hi Gittan, you are too sweet, thanks so much. I had forgotten about the seeds and would love to have the tags, but please do not trouble yourself about them. There are white plastic labels that I use for the seed starting that seem to hold a lead pencil’s writing also. I just never thought to use a pencil, always using a marker that does not last at all, no matter what the claims on the package. Seed starting must have proper tags or we would not know what those babies are, and the different tomatoes and peppers that get started inside would get mixed up too. :-) Really , you are too nice.
    Frances

  43. Rusty says:

    I have no system, I keep it simple, stick it in the ground and wait for the surprise. I admit, sometimes is frustrating not knowing the name of the plant.

    Hi Rusty, so nice to see you. That is keeping it simple. I cannot remember what is where, especially things like the numerous daylilies. Why it matters I am not sure. Your method has its rewards, no tags! :-)
    Frances

  44. nancybond says:

    Diane is so beautiful — so is that crocus!

    Hi Nancy, thanks. Diane is having a very good year so far, and not even half of the buds have opened. They are very easy to shoot, they don’t blow in the wind much and are at eye level, no bending! Purple crocus are so royal! :-)
    Frances

  45. Titania says:

    Frances good to remind me to label the plants. At least I keep the labels and then the guessing game starts…which is which. I labeled my new Daylilies, but Billy my Jack Russel likes to remove them just for fun! So I have started to make a list 1 2 3 etc. but this does not work well because not that the list gets lost only mislaid. Well I guess my gray cells must work overtime to keep all the names sorted.

    Hi Titania, thanks for stopping by. Not everything needs to labeled, but the daylilies are hard to keep track of. Not sure now why I even care, other than being able to show photos of them with the names on the blog, or maybe not buy the same one twice. I have actually done that. HA I have a binder with notebook paper that keeps the names and a chart. It is when something gets moved that the whole system goes awry. I do think Billy is helping you keep on your toes with it! :-)
    Frances

  46. Barbara says:

    Frances,
    once went on a garden walk with two Rhodo experts – the first said, “That tag is simply incorrect!”, to which the first fellow (and owner of the garden) said, “Better tagged incorrectly than not tagged at all.” The silliest thing I ever did because I was going to be moving some giant hosta was to bury the tag with the hosta. At some point in the next century when the plants are divided again, no doubt, they’ll find the tag and be able to make a positive i.d.

    Hi Barbara, thanks for weighing in! That is funny that the owner would think it better to have a wrong tag than none, not so sure I agree but it brings a chuckle about the whole idea. The hosta tag will be a rare archeological find and placed in a museum. HA
    Frances

  47. cheryl says:

    Labelling plants? O geez, I’m just happy when they survive the winter. Actually it is a fave past time to indentify those young leaves in the Spring. I’ve always thought of gardening as an adventure, what lives will thrive. Lots of super hints from the readers as well as you Frances. :)

    Hi Cheryl, HA you are so funny. Keeping the mind sharp by remembering the leaf shape and who is whom is an adventure. That is a much better way to look at it, rather than fussing with tags and such, which don’t seem to work that well anyway.
    Frances

  48. Melanthia says:

    Oh the many tags I have in zip lock bags, baskets, etc. And I get decorative tags around the holiday and they get lost in a garden bag. Oh well. Beautiful photos Frances!

    Hi Meliantha, thanks so much. I keep throwing the tags out after writing down the info, and they keep mounting up in piles again somehow! It’s a conspiracy. :-)
    Frances

  49. catmint says:

    this is a perennial problem for me. I don’t like the look of tags in the garden so I keep lots of tags in a plastic bag and spread them out on the floor periodically to remind me what’s called what. Then I chuck out what has died or disappeared. When mysterious things appear they are usually weeds I think.

    Hi Catmint, I am so sorry for your excessive heat and hope you stay cool indoors! Your method seems a good one with the floor filing. I should try it. :-)
    Frances

  50. hayefield says:

    I enjoyed reading your post, Frances, but to be honest, my brain kept getting distracted by “Ooh, look at the pretty flower!” I absorbed that crocus for quite a while before I remembered I was here to *read*. And then, the witch hazel; simply lovely. I thank you for a Design Workshop contribution that’s as beautiful as it is fun. And what a wonderful collection of comments, too!
    -Nan Ondra

    Hi Nan, thanks so much for choosing these topics. Sometimes we have to think a little harder for the angle we want to take. Such was this one, and we do like to have the pretty pictures no matter the topic so we had to stretch a little to get the tie in to the subject at hand. I look forward to next month’s idea! :-)
    Frances

  51. Pingback: GBDW - Labeling and Record-Keeping Wrap-Up

  52. Oh My Goodness, Frances. I am so glad I just read this post. It is an ongoing dilemma for me, the tags. Each year tags disappear in the garden, or there’s just a piece of one left. The ones I write on w/indelible markers become blank over time. The ones I save just get piled up in a plant pot, unable to be matched up later w/plants in the garden hard as I might try! Now that I’m doing some indoor seed starting, again I’ve noticed the writing on my plastic labels has smudged & will disappear soon! I’ll have no idea what’s in those little peat pots. I might just dump everything in a big hole in the backyard and see what comes up!! If it’s pretty, will it matter if I know what they are??!!! :)

    Hi Jan, thanks. One thing I learned from Nan Ondra’s post was to just use lead pencil on the plastic tags. I never did before, thinking it would not stay on, but incredibly it works great and is what I use on the seed starting trays. Don’t know about out in the yard though. My daughter Semi just dumped her stuff in a bed spread with mushroom compost and it was great. By the time the things were flowering, she knew what most of them were too. You might as well try it! :-)
    Frances

  53. Laura says:

    Frances,
    I went on a garden tour here in Little Rock, AR and one of the gardens on the tour used broken terra cotta pots as a way to identify what was in the garden. I believe they were written on with a permanent marker and it was lovely. It seems like a lot of work but the owners were landscapers and I am sure they have broken pots all the time. Sorry this post is so late but I have just found and become a fan of your blog. Love your photos.
    Thank you, Laura

    Thanks, Laura.

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