Editors Note: Every Tuesday--more or less--we post a new Garden Question of the Week and invite you to respond. After a couple of weeks, we gather the best responses and put them here, in our regular Tuesday garden feature article. Wanna play?
This week's featured responses are to:Know What You Grow
. . . in which we asked how you keep track of what is planted where in your garden. Here's our pick of the crop:
I have a lot of garden visitors every spring and summer, and plant markers are invaluable when giving someone a "tour." I use the metal type of marker with a zinc faceplate. I use the tall (20") kind, as they don't get lost as easily under foliage. I discovered a wonderful way of labeling the faceplates -- instead of an indelible marker (not really indelible after four season's worth of weathering!), I use a label machine. The label machine I use allows two lines of copy, so I list the botanical name on the top line and the common or variety name on the bottom. So far, these labels have not faded or peeled off. It makes it so easy to let people know exactly what variety of rose or herb or daylily they are admiring!
Every October, November and December, I prepare a garden plan on my computer. With 3600 square feet to plant, I can visually see where things will be planted. Rotation of crops is essential, and with a previous year's map on hand, I can move crops around to different areas. This is a top view, of course, and little symbols will represent different crops. Labeling? I use wooden "tongue depressors" marked with a permanent marker pen and stapled to stakes or shoved in the ground. They are much cheaper than what you see for sale in stores. They are biodegradable also!
I use rocks and write the botanical name on one side and the common name on the other, then when I'm gardening, I practice using the botanical name so that it becomes common in my mind.
I have found that keeping a drawing of the layout of my plantings helps me plan for spring planting. I also have a garden program and diary in my computer that allows me to enter plant statistics and history. I also videotape my gardens about once a month during the growing season to remind me during the winter of plant location, size and color. For me, any other way is guesswork.
Rose from Varennes
I have about 300 perennials in my garden! Every year I buy the newest and brightest. From experience, I buy only if there is a plastic label with the plant name and zone and the other maintenance requirements. It is that stick that I will place in the soil when I plant them. By the time it breaks or gets lightened by the sun I will have memorized its name. Once the plant is to your liking you will never forget it and you will be able to identify them anywhere else.
That's just the trouble . . . I don't keep track very well. I generally remember where everything is, as far as bulbs and perennials, but sometimes I forget the variety (like the little camellia that's blooming like crazy and I'd love to know so I could buy another one), and sometimes I never knew it. My favorite daylily was bought by mistake -- they weren't in bloom yet and I thought I was buying 'Heavenly Harp,' which is yellow, but when they started blooming two out of three were deep pink with yellow throats. Beautiful, and better for my semi-shaded garden than 'H.H.,' which I eventually dug up and gave away. Sometimes accidents are the best thing that can happen to a garden.
In my experience, the best type of permanent label is the soft aluminum one on which you etch your information using any pointed implement that will indent the soft metal. Once tied to any plant the information stays readable indefinitely.
I take photographs of the garden when in bloom and refer to that when I need to.
I have a pretty complete garden map. I have found that, without it, I absolutely cannot remember where some things are. I also try to keep a bloom journal up to date, and an index of plants that lists both the Latin and common names. I also keep records that tell me when I last divided, pruned, etc. On a calendar I list spray schedules and other dose days. I use the extra slats from mini-blinds as garden markers. I cut them to size, and use a "Sharpie" to write with. This works just as well as anything I can buy. The money saved goes for more plants! I keep all paperwork in a big old notebook, along with any receipts from new plants. That way, if something dies, I have the paperwork to get a refund.
Every year I buy a ring-bound calendar. When I buy a new plant, I mark the common name as well as the botanic name in the calendar and where it is located in the yard. Now if I could just remember where those calendars are . . .