I keep every label from all the plants that I buy. Pictorial garden centre labels, carefully handwritten ones from nurseries and even those jotted on cardboard from car boot sale plants – they all tell a story. I don’t keep them on the plants as I think they look messy in the garden, I file them in a box that I keep in my greenhouse. They are divided into sections, each in their own plastic sleeve so that I can locate them easily – essential for identifying plants correctly that I photograph for picture libraries.
The sections include shrubs, climbers, trees, fruit, herbs, bulbs, grown from seed and perennials. In winter I get the box out and have a good rummage through them, to remind me that my garden will look better in spring! I also keep labels from plants I have loved and lost, in case I want to look for them again.
A different box contains all sorts of empty labels and markers ready for labeling home-grown plants and seedlings. There are plastic labels of every colour I can find, recycled lollipop sticks, posh enamel labels and a few copper ones. I keep various pens that I have found to work on labels including soft lead pencils, gold and silver felt tips and indelible ink markers.
This year I have a new toy, a Dymo embossed label maker. This gadget was all the rage in the seventies – my dad loved his and went round the house labelling the hot and cold taps in our airing cupboard and jars of screws and nails in the garage. More usefully he labelled and dated his demijohns of homemade wine ready for parties – Moselle, Elderberry and a particularly memorable Wheat and Raisin.
Forty years on, I am using my Dymo for making some legible plant labels. The first ones are for my newly started snowdrop collection using small black labels, hopefully they should look quite smart.
I will then move on to labels for seeds I sow this season, incorporating dates of sowing on the reverse. How nice to think that this year I may still be able to read them a few weeks later!