Plant tags have a way of accumulating like laundry, Japanese beetles and chin hair. All must be dealt with, but I’d rather deal with the tag thing. Winter is the time of year I attempt to organize the chaos I created indoors while creating last year’s garden. There’s nothing else garden-related to do besides organize and dream of the plethora of plants that will find their way into the garden. They will inevitably come with more tags which I’ll deal with next year. So for now, I’m working on plant tags from 2019. It’s during the growing season that these end up everywhere. My workbench, coat pockets, kitchen countertop, bathroom vanity. You name it, it probably has a tag on it.
For the longest time, before I finally decided to corral the plant tags into some kind of order, they simply ended up in a large envelope. No dates on them, no location in the garden. Nada. Just dirty tags. I don’t even clean them up so when I do handle them years down the road, they’re still dropping dirt from some plant bought who knows when. It wasn’t until I read something in a garden tips section of a gardening magazine, it may have been Fine Gardening or Chicagoland Gardening, that I thought I’d finally make sense of everything in a way that jived with my personality. Organized chaos.
Some gardeners keep meticulous spreadsheets of everything they plant (I only do this for the veggie garden), when they plant it, it’s mature height and width, color, bloom period. You get the picture. Well, I’m not that girl. Sometimes I wish I was, but it ain’t happening. It was heartening to read that another gardener was plant tag challenged and that there was hope for me yet. All I needed were some freezer bags. Who knew plastic would be the answer?
Freezer bags work best because they’re a bit stronger than your basic sandwich bag and the size accommodates larger plant tags like the ones that come with Proven Winners and First Editions plants. Because I have a relatively small garden, I identify each garden by it’s defining characteristic, like a tree or its proximity to one of the gates if there is no tree in the area, and make that the label for the bag.
This way, when I pick up a plant, I simply write on the tag with a Sharpie the year I planted it and put the tag in the corresponding garden bag. The hardest part was sifting through all the tags. I came across tags whose plants were long gone, others I simply couldn’t remember ever planting. I asked “Where did I put that?” or, my favorite, “When did that die?” often. Oh well. It’s humbling to discover just how many have met their demise in my garden. Keep in mind, this bag o’tags had over a decade worth of plant tags in it. Casualties were inevitable.
The new plant tags will start accumulating soon. Spring can’t come fast enough. But when it does, the garden beds will be busting as will all the plant tag bags full of hope and a bit of dirt. And I’ll be slightly more organized…for now.