Keeping Track of Plantings

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

This is one of those ideas I wish I’d thought of but didn’t. Who can remember all of the different plants and varieties one is growing at any one time? Especially when the plants are all so similar like those in this sempervivum trough.

My über gardening pal Barry is behind this very smart method of keeping track of plant varieties that can work for pots or whole gardens. The other day I asked about a plant in one of his pots but he could not remember the name. He disappeared inside for a second and returned with a binder full of plastic-covered photos, each one marked with the names of plants and varieties, just like this one. Okay, possibly a bit tidier than my slapdash version, but you get the idea.

I have since adopted it for my own mixed plantings rather than burying the tags next to the plants as I often have in the past. It’s a smart and fairly simple way to keep track of plants and avoid ugly white tags that only mar your efforts to make a beautiful planting.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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23 thoughts on “Keeping Track of Plantings

  1. Brilliant. One could also take multiple photos as the season went on to tuck behind the one with the plant varieties so you could see how they worked at various parts of the season.

  2. Super smart! You could probably do a paperless version too on Flickr, with mouseover notes. On second thought, lugging the laptop out to the garden is no bueno in my book. Wait, maybe I need an iPad for gardening… ahh, stop me!

  3. Now that’s so admirable plant organization! A lot better than the spontaneously sunflower seed bombing I did at my apartment last night. Thanks for passing the tip along.

  4. Blake: I have done similar for myself using Flickr but agree not always convenient. Also don’t get me started on the ipad…

  5. This is a great idea.

    I’ve used a variation of this: I’ve taken lots of garden pictures in early spring and then used them to identify good places to plant more spring bulbs in the fall.

  6. Awesome idea ! not just for plant names but also for helping to plan the garden during the winter. You could see where the gaps are and what colours and size the plants are etc.

  7. I’ve done this for ages, in fact I use Photoshop to add the names of the plants and the date right on top of the image. Then I keep the image in a folder on my computer. One of these days I’ll organize that folder a bit better.

  8. I am following a friend’s example by making copper plant tags. you “engrave” them with a pen (or any pointy writing tool) and stick them in the ground next to the plant using a piece of wire cut from old coat hanger and a nail. The copper blends right into the soil/mulch, and the writing doesn’t wash off or fade. I got copper sheets from Stockade (craft supplier). I also have a garden spreadsheet on my computer showing names of plants, when I got them, how much I paid, etc.

  9. Ciao Gayla-

    Oh this very much appeals to my already OCD anal-retentive sciency nature. I see Melamalie agreeing also.

  10. very good idea! part of the reason I started a garden blog was to just keep track of what everything looks like week-by-week. I grow some things from seed, and of course they don’t come with ready-made tags (tombstones? hehe)

  11. It’s so great to have idea-sharing like this! I also have started a binder and take a gazillion photos during the seasons – now to tone it down a bit & try to keep it simple (our community follows the K.I.S.S. strategy = Keep It Simple Sweetheart).

    Thanks!

  12. Neat! I did something similar but made a diagram in Illustrator and then hand-wrote the planting order and dates in the appropriate circle that indicates a plant. I keep it in a plastic sleeve up in the garden itself. (this is more for a vegetable plot)

  13. I try to put all my tags in my Sunset Western Garden Book. I make planting dates on seed packages. Beds are photographed and documented on my blog.

    This idea is something I need to work with as well.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

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