The bane of my life. Well, perhaps not, energy or the lack of it is. Truth to tell I don’t like labels, they fail to add anything to a garden, have zilch visual appeal – even those inordinately pricey slate ones I was given as a gift a few years ago and which are treasured in a drawer in my potting shed workbench –  but given a proneness to collect plants abetted by a tendency to forget the what, when and wheres, labels are an indispensable fact of my gardening life. So here are a few observations.

Not my own label or alpine house sadly. RHS Harlow Carr

White labels are a definite no no. They look like a plant graveyard and, my goodness, I’ve lost enough plants to fill one. They detract from garden or cyclamen. So not for me though, as can be seen, I discovered two remnants on the estate this morning.

Cyclamen coum just emerging

Aluminium labels were meant to be the answer especially when my rather gauche handwriting is aided and abetted by a stylish graphite pencil. It is satisfying to use graphite on metal, therapeutic. Much superior to plastic, even without the distaste one has for the stuff these days. And yet …. I have so many that are bent and twisted even though the writing is still legible enough to read five years since I first bought them. Aluminium is bendy, flimsy, garden strimmers adore them, not cheap and fade into the background. That said, I still use them.

Black Wooden Labels – and I have a box stuffed full of them – were purchased as an environmental effort and Ebay impulse. They look great with a white marker. For a short while. Pretty basic observation really though I missed it – wood rots down and swiftly with it. Total waste of time, marker fluid, money. I haven’t a clue what I planted in Spring and early summer.

Wooden labels, environmentally sound, practically unsound.
Aluminium labels that won’t accept marker pen.

However the prize for the worst purchase ever in this context goes to a box of sturdy Shiny Aluminium Labels able to withstand nuclear detonations but not take marker ink.

So I have settled on the above Black Plastic Labels, 15cm long, 1.7cm wide with Pentel white marker pens, though other brands are available. The pens are not as easy to work with as graphite pencils. Unfortunately graphite does not work on black ….. Crucially the labels are unobtrusive in a garden setting. I can’t vouch for the durability of the ink and a friend has warned me about the chalk in some brands that fades quickly. I’ve not checked that out with Pentel yet. The writing shows no evidence of fading. With neater handwriting than my own they look great in pots, though require an accompanying plant to complete the look.


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