The Search for the Perfect Plant Label

 I’ve wrestled over the years with how best to label the plants in my garden, but most of my experiments have ended, not in disaster exactly, but in less than satisfactory results. Plastic labels crack, Sharpies aren’t really waterproof, venetian blind slats look like venetian blind slats, flimsy copper disappears into the earth, purchased stakes that say things like “sage,” are useless because I already know what sage looks like, and the galvanized metal stakes don’t look all that good, and, anyway,  they get easily bent. But I like to use some kind of label for the more unusual plants in the garden, not only to remember their names but to mark a spot and say “Hey, there’s a plant here,” even if it’s being overshadowed by the plant next to it. I finally consulted with a coworker who has an enormous garden and I asked her what she used. Without batting an eye, she recommended a Brother Advanced Deluxe Labeler, Model PT-1880, and said that she used the labels on metal plant stakes her husband makes in his machine shop and welds. Oh. She said that the Brother labels last forever. I digested this info, and immediately an image of the plant stakes that I had always wanted sprang to mind. I had run across a British company called “Alitags” online. They offer the most mouth-watering assortment of metal, bamboo, and teak stakes that you can imagine, and even offer special white wooden stakes for Victorian-style kitchen gardens. I’m helpless before this. My birthday was coming up, one thing led to another, and soon a wonderful parcel from Alitags arrived at my door.  The tags are surprisingly reasonable, and I will probably send them another order.  So now my labels look like the one above, and they have proven indestructible. As for the Brother labeler it works like a charm. I purchased it and an extra cartridge of labeling tape with coupons. So, no, this is not a Something for (Almost) Nothing project, but it’s not exorbitant either, and these tags have helped bring order to my garden.

Tulipa turkestanica

Not able to leave well enough alone, last winter I painted some of the tags using oil paints. I’m only mentioning this in case you enjoy doing such things. I pressed on the labels first, penciled in my drawings, and then painted.


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3 thoughts on “The Search for the Perfect Plant Label

  1. Oh, my gosh, how pretty!! I’m afraid to go to the Alitags because I, too, will likely be helpless and buy everything. Maybe I’ll just peek. Are shipping rates from Britain over the budget of a commoner? : ) P.S. Your painting is beautiful!

  2. I ordered several years ago, and remember being surprised how reasonable it all was, though maybe I was deluding myself. I probably will go back to the site to take another look at the Victorian kitchen garden markers–I can hear them calling. When I go through another order, I’ll report back. Thank you!

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