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Plant label written on a stone.

Ever since I have been gardening (therefore for over 50 years!), I have been looking for an effective way to label my plants. After all, when you have more than 1,000 species and cultivars in your home garden, you want to remember their names.

But most of the labels I have tried over the years faded with time or broke or were lost too easily. Or they were too expensive. Or difficult to read. But at Ed and Laurie Wight’s beautiful Chillane Gardens in Mallorytown, Ontario, I may have finally found the solution: write the name on a stone with a permanent marker.

Each plant their collection of some 600 different varieties of hosta is identified that way. Thus the name is written in letters large enough that the visitor doesn’t tend to remove the label to better read it (with the risk that it will be put back in the wrong place or will snap in two). And the Wights have an endless amount of river rocks on their property, so all it costs them is a new marker every now and then.

Written on Both Sides

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Garden marker that is both indelible and UV resistant.

But I’m sure some readers will point out that, over time, the lettering will still fade and will eventually become illegible. That’s because when exposed to sunlight, even letters written in indelible ink do eventually disappear. That’s due to the very destructive ultraviolet rays present in sunlight.

True enough, but the wise gardener never trusts a marker that is only labeled indelible, he or she also looks for one that is “UV resistant”. That way the writing will last much longer: 10 years or more.

But that is not the secret of Laurie Wight’s method. You see, she also writes the plant’s name… on the back of the stone! The side facing downward won’t fade, since it is not exposed to light. When the lettering above does fade (and it will, even if the marker is anti-UV), simply turn the stone over and voila: the name is still clearly written underneath, even 20 years later!

Obviously, before exposing the new side to the sun, you now have to rewrite the name on what will now become underside of the stone. But at least you won’t have lost the name in the mists of time!20160811A

 

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

2 comments on “Plants Names Written in Stone

  1. Trying to find a labeling system that works has been ongoing so thank you for this suggestion. 🙂

    • Barry Langille

      I’ve seen this done at a friend’s garden – she uses paint. End of fading problem. Once paint gets on a stone it’s forever.

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