Archive for plant collections

Curating a Plant Collection: Snowdrops or Otherwise

Posted in bulbs for shade, How to, my garden, snowdrops with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 

Galanthus reginae-olgaeGalanthus reginae-olgae is the earliest snowdrop to bloom in my garden, around the third week of October.

My garden is not a collection of plants, especially those that require any sort of extra maintenance.  If you visit Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, you will see that most plantings are quite natural looking with a focus on natives.  However, there are a few exceptions, and most of you know by now that I am an unapologetic collector of snowdrops.  I also sell snowdrops, click here for the 2017 catalogue, and some of them are quite pricey, so I thought it would be helpful if I explained how I keep track of mine.  This system can be used for any plant collection.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.

Galanthus 'Potter's Prelude' elwesii‘Potter’s Prelude’ always flowers by mid-November and, weather permitting, continues into January.

My system involves written records on my computer and physical markings in the garden.  There may be a fancy computerized plant database available, but I use a simple table with columns in a Word document.  The first column is alphabetical and lists the complete botanical name of the snowdrop, including the species and cultivar names if applicable, e.g., Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’.  The remaining columns describe the pertinent information about the snowdrop for each location in the garden: date planted, exact location, number of plants, and source.

.

Galanthus 'Brenda Troyle'This is the ‘Brenda Troyle’ planting that corresponds to the first location entry below. 

For example, ‘Brenda Troyle’ is listed in column one as Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’ as it is a hybrid with no species name like elwesii or nivalis.  Column two describes location one: “2012, front walk next to Dbl Rose hellebore, 2 Cresson.”  Column three describes location two: “2014, carriage house 2nd bed on left, moved 1 Cresson.”  It is very important that the location description is as detailed as possible so that if all your outdoor markings disappear, you still know where your snowdrop is located.

.

Galanthus elwesii ex Montrose GardensAnother snowdrop blooming right now is Nancy Goodwin’s fall-blooming G. elwesii var. monostictus, which she shared with me in 2013.  At the back of the clump is the metal tag and peeking out in front is the plastic stake.

Out in the garden, each snowdrop gets two markers.  The first is a 10″ zinc plant marker produced by Bosmere, item H185, in sets of 10.  Included is a carbon pencil, but I don’t use that to write on the markers.  All labels in my garden are inscribed with an opaque paint marker made by Uchida, Decolor 200-S Black, and available at art supply stores.   All other writing materials, including pencils and “permanent markers” wear off.  I place the metal plant marker directly behind the snowdrop and record the full name, date acquired, and source.

.

dscn7338Bosmere zinc plant markers

.

dscn8464opaque paint marker

.

dscn7335.

dscn7336A paint marker is used to record the name, date acquired and source.

.

Each snowdrop is also marked with a second tag directly in front of the plant.  For this, I use a 6″ Rapiclip plant label made by Luster Leaf in packages of 50.  These plastic stakes are long and sturdy but flexible, not brittle.  They can be pushed almost all the way into the ground and bend instead of breaking if you step on them.  I write the same information on them with a paint marker.

.

dscn7337Rapiclip plant labels

.

dscn7339

.

dscn7340
.
Galanthus 'Foxgrove Magnet'‘Foxgrove Magnet’ with its metal marker behind and plastic tag in front.
.
dscn8458There are variations on my marking scheme.  For example, this bed has random, unnamed, fall-blooming G. elwesii.  Each clump has a plastic tag behind it describing its special characteristics, if any.
.
dscn8459I am superstitious so if I plant dormant snowdrops in the fall, they get a reused plastic tag and part of a bamboo garden stake until they come up in the spring.
.
dscn8460I also use bamboo poles, hammered solidly into the ground, if the snowdrops are planted in an area where a lot of leaves fall and obscure the metal and plastic stakes.  The photo below shows what I found under the leaves.
.
dscn8452I may not have remembered that this snowdrop grouping was there if it hadn’t been marked with the bamboo stake.

.

I realize that not everyone is obsessed with snowdrops, but this system can be used for any plant collection that has grown to the point where its size exceeds the mental capacity of the collector  :-).  I grow about 30 varieties of epimediums and keep a chronological handwritten record plus metal and plastic markers outside.  European wood anemones get metal tags and a handwritten list.  Mini hostas are marked with plastic tags and recorded haphazardly.  The rest of the plants have to rely on invoices and various notations in garden journals.  Every winter I consider making a complete database of all the plants at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens but the prospect is daunting.

Carolyn

.

Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

%d bloggers like this: