Labelling & record keeping

There are several good reasons for labelling your snowdrops, particularly if you have more than just one or two.

 Marking their location

Snowdrops die away completely by May or June, when many other plants are getting into their stride. If the snowdrops are adjacent to something early and vigorous their location will be covered and may be difficult to locate safely when you want to lift your dormant snowdrops.

If the snowdrops are placed adjacent to something late emerging, such as Roscoeas or Arisaemas, then the spot will look enticingly like an empty spot to put something in.

A label will tell you where to look in late winter for encouraging signs of growth and where to apply a timely sprinkling of fertiliser.

Label types

Labels vary in type cost and durability. Virtually all have a hole at the base which allows one to attach them to their buried planting container (see separate article). The value of this cannot be overstated.

Plastic labels

The simplest type are plastic labels written on with an indelible, waterproof marker. They have two serious drawbacks.

Firstly, they become brittle with exposure to light and are easily shattered when you inadvertantly stand on them when doing some other task in the garden.

Secondly, we have yet to come across a truly permanent marker. Most of the felt tip types fade after two or three years. Worse, they seem to fade suddenly; causing you to rub hopelessly with a muddy finger where the name used to be.

Both of these drawbacks can be overcome by burying the label; the plants are still correctly named but the label no longer marks their location.

Metal labels

We use metal labels with the name embossed on; as permanent as it is possible to get. The embossing kit which has proved to be invaluable was an extravagent gift many years ago from a thoughtful and generous relative. The labels and equipment are available from Ridhard Crace Designs of Much Hadham, Herts. The metal labels are still susceptible to being bent and we glue a plastic label on the back as reinforcement (don't for get to align the holes before the glue sets). This may sound like a lot of effort, but is essential for us to accurately keep track.

Record keeping

I have yet to come across someone who manages to keep accurate and useable plans of particular borders. Plants come and go, things spread and are removed; plans become out of date quickly.

It is easy, however, to keep a small record book or computer file. A quick note can easily be made whenever you acquire a new snowdrop. Name, date, price and number bought will take no time to record and may prove invaluable when memory fails or the plastic label is unreadable or lost.