How do you keep your gardens organized?

subk3May 14, 2012

I'd love to hear how all of you keep straight what roses and plants you have in your gardens. I've moved and am putting in new gardens, so this is a great time for me to start fresh on a new organizational system-not that I really had an old system as I don't think tossing all (most) of the plant tags in the same drawer really counts. I'm thinking since I'm adding roses to the mix I need to be a little more diligent--telling one rose from another might be harder than what I'm used to with my perennials!

So, notebooks, computer programs, plant tags? What information do you keep records of and what type of system works for you?

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I'm sure that there are all kinds of fancy computer programs - spreadsheets, mapping, etc. However, I keep track (of roses only) of my 100+ roses on 1/3rd of an acre the old fashioned way - with a several page handwritten list. It is organized by different parts of the garden. It is covered with scratch outs and additions - a mess, but it works for me. I especially try to remember to add new roses I have ordered, or old ones I have finally identified. I just re-did it for the first time in 15 years - much easier to read now, but that won't last long....


    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 1:35PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

I more or less follow Jackie's system. My garden is conveniently subdivided by hardscape and I name each area (Dining Room, Front Garden, Front Triangle, Bed along Hillside, Back Rectangle etc) and write down all the roses in each area. I also have a list of all my roses, a list of roses I've discarded and a (short) list of roses I'd like to add. I also have an area where I list what roses I've bought, when and where. Since I only have 86 roses this system works very well for me. When my master list had too man scratched out names I tore out that page and now have a new master list which should remain fairly static, but who can tell?


    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 2:36PM
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85 roses. Remembering which is which - my memory only. Do have one spreadsheet though, which is just a list of the name of every rose I have, whether it's a HT, Grandiflora, Floribunda or other, and color. At the bottom of that list is a list with a lot of "strike-through's" of "wanted" roses.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I have them by bed, on a hand drawn lay out.

And on an excel spreadsheet

But I was thinking about some kind of ground marker, since mom has so many people come and visit the garden.

We also have a supply of aluminum write on tags that are on fruit trees. Unfortunately they are in my dad's chicken scratch handwriting often with just ripening times or color of fruit.

Any good plant markers anyone can suggest?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 3:14PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

I use these on the 250+ roses, hardy geraniums, irises, etc.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 3:19PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Sorry,I should have put the link in the right place

Here is a link that might be useful: Everlast Rose Labels

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 3:20PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

In my head! I mean, do you forget your kid's names? ;^)

Paw Paw Everlast tags are good. I make the actual text with one of those P-Touch label makers and indoor-outdoor tape. The indoor-outdoor tape last for years. Some of mine are 7 or 8 years old and still look like new.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 3:23PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Yeah, if you are just starting out with labels I heartily suggest the P-Touch label maker and the Paw Paw Everlast Rose labels. I thought about the P-Touch last year but decided not to go with it; I already had more than 100 roses labeled using just pencil on the Paw Paw labels and was daunted by the idea of either doing all of them over or having the new ones put the old ones to shame. Start out right and you won't have to do it all over.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 3:56PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I have an inventory set up in Excel but I also have a hand drawn chart on graph paper of where each rose is. I make little squares to put the names of the roses on and then just use tape to secure them to the map. That way when I move stuff around I can just move the squares and don't have to redraw the map.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 4:11PM
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stlgal(south z5)

I also use the steel labels and P-touch/label maker tags. For arranging the rose gardens, I have each bed laid out visually in the computer in a graphics program (Illustrator) and I paste in little flower shots for each rose bush. Then I can swap in new ones, denote heights, colors and other information and indicate ones that will be shovel-pruned and replaced. It makes it easy to place several orders for new bare roots in the fall after consulting everyone here, and virtually slot the plants into their new positions. In the spring, I just print the plan and I know just where I intended to put everything as it comes in.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 4:13PM
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ilovemyroses(8 Dallas TX)

I actually remember most of them! Have tried the stick in the ground labels, but they get under sod and mangled, so I have bought 'on the plant' markers from ARE, but haven't used them yet.

I ADVISE LABELING THE PLANT!! as roses get moved (without their little in the ground marker that is embedded under the mulch), paper sheets disappear (around here!) and I just don't work well with vast systems of organization.

However, I do have a master list (not updated) of roses I have by type, not by location. That works best for me!!

Another recommendation is to add to the label the date planted and the distributor (esp. to identify root stock if ever an issue or curiousity).

I have done a few tags with name, class, year introduced, distributor...seems really professional...(if I could only get them on the plant!!) :)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 4:56PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Interesting all of your plans and organizational skills. I do put labels on everything, but the only way I organize the garden/yard is by walking it every day and mentally moving stuff around -- or not. I never plan purchases (luckily all roses grow well here). I impulse buy, find a place for it, move it when it doesn't work there anymore, and .... it looks just as chaotic as that. 250 roses all hodged and podged and ....I love it. Life is too short to try to organize beauty.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 6:29PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I also use an Excel Spreadsheet and keep it pretty simple. A column for the name, another for where it is located, where I bought it, and one for notes. Alphabetical that can be sorted according to location if I want to. When I move a rose, I note it on the spreadsheet. I sometimes have labels and sometimes not. I don't have that many roses, and I rarely have a problem identifying anything in the garden.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 6:48PM
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rosetom(7 Atl)

Like hoovb - in my head! I have 85 in the ground. Funny thing is, the two I get mixed up on are the ones with dual names - Miss All American Beauty/Maria Callas and Keepsake/Esmeralda. Now that I've typed that, maybe I can remember them. ;-)

Seriously, even though I have "mass plantings," they're all specimen roses. I have a few duplicates - 2 ML's (by mistake), then all of my floribundas are in pairs - Angel Face, Iceberg, Europeana, Scentimental, George Burns, Livin' Easy, Hot Cocoa. Except for the ML mistake, the only case of non-floribunda duplicates is two Rock & Roll's to replace a couple of Purple Tigers that never amounted to anything.

Oh - I have 6 Blazes and counting. (Maybe I should say 88 roses?) I haven't had them tied up very well the last couple of years and the canes bend over until they touch the ground - then they take root. ;-)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 7:31PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I have an excel spreadsheet with the location, where and when I bought it, type, color, etc.

I had the paw paw stands, but they didn't stand up to me trouncing around the garden. I now have these:

Kincaid Gardens Plant Stands

They are a lot sturdier and last longer. I put Ptouch labels on them. I still use the Paw Paw labels in my veggie garden.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 8:52PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I should add that I do have them all labeled as well. Copper tags with P-touch labels have worked the best for me. For the most part I know which bed they're in but in the new street bed I don't have all their exact places memorized yet. The front bed hasn't changed much in years so I rarely have to look at a tag there. And even with 125 roses if there's an open bloom on it I don't have to look at a tag to know what it is. The 90 some seedlings are a different story!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 1:27AM
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With 800+ roses to keep track of, I use an Excel spreadsheet as my main method of recording what rose I have, where and when I got it, where it is in the garden, etc. I refer to that document at least once per day during rose season.

In the garden, all of my roses have Paw Paw tags. The early ones have engraved tags on the Paw Paw label plate, like the ones at a botanical garden, that I ordered from AAA Quality Engraving. I would love to eventually finish labeling all of the roses like this, but I made the decision a few years ago to spend my discretionary income on more roses instead of labels. Now I use a fine point paint pen (the kind you get at the craft store) to write my labels. No fading, no flaking, easily read from a distance. A carpenter's pencil is really good, too. Do NOT use a Sharpie marker, because that's ink, and ink fades, and your roses will be anonymous within two years.

For those of you who rely on memory alone in the garden, do the folks who come after you at your place a favor and label your roses somehow so someone besides you knows what each of them are.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:41AM
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I use the metal tags that you push into the ground and the labels are from my Brother P-Touch and I have them listed in a notebook that I can carry with me when go thru the garden.. I would love to get it on the computer but for now this works..

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:29AM
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I use TWO (I am still a newbie):

ONE: THE OLD FASHIONED WAY - Scribbled notebooks.
~ Page(s) of my notes and thoughts on possible new roses to buy.
~ Page(s) with diagram of where each plant is located.
~ Page(s) of notes about purchasing a new rose; when and from where I purchased it, and what kind of shape it came in.

~ I have one "board" of pictures of the roses I want or have but that aren't yet planted in the ground. This is my "Inspirations" board.
~ When I plant a new rose I add a picture (or move it from my "Inspirations" board) to my "Planted in My Garden" board. I find the pix online; they aren't my my own pictures (yet). Even though they are planted in my yard, I keep a "model" picture of it at my Pinterest account so I remember the goal of what the healthy, mature speciman of that rose is supposed to look like.


My pinterest account name is "byhisblessing" if you want to visit me there.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 9:02AM
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Campanula UK Z8

organised! Do I know this term? Is it one of those weird code words like 'budget' which only people in the know have heard of?
Well any 'organising gets done in my head - which is why it isn't. However, I do know the names of all my roses (although there are only around 90ish) and all the other plants. Of course, I may forget exactly what cultivar such and such a geranium is but who cares? Not me - I can recognise it as a geranium and presumably, I made an effort to plant it in the right ppace and conditions so why do I need to remember anything else - I am not selling anything and nobody is going to care after me on my public allotment. Also, most of my friends are philistines and have zero interest in just what this or that rose is. I sometimes even change the names to suit myself. After 15 or so years, it is sort of fixed in my head that April is potato planting, May is beans, June is tomato transplants and so on. Anyway, I like to be surprised.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 9:55AM
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I currently have about 350 varieties of roses and 500-600 plants scattered over a garden of two acres or so. Most of the roses are old or older varieties, which means I not infrequently get mislabeled or misnamed plants, probably more than if I had mostly modern varieties (I'm guessing about this). So a system for keeping track of my roses is imperative.
I put a label on every rose or on a stake next to it. In my experience labels get lost easily. So I also make maps of the various sections of the garden, with roses and other plants shown by name. Then I maintain an Excel spreadsheet with rose name, class, nursery or person I got it from, and a comments section. I have my roses listed on Helpmefind as well, though this is more for other gardeners who want to know what roses I have than for myself. If I do all this religiously I can keep track of my roses, though there are always a number of mysteries, many of them roses I'm given by other gardeners or propagate from cuttings. I'd go crazy with frustration if I had to rely on memory alone.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 1:55PM
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I've started taking pictures of our gardens and labeling the plants on the picture. It helps to take the pictures from a step ladder to get more of an over head view. Be sure to date the photo.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 2:26PM
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rosetom(7 Atl)

Just an FYI, but I tried the Paw-Paw metal tags with the "INDUSTRIAL" permanent Sharpies - didn't work. After 2-3 years, they're all disappearing ink (invisible).

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 9:56PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

I thought Paw Paw was pretty clear that the Sharpies don't work. The pencil that they offer along with the labels have lasted for years (including years of abuse). If you have any of the labels left try them again using a really soft pencil (#3 or #4?)...or the one you can get from PawPaw

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 10:13PM
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rosetom(7 Atl)

I'm sorry - in my case, the pencil was dismissed the first couple of years after using it.

Seriously, you need engraving to stand up to years and years of UV and direct Sunlight. (Or some serious industrial-epoxy paint.)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 10:17PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

The UV resistant Ptouch labels seem to be holding up.

BTW, I have a Ptouch that interfaces with my computer. I can create a database in the label software to easily create many labels from a list (without having to type them into the label maker one by one). If you are handy with the computer, it's a easy way to get labels from any excel spreadsheet.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 6:46AM
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I have 30 roses and the bed is in the shape of a Horseshoe. I live in Louisville, Ky, home of the Ky. Derby, and I wanted the garden in the shape of a horseshoe. The roses are in double roses and easily accessible. I have them in raised beds with a fountain in the middle.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 12:10PM
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mgleason56(Michigan 5b)

1. All my roses are updated on HMFR
2. I have Access Databases linked to EXcel spreadsheets showing where each rose is
3. I just started using PAW PAW labels since the hand written labels were wearing out too quickly, which leads me to my complain; After all this, I still end up with unmarked roses each spring (usually not planted yet) that takes me all year to figure out what the heck it is! Found another potted rose last night with a missing tag. If I could just get all these in the ground!!!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 2:36PM
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I put a little abbreviation on the name tag of where the rose came from. Elina.OR (own root).NR.(Northland Rosarium)2010

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 3:53PM
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