Finding Garden Forgiveness

Gidget in Sea of Leaves
Gidget in a Sea of Leaves

After a couple really blustery cold days, we stepped outside to a still, damp, balmy morning; it must have been 60 degrees.  In all but the worst weather Gidget, our German Shepherd Dog, and I take an early pass around the garden.  We’ve missed a few days lately, but today we made the full circuit.  On this morning walk I take note of blooms, tasks that need doing, scout for problems and so on.  With her hungry nose, Gidget takes note of squirrels, burrowing animal tunnels, and a thousand other things I’ll never know.

Today I noticed how much I haven’t done.  Over the years I’ve learned to enjoy more and stress less about the garden.  But really, I was looking at some serious neglect.  Leaves still unraked everywhere, the fish pond also full of leaves, Hostas looking like mush, and Heath, starting to bloom, also full of leaves … ugh.

The topper is the Viburnum Hedge.  Burkwood Viburnum is a terrific shrub (click here to see the Plant View).  April flowers purfume the garden, twiggy branches provide habitat for birds, and the fall show is a wonder of garnet leaves.  Being a spring bloomer, its bud set is on old wood.  Correct pruning is just after flowering.  I’ve never gotten this pruning task done on time; the latest having been October.  And still I got a hedge full of flowers the following spring.

Orchard Ladder
Orchard Ladder

But not this year.  The orchard ladder is standing in the Courtyard as if I’m actually going to get to this.  This morning I stared at the ladder and then at the hedge and had to admit to myself that I just didn’t want to do the job.  I could give myself a dozen good reasons why, but what I did instead is forgive myself for not getting to it.  After all, it’s a hedge.  It will need pruning again next year and no doubt next year I’ll get after it in better time.  I think I’ll put the ladder away and have a cup of tea.

Tips on using QR coded plant tags

We were recently asked for tips on using QR codes as gardeners.

  1. QR codes on plant tags are more durable than tags that are written on or etched by hand. They may be made of aluminum or plastic and the QR code can be scanned with a smart phone or tablet out in the garden to read the plant information on your phone.
  2. Paired with a garden record-keeping system QR-coded plant tags are helpful in identifying plants. With hundreds or thousands of plants in a garden, we gardeners just can’t remember all the names. Scan it with your phone and view all the information about your plant that you’ve put into your record-keeping system, including pictures and journal notes.
  3. Many gardeners have information about their garden in multiple places. Pictures on a computer or phone, journal notes in note books, plant receipts in baggies, file folders or envelopes. Having a QR coded tag linked with a garden record-keeping system, gardeners can have all their garden records, photos and journals in one place, accessible by phone, tablet or computer.

A live example: download a QR code reader on a smart phone (there are plenty free) and you can scan the tag below (or click on it, to get the idea) to see a plant record from Nancy Duffy’s garden.

One of the QR code readers we find to be very good is i-nigma:

Get the i-nigma for iPhone here.
Get the i-nigma for Android here.

QR Code Scannable Plant Tag

Nancy Duffy is an avid gardener and professional garden designer in Asheville NC. The idea for using QR coded tags for plants, combined with a garden record-keeping came to her in a dream (really) and was developed into a product in 2016 and soft-launched in November. It’s called Muddy Boots Plant Tags.

Testimonial from a Garden Nut

“Arguably my garden has always been

the most important room of my house.”

I want to be out there every day, and fortunately, the Asheville, NC climate is amenable to that desire. In 2013, I built what I hope will be my last home, with the “aging in place” concept firmly directing design decisions. A major part of that project was knowing that I wanted (and needed!) an instant garden, professionally designed. Time is of the essence, as they say.

Nancy Duffy, founder and owner of Muddy Boots Garden Design, was hired. A plantsman with an artist’s eye, she has created garden rooms and spaces that bring such delight. But I am a detail geek, with a bent to documentation, photography, and maintaining folders of plant tags and sales receipts. Quickly I realized that I had more data and information than I was able to easily keep on my computer.

“I am a detail geek, with a bent to documentation, photography,

and maintaining folders of plant tags and sales receipts.”

Once again, Nancy and her husband Dennis, have created the perfect solution. Muddy Boots Plant Tags! A simple, complete system for logging plants, garden activities, observations, photographs, and garden projects, all in one easy-to-access location. No more sifting through folders, word files, or xcel spreadsheets!! No more unsightly plant tags getting lost in the mulch or fading from sunlight!!

“The perfect solution: Muddy Boots Plant Tags!”

Muddy Boots Plant Tags now has all my plant and garden history (three years of information now available on my iPad, iPhone, or laptop). Furthermore, any plants with a QR coded plant tag can be scanned on an iPhone while out in the garden for access to its entire record.

“In less than a week’s time, I was able to enter 373 plants,

60 of which have plant tags, and 330 photos,

representing three years of data.”

The process was a joy because it became a walk down memory lane. Seeing the barren landscape at the beginning and then seeing the results over time while uploading my photographs, gave me such a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was a cold and rainy December week, so my Muddy Boots Plant Tags project brought the outdoors inside for this garden nut.

“The process was a joy because it became

a walk down memory lane.”


To see Mignon’s Garden, Devotion, click here.

Mignon Durham
December 6, 2016

Document Your Garden

The instinct to document your garden is a good one.  If well done, it becomes a wonderful reference and a pleasant stroll down the gardening years.  I’ve started many a journal.  A really sweet notebook usually kicks it off.  I make notes, scribble plant lists, and sketch ideas.  What I don’t do with these journals is actually refer back to them.  My notes are disorganized and scattered in all these delightful little books.  Muddy Boots Plant Tags has given me a way to bring together notes, plant info, and garden photos.  It is easy to sort through and search.  Like most things worth doing, it takes a little time and effort, but for me it’s pleasant work and the outcome is a very useful record of my garden Acorn Hill.

Below is an excerpt from an article on documenting your garden published at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website.

The Secret to a Successful Garden Next Year? Document It This Year!

This month’s Smart Gardener addresses a key part of gardening that green thumbs often overlook: documentation. Rather than giving a “thumbs down” to the idea, think of documentation as an opportunity to steadily improve your garden year after year—by increasing productivity in your vegetable beds, by reducing costly mistakes in landscaping, or simply by making less work for yourself. The trick is to document in a way that’s both practical and fun for you, the gardener who’ll be referring to it.

Click here to see the entire article at the website for Chicago Botanic Garden.

Surprising Fall Colors

It is finally raining in Western North Carolina after weeks and weeks of drought. Every gardener I know is surely doing a happy dance with me. Glancing out the window, I notice the fall color that is still in evidence is strikingly saturated on this gray day. It drew me out to snap a few pictures. Some of the color that caught my eye isn’t the typical fall color fare. Click on the picture to see my Muddy Boots Plant Tags page for each plant.

Alpine Spirea
Alpine Spirea

Japanese Spirea 'Mt. Fuji'
Japanese Spirea ‘Mt. Fuji’

Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtle

European Copper Beech
European Copper Beech

Burkwood Viburnum
Burkwood Viburnum

Korean Spice Viburnum
Korean Spice Viburnum

Pine 'Golden Ghost'
Pine ‘Golden Ghost’

Sedum 'Matrona'
Sedum ‘Matrona’

Interactive QR Coded Plant Tags Becoming More Common

QR-coded interactive plant tags have become more common in recent years at public gardens. Visitors can download a QR code reader on their smart phone and scan the tag to get more details. Muddy Boots Plant Tags takes this to a higher level for gardeners by making the QR-coded plant tag access information that the gardener has input about the plant (including pictures, journal notes, where the plant came from and so forth).

This is an excerpt from an article at Fine Gardening about QR-coded interactive plant tags:

We’re starting to see QR (Quick Response) codes popping up everywhere. They’re small printed squares filled with a unique pattern of black and white pixels, like a petri dish experiment gone wild. Download one of many free apps to your smart phone (I like QRReader), hold it in front of the square, and the next thing you know, you’re at the product’s website.

I tried out my iPhone app at the Bloom IQ booth when the Spring California Pack Trials came to Santa Barbara last March. The event, directed at horticulture industry professionals and designers, spreads from San Diego to the Bay Area, allowing plant-related businesses show their products to industry buyers. A nanosecond after scanning a Bloom IQ QR code, I found myself at the company’s website. It’s a fabulous resource for any gardener, helping them learn everything they need to know about a potential plant purchase before they say, “I do” to a bridal wreath spirea.

Click here to read the complete article.