Garden-Based Education and Learning

Image Courtesy of Dylan Duverge
Image Courtesy of Dylan Duverge

Garden-based learning puts hands on activities in the garden at the heart of encouraging children to learn by connecting with nature. Many kids would rather touch things than hear an adult talk about things, so getting their hands dirty and their boots muddy is an increasingly popular approach with many benefits: not the least of which is connecting children with a major natural food source.

A Common Description of Garden-Based Learning

Garden-based learning encompasses programs, activities and projects in which the garden is the foundation for integrated learning, in and across disciplines, through active, engaging, real-world experiences that have personal meaning for children, youth, adults and communities in an informal outside learning setting. Garden-based learning is an instructional strategy that uses the garden as a teaching tool.

A Teacher’s Experience

A story from National Public Radio (NPR) described a teacher’s efforts to get children outside more and engaged with nature. It was based on the fact that kids in the United States are spending less time outside, for a variety of reasons. Even in kindergarten, the amount of time allocation to recess has been cut back, leading to less time outside and more time cooped up inside. A teacher in the small town of Quechee, Vt decided that she wanted to have her student spend an entire day outside. After contemplating the idea she realized that it wouldn’t fly in a public school. But she ran it by her principal and much to her surprise the principal said, “try it.”

It’s called Forest Monday. Every Monday the kids suit up and go outside, regardless of the weather. [READ MORE]

Benefits of Garden-Based Learning

Cornell University has a garden-based learning program and reports several benefits of the program that are backed by a variety of research studies:

Nutrition awareness. Kids and families who are involved in gardening become more aware of and interested in fruits and vegetables, having a potentially positive influence on health.

Environmental awareness. Elementary school and junior high school students gained more positive attitudes about environmental issues after participating in a school garden program.

Learning achievements. Elementary school students who participated in school gardening activities scored significantly higher on science achievement tests than those who did not participate in any garden-based learning activities.

Documenting Garden-Based Learning

As kids embark on garden-based learning, it’s important to track progress and make notes of what is learned along the way. Documenting a garden is important, especially when it’s related to garden-based learning. Keeping track of plantings with a garden-record keeping system such as Muddy Boots Plant Tags can help preserve an historic record of the garden from breaking ground to blooms or harvests.

Additional Resources

The Garden-Based Education website.

The Garden-Based Learning Wikipedia page.

The Cornell University list of Garden-Based Learning Publications.

From Cornell University – Why Garden in Schools.

I love roses! I hate roses! I love roses!

Souvenir de La Malmaison2

I tread a fine line between love and hate when it comes to roses.  One of the first “big” garden projects I did as a new gardener was to plant a rose garden.  I’ll never forget when about 30 bare root roses arrived in the mail.  They had to have their roots soaked in water overnight (didn’t know that until they arrived) and so we had roses sticking out of two bath tubs and four sinks, plus lots of buckets.  Trial by fire for sure, but I managed to get them all properly planted and had some lovely flower arrangements that year.

That was about 20 years and three houses ago.  At Acorn Hill, our current property, I planted only a dozen or so roses; the old fashioned shrub type with rangy habits, a single early flowering, and heady fragrance, plus a couple climbers.  I planted them in a sunny space with good air circulation and lots of compost.  I occasionally sprayed them with a baking soda and dish soap solution in an attempt to fend off the tiresome black spot.  I had some success, but it’s a preventative and often I didn’t get to it in time.  The first few years I slopped around a bucket of soapy water hand-picking Japanese Beetles, but eventually gave up on that for the gross factor.

This last planting of roses bloomed reliably every year in late May, early June.  I enjoyed the floral display and when it was over and the foliage started to look ratty … well I just looked away.  That was until the onset of Rose Rosette Disease.  This starts as really red, congested foliage (think witches broom).  There is no cure for it, so an infected rose should be removed  IMMEDIATELY.  Read more about it here.

I dug out the first Rose Rosette victim, probably too late as others soon followed.  The virus is spread by a mite that floats along on the wind, so roses planted in groups are in particular jeopardy.  I replanted this garden bed with a nice low-maintenance combo of switch grass and prairie perennials, and thought that was THE END of my affair with roses.

Thomas a'Becket
Photo credit David Austin Roses

Never say never again.  For the last few years when the rose catalogs arrived, they went straight to recycling.  This year, the David Austin Rose catalog caught me unawares.  Sitting at the kitchen table, casually flipping pages while chatting on the phone, I saw A Rose in a Pot!  This may not be news to you, but I had really never considered growing roses in containers.  Well now, I thought.  This IS interesting.

With a rose in a pot, I theorize that I’ll be better able to control environmental conditions, including soil, fertilization, water and hopefully disease.  And when the thing starts to look ratty, no doubt because of my inevitable neglect, I will simply move the unfortunate article to an inconspicuous place.  Viola!  (I remember hearing Helen Dillon describe this technique with bulbs in pots and thought it was so simple and smart.)

Soooo, I have a list of ten roses I’d like to try in pots.  I will pare this down to six due to my new personal policy of using a modicum of restraint when purchasing plants.  Most will be English Roses with repeat flowering and excellent fragrance.  I’ll put them in terracotta pots so they’ll look good in any garden spot.  I plan to spray or paint the inside of the pot with sealer to prevent water evaporation through the pot walls.  There are several terracotta sealers available.

Gertrude Jekyll
Photo credit David Austin Roses

Follow this link to see the ten roses that I will choose from.  Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is a must have because the rose is lovely and she’s my hero.

I love roses!  Stay tuned …

Muddy Boots Unveils Smartphone Scannable Plant Tags With Garden Record-Keeping Web Application

ASHEVILLE, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE) – JANUARY 4, 2017 –Over the past decade, Nancy Duffy has built a lovely ornamental garden but has been frustrated for years with her plant tags. “With thousands of plants in my garden it’s hard to remember all the names,” said Nancy. “I walk the garden with my gardening friends and crawl around the ground looking for a tag, which may or may not be there and if it is, it may not be legible anymore.”

A professional garden designer and avid gardener, Nancy came up with a solution. Muddy Boots Plant Tags are durable plant tags that can be scanned by a smart phone, retrieving information about the plant that the gardener has input into the Muddy Boots Garden Record-Keeping Application. “Instead of crawling around to find the tag and reading the tag, often at ground level, you scan the tag and read information about your plant on your phone,” said Nancy.

The Muddy Boots Garden Record-Keeping Application allows gardeners to organize all the information about their garden in one place, accessible from a computer, smartphone or tablet. “Gardeners can keep much better records about their plants including journal notes and pictures. No more tattered notebooks and file folders,” said Nancy. “And the gardener can access the data from the house or out in the garden. The interactive, scannable plant tags can be scanned by the gardener or visitors with a simple QR code scanner on a smartphone or tablet.”

Mignon Durham is an avid gardener using Muddy Boots Plant Tags in Asheville, NC and she says, “I am a detail geek, with a bent to documentation, photography, and maintaining folders of plant tags and sales receipts. Muddy Boots Plant Tags is the perfect solution. 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 a smartphone while out in the garden for access to its entire record.”

Bullington Gardens, a 12-acre horticultural education center and public garden in Henderson County, NC, has recently selected Muddy Boots Plant Tags. “We are excited to implement Muddy Boots Plant Tags. The Record-Keeping Application will allow us to better organize information about our remarkable plant collection and the plant tags will make that information accessible to our many visitors,” said John Murphy, Director of Bullington Gardens.

Muddy Boots Plant Tags are made of aluminum and feature a unique QR code that links it to the plant data in the Garden Record-Keeping Application. The tags are durable and made to hold up for years in the elements. These plant tags are available in bundles of five at the website. A purchase of plant tags is not required when using the Garden Record-Keeping Application; however, the plant tags are necessary for scanning plants while out in the garden.

The Muddy Boots Garden Record-Keeping Application is free for gardeners with up to 25 plants and 50 photos. Gardeners with more plants and photos may purchase a subscription for $4.95 per month, or $49.95 per year allowing up to 500 plant records and 5,000 photos. There are higher level plans for larger gardens described at the website. All levels include unlimited plant and garden journal notes and are “Ad Free” – no ads whatsoever appear in the Garden Record-Keeping Application.

Spending on Lawns and Gardens Jumps, Led by Millennials and Boomers

APRIL 27, 2016 – The U.S. is a nation full of gardeners – and they’re spending more money on their lawns and gardens than in recent years. Lawn and garden spending reached a reported $36.1 billion dollars in 2015 according to recently released results of the annual National Gardening Survey, bouncing back from a five-year low in 2014.

“Participation in gardening did not decline much during the economic downturn,” says industry analyst Bruce Butterfield, who adds, “people have been participating in gardening all along but they weren’t spending as much in recent years.” The average amount spent on the back yard or balcony nationwide in 2015 was $401 per household, up from a low of $317 in 2014.

“The $36 billion dollar question is if lawn and garden sales will stay at this level in the future,” says Butterfield, who heads the National Gardening Market Research Company and oversees the survey each year. “These results are encouraging. Not only did DIY gardening have 6 million more customers, they spent more, too,” adds Butterfield.

An estimated 90 million households participated in do-it-yourself lawn and gardening activities last year – in and outdoors. That’s about 75-percent of all U.S. households. According to the survey, the highest spending was among baby boomers, married households, those with annual incomes of over $75,000 and college graduates – but the most important market force was 18-34 year olds. Five million of the six million ‘new’ gardening households were Millennials.

Food gardening and flower gardening were the most popular gardening activities last year. About one out of three households participated in food gardening (36%) or flower gardening (34%). Households spent an estimated $3.6 billion growing vegetables, fruit, berries and herbs and $2.7 billion on flower gardening.

The 250 page National Gardening Survey report can be purchased at

The report includes analysis by Butterfield and an extended additional analysis of the data and commentary on the gardening market by Ian Baldwin, a leading national business advisor to garden and hardware retailers.

Better Homes And Gardens Survey Finds That Millennial Generation Values Personalization As Top Priority For The Home

74% Say Smart Home Technology Aids Customization; 64% Say Smart Home Technology Easily Integrates into Personal Style, Taste and Décor.


LAS VEGAS, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Better Homes and Gardens, the leading lifestyle brand that reaches nearly 40 million readers each month, today released findings from its eighth-annual exclusive survey revealing attitude and behavior trends of homeowners in the U.S. This year’s research focused on the millennial generation and its preferences on customization and smart technology in home design. Just over 1,600 U.S. female homeowners living in single-family homes shared their thoughts on home improvement spending, the importance of functional design, and value in home technology.

During a presentation at the National Association of Home Builders Show in Las Vegas, Jill Waage, Brand Executive Editor for Better Homes and Gardens, presented these findings and offered insight on the needs of today’s current and future homeowners.

“Our research shows that women 35 and under feel strongly that their homes are a reflection of their own personalities,” Waage says. “Further, members of this generation view technology as a way to customize living spaces to fit their needs. Year over year, millennials are increasingly adopting a positive outlook on the incorporation of smart technology into their homes, and are using it to personalize the homeowner experience.”

Key findings from this year’s “Home Factor” survey include:


Millennials place importance on maintaining a home that is more personalized to their preferences than the generation before them. Almost two-thirds (63% percent) of millennial respondents surveyed say that having a home customized to their tastes and needs is a top priority. Similarly, 6 in 10 millennial respondents say that having a home that is “a reflection of me” is more important to them than to their parents’ generation.


Smart technology is increasingly seen by U.S. women, particularly those under 35, as a feature that improves home safety, health, and connections with families. Millennials agree that smart technology is customizable to their needs (74%), makes their homes more energy efficient (70%), and saves them time (67%).

Shifting Attitudes

As opposed to just one year ago, millennials have a more positive outlook on smart technology in the home:

  • In 2015, 68% of millennials said that smart home technology is a good investment, as compared to only 57% in 2014.
  • In 2015, 73% of millennials said that smart home technology makes their homes safer, as compared to only 64% in 2014.
  • Millennials today think that smart technology makes their homes healthier (64%), compared to only 55% in 2014.
  • Further, the millennial cohort feels that smart home technology is becoming easier to maintain.
  • Fifty-five percent of millennial respondents say that smart home features are easily maintained and upgraded, as compared to only 46% of millennial respondents in 2014.

Smart Technology Use

Today, 54% of homeowners under 35 use at least one of the 16 smart technology features measured in the study. On their wish list, 39% of millennials say that they would most like to use smart devices to operate appliance settings, while 36% say they would like quality sleep tracking and reporting.

Technology Customization

Seventy-four percent of millennial respondents say that smart technology is customizable to their needs, while 64% say that it can be integrated into their style, taste and décor.

Costs of Home Technology

Though respondents say that home technology is customizable to their needs, only 51% of millennial respondents say smart technology is customizable to their budget. Across generations, 7 in 10 respondents say smart technology costs a lot of money.


Compared to older generations, millennials are willing to pay more for high-quality products. However, while 44% say they are willing to spend top dollar to get exactly the features and quality they want, 60% also say they are willing to compromise on what they want in order to save money.

Of those surveyed, one in five homeowners is in the process of planning or working on an interior project – led by those ages 35 and younger. While millennial homeowners are similar to older homeowners with regard to the many types of projects they are working on and planning, survey responses found a higher interest in creating office space and adding storage at home:

  • 13% of millennial homeowners are creating a home office, work space, or family communication center.
  • 15% of millennial homeowners are adding storage space.

The idea of personalization also extends into exterior spaces:

  • 1 in 3 millennials says that exterior makeovers are expensive and not worth the investment.
  • Compared to traditional curb appeal projects like new doors, paint or roofing, landscaping ranked as the top priority (at 44%) for millennials looking to boost curb appeal.
  • About half of millennials (51%) report that they decorate their outdoor living space like they would an indoor dining or living room. More than three-quarters (77%) say they want their outdoor living space to feel like a relaxing retreat.

Millennials surveyed report they are looking to upgrade or make additions to their outdoor living spaces, including landscape lighting (27%), a fire pit (26%), and lamps or party lights (24%). Almost one-quarter of millennials (24%) plan to add or upgrade comfortable seating, outdoor dining tables and chairs, and other accessories that make the outdoor area feel like a room.

“The places where millennials choose to spend their money are very telling of the values within this generation,” Waage notes. “The addition of a home work space speaks to the mobile millennial who is less confined by a corporate office or job. The emphasis on outdoor living and entertaining testifies to the importance of togetherness. And with the addition of smart home technology, millennial attitudes toward the home incorporate connectivity in every sense.”

About the survey: The quantitative online survey was fielded in October 2015 among 1,610 U.S. female homeowners living in single-family homes. Of those surveyed, 800 respondents (49.7%) are from the Better Homes and Gardens “Meredith Knows Women” consumer panel, while 810 respondents (50.3%) were secured through Survey Sampling Inc. to represent U.S. female homeowners.


Better Homes and Gardens serves, connects and inspires readers who infuse color and creativity into each aspect of their lives. Reaching 40 million readers a month via the most trusted print magazine, the brand also extends across a robust website, multiple social platforms, tablet editions, mobile apps, broadcast programs and licensed products. Better Homes and Gardens fuels our reader’s passions to live a more colorful life through stunning visuals, a balance of substance and surface, and a blend of expert and reader ideas. Better Homes and Gardens is published 12 times a year by Meredith Corporation, with a rate base of 7.6 million.


Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP; has been committed to service journalism for more than 110 years. Today, Meredith uses multiple distribution platforms – including broadcast television, magazines, digital, mobile, tablets and video – to provide consumers with content they desire and to deliver the messages of its advertising and marketing partners.

Meredith’s National Media Group reaches a multi-channel audience of 220 million consumers every month. Meredith is the leader in creating content across media platforms in key consumer interest areas such as food, home, parenthood and health through well-known brands such as Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, Shape and Allrecipes. The National Media Group features robust brand licensing activities, including more than 3,000 SKUs of branded products at 4,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. Meredith Xcelerated Marketing is a leader at developing and delivering custom content and customer relationship marketing programs for many of the world’s top brands, including Kraft, Lowe’s and Chrysler.

Meredith’s Local Media Group includes 17 owned or operated television stations reaching 11 percent of U.S. households. Meredith’s portfolio is concentrated in large, fast-growing markets, with seven stations in the nation’s Top 25 – including Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis and Portland – and 13 in Top 50 markets. Meredith’s stations produce approximately 650 hours of local news and entertainment content each week, and operate leading local digital destinations.

Spring Cleanup (in January)

Tidy Terrace Garden

I can’t believe how warm it’s been for the last week.  In Western North Carolina, we’ve had temperatures in the 60’s.  Last weekend I decided to tackle some leaf cleanup.  I don’t usually start this until mid-Feb, but heck … why not?  I worked through the Terrace Garden last Sunday, raking, cutting back, pulling out one or two dead things.  I’m disappointed that the Hebe looks as rough as it does.  It’s not really hardy here, but it sailed through last winter.  It’s probably a goner this year.  After five hours, the Terrace Garden looks quite tidy.  I may add some rotted leaf mold as a mulch.

I have a lot of specimen Dwarf Conifers in this area of the garden.  This is my next garden area that I will add to my Muddy Boots Plant Tag records.  I have at least 3 special little Picea’s and 2 Pinus densiflora cultivars that I don’t always remember the names of.  These will definitely get Plant Tags.

Gardener Personalities

Ms. Muddy Boots
Ms. Muddy Boots

No matter what style of gardener you are, we all have a couple things in common:  A love of the natural world and a desire to get our hands in the dirt.

Does this sound like you? You might be a: Let Muddy Boots Plant Tags help you: EXAMPLE
I collect Plantus specialii and only Plantus specialii Plant Specialist Curate your plant collection SEE EXAMPLE
I see it, I love it, I must have it! Plantaholic Keep track of your treasures SEE EXAMPLE
I just installed a pond! Garden DIYer Record your projects SEE EXAMPLE
Let me show you pictures of my Hostas Camera Bug Organize your photos SEE EXAMPLE
Did I tell you I visited Chanticleer? Garden Traveler Organize your travel adventures SEE EXAMPLE
I just transplanted that to … hmmm Rearranger Keep track of what you planted where SEE EXAMPLE
You won’t believe how many tomatoes I just picked! Farmer Track your inputs and harvests SEE EXAMPLE
I just planted the most wonderful combination … Designer Capture your best vignettes and plant combos SEE EXAMPLE
Don’t tell me, that’s a … shrub! Beginner Learn and remember your plant names SEE EXAMPLE


A custom Garden Portrait is approximately 12” x 15” and costs $400. You will receive the original artwork and a high quality digital image file that you can use to make note cards and other prints.

Contact me at for questions, more information or to get started.

Nancy Duffy

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.

Gardening and Plant Resources

Below is a list of local, regional, and national resources for gardeners:

  1. Every county in the US has a Cooperative Extension Service. These folks are available to help both farmers and home gardeners. To find a contact for your Extension office, simply do an internet search for “your county name” and extension service. A great local resource.
  2. Many Botanical Gardens and Arboretums have resources for the home gardener. Check out this list by state:
  3. At the national level, the United States National Arboretum has a nice reference page for home gardeners. Follow this link:
  4. My absolute favorite online plant reference, Missouri Botanical Garden, also has information for home gardeners:

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.

Unassigned Tags

You can see your unassigned tags when you are adding or editing a plant record. You select a plant from the Garden Records Page by clicking on the red pencil. That will take you to the plant edit screen. On the plant edit screen you’ll see a box labeled Plant Tag. When you click on that you can see all of the available tag numbers in your account that are not yet assigned to a plant.

Assigned Plant Tags

You can easily see the plant tags that you have assigned to plants through the Garden Records screen.  While viewing the Garden Record screen, click on the heading of the Plant Tag column to sort by Plant Tag.  Plants without a plant tag assigned will show first, followed by plants with plant tags assigned.


Virtual Plant Tags

When you first sign up for the free plan at Muddy Boots Plant Tags, you receive a virtual plant tag. It’s an image that is placed in your My Account page that you can use to get a better understanding of how this works.

To scan a QR-coded Muddy Boots Plant Tag, you’ll need a QR-code reader on your smartphone or tablet. Don’t be frightened; it’s FREE and easy. There are more than a few FREE QR-code readers for iOS devices (iPhone/iPad) and Android devices. The reader we find to be friendly and easy is i-nigma. Here are links you can use to download the i-nigma reader onto your iOS or Android device:

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

Here’s how you can use this. After signing up and adding a plant record, assign the virtual plant tag to your plant. You’ll be able to scan that virtual plant tag after assigning it. You can download that tag as an image file from your My Account page by right clicking it and saving it on your computer. But you can also scan that tag right off your computer screen.

Here is an example of a live virtual plant tag. Go ahead and scan it to see Japanese Maple ‘Floating Cloud’ – Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’:


Assign a Tag

You can assign any available tag in your account to a plant record in your account. You can do this when you’re adding the plant or if you’re editing the plant. You select a plant from the Garden Records page by clicking on the red pencil. That will take you to the plant edit screen. On the plant edit screen you’ll see a box labeled Plant Tag. When you click on that you can see all of the available tag numbers in your account and select one from the drop-down box.


In this example, there was no plant tag assigned.


In this example, the same plant has had a plant tag assigned. After selecting the tag, click Update This Plant.