Plant Labels and Nursery Tags

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When I first started working at a garden nursery, I remember the owner showing me where the plant labels and nursery tags were kept way in the back of a storage space in a boxes on tall shelves.  I asked him what he does with the left overs and he looked at me perplexed.  I wanted them, and he had no problem with letting me take them, although I guess he wondered why.

To me, plant labels are an amazing resource, a mini-library of sorts for looking up details about a plant you just purchased or one you have been admiring in your garden for years.  I keep my plant labels in a box and sometimes when I can’t remember a particular detail, I may rummage through my boxes to find the label.  It can be a bit of like going through an old photo album where the other pictures (labels) I look through remind me of fun days of the past.  I’ll come across labels reminding me of a plant and how it performed, where it was used, and it also reminds me that I’m plant crazy.  I sure have tried out alot of varieties.

Of course, today the QR Codes right on the plant tags and labels, direct you instantly to detailed information about the plant or product via your smart phones with an instant scan.  BTW, here’s mine to my Facebook business page.  (Note:  The buttons are not showing in the correct language, if you know why, tell me – I’m new to this.)

Cathy T’s FB Page

I find the QR Codes are super helpful as well, so perhaps my old box of labels will be retired to the recycle bin or, heck, maybe some day they will be collector’s items just like old concert tickets or baseball cards.  With technology, who knows.  The younger gen may look at a plant tag someday in the far future, and ask, “What’s that?”…, like they do with record albums.  But, for now, I have to say, when I see a “good label,” I still have the urge to keep it in my reference box of labels and nursery tags.

That happened just the other day, yet this label for the plant was one I could not fit in a box.  My husband and I were shopping together, and he saw a blackberry plant.  “I want this,” he said.  Well, I thought, I don’t get into planting fruiting deciduous vines too often, except for the unusual ones, like two kiwi vines I have growing (which take five years to produce fruit), plus we have wild berries on our property along the woods along with wild grapes, but hey, if he wants a blackberry plant – so be it, a blackberry plant I will tend to for him.

Blackberry Potted Up

So last weekend, I potted it up into a big container – yup, I could not resist the urge to put it on the deck with a pretty mini trellis versus planting it in the ground somewhere.  It is already poppin’ out buds, so he will get berries on his plant this season.

But back to the label, it was actually printed on the outside of the pot with color images.  The pot was the label. Listed is the habit of the plant, how to plant it, when and how to prune it, and the harvesting instructions.  Turning it around to the other side of the pot, it also included a list of “Blackberry Health Benefits.” Did you know?…, “1 cup of blackberries contains about 33% of the daily dietary fiber and 50% of the daily Vitamin C suggested intake.”  And they are “low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.”  All good.

Next to be listed on the pot was the “nutrients…” such as Iron, Zinc, Niacin, Calcium, etc.  That pot creation with the details on the pot is a job well done by the grower, also stamped on the pot by Berry Family Nurseries of Tahlequah, OK.  In checking the bottom of the pot, I noticed it has excellent drainage holes – 8 to be exact, and a recycle number so it is recyclable. Because all the information was right there on the pot, the information was not lost (as happens with other removable plant tags) and I liked the color image of the berries on it too.

So what do typical labels tell us?  Many will have the exposure (full sun, shade, etc.), the Latin or Botanical name of the plant and its common name, a photo of the plant, and of course the price.  Some labels will offer where to find out more about the plant and many today, probably all, have the QR Codes which you can snap a photo of or scan with QR Reader application to get more detailed information about it.  Usually the care and maintenance is listed along with planting steps.  And a good label should include its planting zone for which the plant is suited to, especially with many zones warming up.  Sometimes if I spot a plant I haven’t seen before at a grower’s or nursery, I’ll look at the zone on the tag…, and yup, it doesn’t happen often, but it may not be for our zone in CT, but if you are like me, that is okay too for I like planting plants in containers and enjoying them anyways.  I don’t limit myself to just my zone for container gardens.  Some labels may include information that it is for your region with words like, “Plants for the Northeast.”  Words handy for those that want to ensure they have a hardy candidate for their plantings in the landscape or gardens.

There are alot of nursery tags and labels in vibrant colors or with little logos or recognizable icons.  Take Jeepers Creepers for example.  They have a cute little lady bug character on the tag next to their brand name.  Proven Winners labels are instantly noticed, not only because of their logo and label but because of their pot too.  Often white with the big PW trademark on the side.  Some labels are cut out in shapes, like Sara’s Super Herbs will have the top of a pepper plant shown with the label in the shape of a pot with a plant on top.  Their labels contain alot of details and I like that.  But again, with the QR Codes, perhaps labels will be reduced, which helps with the recycling issue, less plastic trash and production of paper products, I would imagine.  Lastly, many labels also tell you if their tag and pot is biodegradable.  We are certainly seeing more of those which is a good thing.

Labeling plants can present challenges for the growers.  They must stay attached to the pot, be able to get wet from watering of the plants, and I imagine are a big cost to produce.  But they are a must, for a plant without a label is really not very helpful to the gardener, especially if you want to pick the right plant for the right place and learn the plants details and features.   Cathy T 

The Hearts of the Market

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I just want to shout out again a very sincere “Thank YOU” to all my friends, family, and clients and marker go’ers for taking the time to come visit me at my first time selling plants and container gardens at the Ellington Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 12th.

Would you believe, I arrived with my supportive husband, Steve, two hours before anyone else to setup my tent?  And my husband had injured an arm so he was one-handed the whole time but insisted he could do it.  I certainly can not put up those EZ-Up tents alone and not sure how others do that, but I’ve been practicing.  And I still have to manage to learn how to handle my big enclosed trailer.  All in good time, but all my plants and containers made it safely and setup in time for the event which is a very fast three hours from when the market opens at 9:00 am sharp and closes around noon.

A popular item sold quickly!Moving containers is kind of like moving cakes, one topple could ruin it all so all were packed with packing materials and carefully unloaded.  Because it was the day before Mother’s Day, many of my container gardens were small to medium sized, but be on the look out for my June showing of large and showy container gardens which I plan to have for the June 16th date at the Ellington Farmer’s Market, which is the day before Father’s Day.  Dads will be on my mind for that weekend.

I think probably the most interesting part of the day was at the very end, when one of the vendors came buy to purchase my special find, a bowl with a wrought iron base, which I refurbished from a consignment shop and filled with Hens and Chics and blinged a bit.  He got it for his Mom and said he had to wait til the end of the day to get it so she wouldn’t know which he picked out.  His name is Greg Hazleton and he owns an organic farming business, called “Earthwise Organic Landscaping” located in West Suffield, CT.  He offered me a dozen eggs for a little discount on the container, and I couldn’t pass up the eggs, nor his optimistic attitude.  He is also on the Board of the market, and I met his mother earlier at my tent.  As she browsed around I hinted that if she told me which container she liked, I could encourage her son towards it later.  But she insisted she wanted to buy a plant herself, which she did.  I just thought it was funny that at the end of the day, I ended up with fresh eggs, enjoying them like a little reward the next morning with my husband as he served them up with toast.  Oh, and by the way, Greg’s mother told me that her daughter, Kimberly, has a Yoga Studio, called “The Revival Room” right down the road at 125 Maple Street.  Hmmm, I thought, I’ve eyed that building before – it is quaint, cute, and local.  She said she has great yoga classes there.

Another great part of the day is witnessing people pick out something special for their mothers.  It comes from their heart.  One guy asked, “Which do yout think Mom would like?”  I quickly responded, not realizing he was talking to his daughter!  Ooops, I sure he found that amusing.  The heart of children, daughters, and sons are revealed at the market, especially on Mother’s Day weekend.  Farmers markets encompass the heart actually because products are made by very passionate people proud of their craft and products.  You can be sure the vendors put alot of time and effort to create something they love themselves and want to share with others.

Collins Compost, http://www.collinscompost.com/friends, located at 9 Powder Hill Road in Enfield, CT was there too.  I barely had a minute to talk to Tracey Clague, a member of the family that runs their business.  She and I have spoken over the phone, via email, and by letters for over 3 years now.  I’ve asked her to send me brochures about their wonderful compost to share with my landscape and gardening clients.  Now finally, we met  in person, but it was brief because she and I were both unloading and setting up in the morning, and we remained busy throughout the day. At the end of the day, we shared smiles as I purchased 3 bags of their compost for myself to take home, asking her coworker to load the bags for us in my trailer, because I was really fearing my husband’s arm would get worse with any lifting.  He has a damaged muscle to his rotator cuff.

There is a band playing every Saturday and usually farm animals are there for the kids, and yes, for the adults too.  One little girl told me there were bunnies at a tent, and I was so tempted to go look to get one for my bunny cage, that has a green roof of sedums mixed from last season, but I could just see the fox that got my chickens last season, staring at that bunny in the cage, and envisioned the bunny shaking like a leaf.  Nope, can’t do that until I can enclose a setup completely from the predators in my woodlands around my house.

Again, it was so nice to see all my friends… thank you Maryse, Lysa, Guillaine, Donna, Denise, Mom and Dad, Jimmy and Nancy, Linda and Kenney, Doreen, Charlotte, Laurie, Dolores, Marybeth and Pete, Catherine, and all the new friends I met at the Ellington Farmers Market on a beautiful sunny day…., and or course, Steve, my helper and supporter – who said this morning, his arm is feeling better.  Phew, Thank God!

P.S.  My next date at the market is Saturday, May 26th.  Located at Arbor Park in Ellington, CT.  Hope to see you there!  Cathy T

Market Coming Up

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Save the date to visit me at the Ellington Farmers Market this Saturday, May 12th. Along with all the other wonderful local vendors, we will be celebrating the market’s weekly theme, “Gardening Grows the Spirit.”

To me, nature’s spirit is represented every day in the garden by the way of light and water. Often a droplet of rain sitting on a leaf will shimmer just like a jewel or the rainbow’s colors will be revealed while watering plants. Even a fly – yes a fly, landing on a plant, has a glimmer of iridescence on its back that one may notice.

Nature has a way of providing its own bling – thus my offerings at my first date at the market are about growing the spirit with a bit of bling. Yes, “Bling your Spring,” I say! You can expect to see unique container gardens of a size manageable to take home to Mom or for yourself, along with some bodacious plants. I hope you will have the time to come visit on Saturday.

The market opens at 9:00 am and closes at 12:00 pm each Saturday. It is located at Arbor Park on Route 286/Main Street in Ellington, next to the Ellington Fire Department and Hall Memorial Library. Look for the white gazebo. Enter along the side driveway which continues to a large parking lot in the back that circles around to another exit.

Cyou soon, Cathy T

Cathy T Farmers Market May 12

Teaching the Younger Generation

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Last nite, I attended the first career fair at the East Windsor Middle School.  Walking through the front entrance, I glanced over to see a plaque on the wall with letters in bronze stating the school was erected in 1966.  “Hmm, I thought, a couple years before I was born.”  I don’t have many memories of walking into this place but I sure do remember the cafeteria, where the career fair was being held.  I was asked out by a boy that I did not like, and I remember a food fight one day too in the cafe – yes, we had food fights back then and wouldn’t get arrested for it.

Software DeveloperNot knowing what to expect, I started to unpack my materials to show the kids during the evening’s activities.  To my left, two software developers located in my home town had quite the nice setup with laptops and big screens to show the students how coding is done for various app’s and games.  To my right, a balloon maker.  How is one to compete with that? LOL.  There was also a veterinarian, hairdresser, accountant, land surveyor, and more.

First to arrive, two young gentlemen, saying they like plants.  I showed them things like a quick flow chart of the steps I take in my landscape design process, photos of befores and afters, explaining the digital imaging concepts and CAD rendering scaled documents, and where I went to college, how I took Master Gardener Program later, and the importance of knowing about soil, nutrients, botany, and especially “the plants.”  But I didn’t elaborate too long on that because I know their attention span would get bored looking at a rotating power point screen, so I quickly had them take a look at my landscape program and give it a trial run.  This is when their faces perked up.

They loved trying out the program, clicking and dragging the plant options.  In fact, one of them placed an ornamental tree in the same exact place I did on my true design of the image prior.  Patting him on the shoulder, I told him just that.  I also pointed out that their generations, with their intense participation of technology, will be teaching “us – the older gen” new applications in the world of landscaping and horticulture.  “I’m just keeping up,” I explained.

The software developers next to me were showing how to create applications for smart phones, and I showed them new app’s I’ve loaded on my iPhone as tools for what I do, like a “color wheel app” for designing, and a “bug finder” app for plant problems, and even a Square Up app so I can take credit cards during sales at shows and farmers markets – but all the while, I explained to them – you have to know the plants, the site, the conditions, and the exposure, etc.  All of these tools can be helpful – but your study of horticulture is more important if you want to go into this type of work.  “You have to know the plants,” I emphasized again.

Cathy T talks to studentsA group of young ladies came by.  As they approached, I asked, “Who here likes plants?”  One gal pointed to her friend and she nodded with agreement.  “Here’s you go – a free perennial catalogue for you,” I said.  They told me they have been designing a courtyard at the school in the back, and how long it has taken to draw their designs to scale on graph paper, so as you can imagine, showing them the CAD rendering of my program spoke to them immediately.  Again, same speech about learning, and the importance of knowing the plants, soil, botany and more, then they all gave the program a trial run.  They gravitated directly to the beautiful perennials in the program as they clicked and dragged through the landscape program’s features.

Towards the end of the evening, a solo young lady came by.  She asked more question than the others.  She wanted to know about an insect she has seen on the shrubs infront of their house recently.  We talked about the process of id’ing insects, and I showed her a new app I loaded on my iPhone with a database of insect photos and reference information.  Explaining the Master Gardener program to her, I gave her instructions to collect the insects, put them in a container, put in the freezer and bring them to the Tolland Agricultural Center on Hyde Road in Vernon, CT, where the Master Gardener Interns there will take a look at them to id them, and even put them under the microscope for a thorough look.  She wrote the information down to share with her parents later.  “By the way, this service is free,” I told her.  See: http://www.ct.gov/caes/site/default.asp

The other cool part about being at this event is I was able to share the conceptual design images I have started for the BMX/Skate Park being built in East Windsor on Reservoir Road.  See http://www.freewebs.com/ewbmxskateboard/.  They liked the idea of the tire planters, and it also reminded them the park will be open soon to enjoy.

And I also told them membership to the Connecticut Horticultural Society (www.cthort.org) is free to students with a valid student ID.  Maybe one day, a teacher, or perhaps myself, will arrange a group ride to a one of their program meetings in West Hartford, CT.  Their last speaker was on water gardening – they would have loved that.

Overall, I was impressed with the young students’s interest.  When asking them if they knew the difference between a perennial and annual, one boy quickly defined them to a “t” saying, “Perennials grow year to year.”   As they looked at the program, I explained how there are many different types of shrubs from deciduous to broadleaf evergreens, and the importance of knowing about invasives, and why.  We don’t want to plant a thug or one that will over take someone’s yard, explaining Purple Loosestrife we often see taking over open fields in our town as an example of invasives.  See: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/cipwg/

At the end of the evening, the program coordinator told me they had the same look in their eyes that she has seen when teaching, meaning they were taking the information in.  I hope so and if yes, perhaps a new young gen designer will be born.  My only regret, I should have brought some plants along to compete with those fun balloons by the balloon maker and the cool computer displays by the software developers next to me.  …Duh, its about the “plants.”

Thanks for visiting my blog post Cathy T

 

MAY UPDATES

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The first day of May has finally arrived.  Hopefully the chilly evenings we have been experiencing lately will pass soon for it is testing my patience.  I want to get rockin’ and rollin’ with my plants outdoors now. 

Here’s some updates of activity coming up on Cathy T’s Calendar – and I hope on your’s too!

ESSENTIAL OILS CLASS

Click on my “DIY and How-To Classes” link on this blog to read about a class coming up in June 2012.  My guest speaker, Laurie Noll, will be showcasing a “Raindrop Technique” and reviewing many oils derived from nature’s offerings.  This get together will be held outdoors (weather permitting) and includes a demonstration and review of the benefits derived from many essential oils.  Give your mind, spirit, and senses a break of relaxation.  Join us if you can.  You will find it renewing.

FARMERS MARKET

In two weeks, I will be making my first apparence at the Ellington Farmer’s Market.  Click on the “Calendar” link on this blog to read more, obtain directions, and see the details.  The market is held on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.  I will be there on 3 key dates:  The Saturdays of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Memorial Day.  My first date with the market is Saturday, May 12th.  Get ready to “Bling your Spring” with the unique container gardens and plants I will have available for sale.  You won’t regret stopping by as there will be many other vendors with wonderful locally grown or created products.  Plus there’s a band too!

GARDEN TALKS

I’ve been doing some garden talks at various locations on — of course, Container Gardening, with a special focus on “color and texture.”  I have to say, the response has been very positive by the attendees.  One lady told me she knows nothing about gardening and learned things she never knew during my talk.  Another said she went out and bought containers that next day to start practicing the techniques covered.  See the “Calendar” section on my blog for more dates coming up.  This week, I will be at the East Windsor High School, on Thursday evening, May 3rd, to share my career experience of working in the horticultural world with students during their Career Fair.

BMX/SKATE PARK with MASTER GARDENER INTERNS

This is probably the project I’ve been enjoying most, but then again, I’m super excited about the farmer’s market participation as well.  There is a new park in my hometown of East Windsor, CT, on Resevoir Road being built as I type.  It is a park for the young gen and their family to enjoy the extreme sports of skate boarding.  Now, mind you – I have no experience in skateboarding myself – but I do enjoy “fast moving” sports. Yet, I was very inspired by the dedication of the town families, parents, committe, and kids that worked six years to raise funds for this park.  Thus, I decided to offer my help of planting recommendations and design elements for the park.  And I presented the project to the Master Gardener Interns at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon, CT as an “Outreach Project”.  It is all volunteer based, non-profit, and an excellent opportunity to learn about the various design phases.  Next door to the BMX/Skate Park is a new dog park, if you didn’t know.  As I’ve visited the site with interns, I’m impressed to see how many local people use the dog park too.  If you think you’d like to participate on “Planting Day” or drop off some divisions from your gardens as a contribution to the Plant Wish List, please contact me at 860-977-9473.  Thank you in advance! 

LANDSCAPE DESIGNS

I’ve done several designs this spring for homeowners.  To see the latest testimonials, go to “DESIGNING LANDSCAPES” section of my blog.  I have to say, sometimes I think landscape designing is more about creating solutions than plants.  Every client had a unique problem to solve, like how to preventing four very active dogs from digging in garden beds to how to design a front foundation which actually prevented people from going to the main front door.  However, what I love about the digital imaging conceptual designs, it helps the homeowners to see the suggested solutions with the various plant options at the same time.  I’ve added a new feature to my design offeringst his season called ePlans, where I email the images direct to you as a client.  It has been well-received, is fast and functional, and actually quite fun.  Like unveiling the grand stage, and with the iPhones and smart phones out there, this is just a perfect fit.  You can click and carry your design images direct to the nursery or work with me for a “Design and Deliver” as you plant your design concepts.  Interested?  Call me to learn more.  And if you happen to be a landscape installer reading this post – call me – I’m available to do designs for you and your clients.

POTTING UP CANNA RHIZOMES

I’ve begun the process off potting up some Canna rhizomes and elephant ear tubers.  And will be picking up my plant order next week for my upcoming shows, booked container garden parties, and special orders including dressing up a client’s patio for an upcoming special occassion and helping another client with her son’s wedding.  So the days are keeping active.  Just yesterday, I lined up my pots to get them ready on a new potting bench I made out of a nine foot long pallette. 

In summary…as we start our May month – the best kickoff month to gardening, I hope you will come visit me or give me a call if you need a design, some planting advice, a container garden party, or container install at your home or business. 

In the meantime, enjoy the rain we are suppose to get this week – it sure is dry out there.  My plants and your’s are thirsty.  Thank you for visiting my blog, Cathy T