|My iris pallida|
One thing that I have never seemed to get right in my garden is the labeling of plants. I really hate seeing the tacky plant tags that come with a new plant, but I do usually put the tag in the ground so I remember what variety it is and where it is, for the next spring. That's usually as long as they last, because the plastic markers get brittle and break, blow away, or get raked up. I have tried a variety of labels, the wooden stakes that you write on, but they fade and rot. I have tried the metal stakes, but same thing, the labeling never lasts and the stakes eventually end up somewhere else in the garden.
I do keep track of the labels that came with my shrubs and trees (and some plants) by putting the labels on a ring that I hang over my gardening bench in the garage. That way I can always go back and see what variety I have. It's surprising how often I have needed that information, either wanting to know the particular variety or its growing habits, etc.
I always thought these metal markers were the creme de la creme of garden labels, but they aren't so great either. I bought a bunch of them at a yard sale years ago, but who wants a million of these metal markers all over the garden. Maybe in a large garden with not so many plants...
So I am still thinking about a good way to label my plants. Some people keep track of their plants in a database on their computer (surprisingly, I haven't done that yet) and match it to a map. I have tried to draw a map of everything in my front garden, but it's always changing and I never seem to get the scale correct. I do sometimes write in my garden journal where I planted something ("to the right of the scarlet peony"). Others ideas I have heard of are using strips from aluminum blinds, canning lids (I guess you hang them on a stake or something), labeled rocks placed in front of a plant, and plastic dinner knives seem to be a popular option. Me, I'm still thinking. Maybe no labels is best.