Due to circumstance and inclination, my three decades of urban gardening have been devoted to mostly ornamental private gardens. I have dabbled in the occasional strawberry jar potted up with herbs (successful) and sweet corn in container (wretched). Nevertheless, most of my experience is with perennials and bulbs.
I label my plants. Rather, I label where I plant them. This is most helpful in the off seasons, to dissuade me from scanning some patch of deceivingly barren soil and imagining all the new plants I could acquire to populate it.
In the first garden, in the East Village, I carefully labeled all the little bulbs and plants with plastic labels. The white plastic contrasted strongly with the dark earth. This led one visitor to describe it as a "plant cemetery."
I've since graduated to aluminum labels. They are durable, erasable and reusable. Perhaps most important, less conspicuous. I've also gotten into the habit of scribing the provenance onto the back of the label: the year, and usually also the source from which I purchased the plant.
Nevertheless, they sometimes still serve as markers for those plants that have passed on. This is so common that gardeners have a euphemism for it: "adventurous." I am an adventurous gardener, in that I will plant things I've never grown before, perhaps never ever heard of before reading about it or spying it in some nursery and "rescuing" it.
Here then is a sampling of The Fallen, transcribed from markers I've found in different stashes, collecting dust with years-old seed packets, rusting pruners, and forgotten catalogs.
- Adiantum pedatum, Maidenhair Fern, Gowanus Nursery, Spring 2008
- Alchemilla epipsila, Shady Oaks, Summer 1996
- Aquilegia, Columbine, Shepherd's Seeds, Spring 1994
- Ascepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed, Southern Exposure Nursery, July 2007
- Begonia grandis alba, Shady Oaks, Summer 1996
- Crocus 'Skyline', Scheepers, Fall 1998
- Crocus 'Taplow Ruby', Fall 1994
- Delphinium, Blackmore & Langdon Strain, 1993
- Gentiana dahurica, Shady Oaks, Summer 1996
- Hosta nigrescens, Carroll Gardens, July 2003
- Iris siberica 'Blue Moon', Nicoll's, Fall 1994
- Iris siberica 'Butter & Sugar', White Flower Farm, Spring 1998
- Sedum 'Autumn Joy', 1993