The Fallen

The Fallen

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
The Fallen

Related Content

NYC Garden #1, The East Village, the 1980s: The Shade Garden


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I tend to use the labels the plants came with... and then after a year or so, pull them up and store them in a file cabinet, with the location and date written on the tag. Sometimes when I'm searing for a plant name by going through the tags, I see fallen friends as well. And I noticed this spring that I planted prairie smoke last fall very very close to chionadoxa, which of course were not visible by then. Oops.

Unknown said...

I have many a fallen friend. Usually because I make then sit in a nursery pot for extended amounts of time (years).

Chris Kreussling (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Monica: I'm not so organized keeping files. That's why I like to "keep record" in the garden itself. Sometimes I also map my beds, though, which provides another record.

Michelle: I'm not even counting the ones that never got into the ground!

lisa said...

I use those exact same tags! My "fallen" are recorded in my garden book under a section called the "dead list" :)