Plant names

My mother always called her plants by their proper names so when I walked in the garden with her every Summer evening after we had washed up the dishes she lovingly named every plant in her garden with its “proper” name! I have tried to do the same – and I also try and remember the common name as well! So Rhus Typhina is also Stags Horn in my head. When I started gardening in Laois on a much larger garden than anywhere I had gardened before, and since my plan was to create a garden without lawns – so with over half an acre to fill with plants I was going to need a way to keep track of the plants I aquired.

Best Astilbe

Being a bit of a nerd, I started a spreadsheet to record the plants, the year I aquired them, and where possible where I aquired them. The intial plant list was the happy recording of plants people gave to Brendan and me on our wedding. Then there was the huge collection of plants my sister had been potting up for me from the moment she heard our plans to build our own house. Over the years I have received many gifts of plants from gardening friends often at gatherings and garden visits. Of course I have also added quite a few as I am totally incapable of passing a garden centre or plant stall anywhere without stopping to have a look!

Totally smothered Astilbe liberated

When people visit my garden on my fund-raising days they like to walk through the garden with me and of course, inevitably they want to know the names of the plants they see! That is where the problem arises. There are almost 800 entries in that database at the last count. Some days I have what I call a “good plant name day” when the plant names trip off my tongue easily. Each plant in the garden is a friend I have nurtured but some days I have a “bad plant name day” when the names of the most common plants completely elude me.

Astilbe ‘Ruby Red’

The most annoying situation is when I am working in the garden and I see a particular plant and its name will not come to me no matter how I try! Recently I was working on the area where my bird feeders are located and clearing back the winter debris I unearthed a pretty and dainty little shrub – it has pretty pink flowers in summer but what is it called? Blank! I scrolled down the database – that usually jogs my memory – but no luck! It annoyed me for days. Today I remembered a little app on my phone called Plantsnap that will sometimes identify plants from a photo. I tried it out and Bingo! Spiraea! Will I still remember it next week? That is the question!!!!

And finally … what was it called? Oh yes, Spiraea Japonica Golden Princess

As well as the Spiraea I have added the various Astilbes that have emerged from a recent serious weeding session!

3 thoughts on “Plant names

  1. Paddy Tobin

    I record all plant names in my database which I call “Mary”, It works very well. Otherwise, I put labels in with plants when I plant them, especially with snowdrops as we have so many varieties to remember.


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