>Many botanical gardens and arboreta have two tags per plant. An
>accession tag is secured to the plant either by wiring it to a branch or
>by nailing it to the trunk.
May I comment? After having seen the labeling job done both well and poorly,
I can offer the following bits of advice:
1. If you wire a tag to a branch of something, *please* make sure that the
wire is not tight enough to girdle the branch, either now or in the near
future. Every year or two, someone should make the rounds, checking that
wired tags are still in place and loosening those that are beginning to
constrict their limbs.
2. Wired tags should be around branches large enough not
to be part of the pruning process, if there is one. Also remember that some
shrubs flower on newer wood only and that someone may be coming by
periodically to take the old growth out at ground level. If that is the case,
you will need to train the pruners to move the labels, or else put the label
on a stake nearby to begin with.
3. When attaching metal tags to tree trunks (which apparently does not hurt
the trees appreciably, providing they're not still soft-skinned saplings), a
better idea than nails is SCREWS. When nails are used, the tag is often bent
or "swallowed" by the bark as the tree grows older. If you use screws, the
person checking the labels or pruning the trees or whatever can easily give
the screws a few unscrewing turns if the label starts sinking into the bark.
This way, the label always stays right on top of the bark. A little more work
to install, perhaps, but much better in the long run!
4. An accurate *map* of the campus or arboretum, with the plants marked by
number and keyed to an identification lis--and periodically updated-- is a
must. Labels do get lost, stolen, chewed by maintenance equipment, etc., and
you will need some way of re-identifying and labeling your "orphans." Believe
it or not, you can actually *lose* something as large as a full-grown
Magnolia! If it has been a a few years since you checked tags, and one died
in the frost and one lost its tag.... which one is missing?
5. (And then I'll stop, I promise!) If your labeling program extends to
perennials and annuals and metal tags are prohibitively expensive,
consider this alternative. Buy a set of metal venetian blinds. Unstring the
slats and cut them into lengths with a papercutter or good shears. A
permanent sharpie marker will make a label that will last a season or two and
which can be touched up later if necessary. You can poke the tags into the
ground or punch holes in them and hang them from stakes. I'm guessing that
sturdy vinyl blinds would be less durable but would last a couple of years.
Hope this helps!
Texas A&M University