March 7, 2010

Plantademy Awards-The good and the bad

Nothing say's winter in Hollywood more than snow on a Monstera!

Let me start this post by admitting that no one wants to go to the movies with me. If I see a blue died carnation growing in a field of wild flowers, or silk wisteria on a trellis, I go mad. So, as we watch the Academy Awards tonight, allow me to share some of my favorite errors in art direction judgement, as well as some kudo's for how plants are treated in feature films, and TV. Why not.
For worst USDA zone offense - I vote for the 1984 film, Gremlins

Come on...snow on Ficus trees? Does'nt Hollywood know that it doesn't snow in Southern California? As if using the same set for 'Back to the Future' was bad enough...no wait, Back to the Future used the Gremlins set. Whatever....snow sprayed on ficus trees can be seen in many films...The Holiday film starring Matthew Broderick entitled 'Deck the Halls' also sprayed snow on obviously a set being shot in July or August in California. There are snow dressing services for the film industry that will come and flock your summer landscape for parties and events. I'm sure that there are budgets to think about and schedules, so planning to shoot a film in Maine during the snow season so that real steamy breath can be seen, if probably saved for A list productions, but that doesn't mean that I can't still get frustrated.
Let's start with the worst offenses.

I could not find a photo of the scenes, but if you ever find yourself bored on a Saturday afternoon, rent the Princess Bride, and enjoy the blue, dyed chrysanthemum 'wild'flowers planted in the meadow scenes. So pretty. (hey, they're blue).

Then, there are some some winners. On TV, the flower arrangements in ABC's Ugly Betty get better every week. Particularly those in Wilhelmina Slaters office. Not many shots, you would have to have seen the show. ( It's been cancelled by ABC- dang!)

The best feature film horticulture may appear in the Harry Potter films. The Hogwarts greenhouse is one I would love to have, and they way they took creative license in expressing how a Mandrake plant might look, proved very entertaining.

Then, there is the Whomping Willow.....a candidate for Best Character as plant, certainly.

March 4, 2010

Plant Tag Round Up -A Look at Plant Labels

Wooden labels available from Terrain.
Hand Crafted Wooden and Bamboo Labels available at Terrain.

I am starting something new, and it's called Round Up. Not the herbicide, but rather, a round-up is blogging term for a gathering, a collection, or a review of a particular item. In Growing With Plants, a Round Up will focus on all sorts of things that would interest you, my readers. It might be a particular type of plant, like, let's say Peonies or Violets, but mostly, it will be a Round-Up of something interesting to those of us who like plants. So it may focus on watering cans, showing the latest variety or coolest forms available this year, or a Round Up on Clay Pots, staking devices, tools or rubber boots. Today's first Round Up will focus on something we all need help with - labeling. Welcome to the first Growing with Plants Round Up on Plant Tags and Lables.

Gardeners are itchy to start thinking about planting, and with the seed sowing season starts to ramp up, I thought that I would share with all of you my most favorite finds for plant tags a labels. I am considering both criteria, aesthetics, and functionality, so there are no slate labels with etched titles like 'HERBS' or 'DILL", and there are no home made sorts, like those made from paper cups and egg cartons. Instead, I am shared with seriously serious labels, such as where I get the black labels everyone keeps asking me about that I use, and my methods, and some labels that are simply just beautiful, for those plants which you might have in a display.

Alitags.com, a premiere site for english Victorian plant tags offers many choices of tags, in materials ranging from metal to bamboo.

The Alitags top-of-the-line system comes with Punch Letters, so that you can stamp the genus and species on each label. Thusly, you can have plant tags that look exactly like those seen at the large botanic gardens.

Check out Alitags for more information.

Alitags also carries these new Bamboo labels, which look similar if not exactly the same as the ones that I ordered from Terrain this week for $12.00 ( 6 for $12.00 US). The Alitags version are sold for 20.5 GBP for 25 labels. Heck, I need to do the math, but I would imagine that volume will reduce the price since they are light, and postage is the only variable. Still, these are all very lovely, and I will be ordering lots of these. Since Alitags in in the UK, the shipping may be more, but the selection is wider.

Copper is the fanciest choice, for both design and practiality for it will age with a patina. The only downfall is the cost.
These copper tags are also available at Alitags.com.

Many of you will recognize these as the black labels I am fond of, and since so many of you ask me where I get them, and how I make them, I will share the process with you. My black labels come from another British site like Alitags, called The Essentials Company. They ship overseas, and are very reasonably priced, especially if you by in quantity. I used to order the white heavy plastic label, and then switched to the black rigid label. On these, I would write the plant name in white paint marker, and the result was exactly what I was looking for, hand drawn white type on black that would last under the extreme conditions which my plants exisit. White labels with sharpie would fade after a few months, and although pencil would last the longest, I never liked the look of it.

Then I discovered a free packet of black scratch-on labels that also came in the package from The Essentials, but the needle which came with the labels was useless in scratching in the name, and once you did, it looked as if the name was scratched onto the tag, not very attractive. I then discovered the labeling system, the Brother P-Touch. I use black P-Touch tape with white text, to type the plant name onto. I use the 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch tape, which I can only find on-line from Staples, for the stores seem to no carry the black tape with white letters in waterproof. The result is a very neat and tidy look, and I can add lots of information onto the label.