“ Brand: Gardman „
It seems that every winter I label up my more precious garden plants, especially the deciduous specimens only to discover in the spring that the winter ravages have destroyed whatever I've written on the label, even when it's written in supposedly indelible pen! I've searched for more permanent methods but even they have failed me.
Last year I spotted some Gardman copper 'T' plant labels for sale on Amazon at a very reasonable price and was tempted to try them. These are currently still available and prices range from around £1.99 for 10 labels.
Gardman is a brand of good repute and the way the labels were described led me to believe that these would be the perfect permanent reminder of what plant was lying dormant under the soil or in the pot. Copper is a soft enough metal that the plant name could be imprinted into the metal using a ballpoint pen and no amount of winter rain or snow could wash the embossing away. The 'T' shape provided both an adequate area for writing even the longest plant name and a spike which seemed to be of a good length to allow the label to be anchored into the soil and keep the label part above ground. I was convinced enough to buy two packs.
When the labels arrived I was rather surprised to discover that the labels were far less substantial than I'd expected. In fact, they were incredibly thin and bendy. Though I hadn't expected them to be of top grade copper, nowhere in the sales blurb had it mentioned that these labels were manufactured from copper rolled so thinly that it was only about the same thickness as good quality tin foil or an old fashioned milk bottle top. I was a little disappointed by this but felt they could still prove to be better than anything I'd tried before.
The thinness of the copper certainly wasn't such a problem in respect to the actual label part and it was very easy to write the name using a ballpoint pen but the spike for sticking into the ground was shorter than I'd expected and so thin as to make it very difficult to get them into the soil without bending. The corners are all rounded off but the straight edges are quite sharp and could easily cause a nasty cut unless very careful. Although I haven't cut myself whilst using them I imagine they could produce something akin to a paper cut and we all know how much they hurt!
In practice, these labels are fine for use in pots or trays, but only for those which are going to be under shelter during the winter as they really aren't practical for general garden use. The spike is far too short so the label can't stand proud above the soil and unless the label was well anchored it would very probably be blown away on a windy day as they really don't weigh more than the average autumn leaf.
I did find a way to get round the problem of how to use these outdoors, however, by adapting an idea I'd seen on Pinterest. Using an office hole punch, I made a hole in the end of each label spike and fashioned a separate spike from a wire coat hanger, making it into the shape of a shepherd's crook. I then slipped the upside down label onto the coat hanger spike and closed up the loop so there was no chance of it blowing away. Because the labels dangle well above the ground, it gives the added bonus of them blowing in the lightest breeze and catching the light which gives the garden some added interest especially in the depths of winter.
I've only used these labels over the last winter so don't know quite how long they will last but last winter was a particularly nasty one and they've come through it unscathed with the plant names as legible as the day they were written. After my initial disappointment with these labels, they've proved to be pretty good, or at least they have after some slight adaptation.
Overall, these labels prove that you get what you pay for. The quality of the copper is such that it makes these labels unfit for purpose in terms of outdoor use unless you're prepared to do a little bit of DIY on them but they're fine for labelling plants which will be kept undercover in greenhouses or coldframes during the winter.