GARDEN TIP: Garden Markers – Part 2

I found another garden marker idea on Page 86 and 89 of the April 2012 issue of Better Homes & Gardens. In the article, Donna Drago placed 5 or 6 foot tall unpainted wooden stakes in her square foot garden. Each stake had a whimsical lime green dowel cap on top. Just below the dowel cap, she wrote the name of the plant.

I knew the wooden stake was a bad idea for my neck of the woods. In just one season, wood placed in the ground either rots or something chews the bottoms off. I decided to use Drago’s marker idea by substituting half inch PVC pipe for the wood and copy the idea of topping the markers with dowel caps. I am not willing to put PVC pipe in my veggie garden because I’m suspicious of toxic seepage. However, I thought the PVC markers would be great as perennial markers to mark the location of perennials that die back in the winter. It would be helpful to know where to expect a perennial to resprout and give me a head’s-up if it failed to resprout.

Poppie gave me a 5 foot section of half-inch PVC pipe. I cut the pipe into 12 inch pieces and used silver spray paint on the PVC. He also gave me two round, two-inch dowel caps that I painted with my lifetime supply of flat celery green. I later spray painted them with a darker shade of green because I wanted them shiny. My paint choices were based on trying to make a marker that did not detract from the beauty of nature or stand out unnecessarily. I wanted something that you wouldn’t really notice in comparison to those cemetery markers.

I loved the dowel cap on the pipe but could  locate only one inch dowel caps in the craft stores and couldn’t find them at all in the home improvement stores. Unwilling to special order the two inch dowel caps, I donned my creative thinking cap and decided that I could make some square dowel caps with some of Poppie’s woodworking equipment. I rooted around in his scrap wood bin, cut some small cubes (less than 2 inches) and proceeded to drill one hole into each cube. Drill is not the right word because I didn’t use a drill as you think of them. Poppie has this hole-poker thingie with drill bits that look like augers. I have no idea what you call that kind of drill. I drilled each hole slightly larger than the half-inch PVC pipe, and voila, a square dowel cap.

To paint them, I poked some bamboo garden stakes in the dirt, put a cube on each stake and went on the attack with shiny spray paint.

Perennial garden markers being painted

I used E6000 glue inside the hole I drilled and pressed the square dowel cap on the PVC pipe. Here are the results of both the round and the cube perennial markers. This project didn’t cost me a dime because Poppie was willing to share what he had in his shop and I was willing to put in a little time.

Perennial Garden Markers

If you are looking for more garden marker ideas, our intrepid web explorer, Ms. GrubbyFungus, has found a new selection of marker ideas. Check it out over at Three Pea Permaculture.

GARDEN TIP: Garden Markers – Part 1

Give me a moment to rant: Thanks to Wall Street’s hijinks, I have worked all of 6 weeks since August 2009. I place the blame for our financial meltdown on all of corporate America because of the bribes they pay our political leaders to acquire legislation favorable to their goals. Any legislation favoring corporations generally is not in the best interest of the rest of us. As someone who worked for almost 40 years, I watched pensions, major medical and unions disappear from the working landscape. When that wasn’t enough to support mega-million-dollar CEO salaries, they sent our jobs overseas. My personal, gut reaction was to limit my support of corporations. Rather than solving my needs at the retail level, I solve many of them at the home level. This required me to take a renewed look at the subject of creativity. It has been a favorite subject for the last 22 years. I have no idea how many creativity books I’ve gobbled up over the years. I like to think  that I can now think outside the box, inside the box, around the box, over the box, under the box, and through the box.

One of my favorite books on creativity was written by Chic Thompson but I can’t remember the title.  With my pitiful memory, it’s a wonder I can even remember his name. I photocopied his “What If” Compass from the book because it demonstrated how to think in opposites. Here are a few examples:

What if I …

  • Stretch it  … Shrink it
  • Combine it … Separate it
  • Balance it … Unbalance it
  • Do it backwards … Do it sideways

You get the idea. It dumbed down creativity to a level where I “got it.” Many times over the years, I have consulted those two pages rather than setting my pea brain on fire by asking too much of it. I think I’ve mentioned not being the brightest crayon in a small box of crayons. Without a lot of colors, I could easily use the same crayons so much that I wear them down to little nubs.

Now I use creativity to fill needs rather than jumping in my car and running out to the store. One of my ongoing needs has been for garden markers for my veggies. I know I’ve tried cut-up bleach jugs, slats from window blinds, and plastic knives but, with a sieve-like memory, there are probably other marker ideas I tried that have already hit the road.

Back at my Veggie Garden Tour, I briefly mentioned building some T-shaped plant markers that, once painted yellow and placed in the garden, looked too much like cemetery markers. I wondered if a change in color would help so I got Poppie to help me build another six which I painted celery green. Everything in my garden will likely be celery green as I purchased a quart of flat celery green paint. A quart of paint goes a long way on small projects so I have, no doubt, a lifetime supply. I wish I had purchased shiny paint rather than flat to give the garden a little bling.

What do you think? Do the celery green markers blend in better and look less like cemetery markers?

Suspecting that garden markers might be an ongoing request, Poppie built me a jig so that I could saw and hammer on my own.  That was his hope, anyway. On some of these saw and hammer projects, I need moral support because my level of comfort among saws and nail guns is pretty low.