Keeping your garden journals, tags, photos and notes organized can be a challenge. At the end of the season, I have to admit that I tend to get lazy. Tags will become strewn about, notes will end up in places out of sight and it starts to feel like a cluttered mess. I always try to keep everything together but often think, can't there be a better way?
This year, I was contacted by the founders of Muddy Boots Plant Tags, Nancy & Dennis Duffy. They are the creators of a brilliant new way to record your plants and garden online. They have introduced me to a better way to streamline all of your plant records, so it is always right at your fingertips. If you love to feel organized and on top of your game, continue reading to learn how Muddy Boots Plant Tags can help you!
What is Muddy Boots Plant Tags?
Nancy Duffy is a talented garden designer, artist and plant nerd from North Carolina. She lives on four acres of land with her husband Dennis, who is a marketing consultant and blogger. They took their talents and love for nature and melded them together to create Muddy Boots Plant Tags, a subscription-based online resource that allows you to take your garden records with you anywhere. It also incorporates smart plant tags that allow you to easily keep track of your plant records.
These interactive tags are UV-coated aluminum labels etched with a QR Code that can be easily scanned with any smartphone. One of my favorite perks of being a Muddy Boots member is the ability to record your garden notes and take them with you anywhere. As long as you have your cell phone in your pocket, you check photos and plant details on the go. You can also share your records easily all over social media!
Q & A with Ms. Boots
I was curious to learn more about Ms. Boots and find out what inspires the creator of such a helpful website. Nancy was kind enough to share with me tips, tricks and garden favorites!
What inspired you to come up with the concept for Muddy Boots Plant Tags?
I am a garden designer and avid gardener. I have lots of friends with lovely gardens. We all, even professionals, occasionally stumble with plant names. Noticing this in my friends and in myself, I got to thinking about plant tags. None of us are interested in tags that disrupt the look of the garden, but they do need to be easy to read. With this rolling around in the back of my brain, I woke up in the middle of the night last July with the idea for Muddy Boots Plant Tags. I told Dennis about it the next morning, and he thought the idea was worth exploring. And here we are!
How did you first get introduced into gardening?
So many people were introduced to gardening by a parent or grandparent. That was not the case with me. When Dennis and I bought our first house, I just started planting and really enjoyed it. A friend I worked with gave me a plant catalog, and that was all it took. I ordered about 50 roses (yikes) and never looked back. In 2000 I went to school for horticulture and began designing gardens for others. In 2002 we moved to our current house on four acres, and we started making this garden. We call our home Acorn Hill. The year we moved in was a mast year, and we had so many acorns it was like walking on marbles. Ours is a pleasure garden and a laboratory for me to try things out.
Click here to view Nancy's comprehensive garden journal.
Do you feel staying organized can improve your gardening skills?
I definitely do think keeping track of garden things is important. I used to know every plant name, where I got it, when I planted it … but many years on I’ve started losing track of details. I’ve had garden journals and spreadsheets, but nothing is ever at hand when I need it. I am a visual person, and I like to document my garden in pictures. It is so fun to look back and see how things have changed over time. Our record-keeping system allows me to keep track of plant records, record maintenance notes, and upload lots and lots of pictures. It's all sortable and searchable, so it’s easy to access all the data I’ve put in.
Can you tell me a little bit about the plant tags and how they work?
Our plant tags have a QR Code (a 2D bar code) and tag number on them. Using a free QR Code reader on a smart phone, the QR Code is scanned, and the information that the gardener has entered into our system for a plant is displayed on the phone. The tag and the record-keeping system are integrated. Information is entered into the system, tag numbers are assigned to plant records, tags are scanned with a smart phone in the garden and information about the plant is displayed on the phone.
I find it easy to enter data on my laptop, and use the phone to access that information in the garden. But you can create plant records and enter data right on your phone if you choose. Muddy Boots Plant Tags is a web-based application so it’s available on any device anywhere you have an internet signal. The tags themselves are rigid aluminum, resistant to UV, weather and chemicals, and will last for years in the garden. They can be hung on a plant with a wire or pinned to the ground with a landscape staple.
Are there any plants in your garden that are near and dear to your heart?
How to choose … I have a very special dogwood, Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ commonly known as the Wedding Cake Tree because of its layered branching architecture. The backdrop for this almost white-leaved tree is a Canadian Hemlock that is about 100’ tall and 100 years old.
I have a collection of Japanese Maples and a collection of dwarf conifers. So hard to choose a favorite Maple! Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ or Dancing Peacock is the most showy of my maples for fall color.
My favorite conifer is easier: Picea omorika ‘Bruns’. This Serbian Spruce has a bluish cast and branches that droop but tip up at the ends. It is a stunner.
Do you follow garden trends & incorporate them into your landscape?
As a designer, I have to keep up with all the latest plants and trends. I try things out in my own garden before including them in my designs for others. I have done a lot of meadows in the past few years and love the fact that they can be beautiful AND ecologically sound plantings. These days, everyone is getting Butterfly Weed, Asclepias, somewhere in their garden.
What's important to take note of in a garden journal?
As I mentioned, I am a visual person so I take lots of pictures. I keep track of what plants and plantings look like from year to year. I don’t record all of my maintenance activities, but I do record pruning. I have a friend who takes no pictures, but records everything she does in the garden. I think it’s down to personal style, and with our system it’s easy to keep track in a way that’s easy and right for the individual gardener.
Do you feel like art inspires you in the garden and vice versa?
For me, the garden is art! I feel like I am painting with plants (and stones, and wood, etc.) and the result is not just something to look at, it’s something to be in, like walking into a painting.
Do you have advice for new gardeners looking to learn more & gain new skills?
My advice is to be a sponge. Visit gardens, both public and private. Read books and magazines. And get to know other gardeners with whom you can share your excitement and be inspired by. And always try things. Don’t worry about ‘doing it right’, just do it and see what happens.
Like a garden, do you see Muddy Boots Plant Tags expanding in the future?
I absolutely see Muddy Boots Plant Tags growing. We hope to offer more options with tags - custom tags with plant names – and will be adding features to the application as we get feedback from our subscribers.
Get Started & Stay Organized
You can sign up and create an account today for free! This allows you to enter up to 25 plants and 50 photos into the Muddy Boots system. Accounts can be private or shared. They also allow you to export all of your data onto a spreadsheet! Check out their Pond Garden journal to see an example of what you can create.
If you want to create interactive tags for your garden, all you do is download a free QR code reader to your cellphone or tablet. When you scan your code, you will be able to see all of your garden records of the plant including pictures right on your phone! Tags can be purchased in bundles with prices available when you visit the website here.
Interested in learning more? Make sure you check out Ms. Boots Blog. She shares garden design ideas, gorgeous flower photographs and ways you can make the most out of your account. She has recently shared some gorgeous pictures of dahlias that will make you swoon.
Click here to sign up for a free account today! Make sure you follow them on social media, and you can share your photos using the hashtag #mymuddyboots.
How do you document your garden? Do you keep a journal of some sort? Tell me in the comment section below. I'd love to know more. I want to thank both Nancy and Dennis for introducing me to Muddy Boots Plant Tags! This year has been a huge transition for me filled with re-organizing, building and starting from scratch again. I look forward to starting the next growing season energized and organized. Happy gardening!