I know a Japanese maple enthusiast who quotes the names and characteristics of each of the trees in his impressive collection. That proficiency does not apply to me. With twenty-five or so hosta varieties and more than a dozen types of salvia I need help to recall names. If I am completely honest I often need reminders to recall my wife’s name when I am busy in the garden. To be safe I use terms like “Sweetie” or “Honey” to get her attention. I guess it is OK since she recently called me “Stanley.” What in the world?

The practical side of garden tagging becomes abundantly clear in early spring when some plants have popped above the soil while others continue their slumber below. What frustrations we feel when we dig in the vacant spot in the garden bed only to discover that a plant has already claimed it. And who hasn’t potted a plant one season only to wrestle with a blank memory when we attempt to recall what we put there once spring arrives? So we tag and label and maybe even capture notes.

I appreciate so much the volunteer effort that goes into tagging the collection at the JC Raulston Arboretum, one of my favorite spots in Raleigh. Shawn and I explore the gardens and capture pictures of the tags of plants we hope to add to Paths of Hope. A variety that thrives at the Arboretum twelve miles away should (hopefully) perform well for us also.

March 2021 (2)

Through much trial and error we have adopted a labeling scheme across our garden. Gone are the popsicle sticks and flimsy plastic tags. We use metal tags with the names of plants scrawled with a 2B pencil. Follow this link for the complete story: Garden Tags That Last. As this image shows a 2017 “test tag” written with the 2B pencil remains legible after nearly four years of exposure.

I’ve had several gardeners report their use of permanent markers in the garden, but in my experience that ink fades after a single season. By season three no recognizable words remain. The same ink displays a different response on the face and hands of a three-year-old who just scribbled on the arm of the brand new sofa. Go figure.

God remains my favorite Author, and I invest more time in His best-seller than in any other book in my collection. I recently attended a high-speed Bible conference where gifted teachers walked us through the book of Revelation in eight sessions. I was comforted when I revisited Revelation 20:11-15 and read about the Lamb’s Book of Life. My name is written there, written indelibly by the hand of God. No one can erase it or cross it out or cancel the magnitude of what it means to be listed.

The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, recorded these special words of encouragement for the Israelites who had perhaps begun to think God had abandoned them. This poignant reminder communicated His care and concern for them.

Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…

Isaiah 49:16 NASB (Selected)

C. Austin Miles (1868-1946) wrote a song that popped into my thoughts as I worked on this post. We sang it often in the church where I was raised. Here’s a snippet from “A New Name in Glory:”

I was once a sinner, but I came
Pardon to receive from my Lord.
This was freely given, and I found
That He always kept His word.

There’s a new name
Written down in glory,
And it’s mine,
oh yes, it’s mine…

Compare that joy to the utter tragedy of these words:

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:15 NASB

Whew! I am thankful that God’s labeling lasts.