Creating Plant Signs for Simpson Gardens

A 2016 Master Gardener Intern Project

By Susan Wilhelm, Certified Master Gardener  

Wild Stonecrop Sign

Wild Stonecrop Sign
Photo © 2017 Susan Wilhelm

Kathryn Kellam and Susan Wilhelm (MGNV Class of 2016) created 25 new plant signs for the Simpson Demonstration Gardens in Alexandria as their intern project. Each sign has a line drawing of the plant and provides the plant’s Latin and common names, height and width at full growth, bloom color and time, moisture requirements, and sun exposure. The signs also list plant hardiness zones and several other types of information, as applicable, such as deer resistance and whether the plants attract bees, birds, or butterflies. A QR code (two-dimensional bar code graphic) on each sign enables garden visitors to link to individual plant information electronically. The information on each sign also is recorded on an Excel spread sheet maintained by MGNV that lists the plant’s location in the Simpson Demonstration Gardens. The signs are sturdy and easy to read even if placed some feet into the garden so as to be close to the plant being identified.

The garden signs were researched and made over a three month period using a format that matched the existing signs in the Simpson Demonstration Gardens. Most signs were placed in the garden on April 5, 2017. The remaining signs were placed once the ferns came up to ensure they were in the correct location.

Kathryn and Susan created a template with graphics should anyone want to make additional signs using this format.  Additionally, Kathryn and Susan prepared “Instructions for Garden Sign Template” a short document containing information on the process used to create the garden signs, good sources for plant information and illustrations, technical information on making QR codes, and information on the metal sign holders, the paper used, and the printing process.

In completing the project, Kathryn and Susan consulted with Master Gardeners who worked on previous signage projects at Simpson Garden and other Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens. We thank these Master Gardeners for sharing their knowledge with us.  We also thank Beth Tindal and Carol Kilroy of the Simpson Demonstration Gardens for their support throughout the project.

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