New labels for an old collection

This year we have had the great pleasure of making a subtle but nonetheless important addition to the arboretum. Something which improves our visitor’s experience and also marks a milestone in our management of the collection as a whole. New labels!

Previously many trees have had missing labels (310 to be precise), or old faded and barely legible temporary tags. In 2019 we set out to record the position of all the trees in the arboretum and save as many labels from deterioration and damage as possible, something which we are now able to see the fruition of by ordering our first set of new labels.

Our Golden Larch getting a shiny new label

New accession numbering system

Following on from our mapping project (read more here) we have officially transitioned across to a new accession numbering system for the collection. Something we needed to have in place in order to print the new labels!

Our new system is an improvement on our existing and incomplete old systems. The new format is such:

YEAR-NUMBER  e.g.  2021-001

Translated as the first accession (i.e. planting) in the year 2021. This gives us a robust framework to work from, that should last for many years. It also highlights the planting dates we know, with any unknown dates being marked as ‘1000’, e.g. 1000-205.

What’s on the labels

Along with the new accession number, the labels contain the following information:

Accession number – the unique catalogue number for the tree

Family – the botanical family the species belongs too

Common name – the name you may know the tree as

Scientific name – the binomial name that consists of a genus name and specific epithet

Origin – where in the world the tree originates from 

Our new labels were supplied by Sheen Botanical Labels, who as it turns out supplied the original labels put up over twenty years ago!

Attaching the labels

With the new labels printed, it was down to our volunteers to get them onto the trees. The previous labels had been incorrectly attached using just a nail, which led to many warping and falling off as the trees matured. New labels are being attached using the Kew fixing system: a nail, washer and spring, which allows more room for movement.

The lucky 50

Choosing the first trees to get our shiny new labels was an enjoyable task. We chose to prioritise the most notable trees without labels (as well as some with old/damaged labels), plus the most interesting trees along the main pathways. Some trees have been missing labels for some time, so it is a great pleasure getting them correctly named again.

We hope to order another batch soon, and as funding allows slowly complete our work, installing new labels throughout the collection!