Field of Science

Garden hostatility to records

The 4th was a bit of a lazy day for the Phactors.  Took a road trip Sunday to big hosta, day lily, perennial nursery, Hornbaker's, and its worth visiting just to see their mini - botanical/display gardens. Warning, it isn't near anything, unless you call Princeton, IL, something (lots of antique shops). Mrs. Phactor was in particular shopping for small hosta varieties to finish up a garden next to the patio. Recent garden visitors asked about the "names" for a number of plants and it pointed up the lack of labeling, and what with aging memories, an effort to identify and label the hosta varieties that reside in our gardens seemed like a good idea. Descriptions like "it has heart-shaped blue-green leaves" doesn't help much in distinguishing between "Blue moon", "Blue angel", "Blue jay", "Blues Brothers", and so on. Nonetheless some progress was made and who's going to know if we didn't get them all correct? It looks like we knew what we were doing.  Then there's the problem of the labels themselves. Garden plant labels never seem to last, survive, from one season to another. white plastic knives and sharpee markers are the best, most economical solution so far.  Garden denizens seem oddly attracted to labels and actively seek to shift them around or hide them or remove them completely. Thus we began an effort to map portions of our gardens so plants could be identified by relative position to each other. It's harder than it sounds. Wonder if photos can be turned into maps in some way, maybe some landscaping software. Still some question marks remain. Dividing clumps just makes matters worse with poor bookkeeping. So you end up picking a leaf and looking for a match.  In the end about 7/8s got properly IDed, but still we have no complete tally.  Some of the hosta beds pre-date our purchase of the property, probably by decades.
How did the Phactors end up in such a fix? Well, at first the names of the varieties added didn't seem to matter, and then eventually it did matter, and then it got totally out of hand. Who knows how many different varieties we have 40 or so is a good estimate. Well, someone has a birthday coming up so TPP will seek a hosta reference book for a present.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your idea of taking pictures and mapping them is not too far fetched. If you have a camera that can add geographic information in the meta-data ( phone), these pictures can be added to a program like google earth to map out your garden. The problem with this could be your phone's accuracy (best you can hope for generally is within 2m). Or could be a project for a young botanist who wants to gain experience with data collection and GIS.

Love your blog! Long time reader...first time responding or something like that ;)