November Walking Tour - A Gardens Navigator Tutorial
By Cindy Newlander
Many of our frequent visitors may have their favorite spot to visit during each season or know the right spot to catch the earliest blooming crocus on a sunny February day. For others, each visit may include a new discovery as you wander upon a previously undiscovered garden or a new-to-you plant catches your eye. For those who want a little more guidance, a quick visit to the Gardens Navigator website either before, during or after your visit can provide a wealth of plant and garden information.
This website is easy to get to: you can find it under Gardening Resources on the botanicgardens.org website, google Gardens Navigator, or go to www.gardensnavigator.org to get to the home page. This site is a accumulation of many years of data collected by the plant records department, documenting the living collections of York Street, Chatfield Farms and Mount Goliath. Plant descriptions, images and map locations are available for York Street as well as garden inventory lists, specialized tours and garden descriptions for all three locations. In all, this website houses information for over 15,000 taxa (names of plants) with at least 1/3 of these having one or more images of flowers, fruit or form.
Some of the most basic plant searches in Gardens Navigator can be done by simply typing part of a plant name into the search box at the top of the page on your desktop computer or in the Search for Plants search box on your tablet or phone. The really cool thing about this is you don’t have to even know an entire plant name, so when unsure of spelling, typing a few letters will likely get you a start in exploring the plant collections (“choc” for example gets you 27 plants with names that include, in most cases, chocolate. It will also accept scientific family names (Rosaceae, Fabaceae, etc.) and will display a listing of the genera of plants that are members of that family.
If you want to seek out a plant that you don’t know the name of, choose the search by characteristics or location button to select a few items you do know about the plant – flower color, habit, garden that you’ve seen it in – and get a list, likely with many photos, to find your mystery plant. Once you’ve found your target plant, clicking on either its name or the green map pin takes you to a page with more information including the plant description, option to view more locations, see additional images and view the observed flowering times for that species over time. You can also use this as a tool to find a new plant for your home garden by selecting a few characteristics that you would like to see.
If you want to dig a little deeper into information about a particular garden, the Explore Gardens and Features option is for you. Here you can search for a particular garden, learn more about a permanent artwork you see in the garden or even do a general search by keyword (water, Xeriscape, native, etc.). Once you’ve found the garden you want to learn more about, you can even be transported directly to the inventory list for that garden through the link at the bottom of the description page.
Another great area to explore prior to your visit is Discover Flowers in Bloom. Select a range of dates on the calendar and see what species typically bloom during particular times of the year. If you choose a two week window around the time of your visit, you will get a number of blooming plants to visit depending on the time of year. In the month of November, the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory has many plants to brighten your day and there are still several surprises waiting to greet you in the outdoor gardens as well.
For those who want to see the Gardens through the eyes of the horticulture staff, there are a number of Virtual Expeditions available. You may print out a tour at home, or follow the trail on your smart phone or tablet during your visit. You can also visit the Gardens Navigator kiosk in the lobby of the Education Building if you would like to print a tour from there. These virtual expeditions include frequently updated collections of plants and gardens of interest for the Gardens at York Street and the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. Additional tours include a closer look at Plant Select varieties, Champion Trees and a Mid-Century Modern Architecture audio tour.
You may also search for dedicated benches or trees by using the Locate Memorials & Dedicated Items button. A number of dedicated bricks in Schlessman Plaza are also searchable here. Typing the name of the donor or person it is dedicated to should show you the location of the item to help you locate it on the York Street grounds.
Gardens Navigator is ready to help plan your next visit. Enjoy exploring the Gardens virtually and in person!