Adventures in BG-BASE

November 16, 2021 Horticulture Department

This summer I had the opportunity to work in Denver Botanic Gardens’ database, (BG-Base) entering photos documenting the species in the Rock Alpine Garden. This project gave me a foundational knowledge of the database system, as well as an understanding of the importance of data recording for a large institution such as Denver Botanic Gardens.

Working in the database, I entered four collections of photos under the categories of caragana, veronica, bulbs and wildflowers. I worked through one folder at a time, going through each image for each species and deciding if it should be added to the database. Then, I narrowed down each species to 4-5 photos, picking photos that displayed all the plant’s important identification features—leaf, habit, flower, fruit and stem—as well as conditional features considering the species, such as habitat. 

Important information that needs to be included in the database is the exact genus, species, cultivar and/or subspecies, the date the photos were taken, the name of the person taking the photos, the location of the photograph, and the accession and name numbers of the plant being photographed. This information is all vital in having an accurate record of the specimen. 

The process of entering the photos into the database went like this: The name number for each specimen was found by looking further into the current records in the database. A name number is a number given to a plant in the database, that way when anyone needs to enter images of a specimen, they can use the name number that already has the appropriate morphological features assigned to each plant name. Next, each photo was renamed with their specific name number and then added to a special file folder that allows for photos to be accessed when they are looked up in the database or on Gardens Navigator. Lastly each photo was given its information as listed above. 

This opportunity allowed for me to learn about the importance of plant records and gave me the ability to navigate and work in a botanical garden database. 


Summer Pritchett is a senior horticulture student, minoring in biology at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. She has an interest in studying the relationship between native and invasive plants, as well as plant collections and plant records.


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