JARS v60n3 - Garden Record Keeping, Part III, Beyond Plant Tags: The Garden Atlas

Garden Record Keeping, Part III, Beyond Plant Tags: The Garden Atlas
Noel Berkeley
Vida, Oregon

Too Many Rhododendrons
It is my firm belief that you cannot have too many rhododendrons unless you don't know what you have or don't know where they are. Therefore, in order to avoid limiting myself to half a dozen plants it was imperative that I devise a system for storage and retrieval of that information. Thus began the garden atlas, which now has over 500 rhododendrons.

A Garden With Letters
Our garden (about half an acre) is modeled to a large extent on the Japanese strolling garden but with tipped up topography. The paths partition the garden into discreet beds each of which have been named a letter of the alphabet and so marked with a large flat stone bearing a stenciled letter. In each bed every rhododendron will be given a number on a map of that bed. The combination of a letter and a number not only signifies a unique plant but also a unique location. What we needed next were maps of the beds and a map of the entire garden. Enter the computer.

Fig 1
Figure 1. Garden map with each bed colored and marked with its letter.

Where Did That One Go?
I created the maps with the Paint program, not with any precision but good enough for this job. On the garden map, each bed is colored like a state in a map of the United States and marked with its letter (see Figure 1). Next are individual bed maps where each circled plant number is placed relative to its location in the actual bed (see Figure 2).

Fig 2
Figure 2. An individual bed map where each circled plant number
is placed relative to its location the the actual bed.

Booking Rhododendrons
I used a data base program called Access for listing the information about the rhododendrons (see Table 1). Field 1 is the bed letter. Field 2 is the plant number on the map of that bed. Field 3 is the name of the plant. Field 4 is a "Remarks" field for possibly the color or the age or perhaps the source. So far, I have not used field 4 but it is there in case I need it. By using a filter it is possible to print out all the records for a particular bed ordered by plant number. One can also print out the entire list of rhododendrons with names in alphabetical order. All printing is done in landscape mode.
Now one can assemble a looseleaf notebook. Page one is the map of the entire garden. Next is a map of the "A" bed, followed by a list of the plants with their numbers in that bed. Next is the "B" bed with the appropriate list, and so on. Last is an alphabetical list of all the plants. Now it is possible to look at a plant in the garden and find it on the map to know what its name is. It is also possible to find a name in the alphabetical listing and learn where it is in the garden.

Table 1, Plant Names
Bed Number Name Notes
A 1 Ethyl
A 2 Brilliant
A 3 Robert Louis Stevenson
A 4 Robert Louis Stevenson
A 5 Martha Robins
A 6 Martha Robins
A 7 Axel Olson
A 8 Unknown
A 9 Azalea
A 10 R. daphinoides
A 11 Arthur Ivens
A 12 Azalea
A 13 Azalea
A 14 Azalea
A 15 Cunningham's White
A 17 Arthur Ivens
A 18 R. augustinii 'Fair Sky'
A 19 Arthur Ivens
A 20 Azalea
A 21 Arthur Ivens
A 23 R. dauricum

Getting Pragmatic and Practical To make the alphabetical listing more useful, I entered the hybrid rhododendrons by their name only: such as 'Sunspray'. The species are entered starting with "R.": such as "R. williamsianum". This groups all the species rhododendrons together in the alphabetical listing in the back of the notebook. All the pages of the notebook are in transparent page protectors, because inkjet printers use water-soluble ink and we like to use the atlas outdoors in less than perfect weather.

Noel Berkeley is a member of the Eugene Chapter.