The PLANTS project - tackling a plant recording backlog
"Some of the plants in our collections are as old as the paintings in the historic castles and some are rarer than the furniture." - Dr. Anna Florence, Curator of Plant Collections, National Trust of Scotland
The November Coffee Chat was given by Dr. Anna Florence, Curator of Plant Collections for the National Trust of Scotland. Dr. Florence talks about the PLANTS (‘Plant Listing at the National Trust for Scotland’) Project, an ambitious three-year undertaking to record the approximately 100,000 individual plants across 39 major Trust gardens.
Some challenges covered during this Coffee Chat include:
- Plant Identification
- Matching Records
- Encouraging the consistent keeping of records across the entire organization
- Plant records mysteries
Thanks to all of you who joined us! The Coffee Chat attendees were a good mix of users with 47% intermediate users, 29% of users identifying as novice, 23% advanced users.
The map below shows the gardens and arboreta represented by those who registered for the May Coffee Chat - home offices not taken into consideration.
Part way into the PLANTS project, Dr. Florence and her team have unraveled some mysteries and are preserving the national collections and heritage of many important Scottish plant collections. See their article about the daffodil collection at Greenbank Garden in Glasgow.
Inverewe Garden photo by Adrian Hollister
Dr. Anna Florence's Take Home Points
- Have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve with your records
- Record all of your decision-making
- Don't use abbreviations
- Have a go! Any records are better than none. Keeping records will improve your standing as a collection and educate the wider staff about the value of the living collection. Some of the plants in our collections are as old as the paintings in the historic castles and some are rarer than the furniture.
Q: How many accessions are you able to enter into the database at a time?
A: 60 records a day is the working number unless a lot of cross-referencing is needed. Then it is closer to 30 records per day.
Q: What parts of the collection receive permanent tags?
A: Currently we are focusing on our rhododendron collection.
Q: Do you create vouchers to help with plant identification and matching to historical records?
A: We don't create herbarium vouches at the moment but we plan for the future to use images to help with identification.
Q: How do you determine a fair price for a determination by an expert?
A: It costs what it costs, there are so few experts out there. We have many professional amateur' organizations that we use that are very good.