Plants have a multitude of names ranging from their official botanical name to what your nan always called them. Often we don’t bother with what a plant’s called beyond something vague like “that silver bush” or “that smelly flower” but sometimes we just want to know. In the bad old days there were books and neighbours and wise folks at the garden club that helped deduce the name of a plant, but today things have become much easier. Anyone with access to the internet can become an expert at unlocking plant names. Or so I learned recently when Alexander Greentree, horticulturalist- cum-super-sleuth, spoke at our garden club.
The basic technique to identify any plant is so simple it’s almost criminal. 1) open your internet search engine, 2) type in a few descriptive keywords, 3) search “images”, 4) scroll through the first page or two to see if your nameless plant appears, 5a) if it does, select the image and look at the website attached to that image, 5b) if it doesn’t, tweak your keywords and try again.
Two things worth mentioning about this process: firstly, where possible, open “reputable” websites like those run by universities, botanical gardens or plant organisations; secondly, pick the right keywords! This is the only tricky part of the process. Alexander suggests starting with Habit (tree, bush, vine...) and Flower Description (red bell, purple tubular, yellow pea...). If that fails, include details about the leaves: type (simple or compound), shape, arrangement or margin.
If you’re still unsuccessful, you might remind yourself how much you like your plant regardless of its pedigree or, if you just can’t let it go, come along to the next Garden Club meeting and ask around – our members never cease to amaze me with their knowledge.
If you’re interested in gardening, join us at the Macquarie Towns Garden Club. We meet at 2:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Windsor Library. Check us out at: www. macquarietownsgardenclub.wordpress.com. If you have suggestions or feedback for me, send it c/o: contribute@ hillstohawkesbury.com.au.