Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - The Hills and Beyond - by Laura Rit­ten­house www.lau­rarit­ten­

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.word­ If you have sug­ges­tions or feed­back for me, send it c/o: con­trib­[email protected] hill­sto­hawkes­

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