Hannon othonna@gmail.com
Thu, 16 Jan 2014 20:47:24 PST
Records of plant acquisitions (accessions) should not be static entries.
Their usefulness for individual private collectors-- probably most of the
folks on this forum-- will typically not exceed the lifespan of the grower.
That said, any databasing will be largely superfluous. Collating
information electronically is only useful where large amounts of
information need to be manipulated often and quickly. That is not the
situation with any collector I know, even very busy ones.

For the record (pun intended), I use college rule notebooks to enter
accessions and I give a unique number to each one. These numbers come in
handy for quick reference and lazy tag writing where only the number is
written. These books are updated (very irregularly) with subsequent
information on propagation, distributions, etc. In addition to the books I
keep a simple word document inventory to make notes and stay abreast of the
collection. This system keeps information readily accessible and formatting
is really a non-issue.

Databasing for its own sake is of little use to anyone. It is costly in
time and money and there are far more glitches in the process than most
realize. There is a fashion now in botanical gardens to emphasize the input
and fine-tuning of data but, as Tim says, the better effort lies in
acquiring plants of value and propagating and distributing them. It is not
uncommon for a garden to have superior electronic command of its
collections while at the same time those collections exhibit no real
vitality or plantsmanship.

Far more difficult than keeping records is keeping recorded information
firmly connected to the correct plants. In other words, labeling. This is
something of a tangent so I will offer one tip that has helped me a great
deal over the years: writing the accession number at the top of the label,
for convenience, and again at the bottom end of the label. The buried
portion of a tag can last for a long time (10-20 years easily). I find this
easier than making a separate tag to put at the bottom of the pot.

Dylan Hannon

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