Sunday, December 27, 2009

Places to Go When You Don't Know - Resources for Gardeners

I am attempting to learn everything about plants, but it's going to take some, well, years.  In the meantime, I've rounded up some links of places I like to go for information and ideas or to be very plant geeky.  These are a bit specific to the Midwest, so I encourage you to find your local arboretum, botanic garden, and extension service.  They are incredible resources filled with folks who enjoy helping answer basic to tricky plant questions.

Botany Photo of the Day - it's a plant geek's heaven.  David Mosquin takes amazing photos and finds incredible people to contribute to this site hosted by the University of British Columbia Botanic Garden.  They have impressive archives and forums, too!  Need to look at flowers instead of the frozen tundra?   Want to find images for your taxonomy homework?  Wondered about the history of a plant's name? Here's your website.

Chicago Botanic Garden - In 2008 it became the most visited garden in the U.S. and certainly deserves the title.  Only started in 1973, this is an incredible show garden, restored prairie, extensive wetland system, and more.  They just finished the new Rice Plant Conservation Center and are set to become leaders in saving plants worldwide.  CBG also has a wonderful Plant Information Service that I was lucky to be involved with for a season.  I like the Illinois Best Plants section to get ideas.

The Morton Arboretum - This 1400 acre gem is heading into its 88th year.  I've been visiting the Arb since I was in a stroller and worked there for four years.  I still volunteer now and again and it's my home away from home.  I'm looking forward to taking my nephew to the incredible Children's Garden when he visits.  The Arb is a wonderful place to visit big old trees, hike the woods, wade through the prairie, hunt for wildflowers, and see wildlife.  Their research in trees has given us disease resistant elms, maples for street trees, and more.  One of the places on their site I like best is the Plant Advice.  Here you can find a selection guide, pests & diseases, etc., but make sure to stop by the Plant Health Care Reports.  The Arb does a roundup of all the bugs and diseases spotted during the season and it's a tremendous resource if you are trying to figure out what's eating your plants.  The folks at the Plant Clinic are incredibly knowledgeable.  I once spent nine months trying to ID a particular cherry tree.  We knew it was Prunus, but had to wait for it to bloom to make a conclusive ID that it was indeed Prunus padus or common birdcherry.  And the Sterling Morton Library is one of my favorite places to research and write.

University of Illinois Extension Service - The U of I has a vast collection of information on plants and plant care.  These folks can answer questions and give ideas for new garden projects.  If you need to know what pesticide you should use on a critter, this is the go-to spot.  Got a houseplant question or need to know about turf?  This is your website.

Missouri Botanic Garden - Mobot is the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the U.S.!  They just celebrated 150 years!  Another tremendous resource for plant research and knowledge.  They have an unbelievable library and herbarium, but one of my favorite online resources is the Kemper Center for Home Gardening Plantfinder.  It's a terrific resource for finding ideas and seeing pictures of plants.  Love it!

Oregon State University Landscape Plants - This is another place for plant geeks.  It's a pretty basic website, but their photo resources are fabulous.  If you want to see the bud structure for oaks, this is the spot.  I deeply appreciate how they have covered the structures of plants in detail.  It's a wonderful ID tool!

These are just a handful of my favorites.  Where do you go to slake your plant jones?

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