Monday 13 May 2013

Taking stock (Week 6, Monday)

The plants in our area are in need of stockchecking, so I volunteered to do it: I will learn more about the area, the plants and stockchecking - what's not to like? Besides, a bit of light work will give some rest to my wrist, which need it.

When plants are accessioned - I talked about this in my very first post: Plants come with a label (unlike people) - a record is created in a database describing their characteristics, including name (family, genus, species, variety, etc), information about who and from where supplied them, whether the origin of the plant has been verified of not, the location of the plant in the garden, etc.

Stocktaking requires first thing to print out a list of the plants in the area: in our case the South Canal beds are numbered as areas 435 and 437.

With your list, then, you check that all the plants are there and where they are supposed to be and that the labels are correctly placed to identify them, taking notes of any plant that is not listed (it could have been missed in the database recording or it could be a self-seeded plant that was not weeded out) and any other issues that you may spot.

Every plant must have at least two identification labels: a display one, engraved on black plastic and a security label, embossed on metal (for identification in case the other one goes missing). Some may have a label on a stand, too, depending on their growth habit.

If any labels is missing or unreadable, it has to be reprinted and replaced.

So with my printed list of plants I have been and will be exploring the areas, in and around the beds, and checking our plants.

I am taking a very systematic approach, sequentially checking every plant, bed by bed,, row by row, and in a session I try and complete a whole block of plants. For each I check that both essential labels are present and readable, and that they have not been misplaced by mistake.

Some of the plants listed in my sheeds I could not initially find, then I realised they had been "swallowed" by their neighbours: there are quite a few invasive plants in the Rosaceae family, such as my favourite Rubus, and of course Sorbaria. Potentilla and Cotoneaster also do their best to keep up, seeding far and wide. So there is my work cut out for me in the next few weeks: weeding out and cutting back the more vigorous specimens and their unwanted progeny.

If any plant is not labelled and is not obviously the offspring of some neighbouring plant, it will need to be identified and dealt with accordingly.

Having to check plants so close is improving my observation skills, and I am noticing new details and learning a lot of new plants in the process. They are beautiful, plants, and amazing.
I found a crab apple tree with leaves like an hawthorn, a pear tree with leaves like a willow, and a stunningly red apple tree: leaves and trunk, with purple berries...

Malus florentina

Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula
Malus x purpurea 'Eleyi'
In view of reporting back to my manager, on a rainy morning I have also prepared a spreadsheet where to collect all the information I gather in readable format.

Look forward to completing this task over the next few days...

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