Unusually Clever People

Plant hunters on the job


It was with many a pang of nostalgia that I read about Britain’s National Trust plant hunting survey. Eighty significant gardens owned by the Trust are being visited by teams of gardeners and volunteers equipped with GPS devices running special mapping and data recording software. According to the press release I was just sent,

A photo will be taken of each plant, a GPS grid reference will be recorded using the Magellan MobileMapper CX running DigiTerra Explorer 5 software and each plant will be identified by experts.


Phase one of this focuses on gardens in Devon and Cornwall, among others, and specifically mentions the Killerton and Knightshayes gardens. I visited both of these in 2004, among many other gardens in Southwest England. Knightshayes is where the Trust now keeps its propagation gardens. At top you can see gardener Karl Emeleus recording rhododendron details at Killerton. Above is the summerhouse at Killerton, and below is a view of gardens at Knightshayes.


The idea is that almost 75% of the plants in all these gardens will be documented and then propagated for replacement and replenishment. Many of the plants in these gardens were brought back to England by passionate plant collectors over the last 400 years, and there are plenty of exotic specimens. The survey also includes all the kitchen gardens.

I don’t know a damn thing about the Magellan MobileMapper CX or the DigiTerra software that will be running on it, but it all sounds kind of cool. Seems like a fun way to keep track of all the plants I’ve ever seen and lusted after. Certainly many of them were seen when visiting the estate gardens of Southwest England—though when we toured them it was late summer, not the best time. We saw some pretty impressive borders, all the same. Here’s another view of Killerton. As with Amy’s garden, it is not the individual plants so much as the profusion.


Posted by on June 18, 2008 at 5:00 am, in the category Unusually Clever People.
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2 responses to “Plant hunters on the job”

  1. Kate says:

    Wow, the future is definitely here. This project sets a great precedent. . .

  2. Charlotte says:

    Oh my — I want to live in that Summerhouse forever — its like a dream —