In June, we launched Hortis, our next generation plant collection platform. This was announced at our sponsored workshop during the virtual annual American Public Gardens Association conference. We were pleased that the event, titled “Rethinking Plant Records”, was fully booked with 60 delegates.
In this article, we summarise our key findings and share links to the conference event and our follow-up workshop, held on 29th of June.
The state of your plant records today
The first part of the workshop was focused on looking at what the community is struggling with regarding plant collection management and record keeping. Our polls and 12 breakout rooms revealed how attendees are feeling about the state of their plant records today, and what the main barriers are to making them more up to date and accurate.
The overwhelming majority of attendees is looking for features and capabilities that align with modern day record-keeping and collection management software, e.g.:
- Ease of use
- Establishing basic records with accurate data
- Increasing the digital power of those records with other integrated systems
Most people would like the scope of their plant records to go beyond just a basic inventory and instead, to use them as a tool to share information with the public, as well as forming the basis of a collections strategy for the garden as a whole.
What do you like about your plant records workflow?
We also discussed likes and dislikes regarding plant records workflows. For several gardens, having a mobile workflow has helped speed up the inventory process. For others, having an extensive searching/exporting capability worked well, especially when creating reports.
If you would like to revisit our interactive whiteboard to see some of these comments in more detail, it is available to view here.
During the last part of the workshop, we presented how we believe many of the issues people are struggling with will be made easier through Hortis, our next generation plant collection platform.
Rethinking Plant Records: Part 2
Our follow-up workshop, held on the 29th of June, was intended for delegates who were unable to attend our conference event or had questions digging deeper into some of the solutions Hortis will offer. We presented several of our unique features to the group: draft records and collection value scoring.
Balancing strict data requirements with a friendly and efficient user experience is something that plant records systems have not been able to achieve. Users may not be able to complete their work due to data requirements, and existing systems have sacrificed data quality in attempts to improve usability.
By introducing support for allowing “draft” data to be submitted for later processing, Hortis will democratise the data capture process, while still being able to enforce stricter control during an approval stage. In this poll, we explored how people might use this system at their institution.
Another difficult challenge in collection management is allocating the right amount of resources and attention to important plant material. A system which gives each plant a score that represents the institutional importance of that plant material, will assist staff on how they approach their work. The way plants are “ranked” will be derived from the mission of the institution and based on its focus.
We asked delegates which metrics they would use in their institution to measure the value of their plant collection. It is clear how institutional approaches will also help to better monitor the plant collection over time, and help prioritise the way the collection can be managed.
Both our workshops gave us valuable insight into the challenges that exist with plant records and collection management, as well as confirming that our vision for Hortis will solve many of the aspects people are struggling with today.
If you missed either of our launch workshops, recordings are now available:
More conference content you might be interested in
Later in the American Public Gardens Association conference, we also presented how our visions fit into “Communication Pathways: From the Landscape to the Database”. Together with three other institutions, this session focussed on the plant records challenges being faced by staff and volunteers during COVID.