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Web Resources for Gardeners

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 11 January 2002 [links here were a sidebar there]

Where to research garden information? On the Web! If you don't know where to start, I recommend Google (, a search engine that orders the sites it lists by how frequently they're linked to — showing how much people have valued them. To find out what that red bug eating my lilies was, I entered "red bug" and "lily" in Google's box.

If you'd like to return to a site, save the URL (also called "address" or "location") of the site. I save them for interesting nurseries. Most big retail outlets have their catalogs on the Web; you can buy straight from the site using a credit card. (Make sure they have a "secure server.") If you have a paper catalog, look for the URL on the cover; or ask Google.

Sites of big public gardens tend to be full of information and fun to browse. In the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's site, QuickTime movies give you 360-degree viewing of twelve areas. At Longwood Gardens' site, I read a report (with lots of photos) about transplanting a 10,100-pound sugar maple by helicopter.

Many online forums and clubs offer discussion with other gardeners; the most useful are the more specialized ones. I belong to the New England Gardening Forum at Gardenweb, and the Yahoo! Organic Gardening Club.

The Web offers many extensive public plant databases. Five years ago I bought a copy of the American Horticultural Society's A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. It lists more than 15000 ornamental plants, has nearly 600 full-color photos — and weighs nine pounds. I keep it on my desk and use it often — but when I want to see a picture of a plant they don't show, or when I look up a plant that's not in it... I turn to the Web.

My daughter Wendy, who lives in Maine, was enchanted with a field of deep pink flowers she saw next to a wilderness path. "They were everywhere," she said, "I came up over the rise and it looked like the whole mountainside was ablaze." It turned out they were Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), a wildflower I didn't know. In the encyclopedia, there was no pink variety listed as native to the Northeast. But on the Web, I found complete information, including lots of pictures — and even places selling seed.

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© Copyright 2002 Catherine Holmes Clark