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Phenology Project

In Gardening, Dates Matter

At the onset, our phenology project consisted of just one volunteer who faithfully toured the gardens each week, documenting the plants that were flowering. For years, these hand written notes guided our display efforts and even served as the basis for a book called “When Perennials Bloom: An Almanac for Planning and Planting.”

<em>Aster tataricus</em>Now, a team of 20 volunteers canvases the property using iPads uploaded with a proprietary application that lets the user search our plant inventory and check off when a plant is blooming.

The information from this application is uploaded directly to our database where it can be easily accessed and searched. 

A Tool for Home Gardeners

Hobby gardeners in Pennsylvania who want to recreate the vibrant, year-round displays that they see at Longwood, can do so using Plant Explorer. Through this website which draws upon our phenology data, users can type in a date range and determine when certain plants were observed blooming at Longwood. This type of information helps gardeners better choreograph the aesthetic display in their own gardens.

Longwood Gardens' Plant Explorer

Plant Explorer also allows the user to search for plants by common or scientific names and characteristics, search for specific features—such as fountains—at Longwood, and build their own “tour” based upon certain plants, trees or shrubs in the garden. 

A Changing Climate

On a broader scale, the phenology project at Longwood provides us with valuable data that we can use to quantify climate change. We’ll do this by tracking the bloom times of certain plants to determine if and when sustainable changes occur over time.