New Web Site Offers Plant Evaluation Information

The Chicago Botanic Garden, in collaboration with the Library of the University of Illinois at Chicago, has launched a Web site to provide timely information and digital images for perennials, vines, shrubs and trees currently under formal evaluation in the Gardenís Plant Evaluation Program.

Data is presented in a non-technical, user-friendly format for horticulture professionals, academic and government researchers, gardeners and plant enthusiasts. The site can be accessed at two addresses: the Chicago Botanic Gardenís Web site at www.chicagobotanic.org and at www.eplants.org.

Users can search by scientific and common name, as well as variety of plant characteristics. Each annually updated plant profile includes one or more images, plus information on flower color, bloom period, plant size, disease and pest issues, and winter hardiness. A performance rating and summary description, written by the Gardenís plant evaluation staff, helps users track a plantís performance over the course of a multi-year trial.

The Gardenís Plant Evaluation Program, the most comprehensive of its kind in the country, trials commercially available plants, both the old favorites and current cultivars, that demonstrate good garden potential in Midwestern conditions (USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 7). Perennials are studied for four years; shrubs and vines, five to seven years; and trees, seven to 10 years. Evaluation criteria include general health and habit quality, winter hardiness, ornamental features, cultural adaptability, and disease and pest resistance. Results related to a specific plant genus are published in the Gardenís Plant Evaluation Notes at the end of the evaluation period.

ďThe Plant Evaluation Web site offers an additional opportunity to share the results of our extensive research with the broader community,Ē says Richard Hawke, plant evaluation manager, Chicago Botanic Garden.

The project is made possible by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). National Leadership Grants for Library and Museum Collaboration support innovative projects that demonstrate how museums and libraries can work together to expand public access and meet a range of individual, family and community needs. Emphasis is given to projects that make innovative use of technology, enhance learning or help strengthen communities. The prestigious grants are awarded by the IMLS, an independent federal agency that fosters leadership, innovation and a lifetime of learning by supporting the nationís 15,500 museums and 122,000 libraries.

For more information about Chicago Botanic Garden programs and events, call (1-847) 835-5440, or visit the Web site at www.chicagobotanic.org.

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