You are wandering through the Homeowner Inspiration Gardens at the Wildflower Center looking for ideas when the cool pastel abundance and cozy feel of the Texas Border Garden captures your imagination.
Just the thing for your backyard! But there are at least 25 species of perennials, and even 30 minutes on a comfortable bench with a pen and pad of paper might not suffice to record them all. Even then you don't know whether they would favor the growing conditions at your house.
Technology to the rescue. You focus your web-enabled smart phone on the QR tag at the garden's entrance and immediately call up images, descriptions, a podcast and a complete list of all the plants in the space as well as the growing conditions necessary for peak performance.
Quick Response tags linking outdoor signage with the enormous resources of www.wildflower.org are the latest innovation at the Wildflower Center. It is a way of delivering richer content to our visitors without cluttering the gardens with bulky signs, another way of providing the in-depth information people want about native plants.
"We're among very few botanic gardens to do this," said senior director and botanist Damon Waitt. "We wanted to make it easy for visitors to find what they want to know, and increasingly people want to receive information in the palm of their hand. So we link them to our Native Plant Information Network—it's the best source of native plant information in the country."
Interpretive signs and plant labels still provide plenty of information and the cell phone audio tour in English and Spanish is also available.
The Wildflower Center tested the QR tags on plant identification signs at the Spring Plant Sale and Gardening Festival so prospective buyers could get more information about specific plants. QR tags are now on signage in the butterfly garden and throughout the site.
For those interested in the backend, the QR tags are linked to Wildflower Mobile, which provides an online tour of the gardens, trails and facilities. Wildflower Mobile also makes the native plant data base, Mr. Smarty Plants and useful podcasts available to smart phone users.Let us know what you think. Send us comments or questions at www.wildflower.org/contact.