Discover our collections through Garden Explorer

Explore UBC Botanical Garden’s living collections online     Garden Explorer


Over the last few years, UBC Botanical Garden’s team has been working hard to upgrade the plant collection database to a modern system that allows for the collection of a wide range of data, including mapping coordinates for all of the plants in the Garden. A database is an essential tool for organizing and maintaining the scientific integrity of a plant collection. For the horticultural and curatorial staff in the Garden, the database provides essential access to all of the accumulated information about our plant collection. But the new system also has the built-in capacity to make information about our plants available to the public. This new online tool is called Garden Explorer (botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/explorer).

With Garden Explorer viewers can search for plants by scientific or common names, by plant family provenance (geographic origin) or search by or drill down to specific garden areas, to find what plants are planted there. Results are displayed on a map that shows exact locations in the Garden. Most importantly, Garden Explorer is easy to use. Viewers can also start on the map and zoom in to see what plants are located in that area. This is especially helpful for visitors who want to learn more, but can’t remember the name of an interesting plant they saw on a previous visit. The information available for each plant differs, but includes a wealth of information and often features images of the plant.

One notable feature of Garden Explorer is the “Tours” section. Multiple self-guided tours are available for visitors to explore and learn about the diverse plants in our collection. Tours include a monthly featured tour (we will be adding more of these through the year) and others on seasonal themes and major collections, such as magnolias and maples. And Garden Explorer is now available on mobile devices. Why not try it as a guide on your next visit?  Of course, Garden Explorer also makes our collections accessible to people who aren’t able to visit in person.

UBC Botanical Garden curates a collection of approximately 8000 individual accessions (each accession is a separate importation to the garden and represents a separate record in the database). In all, there are some 5000 different kinds of plants and more than 30,000 plants from temperate regions around the world in the collection. The new database is a robust tool that has opened up new opportunities and time savings for the Garden’s curatorial team. Staff can now access the database using portable devices. They can update plant records on the spot, instead of having to rely on memory or pen and paper until they are back at their desk. As you might imagine, maintaining such a large collection that lives (or dies) and continues to grow and change is a monumental undertaking. The new database makes it easier to accomplish this, and gives the public a view into UBC Botanical Garden’s wonderful collection of plants.

We hope you come and visit us soon and enjoy navigating our collection with the new Garden Explorer tool on your next visit.

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