Home again, we are still buzzing from another fantastically well-organized APGA conference in Denver, Colorado. It was a great privilege to meet so many of the 800 delegates of inspiring and enthusiastic botanists, horticulturists, managers, directors and graduates. Though I was not able to join all the sessions, excursions and social events, those I did attend were either educational, inspirational, enjoyable or all of the above. Having discussed my experience with other delegates, I can confirm that this experience is shared by many.
We would like to thank the APGA organizing committee and the hosting gardens, Denver Botanic Garden, The Gardens of Spring Creek, Cheyenne Botanic Garden and Betty Ford Alpine Gardens for providing an unforgettable experience. Hats off to all of you.
I would also like to thank everyone who joined our workshop on Sunday and visited our booth on Thursday and Friday. I know we were far too busy to look after all of you at the exhibit properly, for which I apologise. However, I hope that we will be able to answer any queries that you may have by phone or email in the months to come. Also, please note that we have software to host online meetings, support and training.
This is our third conference and it is only two years ago since we arrived as newcomers to the conference with no installations in North America. In the subsequent 2 years, we have signed up 20 gardens in North America. A warm thank to the first gardens from North America for supporting our product.
A very special thanks goes to Greg Payton from The Dawes Arboretum who co-hosted the workshop and also helped out during the exhibit on Thursday. Greg, you are a marvel!
Finally, a big thank you to Brian Morgan from Esri for organizing the ArcGIS for Public Gardens workshop on Monday. Looking forward to working with you and your colleagues at Esri.
What did we learn?
- Capabilities versus “ease of use”. Based on the discussions at the conference we are happy to conclude that our features seem to fulfil the requirements of most gardens. It is clear that “ease of use” has become a high priority for many, but that advanced features such as merging and splitting of taxa and formalized recording of hybrids is equally important. We believe that we have found the right balance between the two.
- Data migration is a subject about which many are concerned and we are pleased to be able to provide an efficient and worry free migration service with a full transfer in 5 working days from all platforms used by botanic gardens. This service is supervised by a taxonomist and includes some data laundry and an optional upgrade to APG III.
- Mapping. Most gardens are eager to see their plant collection data presented on maps. The scope of IrisBG is to provide sufficient mapping capabilities relevant for horticulture and botany. We have also invested a lot of time in hiding the complexity of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to make mapping as easy as possible. However, some gardens are looking for more advanced geo processing capabilities which are outside the scope of IrisBG. Our collaboration with Esri will, in the near future, provide ArcGIS users with advanced capabilities to manage nomenclature and plant material from IrisBG. IrisBG users will have the possibility to utilize the advanced geo processing power of ArcGIS and related platforms alongside IrisBG data.
- The environment and conservation were important issues on the agenda at the conference and are also a top priority for many gardens and arboreta today. Consequently, we will be looking at any improvements we can make to our product and services which could help the community with these issues.
- Workshop. Our workshop turned out to be very popular, but many were unable to come on a Sunday. We also found that the half day sessions were a bit compact. Next year, we will try to organize a full day Collection Management Workshop on the Monday.
- Inspiration. If you are looking for inspiration, join the APGA conference next year in Minneapolis, June 22-26.
The APGA conference is an invaluable source of inspiration and guidance in our work as custodians of IrisBG. We will return again next year and hope to see you there, if not before.
If you did not have a chance to talk to us at the conference, please get in touch directly by email or telephone.