From Plants Map: What is the Best Plant Tag ID?


Posted by justtracy | Posted in General Interest, Plants Map | Posted on 12-06-2014


cosseyparkAs avid gardeners ourselves, we searched online for the ‘best plant signs’ or ‘best plant labels’ and best ‘everything’ as it related to making plant identification signs for our garden plants and trees. We’ve been researching how to label our plants and trees for years.

I bet you’ve search for this once or twice yourself!

There are many ways to do a good job with making plant labels and there are many businesses that can engrave a plant tag but here’s where we ended up in our search for an attractive plant ID sign that lasts a long time and met the goals in our search for the best plant label possible for our garden and tree collection. We came up with the Plants Map Tag.

Goals for the Plants Map Tag:


From Plants Map: What is the Best Plant Database?


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Gardening, Plants Map, Social Gardening | Posted on 03-06-2014

Viburnums2Plants Map is not a scientific plant database, encyclopedia of plants, or plant identification tool. Our goal is to allow individuals and organizations to make their own personal database of plants. Plants Map is about sharing your notes, stories, experiences, and photos of your plants, gardens, and gardening interests or activities.

Each plant profile page allows you to add your own favorite reference links for your plants such as: USDA Plants, Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder, NPIN Native Plant Database, American Conifer Society database, etc.

I have been gardening and learning about plants for the past 15 years. I try to research and understand a plant before I commit it to the ground. One of the tenants of being a Master Gardener is educating people about ‘right plant, right place’ before you buy and add to your landscape. I ask myself these questions:



June 3 @ 9PM EST Webinar on Plants Map: Social Gardening


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Gardening, Plants Map, Social Gardening | Posted on 03-06-2014

On Tuesday, June 3 at 9 p.m. EST join me at and I’ll be giving an overview of Plants Map.

You’ll learn how you can create your own database for your gardens, plants and photos using I’ll give an overview and then demonstrate how to start a Garden, add Collections, add your plants and photos.

Read more at:

Webinar Invite


What are we going to do about the Lawn?


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Gardening, General Interest, Lawn Care, Plants Map | Posted on 17-04-2014

“What are we going to do about the lawn?”

Do you often find yourself asking this same question? A common question when your lawn doesn’t look nearly as beautiful as a PGA golf course.

But should it?

See: Lawn Care Tips & Resources from Plants Map

Plants Map at Earth Day Events


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Earth Day, General Interest, Plants Map | Posted on 06-04-2014

Every April communities around the world celebrate the anniversary of Earth Day, an environmental movement that began on April 22, 1970. 

Plants Map is excited to be participating in two local Earth Day events to introduce our website. Come out and join us!

April 12 – Fredericksburg (VA) Earth Day at Old Mill Park from 11am to 3pm

April 26 – Richmond (VA) Earth Day at the 17’th Street Farmers Market from 11am-5pm

Read More:

Plants Map Launches Non-Profit Organization Profiles


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Botanical Gardens, Cooperative Extension, General Interest, Plants Map, Social Gardening | Posted on 18-03-2014

Explore Organizations on Plants MapPlants Map is reaching out to non-profit organizations like plant societies, garden clubs, public gardens, arboretums, neighborhood parks, botanical gardens, community gardens, civic tree programs and others to join Plants Map. One of our goals is to connect people who want to explore and discover plants, trees, and gardens to related non-profit organizations.

For more information visit: Non-Profit Organizations on Plants Map 

Explore Organizations at:

Grow your world on Plants Map: Explore, Map, Discover.



A better way to share your gardens: Plants Map!


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Botanical Gardens, Gardening, General Interest, Plants Map, Social Gardening | Posted on 05-03-2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 7.05.16 PM

Plants Map is a new social media website to connect people with plants. We invite you to share your plants and gardens with others to help us grow Plants Map.

Visitors have open and free access to Explore and Discover plants, gardens, and organizations. There are no pay walls to the plant database. Individual profiles are free and do not require a membership or subscription.

How to Grow Your World on Plants Map:
Start an Individual Profile



A garden is not a garden without a few feathered friends


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Birding, Gardening, Plants Map, Wildlife | Posted on 15-02-2014

For me, a garden is not a garden without a few feathered friends in the yard.

T_DSC0018he more time I spent in my garden, the more I started watching birds and learning to identify them. A few years ago I heard about the Great Backyard Bird Count and I have been participating ever since. Bird watching is probably my favorite wintertime activity. And yes, I not only make plant lists but I also make bird lists.

When I choose plants for my garden I prefer to include those that are known to provide food or shelter for birds. In a previous home landscape I had two ‘bird’ gardens: one consisting of viburnums and native berry producing shrubs and the other was primarily seed and nectar perennials. In my current backyard landscape, the overstory tree canopy is primarily tulip poplars, sweet gums, and maples.  I have mainly focused on adding a layer of understory native trees and shrubs. So far, I have a list of 27 different species of birds that have visited my yard. At the end of this year’s bird count I will post on my blog ( an update on my bird list.Garden Below are some of the best websites I have found to help create a bird friendly garden and habitat.

National Wildlife Federation: Create a Bird-friendly Habitat
This website includes tips on providing water year round, eliminating the use of insecticides, using proper nesting boxes, and if possible allowing dead tress as an important natural shelter or dwelling plus much more.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: 12 Ways to Design a Bird-Friendly Garden
This website article offers great design tips including choosing plants that provide year round food sources and creating clumps of trees of the same species together, especially conifers to provide shelter.  They also recommend limiting the size of your lawn because it is not as beneficial to birds as other habitats.

Washington State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife: Landscape Design for Wildlife
This website has a great visual on the different birds species that live at different plant layers in a habitat from ground covers, shrubs, understory trees, to the top overstory canopy.  This is known as vegetation layers and relies on a diversity of plants to attract a broad diversity of birds.

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Native Landscaping for Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Wildlife
Choosing to incorporate native plans also means that you are providing plants that are necessary to native birds and wildlife. This OSU Extension factsheet provides a great list of Ohio native trees and shrubs. But remember that native is relative, so do a quick search of Cooperative Extensions resources for native trees and shrubs for your state.  You can also reference the North American Native Plant Society database.

Another important note in this fact sheet is to avoid using exotic (or non-native) plants because they can be harmful to native ecosystems. This can have a detrimental effect on both native vegetation as well as native wildlife.  Visit the USDA Introduced, Invasive, & Noxious Plants website for a national list as well as state lists of plants to avoid.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Best Plants and Trees for Birds
This website provides a great short list of the best Trees, Conifers, Vines, and Shrubs for birds. My favorites on this list: Serviceberries (Amelanchier species), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), and Arrowwood Viburnums (Viburnum dentatum species)

University of Missouri: Sunflower An American Native
Do you want to grow sunflowers for your own birds? This website will tell you everything you want to know about growing a crop of sunflowers. Did you know?  “Of all crops harvested for seed around the world, only one was domesticated in America: the sunflower”

And for even further reading, I also recommend Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard from Timber Press.

These are just a few of my favorite websites and resources for creating landscapes and gardens to attract a diversity of birds. If you know of others, please share and comment.

Happy gardening, planting and bird watching.



Plants Map: A Seedling Has Emerged! Thank You!


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Plants Map | Posted on 13-02-2014

As many of you may know the seed we planted last month has emerged into a seedling with the nurturing help of many.

It has been a month now since Bill and I took the first step to formalize an idea that we had conceptualized for some time: the name will be Plants Map. With the some help, a new kind of database was being built as a tool to organize our plants and share them virtually with others.

Then the timing to proceed with our hobby project came the same week as Startup Weekend Fredericksburg. Why not pitch Plants Map and see if this was something? The pitch idea gained traction and the Plants Map team went on to win Startup Weekend Fredericksburg. We were off and running and a startup idea was launched!

Since that time we have continued to evolve Plants Map and make progress creating a new social website community for everyone that enjoys collecting and growing plants or just visiting gardens, arboretums and parks.

As gardeners ourselves, we knew there were a lot of folks like use: passionate about plants, trees, and gardens. We knew we were not the only ones that obsessed about our collections and keeping lists of plants acquired and still longing to have as well as lists of beautiful gardens to visit and those we had already discovered.

We have much to be thankful for! The show of support, interest and enthusiasm for our idea is accelerating!

To begin with, we would like to thank all of those that have participated in our Plants Map Survey. We will use the information you have shared to help us grow a better site. The survey response has been tremendous. If you have not yet taken the survey, you have until February 28th  at

We also want to thank those that signed up for our new Journal and were willing to sign up as ‘ground breakers’ and become our first users of the site. We value your feedback and participation.

Our social media followers have been fantastic! We have received so much enthusiasm, engagement and interest in Plants Map. Today we have 263 Twitter Followers; 134 Likes on Facebook; 13 Followers on Pinterest.  Special #Thanks to our new friends at #gardenchat.

I’d like to call out a few people who really helped get things off the ground for us.

Janet Woody and Jonah Holland at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden both ROCK! Thanks for the help with information about plant tags and labels and for your social media assist during Startup Weekend! If you haven’t seen the LGBG Facebook page or their awesome Pinterest page check them out.  And they Tweet too:

Jane Milliman, Publisher of Upstate Gardeners’ Journal and Ear To The Ground PRO blog and newsletter. @janemilliman is ‘the mayor’ of all things gardening in Upstate NY! Thank you for the social media help, newsletter plug and survey support!

Much appreciation goes to Christine Froehlich at the Rochester Civic Garden Center for the plug in their newsletter and on their Facebook page. When I lived in Rochester (NY) RCGC was the place to learn all things botanical and also a great place to be a member and volunteer.

Guy Mussey, the awesome Stafford County Extension agent that started the arboretum collection at Cossey Botanical Park. Thanks for the plant list the day before Startup Weekend which we used to kick off our site and demonstrate what Plants Map can do for public gardens. We’d also like to thank all of the amazing supporters of Startup Weekend, Cossey Botanical Park and Plants Map who sponsored (crowdfunding!) tags to Cossey Botanical Park, Fredericksburg (VA) during and after the competition!

I would also like to thank the many Master Gardener and Cooperative Extension friends from Alabama, Virginia and New York that helped spread the word, take our survey and follow us.  Can’t wait to  see you start adding plants to your garden on Plants Map! (I’ll favorite your plants as 5 green thumbs!) I can’t forget my Fairport Garden Club friends and many others that have participated one way or another.

Thank you to Spotsylvania Economic Development for meeting with me and introducing us to IT consultant Carl Dodson at I’m still thinking of how to tag a tree that was shot in half over 150 years ago!!

We’ve have also had various groups embrace our idea for their plant society or organization. We are launching group pages this weekend! Our first one is the American Bonsai Society. As such, we would like to thank and also mention The Neighborhood Tree Program in Falls Church, Virginia as well as The American Bonsai Society for their participation with our startup and for the crazy number of survey responses from their members!

A huge shout-out and Thank You to Christina Goodwin and the organizers of Startup Weekend Fredericksburg and their parent organization FredXChange and sponsor Germanna Community College. If you want to be a founder, you have to hook up with them and attend their many great networking opportunities and educational events.

The always encouraging John Seachrest, deserves a Thank You for spreading the Lean Startup methodolgy and facilitating ours and many other Startup Weekend events. And for the lead about a friend that has a laser! We love to twitter dance with John!

And we couldn’t have started, much less won Startup Weekend without our team members: Bryan Wengren, Alexandra Spalding, Mitchel Edwards, Clint Hill, David Miller.  Another big thank you to Crown Trophy Fredericksburg who helped us out with the donated prototype tags for the weekend.  And Phil at CSL Media (@fredprint), you made a cool 3D printed 1st place trophy and you printed the most awesome business cards ever!! Remember that seed paper idea? We’re gonna hit you up!

PlantsMapAnd finally, thanks to 99Designs and Szarka Zsofia for developing our awesome Plants Map logo and business card design.

We hope you will continue to help Plants Map grow from a seedling into what one day will be a might tree! We have a lot more seeds planted and we can’t wait to share with you as those take life as well.

And please come visit my Cloudy Way garden at Plants Map!


Tracy Blevins

We are planting a seed: Plants Map


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Botanical Gardens, Cooperative Extension, Gardening, Plants Map, Social Gardening, Trees | Posted on 18-01-2014

What is Plants Map?

Plants Map: Discover Plants and Gardens, Be a Plant Explorer; Be a Plant Collector

Plants Map: Social Gardening: bringing people and plants together

Plants Map: A new prototype of attractive, interactive, custom plant tags that use smartphone technology to connect people with plant collections via a social plant database where users map and share gardens.

It’s a New Year and my husband and I have a new idea: Plants Map ( We are launching Plants Map ( this weekend at Startup Weekend Fredericksburg (

PlantsMapWe have planted a seed! We expect to emerge this Saturday morning ( January 18 about 10am). The website will be in ‘seedling’ mode and grow throughout the day with features so don’t just visit once.  We are inviting everyone who appreciates trees, gardens and parks to visit & help us grow the site by creating their own profile and lists of plants in their gardens as well as lists of favorite plants at public gardens they have visited.

We envision that Plants Map will have two facets: A free, fun, interactive, social component where people can explore gardens, discover plants, and create their own plant collection lists. The plant species themselves will be the central focus.  Our idea we feel is not just for gardeners, but for anyone who enjoys and supports gardens, public and private. We want people to become ‘plant explorers’ and ‘discover’ gardens and plants & gardens they didn’t know before. We want a place for ‘plant collectors’ to share their passion for gardening. And maybe your plants earn some ‘green thumb’ ratings too.The other aspect is to create and make available interactive, affordable, attractive plant identification tags with QR codes that work with smartphone technology. We have already talked to gardeners and botanical gardens and feel their is nothing that has evolved that was easy to produce, long lasting, attractive and interactive. Our target audience is Botanical Gardens that want a better option. We feel interactive plant tags with a social website for plant species will help attract more visitors too.The social aspect is free and instead of relying on traditional advertising streams to support it we wanted to provide something of service, value and usefulness to the users like a map of their plants, or a product like a color booklet or a photo album and the core product: interactive, attractive plant tags.We have lots of ideas for the website in terms of ways this can support neighborhood and community gardens and tree programs. As part of the launch this weekend we will create a ‘wish list registry’ of plant tags for Cossey Botanical Park, a public neighborhood arboretum maintained by volunteer Master Gardeners in Fredericksburg (VA). Our idea is that there are a lot of public community gardens that don’t have budgets for tags. So we hope to see if people will ‘sponsor’ a tag (map a plant) and order one for Cossey Park.
More information about Plants Map and Startup Weekend is below.So we have planted a seed.  We are inviting as many as we can to visit on Saturday to watch and see what emerges. We hope its big.Thanks,Tracy and Bill Blevins

Plants Map: A new prototype of attractive, interactive, custom plant tags that use smartphone technology to connect people with plant collections via a social plant database where users map and share gardens. For plant enthusiast, explorers and collectors, this visually interactive plant map database will be a social & mobile experience. Users create an ‘explorer’ profile and share their own garden collections as well as ‘discover’, virtually or in person, Botanical Gardens, arboretums, public gardens and other private gardens too. ‘Explorers’ create lists of ‘discovered’ collections, favorites, and wish lists. With a fun and easy to use site ‘Collectors’ create their own garden collections that can be organized into lists with their photos. From their own collections list the site provides services such as downloading your collection to an excel file, saving and printing a .pdf file with their photos, or ordering a higher quality, full-color printed catalog/booklet of their plants or a photo album format or even producing a map of their garden.More information about Startup Weekend 
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world.  Startup Weekend Fredericksburg is January 17-19 and will be hosted at Germanna Community College Workforce & Technology Center.