A few years ago the phrase “Let me Google that for you” became a running joke at our New Year’s celebration. Our friends, Jesse and Maya, told us about a website with that name and soon it became the answer to all random questions and comments such as, “What ever became of…” and “How does…” or “Who is…”
It’s now my answer to “What plant is this?” I’ve discovered that Google is the best plant ID tool I could posses. Forget those leaf identification aps that think a filbert is a linden tree. Want to know what’s in your garden? LMGTFY!
Here’s the key to success. Pick a piece or two of the plant in question and/or take a photo, then write exactly what you see in the search box. I’ve started out with such phrases such as medium sized tree, alternate leaves with jagged edges and found exactly what I needed. (Chinese chestnut.) Not that it’s an instant answer, mind you.
Sometimes you have to poke a bit and refine your search. After you get a couple of possible names by entering the description put those names into Google Image so you can compare the photos that come up to the plant you want to identify. Today, for example, I decided that I had to know just which phlox was growing by the shed. This Phlox paniculata was one of the few plants that the previous owners of Poison Ivy Acres had put in the landscape. After the garden shed was finished I moved it from the shady area where I was planting hydrangeas to the south side of my shed.
This phlox is fragrant, four feet tall and blooms from July through September. Even in a year such as this, when everything else has mildew, the foliage on this perennial is clean. “What cultivar is this?” I ask myself every time I pass by the shed in late summer.
Tonight I snapped a piece of the flower off and laid it on my desk. “Let me Google that for you,” I said, and wrote in height, flower description, mildew resistance and the fact it was fragrant. This brought up a few lists of possible plants, and I put the names of those varieties into Google Image. Now I know. I have Phlox paniculata ‘David’s Lavender.’