The Durango Botanic Gardens (DBG) developed and launched a web application, an “app,” in 2019 designed to help visitors tour the gardens on their own. While there is currently no app icon to load onto your mobile device, members, visitors, and others can either go to dubg.oncell.com or scan a QR symbol (see below). Since its 2019 introduction, the app has improved in numerous ways, including the recent addition of a Junior Botanist Challenge. This feature enables youngsters to answer questions about the gardens, collect badges, and earn a Junior Botanist designation.
Upon accessing the app, visitors will find each of the gardens listed, including diagrams and a comprehensive list of plants, trees, and shrubs in each garden. See a plant or other item you like or want to know more about? With just a few swipes or clicks the visitor will have a photo of the plant and information such as its scientific name, growing zones, sun/water needs, mature height and width.
The app was the brainchild of former Executive Director Cindy Smart, who wanted the Gardens to embrace new technology that offered an enhanced experience. She drew her inspiration from the way this technology is used at museums, larger gardens, historic sites, and National Parks.
"Cindy also wanted detailed garden information available to visitors outside of regular docent tour hours,” says the Gardens' Curator, Melanie Palmer. “Especially during this stay-at-home, safer-at-home moment, when our docents are not leading tours, it enables people and families to get out of the house and do something together in our gardens or simply try it at home or in school,” she adds. While she hopes the app will enhance the garden experience for visitors and encourage support of the Gardens, she and the Durango Botanical Society (DBS) strongly recommend and support current COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and other prudent measures.
Melanie Palmer, John Anderson, Cindy Smart, and Shirlee Krantz all contributed to developing the app and the team continues to explore ways to improve it. Krantz, in particular, was instrumental in developing the new Junior Botanist Challenge and cleaning up some technical issues. “It is still a developmental product,” says Krantz, “but it is already functional, informative, and a major step forward in engaging with visitors and the community.”
Palmer encourages DBS members to give the app a try and offer feedback. “We do understand that it’s still early days for this application so the more we learn about what is working and what needs improvement, the more useful it will be.”
While the focus is currently on making the application more user-friendly and easier to navigate, the app team also has its sights set on additional, exciting features that can further customize the garden experience for visitors. The group also hopes to encourage advertising and sponsorships on the app to offset costs.
If you give the app a test run, the DBS app team would appreciate your feedback. Go to dubg.oncell.com or use the QR symbol above. Send comments, suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.