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CanPlant

Written by: Mary Anne Young

 

CanPlant is an evolution of the Native Plant Database, a searchable database of Canadian native plants that was online from 2003 – 2017.

 

The Native Plant Database was an initiative of Evergreen, which launched originally to support the organization’s cross-Canada work in urban stewardship and greenspace restoration. Evergreen is a Canadian national charity with a vision to enable flourishing cities; since 1991, Evergreen has worked to “convene, collaborate and catalyze ideas into action”, with projects including school ground greening, promoting urban agriculture, investing in public art, promoting youth innovation in city building, and more. For more information see www.evergreen.ca.

 

The Native Plant Database was taken offline as Evergreen did not have the resources needed to maintain and manage the database. In 2018, a Request for Proposal process was initiated to select another organization to re-launch the database and expand on its original vision. Dougan & Associates, an ecological consulting and design firm based in Southern Ontario, was selected to be the new stewards of the database. The Dougan & Associates team is very excited for this opportunity to dig into over 5000 plant records and to brainstorm new and exciting directions for the future of the site.

 

CanPlant was chosen as the new name for the Native Plant Database; this name was chosen to both explain the breadth of the website’s scope (Canadian Plants) as well as to be encouraging and uplifting (yes you CAN plant!)

 

The newly launched CanPlant website contains all of the data and functionality as the original Native Plant Database, and D&A are brainstorming what the future of this resource may be – information for plant growers and gardeners, climate change mitigation resources, academic partnerships, etc. If you are interested in participating please contact us.

 

For what Canplant has to offer right now, click here to start browsing 5000+ native Canadian plants.

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Written by: Nicole White

 

Dougan & Associates staff meet to develop the new CanPlant website

 

CanPlant has made a commitment to use blogging as a tool for open, independent sharing of plant knowledge. Our vision is to regularly provide insightful articles useful to both general audiences and professional plant people, connecting Canadians in ways that promote curiosity, respect, and understanding of our complex relationships with plants.

 

Blogging and other new media represent the potential for a radical departure from traditional media and access of information. Ideally, a message's reach can be broadened and more voices to be heard. As an alternative to scholarly articles, blogging can serve as an intermediary, allowing information related to cross-disciplinary fields such as botany, biology, ecological restoration, landscape architecture, and conservation to be engaged with by all readers.

 

We intend to use these tools to draw on and complement the structured information living in the CanPlant database, to carry forward the principles developed by our predecessor, Evergreen, and to tap into the collective knowledge within our communities.

 

 

Our team at Dougan & Associates possess ecological and design knowledge that we're excited to set free beyond the walls of the office. We also want to use the blog as a platform to give others who have something to share a voice and an audience.

 

We have some compelling topics prepared for the near future, including musings on what constitutes a 'native plant', profiles of underappreciated plants found all over Canada, techniques for effective pollination garden design, and stories of how GIS and mapping technology are contributing to invasive species management.

 

We want this blog to generate discussion and community. If you have something to bring to the conversation and would like to volunteer as a guest blogger, don't hesitate to contact us!

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Written by: Nicole White

The CanPlant logo

 

We’re proud to share with you the thoughts, ideas, and process that went into choosing CanPlant as the new website name for the native plant database, and the some of the design considerations that went into the logo. In this post, we’ll discuss them both in more detail.

 

After Evergreen selected D&A to be the new custodians of the native plant database, one of the first tasks our team undertook was to come up with a new name. Not unlike picking a name for a child, this was something we took very seriously! Alas, the name is something that we would have to live with for a while.

 

Everyone at Dougan & Associates was asked to participate in brainstorming session to pitch their ideas. A few rounds of voting narrowed these down to a shortlist. We knew we wanted something concise, positive, and meaningful.

 

Once everyone had a chance to submit, we noticed a recurring trend of name ideas integrating the words ‘Canada’ and ‘plant’, with early suggestions including names like ‘iCanPlant’ and ‘Canada Plants’. In the end, D&A Ecologist Zack Harris’ submission of ‘CanPlant’ garnered the most votes. We like its simplicity and the double entendre of ‘Can’ –‘Canada’, and ‘YES, you CAN PLANT!’).

 

The CanPlant logo was collaboratively designed by D&A staff. In the brainstorming phase of this process, Canada as a whole, native flora, and ecology were identified as especially relevant symbolic themes. We also wanted to include some component in the design that acknowledged Evergreen, the founder of the database.

 

With these themes in mind (and with our collective propensity for being plant nerds), it was destined that the new logo feature plant imagery. We considered several different species, leaning toward widely-distributed Canadian flora. Initial ideas included Populus tremuloides (Trembling Aspen), Linnaea borealis (Twinflower), Mitella diphylla (Mitrewort), Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry), Picea glauca (White Spruce), and native ferns such as Polypodium virginianum (Rock Polypody).

 

One major challenge was to develop a universally applicable design. To simultaneously tackle this challenge and produce something beautiful, D&A’s Landscape Designer Heather Schibli took suggestions from the group, often translating written descriptions into visual language, prepared concepts, and iterating the results based on feedback from the D&A team.

 

Concepts were developed to represent a few core ideas – succession, urban to nature, a Canadian cross-section, and various types of leaves and other plant parts.

 

Ultimately, we landed on a text-based design that is simple and incorporates a single White Spruce silhouette for the A in PLANT. We felt that the simplicity of the design will allow it to be instantly recognizable as we move forward with our initiative to connect people to plants. And, the White Spruce is a great way to reflect the scope of the initiative (White Spruce is found in all of Canada’s provinces and territories) and pay tribute Evergreen (White Spruce is an Evergreen!).

 

Picea's glauca's countrywide distribution

 

Photo source: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service.

 

Through the process of designing the logo, Heather created many other versions that we really loved. Down the road, we expect some of them may be used for other branding initiatives. One of our favourites incorporated the text logo with a backdrop that represents the phenomenon of ecological succession, both as it may apply to place and to time. We felt that the text and single White Spruce juxtaposed to the succession-inspired backdrop emphasizes that plants are dynamics, and the simple act of planting a few native species, over time can result in rich, complex, ecosystems.

 

CanPlant's alternate 'Succession' logo

 

We feel that both the name and logo will successfully represent the newly-relaunched plant database’s function and intended audience – offering gardeners, landscape architects, designers, ecologists, and anyone else across the country easily-accessible and relevant information they can use to connect with plants.

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