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Garden Launches New “GardenGuide” Smartphone App

Gloria Ciaccio
(847) 835-6819, direct

Event Date: 
Release Date: 
Friday, May 3, 2013
GardenGuide App

– First app in country that brings a botanic garden’s plant collections database to life

GLENCOE, Ill. (May 2, 2013) –The Chicago Botanic Garden announces a new smartphone app called “GardenGuide,” which is the first of its kind to be developed in the United States with the ability to tap in to a botanic garden’s plant collections database.   The GardenGuide app shares the Garden’s vast plant-collections database, containing records of the nearly 2.6 million plants in the living collection.  The app is free to users.

The GardenGuide app has many useful features. First and foremost, it is designed to enhance and enrich the experience of visiting the Garden. While visiting the Garden, the GPS technology gives the user the ability to find their way to any plant or points of interest at the Garden with an optimized map. The app can be used outside the Glencoe location as well and all of the features work without the GPS.    

Index Card and App

The second feature of the app, called the “plant finder,” can be tapped into at anytime from anywhere in the world. The plant finder feature gives the user the ability to pull up stunning photos, or find gardening information about 2,524,687 plants in the collections database. “When I started working at the Garden more than 30 years ago, we kept handwritten plant records on individual index cards. It has been my dream to share our knowledge with our visitors and gardeners everywhere. Now, whether you are at the Garden or traveling anywhere in the world, the plant finder feature is a timeless resource that you can hold in the palm of your hands,” said Kris Jarantoski, executive vice president and director of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

To find plants while visiting the Garden, users can enter the common or Latin name. The app will pinpoint both the plant’s location and the user’s location. The Garden visitor can then look at a map to navigate to favorite plants within the 385-acre campus in Glencoe.  A touch on the name of the plant in the app will display gardening information. Users can search by plant characteristics to find types of plants, choosing such characteristics as purple, flowering, perennial, or for a partial shade location. App users may save the results of their inquiry to a favorite list for future reference, or share with friends by e-mail or Facebook. 

Users can also access the Garden’s plant finder database on their home computer, and at public computers located at the Garden in the Lenhardt Library, the Plant Information Desk, and at the information desk in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, and at         

Additional features of the app include a personal reflection and audio garden tours given by Kris Jarantoski, who picked his favorite display gardens to guide visitors through.  “I love to give tours of the Garden, and with this new app, I am able to be a personal tour guide to everyone who visits our campus,” Jarantoski said.

Curated walking tours of the most popular display gardens will guide users through the Garden in a new way. Every tour stop is accompanied by a brief interpretation of that location. There is a 14-stop English Walled Garden tour; a 16-stop Japanese Garden tour plus a four -season photo tour; a bird watching tour; fitness walk, and tours for families. GardenGuide navigates visitors to other points of interest locations within the Garden such as statuary and art, water fountains, bathrooms, and there are alerts of new plants that are in bloom, activities, and events at the Garden.

Garden staff and 90 volunteers contributed to this three-year project as they took digital photographs of Garden flora, scanned archived images and then researched and entered the data for the app.

The app can be downloaded to iPhone or Android smartphones and is called “GardenGuide of the Chicago Botanic Garden” on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Marketplace.

Download from iTunes:

Download from Google Play:


The Chicago Botanic Garden’s GardenGuide includes:
- Searchable database of 2.6 million plants
- What’s in Bloom
- Interactive map
- Garden Interpretation
- Walking tours
- Audio commentary
- Garden descriptions and photos
- Visitor Information
- Favorites list
- Social Media Sharing features


This project was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) with the objective of making Garden collections information easily accessible to visitors and others. For more information or to download the app, please visit our website at


Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at

Interact with the Garden for this and other Garden events and programs: