apps, tech + online

The Birds and the Bees and the Flowers and the Trees

by Grace Bonney

Spending the past two weeks inside The Catskill Park made me aware of just how much I love and am curious about nature. During a visit to the Nest Egg Country Shop in Phoenicia, I picked up a few field guides to identifying wildflowers and various animals around the area, but found that they weren’t as in-depth as I’d like and the illustrations weren’t as detailed as I needed to identify everything I saw. I wanted to geek-out in a major way and I wanted to be able to identify everything around me, from the wild Chicory growing off of Route 28 to the beautiful Sumac trees in our backyard. Finding this information was fun, sure, but for me it was about something much bigger: discovering things I loved that would make my house feel more like the home I want.

Most people who read blogs online are now familiar with the flowers and plants we most commonly see: peonies, fiddle leaf fig trees and ranunculi, to name a few. But having the knowledge to identify all of the plants and flowers you discover is a wonderful feeling. Not only does it let you decide what you’d like to cultivate in your own home, but it gives you the power to know what trees and plants to invest in to attract and support the birds, insects and wildlife you’d like to have around you. It isn’t about controlling nature, but understanding it, appreciating it and feeling the joy of having knowledge about the things around you. That feeling and that knowledge is something I’m always striving for, whether it’s the desire to know about the history of patterns in my home, colors on my walls or the furniture I sit onthe more understanding I have about the things in my life, the more meaning the things around me have.

So today I wanted to share my new-found love of one of those knowledge-tools, the Audubon Society’s amazing Field Guide App. After buying countless fold-out guides and booklets to flora & fauna, this is the most comprehensive, interactive and easy to use guide I’ve ever found. It gives me the information 10 books would for less than 1/2 the price. My favorite feature is the ability to track sightings of plants and animals so you know what people have discovered near you or near your upcoming travel destination. So if you’re heading out to explore this summer, I hope you’ll consider downloading this app- not only will it be a fun way to learn about the beautiful things around you, but it will help you find inspiration in the colors, patterns and design you can only find in nature. So designers take note- if you’re looking for some design inspiration in a place no one else is looking yet, consider this handy and colorful guide. Just flipping through the first few pages of wildflowers made me want to try to design a wallpaper. Thanks to the Audubon Society for continuing to provide such great resources for all of us who are as curious about the great outdoors as we are indoors. xo, grace

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  • I love Birdsnap and Merlin Bird ID. Both free apps. By using Merlin you are actually supporting the Cornell Lab, a not-for-profit, and Birdsnap gives you a short list of birds based on your location. I love them way better than the paid ones.

    • Quincin

      I’ll check those out, thanks! I know $15 is a lot for an app, but the amount of information in this set (which includes birds, animals, flowers and much more) is astounding. It’s wayyyyyyy more than $15 in value.


  • cool! i was just thinking about apps and wildflowers the other day as i was hiking up to a gorgeous high altitude basin full of wildflowers last sunday. every hike i go on, there is something new to observe and discover in the plant world. we brought a couple different books with us for i.d.ing and informing. of course, the books add weight to the pack (even thought i didn’t have to carry the pack myself), thus the idea of an app sprang to mind…i do love the books, though, and i don’t own a cell phone, but this app sounds great. hunting around for flowers, etc. has made me want to start a ‘lewis and clark’ sort of journal about what i encounter (pressed leaves, sketches, notes, etc.). man, it’s come a long way since those days, huh?

  • wow, such a lovely bees painting. The birds and bees and flower are all interconnected in their living terms. Super article about this.

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