Plant Database forum: Beta test our new plants text search engine

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 11:09 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

On a recent trip out of town, I was at a nursery and was frustrated that many of my plant searches were not giving me the results I expected. So I've been working for several days on a new search engine for our database and I'm pretty excited about it, and would love it if some of ya'll would give it a try and see what you think.

The original (and still active) search engine is here:

http://garden.org/plants/search/text/

And the new one to beta test is here:

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/

Try searching for stuff and see what you find. Compare the same search in the old and the new engine and see the difference. My hope is that the new engine will produce much closer matches to what you're looking for.

For example, if you search for "watermelon" it's likely that you want the fruit. Well, the old search shows you a million other plants that have watermelon somewhere in their name (Peperomia, Nemesia, etc.) The new one shows you a nice long list of watermelons. The goal is for the system to try to better anticipate what you're looking for and give you better guesses. The old way is simply looking at the words and giving back the closest matches without thought to how valuable each plant might be.

I'm not going to get into the details of how the new engine was programmed right now, but I'm definitely wanting some feedback on whether this is looking better or worse than the old original search.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
Mar 31, 2015 11:36 AM CST
I'm excited about this! But I'll have to try it later tonight.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 11:39 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Check this out. Search for "sedum" and compare the two results:

Old:
http://garden.org/plants/search/text/?q=sedum

New:
http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=sedum
Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator Hummingbirder Salvias Butterflies Birds
Plant Identifier Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Seed Starter Cat Lover Region: Georgia
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Danita
Mar 31, 2015 11:46 AM CST
Sounds like a good idea. Smiling

However, my first search for "Fern Rita's Gold" in the beta search returned only "No plants were found for your search."
In the old search, I got the proper result:
Golden Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Aurea')

Then I searched for this plant,
Sage (Salvia Playin' The Blues™)
under "Salvia Playin' The Blues", "Salvia Balsalmisp", and "Salvia Mystic Spires" and I only got the result of "No plants were found for your search" for all queries. The old search returned the proper result each time. Shrug!

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 11:51 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Could you give me a direct link to the actual search query that you performed?
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 11:52 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Never mind, I found and updated the engine. It now finds it.

Any future reports would be better if it included a link to the URL of your search.

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=Fern+Rita%27s+Gold&su...
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Tip Photographer Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Hibiscus
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Horntoad
Mar 31, 2015 1:15 PM CST
When I search species or specific cultivar I get identical results, but when I search genus they are different. I really like the look of the beta results. The original is cluttered with comments, new photos, etc., but the beta give a nice clean list of species and cultivars. When I search for plants I am usually looking for that plant, not recents photos and comments. I give the new search Thumbs up Thumbs up
wildflowersoftexas.com
texasnatureonline.com


Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator Hummingbirder Salvias Butterflies Birds
Plant Identifier Vegetable Grower Container Gardener Seed Starter Cat Lover Region: Georgia
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Danita
Mar 31, 2015 1:32 PM CST
Wouldn't you know that the first two plants I tried searching would be problematic. I guess I attract chaos. Rolling my eyes. Hilarious!
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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jmorth
Mar 31, 2015 1:34 PM CST
Search - trumpet daffodil

http://garden.org/plants/search/text/?q=trumpet+daffodil&sub...
old search yielded 25 pages

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=trumpet+daffodil&butt...
new search got only 10 pages
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 2:24 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

The new search is indeed producing less results but I can easily adjust that to show more.
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
Bee Lover Garden Photography Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: United States of America
Region: Indiana Garden Art Annuals Clematis Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 2
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blue23rose
Mar 31, 2015 3:56 PM CST
Did a search for Ed Brown (the daylily). This is the one I was having trouble with because "Ed" was less than three letters.

Ed Brown-Old search gave me three pages, with Ed Brown midway on the first page.
http://garden.org/plants/search/text/?q=ed+brown&submit=Sear...

Ed Brown-beta search - very first at the top of the list and only one page.
http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=ed+brown&button=


Also searched for the word "Mary's" (as in Hemerocallis Mary's Gold).

Old search- three pages and Mary's Gold was mid-way on the first page again.
http://garden.org/plants/search/text/?q=Mary%27s&submit=Sear...

Beta search-with such a vague search, maybe it was luck that Mary's Gold came to the top of the search list!
http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=Mary%27s&button=

From what I can tell, I like it a lot better! Thanks, Dave I tip my hat to you.
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 4:43 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Not luck but a good algorithm. Smiling

And look at this:

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=oh+my&button=

2 letter words are supported in my new search!!!
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Mar 31, 2015 5:16 PM CST

Plants Admin

Sweeet!
ae ae
works flawlessly.
http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=ae+ae&button=
Evan
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Mar 31, 2015 6:21 PM CST

Plants Admin

I wanted to see whether it deals better with hyphens and looked for Ch-Ching, the rose. The rose was at the top of the list, but the second item on the list was Erigeron divergens, which doesn't have "ch" or "ching" associated with it in any way. Does the new search engine speak Chinese? Is this a translation? Hilarious!

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=ch-ching&button=
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Mar 31, 2015 6:31 PM CST

Plants Admin

Never mind. *Blush* It's because several of the common names ("Branching Fleabane, etc.") have "ching" in them.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 6:58 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

You figured it out. But "ching" is different from "ch-ching" and I don't know why my engine is matching words like "Branching" from a query of "ch-ching"; I'll be looking into this. Thumbs up
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 31, 2015 6:59 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

jmorth said:Search - trumpet daffodil

http://garden.org/plants/search/text/?q=trumpet+daffodil&sub...
old search yielded 25 pages

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=trumpet+daffodil&butt...
new search got only 10 pages


I've increased the size of the search engine limits and the new one now gives even more results than the old one.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Image
dave
Mar 31, 2015 7:02 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I just uploaded a new algorithm that should improve things a bit when you're searching for just a genus name.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Image
dave
Mar 31, 2015 7:18 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Search for "Solanum" and you'll see it offers links on the right side to all the custom databases in that genus. Moreover, in the results it shows a pretty powerfully ranked selection of popular tomato plants.

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=solanum

Similarly, search for "Abelia" and the first result is Edward Goucher followed by Kalaidoscope. These are, of course, the two most likely abelias the common gardener would be looking for.

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=Abelia&button=

Another example is Echinacea. Note that the popular ones appear at the top. At the bottom is the plants that nobody grows.

http://garden.org/plants/search/new/?q=Echinacea&button=

Contrast that with the old (current) search engine:

http://garden.org/plants/search/text/?q=Echinacea&button=

Note that the third result is a species plant that has zero images, zero comments and doesn't even have any data fields. It shouldn't be so prominent!

I'm feeling pretty good about my beta search and I think I'll launch it tomorrow.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
Clematis Irises Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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zuzu
Mar 31, 2015 7:30 PM CST

Plants Admin

Was the old search engine giving the third echinacea result (the Berkheya species) pride of place because echinacea appears twice in the name? I can't think of any other logical reason. The entry hasn't been edited recently. In fact, it has never been edited.

I agree that you can launch the beta search right away. It seems to be a great improvement.

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