One of the things computers have excelled at since their inception is storing and sorting data. Information is best stored in databases, with everything categorized so that it’s easy to find. There are plenty of database programs that you can buy such as Microsoft Access or Borland Paradox, but many people find them confusing to set up, maintain and search through. The program I turn to over and over again for simple databases is Microsoft Word, the most common word processor available.
While Word is not a database program, it does have a “table” feature, which can function as one. To begin, start up Word and start a new blank document. You may want to go to File > Page Setup > Paper Size and choose “Landscape” so you’ll have more room across the paper for your categories, if you’re planning on having more than a few categories in your database. Type a descriptive title at the top. Add a date that you can change whenver you update your info.
Next, choose Table > Insert > Table, and type in the number of columns and rows you want to start with. These can be added to or deleted later, so use your best guess of what you’ll need. For columns, start with 7 and for rows, use the number of rose varieties that you have. As an example, label the tops of the 7 columns as: Variety, Type, Color, Breeder, Intro Year, Size, Location. Start typing in your rose varieties, using information from Modern Roses X or XI , the Combined Rose List, or the many on-line resources like HelpMeFind.com. Save it under a name you’ll remember such as Rosegarden in a place where you’ll be able to find it, like in the directory My Documents/Roses. (See example below)
Once you have this mini database, you can sort it in a number of ways. Click somewhere on the table. Then, choose Table > Sort from the menu. You’ll see a submenu that lets you choose which category (ie variety, type) to sort by first and then secondarily. Make sure you check off the box next to the line that says, “My list has a header row”.
Why is this useful? Well, you can start by listing your roses alphabetically by variety for convenience if you were going to share your list with others for trading budwood etc. It becomes more useful when you are exhibiting, as you can bring a printout of your list with you to the show so that you will put your blooms in the proper category (floribunda, shrub, large flowered climber vs climbing hybrid tea). You’ll have your introduction dates, needed for the OGR (Old Garden Roses) categories. Your sortable list is even more important prior to the show. For example, last year’s schedule had challenge class 27, “Triple Spray”, “Three floribunda sprays, each a different color class, exhibited in one vase.” When planning your entry, you’d do a sort first by type then by color class. (Note that color class refers to the 18 ARS color classifications). Your new list would then group all the floribundas together and within that group they would be sorted by color. You’d then have a better idea what you had available for that challenge class.
This small database can “hold” much more information than you would think at first glance. For convenience, you want to have only a few categories such as I listed at the beginning, so that your basic list can be easily printed. You can, however, link to any other more detailed documents that you’d like to. For example, you might want a paragraph on each plant keeping track of how well it does in your garden, how often it blooms, where you got it from etc. Or, if you were breeding roses, you might want to keep a separate document about each seedling or cross with updates about it’s growth habits, disease resistance, etc. Or perhaps you’d like to link to photos of the varieties. You can link these to your basic database in a similar manner to the way words are linked to web pages on-line. Click on the name of the variety, then choose Insert > Hyperlink from the menu. Type in the name of the information file or photo you want to link it to. Your variety name will now be a blue color and underlined, just like a link on-line.
The other advantage to using a Word table as a database is that it can easily be changed into a webpage. Just choose File > Save As and choose “Save as Type” > Webpage. It can then be uploaded to most websites with no further changes.
©2005 Rhode Island Rose Society. All Rights Reserved