For those interested in Hitchcock Woods flora, there is now an app for that.
What started as a book by Aiken resident Ken Perrine, “Trailside Flowers of Hitchcock Woods,” a photography collection featuring 221 species of wildflowers, has now become an app users can download on their iPhone or Android cellphones. The app is called Hitchcock Woods Flora.
“Guess the short of it was, Nancy (Perrine's wife) and I always loved wildflowers, and we have for 40 years taken our vacations in the North Carolina mountains,” Perrine said. “The flowers that grow up there don't grow in Miami where I originally lived. Coming to the Woods, I was just curious about what everything was. I was just driven by curiosity.”
After 300 to 400 hours over three to four months, Perrine finished his first Android app.
“I was with him half of the hours he was actually doing this,” Nancy said. “I was totally an assistant, a hold the tripod kind of thing. But we have always been interested in wildflowers; we even bought a book for our children when they were very tiny in North Carolina.”
Perrine had done industrial training work and was familiar with types of computer programming – HTML and Better Basic – before starting the app. He also served in the Navy and took a computer class in 1962. But for an app, he went as far as to buy an app book for beginners, but had no luck in figuring it out.
“I was stumbling around on the web one day, and you just type in the question about finding an easy way to develop an app for an Android,” Perrine said. “And this thing called 'Andromo,' a software development company which provides templates to guys like me so I wouldn't have to learn new languages, popped up.”
The app not only provides pictures of the various flora found in the Woods, it offers the common name, scientific name, growth habitat, size and trail name where it's found, among other details.
The app has served its purpose. It has even educated the Perrines' granddaughter, Betsy, 8 who is homeschooled in third grade, to use the app when given assignments about trees, configurations and wildflowers throughout the Woods. Perrine hopes in the future, he can add ferns, grasses and trees to the list.
“I go out in the Woods maybe six, seven times a day with a group of guys, and sometimes Nancy and I go out in the afternoon maybe two to three times a week,” Perrine said. “As it's been for me, I hope this is an inspiration to people who use the Woods and protect the Woods.”
Doug Rabold, executive director of the Hitchcock Woods Foundation, said the Perrines have been incredibly important contributors to the Woods.
“Ken has done an extensive study of wildflowers and of the giant trees in the forest,” Rabold said. “And now with this new app, he has done with his own time and expense, it is a real gift to the Foundation and to the community who has enjoyed the Woods.”
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.