Increase in professionals not considering other cultivars

nydepot(6)May 3, 2013

I've run into something over the past 2-3 years where I've been working with professionals in landscape design (who've done it for years) who when I give a suggestion to for my property (What do you think about ABC plant 'Cultivar X'?) they automatically strip the cultivar from the talk and say something like "ABC does not thrive in zone 6 here, blah, blah, blah." They you say, "Well, I was reading a magazine and Cultivar X came out last year and it's supposed to be more tolerant even down to zone 4."

Their answer is "Oh."

Or maybe I read about Forsythia 'XOXO'.

"Ahhh, forsythia sucker all over, blah, blah, blah."

Then I reply 'XOXO' is supposed to stay as a nice self-contained semi-dwarf shrub."


I realize that with plant patenting and breeding that new cultivars are coming out like crazy now and it's probably hard to keep up but this blatant disregard for the contents of the 'Cultivar' seems a bit much.

It's happened with many designers I've talked to including ones who've done past work for me and are otherwise fully recommended by others.

Do you think it's becoming increasing difficult to keep up with new offerings? Especially when it's no longer color than changes but structure, zone tolerance, soil tolerance, etc. They pretty much are able to change almost everything with plants now.


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Welcome to the Garden Party.
I don't think I can answer your questions, because I'm a self taught (trial and error) type of gardener. I've never used a professional designer, and sorry I don't know about "cultivars".
Again, welcome.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 6:38PM
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I like to try new cultivars myself and don't use a professional designer anymore. When we first moved to this house I paid a designer to plan the flower and shrub beds. I had told her some of the plants I wanted and left the rest to her. When we went over the plan she had left out most of the plants I wanted and told me she didn't like my selections so left them out. I followed very little of her plan and get compliments on my plantings.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:27AM
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I wonder whether the majority of people who hire professionals know little or nothing, simply want a pleasant landscape, and so designers get accustomed to using the same list of 'reliable' plants, suitable for those customers. - It seems to be the case around my area anyway. I imagine it's fairly rare for them to be hired by customers with a fair bit of plant knowledge, so they don't generally need to keep up with newer cultivars: just the 'known' ones, which are reliable in their zone, and capable of being maintained without horticultural expertise by either the homeowner, or a team of unqualified 'landscapers' who are really just guys with mowers and weedwhackers.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 4:50PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

As a professional, I can tell you that it takes a great deal of time and effort to keep up with the newest cultivars as well as the newest developments in pest management and general horticultural practices. The information is 'out there', but professionals must seek it. Attending educational conferences, joining professional organizations, and subscribing to publications can be expensive and it's disheartening that so few in the business believe that it's necessary.

Sadly, it's a profession that attracts untrained, uneducated people who have no appreciation about what some education can do for them.
I call them "landscrapers ".

By the way, at the other extreme, the other bad offenders are the landscape architects who in the vast majority know very little about plants. These people are responsible for cookie cutter designs every where, seeming to make their plant lists from old textbooks or catalogs.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:20PM
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I work with many Landscape designers, architects & the often unfortunate Garden centers & landscapers who work for/with them & me to source plants.

From these professionals, I see alot of unreasonable requests for plant material that is A)borderline or not hardy for the region they'll be going into or B) so exotic they are not typically available in North America & almost impossible to source.

I also see poorly-drafted plans that crowd several similar plants together that you know will require transplanting after a year.
I have worked repeatedly with a so-called Landscape Architect who has so little actual plant knowledge;it's laughable. Once I asked her what kind of juniper she was looking for; upright or spreading and she answered 'What does that matter?' Seriously?? She is a graduate of a prestigious Hort. program & I work with other graduates of this school-all I can think is wow and they let you graduate!!!
I have not-frequently encountered a Landscape Designer who was that aware of new or improved cultivars-some seem to have tunnel-vision when selecting plants-if I say I can't give you that but I can give you one with a slightly-less sprawling habit they'll say 'No that won't work in the design' whereas the landscapers & G. Centers seem more flexible with plant varieties.

Ultimately, any Hort. professional with a design or architecture degree has to compete with the landscaper & DIY home-owner which is really difficult for many but you'd think maintaining up-to-date plant knowledge would be in their best interest.

Having said that :) It's also important to point out many Hort. people are sceptical of new & improved cultivars since this is often hype & not really true-in our business compact growth habit means it will grow up to 12 ft. tall in 10 years instead of in 5 like the one with a regular growth habit.
The 'branding' of plants(like Proven Winners) has led to much misleading information out there about growth habit. We grow several of the brands which fall short of the claims they make & many are just crap. They are created for volume sales, have many of the good features of the original plant bred out of them so they aren't so new & improved but a few are in fact, failures.

Just my thoughts.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:00PM
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