Genevieve Schmidt over at North Coast Gardening posted this question several weeks ago. I'm a little late to the conversation, but here it is anyway, in case you didn't see it at the time:
I was gardening recently with one of my employees, and she groaned
in the middle of pruning a Mexican Feather Grass and said firmly, “I
will NEVER plant these things at my house. Never!”
not a bad plant – in fact, it’s fantastic – it has seasonal interest,
adds a sense of motion and life to a garden, and only needs pruning
once a year – plus it’s drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, and takes
seacoast wind with no problem. All of us landscapers use it and love it.
The problem is that those horrible, sticky seed-heads cling to our
clothes and taunt our washing machines, so we end up with itchy grass
bits on the inside of our clothes for weeks! (I just pulled one out of
my bra a moment ago.)
It’s definitely on my list of great plants that I won’t put in my own garden.
It's an interesting question, isn't it? Are there plants that landscapers and garden designers use all the time, but would never use at home? And if so, why?
The conversation continues in Part Two, here.
There are some good reasons, obviously. I would imagine that most garden professionals have actual gardens at home, but that many of the jobs they do would more properly be called "landscaping" rather than gardens. ("landscaping" as opposed to "landscapes," a term that brings to mind an idyllic natural scene, not an assemblage of plants intended to cover the grounds in some aesthetic way.)
So of course you would rely upon the same workhorses for those landscaping jobs. You want something tough and durable that fills the space in a particular way.
And that makes sense when you're talking about, say, the courtyard at the dentist office. But what about gardens at people's homes? If a homeowner ends up with a yard full of plants that are dull or difficult to relate to in some way, are they ever going to have a meaningful relationship with their landscape?
Of course, not everyone wants to have a meaningful relationship with a landscape. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that. But it does seem curious to me. I know interior designers who are hired to choose art for their clients homes. I'm not any sort of art expert, but I couldn't imagine having a work of art hanging on my wall that I didn't have some sort of relationship to. Our house is filled with a hodgepodge of photographs and paintings and prints, and I can explain why we have every single one of them. Where we bought it, why we bought it, who made it, and so on. It's hard to imagine, say, walking a visitor into the dining room and not being able to explain what that etching of a castle in Europe is doing on the wall, other than the fact that the designer chose it to match the rug.
As I read through the comments on Gen's blog, I see one consequence of not really knowing what's in your garden:
Maribeth: I don’t hate many plants but boy do I hate
shearing. In Texas they love to turn everything into a meatball or a
lollipop. Heaven forbid that you allow it to have a natural shape. And
clients look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them some plants
actually have flowers or scent that their lawn guy or husband has been
cutting off with those power shears any time a little leaf growth
Anyway. I thought it was a fascinating discussion, and it was great to see so many landscapers and designers weigh in. Check it out.