Great expectations

15

Cataloghonesty

A guest rant from Joseph Tychonievich. See more of Joseph's cartoons here.

(Joseph was a popular attendee of garden bloggers' Buffa10. Many of us wanted to adopt him.)

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com

15 COMMENTS

  1. Love the cartoons!

    Just to add a tiny explanation to a giant problem – there are at least two problems with the color “blue” in the context of plant catalogs. The main one is that plenty of plants get called “blue” when they aren’t blue at all. The other problem is that colors print differently depending on what type of paper you are printing on; what type of ink you are using, and how much you want to pay to correct colors on the printed page. It is very difficult to have true blues and purples because so much of the blue-ness is controlled by the light that shines through the image (or through your computer monitor). It is easy to compare a digital photo on a monitor against a printed page in a catalog but that is worse than comparing apples to oranges – they are two completely different things that manage colors in two completely different ways. RGB, the system used by computer monitors can display about a third of the spectrum your eyes can see in nature. CMYK, the system used by color printing on paper can only display about a third of that. Complete accuracy is next to impossible. The really bad examples that look re-touched are often just poor attempts to pump up the blue without using the proper software.

  2. John,
    Good points… I know getting pictures to look right is extremely difficult, but I also know buying plants through the mail is a extreme act of faith! I appreciate the companies that take the time to ensure their images look true-to-life, and back them up with accurate written descriptions.

  3. This is one of those situations where I’m more inclined to believe what I read than what I see. I wish more catalogs used the RHS color chip system. The only one I can think of that does is Plant Delights. Of course I don’t even know if the RHS color chips are available anymore, and I can’t remember where I got mine.

  4. I’ve worked for a mail order nursery in the past and you wouldn’t believe the yanking around they endure from shipping companies. Contracts are written completely for the carrier – its a lopsided system. Of course the complaints are always directed at the nursery, as if they control the trucks hauling the orders away.

    I think the best solution would be to print the photo in the catalog but refer readers to a website for a more accurate image since computer monitors can handle blues better than paper.

  5. That is what you get for not knowing HOW to propagate.

    Catalogs are good tools to identify plants with their botanical names, that is that.

    Everyjuan else buy a propagation technique manual.

  6. The real explanation is ….marketing and poor marketing at that. I find that sometimes the pictures of the flowers are so large compared with the actual dimension of the bloom that one would need fifteen of them to make a statement. I want to see the plant in a garden setting nestled among others.

  7. I just go my favorite plant porn catalogue in the mail, don’t know why they are wasting money on me because I have not ordered from them for years. The pictures are wonderful but….I want to see more than a close-up of the flower. I want to see more than it in a gorgeous mixed border. I want to see a stand alone of the whole plant. I am more interested in the plant structual shape and leaf placement than flowers. Roses are gorgeous but I have yet to see a rose shrub that trips my trigger. Climbers are a different story.

  8. If you think of the seed or nursery catalog as an advertising tool, the words and images in the catalog make more sense. The goal is to connect us to the product, to have us identify with the product. That’s how advertising works.
    who wants to be a skinny looking plant, with little color or chance for survival? I want to be the robust onion, large and colorful. I am that clematis with the big white flowers, blooming in one mass of color.

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