Getting a Second Opinion from Experienced Gardeners

  in  The Garden
My landscape gardener told me about her experience with working with local gardeners and consulting them on some of her ideas. On one project, she was designing and planning a garden on behalf of a company. She had worked with the local government and consulted an expert in sustainable landscaping. During the project, she also hired a local gardener as a consultant - someone to bounce ideas off an experienced mind, and to ask about any local issues to be aware of.

And so, my client and the gardener produced a case study of what they had done. It was a success. The landscape design was heavily influenced by the local weather, flora and fauna. It was designed to showcase all 4 seasons of the year.

Their client was very pleased with their proposal. The next thing they did was to get the landscape gardener to draw up a master plan, showing all the features of the property that they wanted to improve. They even had time to discuss the best landscaping practices for their client. The end result? The master plan converted the garden into a beautiful outdoor living space.

Some gardeners might say that the gardener who was consulted should be described as a "horticultural consultant". I think underlies the snobbery in this industry. The connotation of a gardener is someone who is basically told what to do, and they do it. The idea that there is crossover between gardening skills and landscaping skills offends some people. And yet, gardeners often work with landscape designers. They have experience of the successes, the failures, the potential pitfalls, the opportunities all found in landscape design.

And so, in my opinion, some gardeners can become good "sounding boards" on design ideas. It doesn't mean they can draw up a design, but they can advise on more of the technical aspects of how a garden can best function.

Of course, it greatly depends on the experience of the gardener. You're not going to ask some apprentice gardener their thoughts on a number of designs. However, a gardener with 20+ years experience have "seen it all" if they've worked with landscapers all this time.

The key advantage with consulting an experienced gardener (as a second opinion) is they are a neutral voice. They are not competing with you. In fact, you may only require their experience on one or two technical points and that's it.


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