In the horticulture industry, we have a popular phrase that you might have heard of from your landscaper or from the helpful horticulturists at your local nursery; “Right plant, right place.” This isn’t a mantra that we wake up reciting just because it sounds good, this is a cultural practice that has been tried and proven true. With a background in biology, botany and horticulture, even I wouldn’t have enough of a green thumb to produce healthy viable plants in the wrong conditions. As much as I hate to tell a client “no”, I do this out of respect for their place of sanctuary and more importantly: their wallet. It is imperative that you, as a green enthusiast, find a company (I’ll even forgive you if it’s not Northern Virginia Landscaping) that will not only tell you “no” but take the time to explain why as well.
A fish cannot live on land because each species has adapted over millennia to fit its individual niche, which the environment provides. This same analogy is true for each and every plant species, variation and cultivar. A plant’s biological makeup simply does not allow it to compensate for dramatic differences in environments. With plants this is even more specific than we might think, as even not all shade/sun loving plants are created equally. Some might love acidic soil, whereas others need more alkalinity to produce inflorescences capable of propagating itself for the rest of its life (A year for annuals, two for biennials, and up to a 100+ years for certain perennials).
It takes careful planning and forethought to be able to design and place individual plants into their specific niches. As professionals in the industry, we constantly think about light (intensity and duration), water availability, wind exposure, soil type (Sand, silt, clay), climate/microclimates, competition and finally below/above ground obstacles. This is a lot to take in as every site is different and will require specific plant species in order to flourish. However, if your landscapers are well trained they will be able to take your thoughts into consideration and place the best species that come as close (if they wouldn’t already thrive in the conditions provided) as possible to your ideal garden. By doing this, we as professionals can ensure that what you invest will last a lifetime and bring pleasure to you every day while mitigating risk of pest and pathogen development.
As I write this, I am reminded of the popular Rolling Stones chorus “…you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you might find you get what you need.” Never fear asking “ will this work?”, if you follow what the plant tells you it wants, you will find yourself on a path to a more rewarding relationship between you and your garden.