HW Industry Lunch reveals major lack of plant knowledge in sector

Guests at last week's Horticulture Week event say landscape professionals gain insufficient plant knowledge on current college courses

Plant knowledge is lacking in all areas of the landscape sector, according to guests at last week’s Horticulture Week Industry Lunch. Landscape architects were criticised for having little or no plant knowledge. Association of Professional Landscapers chairman and Notcutts Landscapes landscape director Jason Lock blamed colleges: “They seemed to say ‘let’s do this [course] and we will get some funding’. Some people we have seen don’t know much. The impression is that these courses were set up too quickly. He added: “We used to joke that if we knew six plants, we could be a landscape architect.” James Coles & Sons nursery managing director James Coles said it was a good idea that student landscape architects in France spent six months working at a nursery. BALI chairman Neil Huck agreed: “We were writing the NVQ Level 2 examination and I thought students should learn the names of plants they would use. “I suggested 100 plants and lecturers said 10. They didn’t have time to teach more.” But landscape architect Tom La Dell argued: “Often nurseries are not the people to recommend plants. There are plenty of examples of awful plant choices.” Huck agreed plants have to be “fit for the purpose”, adding: “I’m removing trees in Tesco car parks and it is a constant battle. Tesco would prefer to have schemes that work but only one per cent of storebuild costs are allocated to plants.” Wyevale Nurseries’ sales and marketing director Doug Reade said: “We encourage customers to come to the nursery to see the plants and we go to sites to see what has or has not worked. “But the range we see on landscape projects is minimal and our dialogue with landscape architects is less than it was 10 years ago. They say there’s not enough money there to go to nurseries.”

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