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Replies

  • Terry,  my background was in agriculture and when I started my business 40 years ago I knew zero!

    I learnt by going to proper plant nurseries, making friends with the owners and looking and handling plants.  This was well before the Internet so bought books and made lists of plants for different situations. By writing these lists noting a plants characteristics helped me to remember some of them ! Generally this and actually putting plants in the ground over a period of time gave me the knowledge which I have now but it has taken 40 years ! Think books with photos are easier than the net to learn as it's easier to flick back a page , start off with general books before you attempt more specialised stuff. Also visit open Gardens etc to see plants in various situations and you will gain knowledge with time. Hope that helps. 

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for replying to my post.. wow 40 years!! Well done 👏.

      I have many books and experience on working with plants, I am that kind of person that takes information in when watching, reading makes me sleepy and bored the hell out of me... I have encyclopaedias and all sorts. I have found a guy called John Lord on YouTube very knowledgeable but kind of crazy too, I mean that in a nice way and makes me laugh. 

      • I also look at plants when on sites and see different colourings for example Mahonias I've seen recently had very reddish and yellow leaves... they are planted in open space which I have learnt they prefer part shade and some wind protection. 

      • John Lord is hilarious and also really knowledgeable - watching his videos wears me out though!  I think Peter is spot on in suggesting visiting good plant nurseries.  Look for some key things that will help with plant ID such as leaf shape, stem/leaf arrangment, e.g. opposite, alternate, whorled etc.  Lots of other good suggestions on this thread so I'll leave this short and sweet.  Good luck!

  • PRO

    My first boss when I was 14 gave me a book which I still have today many years later which was hilliers  pictorial guide to trees/shrubs, helped me learn loads which he quizzed me on!

  • PRO

    I used PlantNet app, (beware it can make mistakes) and learnt the plants in the gardens i looked after - really so I knew what to do when with each. Lets say that gives you 12 per garden, and theres at least 25 gardens? From there you will always discover others - theres no instant upload to your brain that I know of :(

    • PRO

      Trips to nurseries are very useful to identify seasonal plants annuals , perennials , shrubs etc .

      Then test yourself with a bit of plant spotting .

      If you have someone to bounce off , plant chat .

      Get to work with a designer if the opportunity exists to learn right plant right place , ask to see their plant lists which some use as a template .

      Plant books full of glossy photos don't do it for me but plant illustrations such as those found in Dr D.G Hessayon books I find very memorable , I love the layout of those books in general . 

      Weird though sometimes when a customer asks you to identify a plant and it's on the tip of your tongue but you have to admit your mind has gone blank but Three hours later your brain suddenly processes its name 🤔

      • Hi John I will search these books and have a look. Designers I do look at websites to see what they use etc for the different types. I have to admit that happens allot when I'm asked about a plant shrub and it's on the tip of my tongue too.. always remember later on 

  • PRO

    Concentrate on those shrubs you see in your clients gardens as you likley to see them regulalry in others. You build up a subset of shrubs seen.

    I went thru fb training learning all manner of plants, names, charactheristics etc but ended up dealing with the same sets of shrubs on sites due to landscape archietects etc selecting from the same pallate.

    If you do a formal course you'll learn a lot about plant families, varieties, crosses, hybrids etc but the killer was always pronuciation.

    The eye opener for me was a little black book called 'Plant Names Simplified' by Johnson & Smith - it made a huge difference once you could decode names etc and my copy always sits in easy reach.

    Agree, business wise one of my main enjoyments is spending time at a well stocked nursery at various times of the year... I find it reawakens my mind :-)

  • PRO

    At college years ago we were told to walk around our working gardens saying the names of the plants you see, you look mad but it works!

    We also had to do weekly plant id tests which helped. You then end up remembering other clever ways to remember a specific plant name, I cant think of a really good one at the moment but in the early days I was muddling my Fagus sylvatica and my Carpinus betulus, In the end I only remembered it on the basis that the Carpinus betulus was Hornbeam...... the betulus part was the 2nd part of the name like Horn beam and there were no B's in Fagus sylvatica

    LOL

    it stuck then and now seems silly but you can end up remembering things eventually through association which jogs the brain cells, you can also learn loads of names and write and pronounce them correctly but not match it to the plant initially 

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