By DeeAnn Schuttish, Designer/Owner, Green Life Studios
Like good brakes to a truck driver, so is water to landscapers, right? Without it, we’re toast! Right? Score!
Wait a minute. Right now, most of our company’s business is coming from people seeking low water plants for their landscape. Is less water becoming the next wave of profitability? Does the reason my friend Patrick Crais named his irrigation company Blue Watchdog escape you?
When I contemplate –from any angle– this low-water plant “demand vs. supply” phenomenon, I wonder why it is that one of my beloved contractor friends pulled the Purple Rockrose out of my design before installing it? He says he’s never had any luck with it. It always dies. And it’s expensive to go back and replace a plant. Of course! If not just for the cost of the plant, but for the time to go out and replace it, the cost of the gas to get there, and the loss of credibility with a customer who might bring you a new referral.
Could it be that lower water is Rockrose’s meal ticket? Could it be the landscaper’s as well? San Diegans seem to have lost their love affair with palms and the tropical landscape. Palms are so numerous there, every 10th exurb dwelling seems to have a palm nursery in the backyard. There are (no lie) 100’s of mini-plantations filled with unsold palms, while every 20th commercial business boasts a palm on its logo. But most of our landscape customers in San Diego are yanking palms out. It’s their idea. Is this trend occurring in South Spain too? Is there anyone in Marbella reading this who can tell me?
Driving back to Oakland from San Diego, I witness a long parade of tall yellow daisies lining Highway 78. Next, California poppies and blue lupine greet me while passing through Oceanside. Just beyond that, blooming Monkey Flower Bushes dot the bankside, like observant dogs sitting quietly on their haunches. Then, guess what? Purple Rockrose gently waving their pink-purple faces at me with cheerful abandon, same as they did last year, at the Border Patrol station near Camp Pendleton.
If British entrepreneur, Richard Branson –the Baby Boomer who started his career as a boot-strapped owner of a record shop, and now CEO of more than 400 companies, including Virgin Mobile, Virgin Records and Virgin Airways—if he were a landscaper, what would he do? Imagine: Plant Rockrose everywhere, adapt his amendment and irrigation practices, and sell the features and benefits of Purple Rockrose like he were the only landscaper able to do it.
Now maybe it’s time for landscapers to rock the low-water world in their own backyards, learn what works and what doesn’t in this new era of profitability. Once you own a working low water, or native, landscape, aren’t you as good a salesperson as that happy customer?
Okay. It’s time for me to go plant a few Rockrose.