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  • Author or Editor: Robert F. Brzuszek x
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Recent studies have shown that the use of native plants by landscape architects and contractors in the southeastern United States has increased as has the clientele interest level in native plants. Recommendations to increase the use of native species by the landscape industry in this region include increasing the number of nurseries carrying native plants and the quantities and species currently available. To understand how green industry professionals view the opportunities and constraints of the current southeastern United States native plant market and to synthesize the connections between landscape architect's demands and the supplies of the nursery industry in this region, a questionnaire was developed and e-mailed to southeastern U.S. wholesale and retail nurseries in six states. The survey included questions regarding nursery stock, demand, and species sold. A total of 129 responses were received, and they revealed that while there is a perceived increase in customer interest in native plants, market demand and enhanced public education play a key role in further development of this growing market.

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The Master Gardener program is a volunteer horticultural training and an educational outreach program developed and managed by state cooperative extension services. Previous research in the southeastern United States revealed that landscape architects and contractors are increasingly using native plant materials in their projects and this often exceeds regional plant availability. A survey of green industry in the region showed supply is driven by consumer demand and education. To determine if native plant demand is encountered by plant purchasers other than landscape architects, this study evaluates the interest level and market use of native plants by Master Gardeners of six southeastern states. A web-based survey was developed, and Master Gardeners were invited to participate by their state Master Gardener coordinators. The survey included questions on how Master Gardeners use native plants in their home landscape, how they best learn about them, the species they have purchased, and their interest level. A total of 979 Master Gardeners completed the survey. Results revealed that this particular consumer group is enthusiastic about native plants and supports the landscape professionals' claims that marketing for native plants could improve if plants were available at more retail outlets, by having more types (herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees) and species for sale, and by offering greater quantities of plants.

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This study evaluates the attitudes and perceptions of practicing landscape architects in the southeastern United States with regards to the importance of horticultural knowledge for their profession. A 20-question survey instrument was mailed to 120 landscape architects who were listed as members of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The survey included various questions related to education and experience of the respondents and their peers with plants. The response rate was 52.5% (n = 63) and the majority of respondents were seasoned landscape architects in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida that primarily served residential and commercial markets. The results from this study showed that the population of respondents strongly felt that plant knowledge is an important part of their professional skills, and recent graduates of landscape architecture and the profession as a whole appear more distanced from having strong plant expertise. Despite the increasing challenges for more formal plant education, there continues to be a need for both formal and informal extended education classes.

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In their efforts to provide better land stewardship and management, landscape architects are increasingly addressing site ecology in a wide variety of project types. From urban developments to rural properties, designers are using more sustainable design and management techniques, which include the expanded use of regional native plants. This survey study explores the use of native plants by landscape architects in the southeastern United States. Survey results show that southeastern United States designers are using a significant proportion of regional native plant species in their project specifications. Rather than using native plants strictly for conservation measures, landscape architects have found local species to be better suited to difficult or unique site conditions. The findings show that there is potential for expansion in the production and marketing of plant species indigenous to the southeastern United States.

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