Guest Rants, Taking Your Gardening Dollar

Great expectations

Cataloghonesty

A guest rant from Joseph Tychonievich. See more of Joseph's cartoons here.

(Joseph was a popular attendee of garden bloggers' Buffa10. Many of us wanted to adopt him.)

Posted by on December 28, 2010 at 4:35 am, in the category Guest Rants, Taking Your Gardening Dollar.
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15 Responses to “Great expectations”

  1. lifeshighway says:

    A ha ha, I thought it was only me.

  2. shira says:

    so true! there’s a reason why we all call those catalogs (and you know which one’s I’m talking about) garden porn!

  3. Kat White says:

    I never, ever really believe something in a catalog will be as blue as the photo. Never.

  4. I love it Joseph. You are spot on.~~Dee

  5. John says:

    Love the cartoons!

    Just to add a tiny explanation to a giant problem – there are at least two problems with the color “blue” in the context of plant catalogs. The main one is that plenty of plants get called “blue” when they aren’t blue at all. The other problem is that colors print differently depending on what type of paper you are printing on; what type of ink you are using, and how much you want to pay to correct colors on the printed page. It is very difficult to have true blues and purples because so much of the blue-ness is controlled by the light that shines through the image (or through your computer monitor). It is easy to compare a digital photo on a monitor against a printed page in a catalog but that is worse than comparing apples to oranges – they are two completely different things that manage colors in two completely different ways. RGB, the system used by computer monitors can display about a third of the spectrum your eyes can see in nature. CMYK, the system used by color printing on paper can only display about a third of that. Complete accuracy is next to impossible. The really bad examples that look re-touched are often just poor attempts to pump up the blue without using the proper software.

  6. John,
    Good points… I know getting pictures to look right is extremely difficult, but I also know buying plants through the mail is a extreme act of faith! I appreciate the companies that take the time to ensure their images look true-to-life, and back them up with accurate written descriptions.

  7. This is one of those situations where I’m more inclined to believe what I read than what I see. I wish more catalogs used the RHS color chip system. The only one I can think of that does is Plant Delights. Of course I don’t even know if the RHS color chips are available anymore, and I can’t remember where I got mine.

  8. John says:

    I’ve worked for a mail order nursery in the past and you wouldn’t believe the yanking around they endure from shipping companies. Contracts are written completely for the carrier – its a lopsided system. Of course the complaints are always directed at the nursery, as if they control the trucks hauling the orders away.

    I think the best solution would be to print the photo in the catalog but refer readers to a website for a more accurate image since computer monitors can handle blues better than paper.

  9. That is what you get for not knowing HOW to propagate.

    Catalogs are good tools to identify plants with their botanical names, that is that.

    Everyjuan else buy a propagation technique manual.

  10. Layanee says:

    The real explanation is ….marketing and poor marketing at that. I find that sometimes the pictures of the flowers are so large compared with the actual dimension of the bloom that one would need fifteen of them to make a statement. I want to see the plant in a garden setting nestled among others.

  11. Pam J. says:

    This is my favorite rant of all time.

  12. Tibs says:

    I just go my favorite plant porn catalogue in the mail, don’t know why they are wasting money on me because I have not ordered from them for years. The pictures are wonderful but….I want to see more than a close-up of the flower. I want to see more than it in a gorgeous mixed border. I want to see a stand alone of the whole plant. I am more interested in the plant structual shape and leaf placement than flowers. Roses are gorgeous but I have yet to see a rose shrub that trips my trigger. Climbers are a different story.

  13. If you think of the seed or nursery catalog as an advertising tool, the words and images in the catalog make more sense. The goal is to connect us to the product, to have us identify with the product. That’s how advertising works.
    who wants to be a skinny looking plant, with little color or chance for survival? I want to be the robust onion, large and colorful. I am that clematis with the big white flowers, blooming in one mass of color.

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