The chaotic, amorphous world we live in begs for order. To make sense of it, we often use labels. We go home or to work. We have family; we have friends. We are a Republican or Democrat. We are propagators, breeders, growers and horticulturists. You get the idea. The world in which we live turns on labels. And as we all know, some labels demean us, a few amuse us and some inspire — all unquestionably limit our potential.
Benjamin Whorf, an American linguist, earned his fame for his linguistic relativity hypothesis, which in layman’s terms says that the words we use to describe something aren’t passive. They shape our perceptions, determine what we see.
If I say something is a perennial, for example, you might envision a plant that remains in the ground and comes back year after year in the spring. But that limits the possibilities of what you can do with the plant. You might not put it in a combination container with annuals to enjoy during the summer and get rid of in the fall. Or, you might not plant a zeezee plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia) or giant taro (Alocasia macrorhiza) in your Florida garden, because when you lived in Ohio, you called them annuals. Labels limit not only our imaginations, they limit possibilities — unless we are flexible enough to look at the context for using the label and revise our definition to welcome other interpretations.
Don’t Let Labels Define Who You Are
I ran into this recently while writing “Eco-Conscious Landscapes Fast Track The Rise of Native Plants and Grasses.” I talked to plenty of knowledgeable people in the industry, and each one had a different definition for a native plant. After considering who was right and who was wrong, I decided no one was. Because a native plant can be many things, depending on how it is used in the landscape. I liked the idea of inclusivity this concept represents, rather than the exclusivity that is so prevalent in our society. Attaching more than one definition to a label opens the gateway to new ways of thinking and celebrates diversity.
In this issue, we identify the Top 100 growers in the country, but to group them together under that classification alone would be a mistake. As you will find in the Top 100 Grower coverage, growers are as diverse as the crops they grow, the customers they serve and the ways they market and merchandise their products. In “The Top 100 Growers Tackle Crop Protection Challenges,” Editor Laura Drotleff talks about the varying approaches growers are taking to integrated pest management and how they approach the production challenges presented by the intense focus on — and labeling of — neonicotinoids.
Another production challenge growers often face is whether or not to use plant growth regulators or to turn to manual pinching or mechanical trimming. And just like labels can have more than one interpretation, there is often more than one way to solve a problem. Contributing Editor Brian Sparks explores the options in “Growers Face Dilemma In Managing Plant Growth.”
Whether you label yourself or your business as average, extraordinary or innovative, make sure that what you don’t do is let that label define who you are and what your business can become. Explore the possibilities, question the boundaries and above all, grow your business in ways that you define.