September 21, 2013
PDT Outdoors Columnist
Isn’t this the classic line that gets many kids in trouble with their parents? Didn’t we learn at an early age that asking why usually gets some negative response from adults?
When someone comes to the nursery to buy a tree, I’ll ask them a lot of questions. They probably, at first, think this is like an adoption process, and I’m trying to interview them to see if the tree is going to a good home. The questions are really about why they want a tree and what do they expect of it. Is it about aesthetics or function, or both? In the landscape design world, shouldn’t it be both?
If you ask me for a shade tree, I might ask, “Which way does your house face,” or “Is it a one or two story,” or “What color is the house or roof?” What really matters is, “How much space is available for the tree to grow,” “What fall color do you want to see,” and realistically, “When do you expect it to achieve shade status?”
Many times he and she have a difference of opinion on the function of the tree, color of the house, direction it faces, or the cost of the tree. Can you imagine that? The first rule in tree sales is that we don’t do domestic disputes. The second rule is that we do trees – not miracles.
All these questions of why are meant to bring out the true reason that you asked me to show you a tree. My thoughts on it are going to calculate and select good choices based on the process of elimination. We will walk the nursery, and see if you consider certain trees to fit your ideas on shade, height, color, privacy, bloom, etc. A lot of times I feel like a psychiatrist with no couch and a lot of trees. I’m just trying to help us both figure out what’s on your mind. Once we both know your thoughts and priorities, we can move on to happiness and a sale.
When someone asks me, “Do you think I can put this 16 foot tree in the trunk of my SUV and take it to Columbus?” Several things come to mind. My first thought might be, “Yeah sure, we can get it in there, but can you drive it?” I might think of asking, “Do you plan to ever use this vehicle again?” or “Do you enjoy planting dead trees?” I might be thinking of saying, “Drive it like you just stole it,” because this is really between you and the State Patrol.
I’ve learned after 40 years of marriage that a simple, “Yes, Dear,” will suffice when all logic fails. This doesn’t resemble my innermost and deep ceded thoughts, but it makes you happy, doesn’t it? Isn’t that really “why” you came in here and asked to see a tree? You may have well come in here and said, “Show me a tree that makes me happy.” With 10,000 trees, I need to ask a few “Whys” to get the right fit, and help you define happiness. Some places sell Happy Meals – we sell Happy Trees.
When people discover my age and say, “I would never have guessed that,” I have to wonder as to the “why” behind that. Did they think I looked older than that, did they want a free tree, or did they wonder how anyone could get to that age and be so dumb?
I’m just sayin’ – WHY?
Dudley Wooten can be reached at 740-820-8210 or by visiting wootenslandscaping.com