This year we are celebrating 25 successful years in business. We set up the Garden Company way back in 1991 in Barnet with just two of us and a few garden maintenance clients. To put things in context, ‘Iron Maiden’ were top of the charts, people were queuing at the cinema to watch Terminator 2 and I – like most people – had no mobile phone. I find it hard to imagine running the business today with no internet, no email and no smartphones!
A lot has happened since those early days, not just in technology terms, and I’d like to take the opportunity of this special anniversary to say a few important ‘thankyous’.
Firstly, a huge thank you to our clients for trusting us with your precious gardens and outdoor spaces. We know that you choose us with great care, and it is a real privilege to work with you and for you to create, develop and nurture your gardens. We do have a fantastic track record over the years in meeting your needs and expectations – evidence for this can be found in the long trail of National Landscaping Awards that we started to gain in 1996. We have won another 21 since then – including a new BALI Award added just last week. Winning these awards is a huge professional achievement for all of us at the company and we believe it is due to not only technical ‘knowhow’ and plain hard work, but also to our client-focused culture and ways of working.
Of course I want to say thank you to everybody working in the business, whether out in all weathers building and maintaining gardens or in the office, managing teams and projects and keeping the business running. You might be surprised to hear that between us (that is, everybody working in the business today) we have nearly 100 years of service! That means that those people that joined us this year have joined a company with a huge amount of experience and knowledge about making beautiful gardens. We are equally proud to welcome our recent joiners and delighted that our apprenticeship scheme will be put to great use in the coming year with four more team members signed up to work on NVQs levels 2 & 3.
Thank you too to Kathie Coss who set up the business with me 25 years ago. We both have many memories of good times and a few challenges we have overcome too! Thank you to other people that have moved on (inside and outside the industry) but stayed in touch, recently sending us good wishes for our anniversary – including our own ‘Garden Company couple’, Ian and Ellie Harris.
I want to thank also our close suppliers and business partners. It is a pleasure to work with such knowledgeable and helpful people. And thank you to those fellow designers who choose us to build their gardens for them because they know that we will endeavor to build their creations as envisaged. Over the years we have worked with many designers and I am grateful to them all. There are a few that I have particularly learned a great deal from and who have helped set the standard to which we work. In particular, I would mention Julie Toll (FSGD), Andrew Wenham (MSGD) and Acres Wild (winners of the SGD’s Grand Prize in 2015). We are very proud of our positive reputation throughout the industry.
Several people have asked me recently what I think the next 25 years hold in store for the Garden Company. Obviously, none of us can predict with certainty what the UK economy is going to do over that timescale (!) – but I genuinely believe that this is a great industry to be in. It’s creative, full of talented people, much of the work cannot be automated and the end-result – delivered with care and attention to detail – brings people great pleasure and celebrates the best of the British landscape. I see steady growth for the Garden Company, especially in the larger domestic garden design and build market and continued growing demand for our services in building gardens for other designers. I may not be at the helm in 25 years’ time (hoping to be following the England cricket team on tour by then!) but I look forward to steering the company from strength to strength in the coming years while ‘putting something back’ by association with two great professional bodies, the SGD and BALI. Landscape design and horticulture is a wonderful place to work – I see attracting and developing new talent into the industry as one of our most exciting challenges in the years ahead.