Joe describes his job as 60% about people and 20% about plants and knowledge of plants and 20% about design. In other words, building and maintaining good relationships with clients is of paramount importance
Joe is a member of a small team of horticultural consultants (there are currently three people employed in the business) who together form a design consultancy, primarily serving the needs of private individuals who wish to utilise their services on a range of amenity horticultural projects.
These projects range from tiny London gardens to larger country estates, throughout England but mainly in the South. The consultancy also works for developers who are building new homes and occasionally offices and other commercial space, and who need areas landscaping and developing. Joe's work ranges from the initial design to implementation of the design, and ongoing maintenance, if it is desired by the client.
The initial visit to a client usually involves a detailed discussion about the client's hopes for the project. Joe then discusses these hopes in the context of his design experience. Some clients have literally a blank canvas and no ideas about the design that they would like while others have a very clear design brief already in mind.
Joe offers his design expertise as well as detailed information covering plant specification and appropriateness, limitations of climate, soil, etc. and, increasingly, advice on issues such as sustainability and other 'green agenda' items. Joe really enjoys the planning and design aspect of the work as he feels it is when he is at his most creative.
Joe really enjoys discussing plant choice and design schemes with clients, a role that includes choosing colour schemes, textures, stones and other pathways, garden furniture, ornaments and water features.
Once the design ideas are finalised Joe presents the 'brief' to the clients. This includes full costing, including ongoing maintenance and time scales for the project. Once the client decides to commission the project Joe oversees the whole process. He has to take enormous care to ensure that the project is successful as so much of the company's business is achieved via word of mouth and recommendations. Joe describes the moment when all the work is finished and the final product unveiled to the client as very exciting.
Joe studied horticulture at university and chose a course that specialised in garden design. This was because he already knew that he was interested in this aspect of horticulture as a result of a work experience placement while still at school.
He would recommend that anybody interested in the industry think very carefully about the branch of horticulture that they are interested in as degree courses can be specialised. Joe describes himself as very unusual in that he joined the consultancy straight from university; most people in his role have significant work experience before taking up a consultancy position. Joe thinks his success in gaining employment was partly because he had spent a year with the company on placement and partly being in the right place at the right time.
Joe describes his job as great fun but hard work. The most challenging aspect of the job is the necessity to continually 'pitch' for new business.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.