I tweeted about this poster earlier today, but I can’t help myself, I have to post about it too…..it just makes me think…
I love items that are at once well designed, clever and that strike a cord with me. This one actually helped me put a finger on something that I have been struggling to put into words and formulate in my mind.
I have had an increasing dis-satisfaction with some aspects of my business…part of it is that I hate things like accounting and bookkeeping (ugh) but part of it is the clients themselves. I can outsource some of those painful things, but the client bit is a bit more difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I generally love my clients, but what I just realized (looking at this poster) is that so many of them are NOT really garden makers, rather, they are primarily interested in landscaping, which is mostly fine. But….I have to say, I appreciate those who view the projects that they embark upon as lifestyle projects rather than landscaping, and I find these projects far more exciting. What I just put my finger on is that perhaps I need to try to ascertain (more for myself and managing expectations than for any other reason) early in a relationship, is what kind of client someone will be. Are they garden makers, or are they interested in landscaping? Most commercial clients are interested in landscaping and I have no issue because I have proper expectations — they have needs that my business and I can fill – and I enjoy doing it. It works for me and I love these projects for what they are.
But residential clients are different. I usually expect them to get personal with their outdoor spaces and they often don’t. It is part of their home after all. I think I need to stop expecting that a new client will become a gardener with the installation of a beautiful landscape. Perhaps, I also need to find ways to seek out more gardener clients. It strikes me too, as I am typing this, that this is a fundamental difference between working as a garden designer in the UK vs. the USA — many of my clients there (in the UK) were gardeners or they fancied the idea of becoming gardeners and they valued design as a piece of this greater garden creation topic. Here, it is rare to have gardener clients. I love a client who is looking forward to getting their hands dirty, or even better, already has dirty hands. To me, getting your hands dirty means that you are getting outside, YOU are growing and so are your plants, you are experimenting, and playing, harvesting and sharing. These are the type of people I love to get to know. I get it, we aren’t all interested in becoming cultivators and gardeners, and I need to stop expecting that we are, but wouldn’t it be nice? Do you deal with this? If you are a gardener, are you satisfied with the often interchangeable landscaper/ gardener vocabulary? Do you agree that there is a difference?