A discussion that the famous British designer John Brooks published on his blog.
“Oh! You’re a gardener,” they say. “No, I’m actually a landscape designer. After a pause, they ask, “So what’s the difference? Wait, I think. “Let me explain. The gardener’s main concern is the well-being of his plants, the soil in which they grow, their preferences, and gardening in general. The main task of the landscape designer is the well-being of his clients. This may ultimately involve working with plants, but often this work is not a priority. My clients allow me to solve interesting problems – they offer plots of all shapes and sizes, with different landscapes, different houses, in different places, and as a decisive factor of all this – with different budgets. Too often they only think about the timing of planting, and the way they will use their land is sometimes overlooked. I am now showing you the full scope of the tasks that you will receive. But the solutions must be based on what the house you are dealing with is built from and what you want in the end.
So when I start a new job, I take into account the local peculiarities of each country – what walls, fences, fences and landscapes are there: closed (i.e. wooded) or open and workable. Since I’m lucky to be working abroad, I can see the views right below me, which are very different from each other and from what you are used to. But even when I go on a plane near, say, Manchester, very specific landscapes emerge in front of me. And it’s delightful. And that’s the landscape I have to put my garden in. Then, of course, there is my client and the conditions in which he or she lives. You probably thought, “This is all very well for him and his smart customers” – which they may be. But keep in mind that they have become so in the search process… Well, you know what it is. In fact, by the time I find myself at my client’s place, I’ve put enough effort into making work estimates, etc., so I don’t have to think about finances anymore.
So we have a house and a plot of land – usually a small area in front of the house and a large area behind the house. This is the house we have to deal with. It may or may not be beautiful, and the tactful question “Have you ever thought about painting it in another color? – Sometimes it works. If you’re dealing with older buildings, sometimes you say, “What if you put this gazebo away?”, and then you say, “Look at this view! It is necessary to show maximum tactfulness at this moment – you just throw in ideas.
Before entering the garden, if possible, take a look at the interior of the house and talk to your client. You will be able to understand how old he or she is, whether the client has children and of what age, and whether they have pets. What do clients want from their garden? Is this a fundamental change or just an improvement? And the most important thing is whether they are “gardeners” or not. This is exactly the moment when the conversation comes to the plants.
By this time, after a cup of tea, you will already know more about each other. And I realize that if you’ve never met a landscape designer before, it can all be a little scary. But the more you share your ideas, the easier it gets for you.
You end up going to the site. It can be old and overgrown, or it can be a little uneven after the builders have been there. But it won’t be beautiful – and that’s why you’ve been invited! But even before you get to the site and how to offer your client to draw a sketch plan – and you will quickly understand what it is about and in what direction to go – you should ask your client if he has a sketch plan of the garden. If you have such a plan in advance, the garden you have seen won’t be a surprise for you and you won’t have to look for anything chaotic there when you’re there. Ideally, ask clients to send you a plan in advance to copy it to the extent you need it. Then you’ll have something to draw on without damaging the original drawing. I think a few lines on the plan will help you illustrate your basic ideas and see if you’re on the same wave.
Show your main ideas according to what you really think, then you will need some time to work it out. Ideas will be far from detailed at this stage, but still try to fix them. And don’t forget that for most people reading the plan is a strange and very difficult thing to do.
I understand that everyone works in their own way, but in general I have shown my first steps. And when I go back to the studio, they are already getting their further development.
Apart from the plants that exist on the site and which I have already mentioned, I am not really thinking about planting them at this stage. However, I will still have different combinations of plants in my mind that I think my customers will like and approach their garden.
Because the main thing is that at the end of the day, the customer will be happy. And during your initial conversation you will feel that you have a real gardener living in you, and this is not about money.