In the face of a global shut down and a great deal of fear and uncertainty one is faced with how one will respond and sometimes confronted with one’s worst fears and anxieties while being pressed to carry on as normal.

That was week one for of lockdown for me. Of course like many people with less than fabulous immune responses I was considering when I should venture out into the world, if at all.

Like a lot of small garden design firms I mostly work from home already, so not much change there. Zoom calls suddenly took on a life of their own as quick chats turned into longer ‘catch up’, ‘everything ok?’, ‘how can we support each other’ chats. Colleagues, clients and friends touching base in very human, thoughful and kind ways.

I do have work on – hurrah! – one garden building and one on the drawing board, so I am fortunate in that. The pipeline though is looking a bit flat. I am not the only one to notice this and several colleagues are changing their business model to remote consult: briefing by zoom, getting remote surveys and all communication via one digital media or another. A lot of designers seem to like this approach. Perhaps this is wise given we don’t know how long this period of lockdown is going to last. I am in two minds about it’s efficacy. I’m not worried about the technology, in all honesty I love new tech and try to keep abreast of the new options, adopting the best (for my business) in my working practices. Sometimes bleeding edge tech is just that, bleeding and never gets to leading. I digress.

It is not business as usual, despite some protestations to the contrary. Landscapers are deciding for their own businesses whether they can or cannot take on projects, they must adhear to government health and safety regulations if they do work. Meaning, getting to site in seperate vehicles, gloves and regular hand sanitising/washing, only using their own tools, no sharing, keeping a 2m distance from colleagues and clients and so on. Of course they cannot work from home so are allowed to work.

I offer a plant sourcing, supply and setting out service but I am not offering this for the moment. It is not essential, planting can wait until autumn when we hope there will be better control of the virus. Nurseries are short staffed as they look after their teams, and although many are continuing to operate, it is not business as usual. Lead times are longer (you maybe able to buy online but expect 3-8 week delay in delivery), buying from here there and everywhere brings it’s own handling issues as does every delivery to a home. So, I chose not to overpromise and underdeliver if I can possibly avoid it. I am also not visiting new clients or sites until lockdown is past.

WISTERIA AND SKY

In the meantime, like many of us I am turning my attentions to my own plots (cobblers children’s shoes and all that), growing as much veg as I can fit in, alondsige the Dahlia and Iris collections and cut flower garden. Luckily I have bought all sorts of exciting and unusual veg seed in the last couple of years, much of it still viable and now is the time to get it growing. Let’s see if all my RHS training can be put to good use!

Do let me know if you think remote design is something you would like, what services would you like remotely? planting design? garden design? problem solving? plant identification? Gardening advice? growing advice? dividing dahlias? dividing Iris? and what else might be of interest?

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