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  • tamelamarsh18

Beyond Boxwoods and Hostas

Updated: Feb 2

My work has brought me into conversation with a Lexington resident who is interested creating a sanctuary for birds and bees at his home. His quiet tone during our initial phone conversation was inquisitive, and hopeful: "I want the butterflies and bees -- and the birds -- to come there. Is that something you can help me with?"

When we met at his home later to view his existing landscaping, he expressed that he is tired of the existing plants and disappointed with some of the trees. He hopes for something vibrant, to attract small wildlife, with a water feature "so the birds can drink and take a bath," he told me. And he led me to his open and expansive backyard, where he hopes to install beds of perennials to serve as waystations for more small wildlife.

As I do during most initial interviews with potential clients, I listened to his thoughts and asked a few questions. Then I took photos of the areas to be included in the scope of the project and went home to process the information. Normally, I would upload the photos, edit them to present my vision -- usually two or three different versions -- and distill the project into dollars and cents.

This project, however, is different. The client is not in a hurry. He wants to be intentional with the changes he makes and is interested in being an integral part of the decision-making process. This makes my procedure a little different, as well.

My mind running at full speed with the possibilities of this wonderful project, I drove home, dreaming of pollinator gardens and the potentials of a client willing to forgo traditional landscaping for a more nature-friendly concept. Photoshopping several ideas for various arrangements of plants into the pictures I had taken (I use a program called "GardenPuzzle."), I had fun using what knowledge I already had regarding pollinator-friendly perennials. Then, I started researching online, in my gardening books, through gardening magazines (Check out "The Garden Gate.") and looking at my surroundings as I drove around Lexington. Gathering more information and ideas, I created even more photoshopped designs and put together a packet of ideas for my potential client.

Because we were still very much in the "drawing board" stage, I didn't need to monetize the dreams. We just discussed what he liked and didn't like about the designs, and I asked more questions about possibilities and timelines. During a recent conversation, he shared that he had noticed two home landscapes that drew his attention, and sent me the addresses so I could see them, too.

It was interesting to me that, as I maneuvered down the street he had directed me to for the attractive landscapes, I knew almost immediately which house numbers I was to inspect. Through our conversations, I've come to recognize his taste and, therefore, knew which gardens would have drawn his attention.

This is one of the unexpected joys of working with Garden Therapy of Kentucky LLC: Getting to know customers as gardeners -- learning their individual tastes and styles -- allows me to find special plants I know they would enjoy having in their gardens. It allows me to take care of overgrown shrubs, or weeds, or crowded bulb plants, before they even realize those things are bothering them. Knowing my customers as people helps me realize when something that might not irritate 90 percent of other people is causing stress to a particular gardener, and it allows me to go the extra mile and give a little something extra.

If you've read my other blog posts, you know that I've struggled some this season due to "growing pains" with the business. The number of customers on my books grew from 30 last year to 70-plus this spring -- way too many for me to handle without assistance. Add to that some medical issues and having my adult kiddos move back home from college and . . . well, let's just say things didn't go as planned. Far from being able to give people red carpet/white glove treatment, I slipped. There were some (former?) customers to whose gardens I didn't even get this year! I'm so regretful of that. But I'm learning and still get lots of love and support from those clients who have stuck with me. (Thank you!)

I digress. I did not sit down tonight to write more excuses and apologies. I wanted to share a little of the process of creating a garden plan with a customer -- the excitement of doing something a little bit different -- the appreciation for Kind Humans and HumanKind. I enjoy meeting all of you through Garden Therapy and I love seeing the individuality in you, and in your gardens!

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