Sunday, 31 October 2010

Word of Mouth

Bug is lifting, just a sore throat to deal with, and plenty of malt whisky seems to be keeping that from hurting too much. A nice day spent doing a little shopping in charity shops, and a new pair of work boots to replace the tramp like ones that I adorn my feet with at the moment. After a roast chicken dinner, the evening so far has been spent with numerous episodes of The West Wing, whilst at the same time Amanda slipping in and out of 'buggy' sleep, and me preparing all of the years paperwork ready for the accountant....very exciting that last one! It was while doing this that I came across records of small, non-contract work that was done during the year.
When Four Seasons first started up about thirteen years ago, the first work to come in was large and presigious private gardens in the Compton Acres Gardens area. Just four to start with, but after making a contact in the property management field, these were very soon added to by three small and not very special blocks of flats. One of the big houses was owned by a director of a very large and successful company, who advised us to put flyers through the letterboxes of as many houses as we could, and commented that it usually has about a four percent return. Well, Canford Cliffs is home to the very, very wealthy, and as such the houses have huge gardens, are a long way apart, and have long drives. We spent a day delivering exactly one hundred flyers, and received four offers of work, exactly four percent for those not mathematically astute.
We had a small portfolio of properties now, and after three months had increased this to nearly twenty gardens through recommendation via word of mouth. As time has gone by, places have come and gone, a lot have stayed put (including the first three), and there are now thirty five contracts. The flyers were the only time we have advertised, all the other work came about as the result of people talking to one another. As a result of this, not only has there been regular and ongoing contracts, but also hundreds of little odd jobs and small garden tidy ups that I simply can't say no to, no matter how frantic and busy things get. Of course the money helps, but so much more important to me are the people that I make contact with. I mentioned a while ago about the garden tidy for the ex Royal Marine, well he has requested another visit in a fortnight tosmarten things up for the winter. Looking forward to chatting with him again a lot.
The picture at the top is of some hedgework that I get called to help with two or three times a year. Not a classically beautiful garden by any means, but a life saver to the wonderful elderly couple who live here. Residents for most of their lives, it has been a couples start out house, then it became their family home as children appeared on the scene. The children grew up and started their own lives, and now, in their seventies, it is a place of refuge in retirement. The gardens in these post war council houses were initially structured to be functional. Half turned over to grass for leisure, and the other half to fruit and vegetable growing to feed the post war family. Most have since changed, becoming entirely leisure based, but this one has stayed pretty much the same. Even though the lady of the house is now riddled with arthritis and only manages to occasionally go to the public swimming pool to keep as supple as possible, her husband, a small and frail old man still makes it a vital yearly task to double dig all of the vegetable patch over and work hard enough throughout the year to produce just about every mainstream veg that you can think of. This is the area on the left which is covered in weeds. At this time of year the weeds of course are going mad, it has been the first time ever that he has needed to ask for help with them, in the form of spraying. I was first put in touch with them via our plumber, as so many things such as this are. They had coped for year upon year with all of the hedging themselves, but it had simply got too much for them, and things had become terrifically overgrown as a result. After several visits, the hedging is now down to a manageable height, and they phone when they want it cut again. The apple trees hadn't been pruned for ten years or so, and these were tidied up this year as well. Tomorrow morning, although officially a day off, I shall be removing a dead hedge for the ex-wife of the same plumber...small world eh? Definitely some of the most rewarding work that I do. And tea and biscuits thrown in as well! Bless everyone of them.


  1. It is such a wonderful thing you're doing for this couple. It may seem like "just a job" to many, but you are a vital part in allowing them to age gracefully in their home and garden.

  2. Hi Gary - word of mouth is the best recommendation especially as gardens simply cannot be entrusted to cowboys! Also your elderly couple need the secuirity of an honest face about the place so no wonder you have so much work. The latter make me feel ashamed of my comparitive sloth. Thanks for sharing - keep taking the medicine


  3. Sounds like you work hard and have a fine reputation, what more can a man want in this world ? take care, Gina