Whistling gnomes – are they serious?

This is so bad it’s gotta be a spoof! I do hope so…

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Bus Garden!

Isn’t this brilliant? You gotta love anyone’s efforts to get greenery into unusual places!

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Fame at last…

Well wouldn’t you know it – six months without a squeak then two posts in one day! 

Life’s like that sometimes. I just came across a fab article on us which appeared recently in The Wharf newspaper – which covers the Canary Wharf area of London. When I saw it I was amazed – a WHOLE PAGE on Gardeninthecity.com! It featured some lovely pics of some balconies in the Isle of Dogs and Battersea which we were rather proud of…

You can read a digital copy of the article by clicking on the link below – it’s on P16.

http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?eid=f6946928-6924-467f-9d86-f33c80437b82&skip=true 

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The most fun you can have in 3 square metres…

So Spring has sprung, and I’ve realised I’ve not blogged in AGES during the long cold winter. Well, with the welcome return of the warm weather there’s plenty to talk about. We’ve revamped the GardenintheCity.com website to make it simpler to use, and with some lovely new pics to show off our planters, alongside some great home and warden accessories which were loaned to us by the fab Maxine from Max&Melia – a new chic shop round the corner from me in Kennington, South London. 

We’ve kicked off the season with some great balcony installations, too – from Tottenham to Holland Park people seem to be loving our rapid-transformation of their balconies and terraces. We reckon it’s the most fun you can have (with your clothes on) in 3 square metres!

We’d love you to join us on Twitter –  search for gardeninthcit2 and we’re also on Facebook as Gardeninthecity. Hope to see you there! 

More updates soon….

Nigel

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Live online at last!

What a week! Tuesday saw the end of a marathon few months of product development, test garden installations, photoshoots and web development we have finally launched GardenintheCity.com!

It’s been rather a hectic week to be honest – manically getting everything together for the big online launch, then lots of phone calls and emails to journalists to interest them in writing about us. It worked, too – because today London’s biggest commuter newspaper, the Metro, did half a page on us, with some great pictures, too!

All that, plus a film company was shooting a zombie film outside our premises, so we kept running into bloodies marauding groaning extras all day. They were all very nice though, and took a real liking to our plants in between takes!

 

Anyway, it’s a weekend of leafleting at some of London’s busiest destinations, including the Frieze art fair – look out for the GardenintheCity.com team if you’re going!

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Thank God for pressure washers and emulsion

Well, what a fortnight it’s been. When we took on the old Sarson’s pickling factory (or a portion of it at least) as the base for gardeninthecity.com, we knew it would take quite a lot of TLC to get it into a fit state for ourselves and our plants, containers, and assorted hardware. After quarter of a century of disuse, our corner of the old factory needed a LOT of work. Our toilets had last been used a couple of years ago by a film company who wanted a location for a scene in a crack den. I kid you not. You can imagine the state it was in. The main warehouse area was similarly telling a tale of neglect – acres of flaking paint, water coming in through cracked panes, floors strewn with layers of lord knows what. It all had to go before we could start basing ourselves there. It’s not just us being sensitive little souls, you see. Plants are just as prone to the vagaries of an undesirable environment as humans – so whilst the public will never see our warehouse-cum-planting/assembly centre, it’s vital for all concerned that it’s clean, hygienic and bright.

So, I’ve really discovered what it means to move from a desk job to a more hands on occupation. And how. In fact, the last fortnight I have been aching incessantly from the sheer physical effort of scraping, scrubbing, painting and lifting. But it’s been as satisfying as it has been challenging. I’ve discovered a new friend too – the sainted Pressure Washer. Wow those things are good. They blast years worth of dirt and detritus away in a second – and you just stand there and wield the nozzle like some sort of cleaning Jedi, triumphing over the forces of filth. Mind you, quite a bit of it ends up dripping back onto you, and I did get quite a few askance looks from smartly turned out office workers (of which I was one only a few short weeks ago) as I walked back home. But the end is in sight – gallons of white emulsion and cheery green wood paint later, and it’s transformed. Today I set up my desk and shelves in a corner of the warehouse and took my first two deliveries of materials for the forthcoming photo shoots which will show off our container garden designs on the website.

Finally it really feels like it’s becoming a reality!

 

 

 

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We have a new home!

Great news – today we struck a great deal to get gardeninthecity.com its first home! It’s in an old disused factory, which is currently dormant before being converted into apartments. But, for the next year, part of it is gonna be where we can store our materials, build our customers’ gardens and have a well deserved cuppa. Currently, it’s what estate agents might describe as having ‘raw charm’ ie it’s a neglected industrial carcass. In fact, it was recently used by a film company – who used the frankly frightening state of the toilets as the location of a crack den! OMG – it’s going to take rubber gloves, steam cleaning, bleach and whitewash before we can start actually working in there, but at least it’s a low cost home! Watch this space for pics of our progress….

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Fingers crossed…

This morning I’m hoping we’ll have found the new home for our business, gardeninthecity.com.  We’ve been on the lookout for a place where we can warehouse our garden hardware, plants etc and where we can assemble our orders when they come in.  Premises are a big cost on a business, so we’ve been trying to find somewhere very basic, but big enough for what we need, where we only have to pay a minimal rent. Fingers crossed, we may have found somewhere local. We have a meeting with the landlord today…let’s see how it goes!

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Welcome to the first day of the rest of my life….

The 1st June saw my last day as an ’employee’ ; I left my job at the Design Council to start my own business, leaving a government funded organisation to set up on my own.

After 25 years of working for other people (in journalism  broadcasting and PR/communications)  I thought it was time I tried my hand at creating and running a business, making my own decisions and being an entrepreneur.

Lately, since I decided to take the plunge and hand in my resignation, I’ve had two imaginary little companions on my shoulders. The staid one (which has had the upper hand most of my life) has been whispering “Leaving a perfectly good, salaried, holiday-payed, pensioned job to try and prove you can make it on your own? Are you bonkers?!” whilst the one which wears a ‘You Only Live Once’ T-shirt has been egging me on for about a year now, ever since I had an idea for an innovative new service in urban garden design.

It’s been coming for a while, to be fair. I’ve always had a love of gardening, and like many Londoners I treasure my small garden as a haven to relax in, have a glass of wine after work or do a bit of sunbathing, when we get it.  I love pottering around buying new pots & containers, planting stuff, watering and whatnot. But recently I noticed that a lot of my friends don’t (or don’t have the time), and  they usually end up with a motley collection of sad pots squatting in a corner – and a sort of apologetic ‘must do something about the garden’  expression on their face.

They’re not alone – the more I’ve looked the more I’ve realised that many owners of small hard surfaced city gardens – balconies, yards and terraces – face the same problems.  Of course there are online or (if you have a car) out-of-town garden centres, but they expect you to know what grows well, to plant it / build it yourself  and then give it relentless TLC until its big enough to impress. And, as that fantastic woman in Russel Howard’s Good News keeps saying ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that..’ – or few have, anyway. Professional gardeners or bespoke designs are out of most people’s reach, and so you’re left with the depressing prospect of dragging yourself to a soul-less DIY superstore, and making the best of it. And the evidence is, that seldom works out for the best.

Being at the Design Council helped me realise that there should be a better way. One of the central principles in what they call ‘design thinking’ is to put the user first, and look at problems through their eyes. I was surrounded by terrific people doing just that, and producing inspiring publications to help others do the same. One of the most interesting ones was a publication called ‘Wouldn’t it be good if…’ which inspired communities to think creatively about how they could design better services and improve quality of life. It started me thinking, and for once in my life, instead of just wondering ‘wouldn’t it be good if..’  I decided to set about actually doing something about it, and designing a new service which solves those urban gardening problems: gardeninthecity.com

I started by finding a brilliant business partner: Chelsea Flower Show-winning horticulturalist – Nik Thompson –  and we’ve worked on the concept over the last nine months, spending the winter and this awful wet spring building a business plan and testing ideas out. We even managed to get a bank loan, which are like hen’s teeth!

So, summer is here (or, rather, it’s overdue!) and it’s time to take the plunge and go for it. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to pull everything we need together, and it’s going to be a daunting journey as we strive to get our  business up and running online, and build our customer base. But we’re up for it.

Watch this space for more on how we’re doing – gardeninthecity.com is coming soon!

Nigel

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