I usually try to be in several places at once. Well, at least mentally; that is, I am usually multi-tasking. When I am working on a bigger project, I sometimes have to stop and take a breath. This clears my head and I can then focus on the project that most needs my full attention anyway. This is more often than not landscape design near me.
For me, it can be the most enjoyable to work with local clients, because I have the option to meet with people in person. Over the years, my landscape design clients have kept me intrigued with a diverse range of properties and needs. I’ve traveled all over the Portland metro area and Washington state, and I’ve worked remotely in California, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico. So I really like it when I can spend time with them at their site and get a feel for what they love about their property. Why they bought it and what they want to do on it are some of my favorite on-site questions to discover the answers to.
Years ago I worked for another firm; for about two years I held online design meetings, but what I didn’t expect was to be in the position of rescuer. Many of the clients assigned to me by the firm were near ready to leave. I provided attentive customer service and project management along with what I was there to do (design their landscapes), and it solved the problems they had been having with the firm. I eventually found out (from a client!) that the firm was going under for, you guessed it, bad project management and customer relations. I was never paid about $4,000 for projects I had completed, and I heard sad stories from a lot of clients the firm could have helped.
That experience made an impression on me: it drew out my natural gifts of empathy and highlighted the importance of being present with people.
So I like to be the “landscape design near me” for prospective clients, not only because I have an understanding of their local area by living there, too, but because I know what customers feel like when a firm isn’t their to see their project through and deliver the plans that were promised. I have the ability to design in other states, based on my professional training, experience, and knowledge. But living in Ashland, Oregon, now after 12 years in Portland means that I can go out and visit a plant I may not be familiar with. It’s a lot more fun than just looking at someone else’s write-up in a book.
A lot of the plants that grow in the northern part of the state also grow down south. Over an extra month of sun and almost 50% less rain in the Ashland area mean different stresses and requirements for the plants that can be grown in both regions. For example, Asclepias speciosa or Showy Milkweed is a valuable plant because of its vital role in the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly. In Portland, I found it difficult to protect it from receiving too much water and to find enough full sun exposure for this precious pollinator plant. In Ashland, however, it’s much easier. I even saw a patch expanding from one resident’s gate along the bike path. The city unknowingly mowed it down, but a month later it is almost as tall as it was when it was cut down. I was delighted to witness a Monarch flitting above it as I rode to the Goodwill to conduct a treasure hunt.
If I was a homeowner, investor, or developer, I would want to easily be able to find the best landscape design near me just by typing those basic words into my favorite search engine. But since I’ve been a designer for 13 years now, I am glad to be of service here in Southern Oregon, where things grow a little differently and sustainable water utilization is much more needed. Natural water conservation and purification is, after all, something in which I specialize.
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