What is your professional background/expertise?
I worked as Nursery Manager and Purchasing agent for a large Washington DC area Landscape Company for 8 years, after which I started a small, Company (Gro-Getters, Inc.) that for the last 25 years, has supplied plant material for Landscape projects throughout the region, including many high profile projects such as The White House, IRS, Dept. of Education, and multiple National Park sites. We also have supplied plant material for hundreds of local Residential projects. Typically we work with Small to Medium sized Landscape Contractors, Government Agencies, Landscape Architects and Designers.
How did you come to know/work with Kelley Oklesson/Groundsmith Collective?
A number of years ago, we began working with Kelley Oklesson. She was working with a Landscape Contractor, designing Landscapes. Together we explored her plant needs and made adjustments as availability and hardiness would suggest appropriate.
What was something that you learned while working with Kelley?
A number of the plants Kelley would propose for a project we were unfamiliar with. But often, we were discovering that with Global Warming, these plants could be used in our area.
Were there any challenges or changes in plans and how did Kelley handle it?
At other times, Kelley’s desire might be for a specific plant cultivar that is not being found in our region. We work together to find substitutions that still meet her vision and provide the desired result. Over the years, we have worked with people that are very specific as to the plants they want. Sometimes their choices reflect plants that are not appropriate for the location intended. They may not be hardy in our area. They may be hardy, but locally have insect, fungus, or disease issues. They may be inappropriate for the specific location desired because of soil conditions or mature size. Kelley seems to understand these issues well, and makes decisions based on what will ultimately serve the Landscape best.
What piece of advice would you give those considering hiring a design professional?
Many people have a preconceived vision of the Landscape they desire. Designers can be very good at working with people to meet that vision. But be open minded. Listen to them. They often have years of experience that should be considered. Sometimes what you want will look great when it is planted, but as your Landscape matures, won’t continue to give you the desired effect. Kelley has the experience and plant knowledge to potentially mold your ideas into a Landscape that will meet your vision for years to come.
Share an inspiring story.
Although we are a Wholesale plant supplier, we often talk with Homeowners and General Contractors about plants. Often, they want to find the cheapest plants available and install the plants themselves. They can go to Home Depot and get plants for what seems to be so cheap, then dig some holes and pop them in.
I have had a conversations with several of these people that went something like this:
Why would you want to do that?
Think of all the money I will save.
Do you have a Will?
Did you write it?
No, of course not. I had my Lawyer prepare it.
Couldn’t you use one of those pre prepared Wills that you can find online for much cheaper?
Yes, but I wanted something more specific to me and my situation, and I wanted to make sure it got done right. I don’t want my will overturned because of a mistake.
Well, that’s what a good designer does for you.