Gretchen Robbins

Gretchen Robbins photo

What is your professional background/expertise?

Well, I always say I have the opposite of a green thumb. I love the idea of being surrounded by natural beauty and growing my own vegetables and flowers, but I’m not very successful at it…luckily there are people like Kelley in the world who can help and guide novices like me. My own professional expertise is in Health and Wellness coaching–I work with people to help them find and stick to grounding under their feet and balance in their lives–I think this similarity in our professional goals is why Kelley and I got along so well!

How did you come to know/work with Kelley Oklesson/Groundsmith Collective?

Kelley worked with friends of ours on their backyard renovation. I loved the originality that she brought to their project, so I sought her services out!

What was something that you learned while working with Kelley?

Kelley has taught me over the years that gardening doesn’t have to be as difficult as I thought. This year (probably at least 3 years since we redid my entire back yard) she helped me with a fill-in project. She showed me that I could do the digging. and planting myself, creating a fun family activity during DC’s COVID-related shelter in place order.

What did you enjoy about working with Kelley and how did she compare to working with other design professionals?

OMG I can not say enough good things about Kelley in this arena. Because we have a classic style Washingtonian early 1900s home, every designer just assumed that I would want a very traditional look for my backyard. Kelley came in with such amazing, whimsical, yet practical ideas for our space: many of which we were able to execute. I love how excited she got about creating gorgeous outdoor spaces and using her talent to truly envision a completely unique space.

What piece of advice would you give those considering hiring a design professional?

I would say have an open mind about your space and the plants that you choose. Kelley is a master at creative thinking and your space may not look like your neighbors’ yard in the end, but will be a cool and unique representation of you. If you keep this open mind during the design process, then you will ultimately live in an outdoor space that is special and your own.

What does the world need more of? Less of?

The world needs more self acceptance, less comparison to others. More appreciation of individuality and less gravitation toward social norms.

See Gretchen’s landscaping project here