I first discovered ornamental horticulture in high school, through the Future Farmers of America. Through that organization, I was able to rent space in green and shade houses, as well as a full sun area for growing plants to sell. I was responsible for the plants, the sales and the business records. From the money I earned I paid for my gas and my dates, so I was hooked! This early exposure has led to a life-long career in plant care and landscaping. After working in wholesale nurseries for many years (since 1978), I started Executive Care, Inc. in 1989.
Executive Care’s philosophy is very much based on my own experience, education and values. I strongly believe that great landscaping comes down to four things: theme, plant knowledge, proper marriage of hard and softscapes, and talent. The theme determines the choice of plants, as well as the color and style of the hardscape. Choice of theme is ultimately what distinguishes one garden from another and allows homeowners to personalize their landscape.
Once the theme is determined, proper plant selection and placement is critical to the success of the design. Knowing the strengths and limitations of a wide range of plant materials and understanding the variables that affect plant health (such as light, soil quality and moisture levels) makes the difference between a garden that struggles and a garden that thrives.
The third aspect of a great landscape is the proper marriage of landscape to hardscape. If you look at photos of finished landscapes, you will see that many landscapers are actually hardscapers; they specialize in cement, blocks, cultured stones, etc. The actual landscape, which is also called softscape, lacks texture, depth, color and creativity.
So while the hardscape is nice, the softscape is flat. There is no marriage between the two. The theme is not clear and the plant selection is limited to what you see at shopping centers. Those plants are appropriate for commercial settings, but your own garden can and should be more interesting.
When you go into a nicely completed backyard, do you look at the cement, or the plants? What draws your eyes? They naturally go to the trees, flowering bushes etc. It’s not that we don’t notice the hardscape, which brings function to the space while supporting the theme. Yet what speaks to us, calms us, are the plants. So by determining the type, location and use of plantings fi rst, we are able to create vibrant designs that center on the natural, soothing beauty of Creation.
The fourth aspect of great landscaping is talent for design and execution, which comes in varying degrees. A landscaper’s website is a clear indicator of talent because it shows the range and caliber of completed work. The proof is in the pictures, so to speak.
Whenever I talk to prospective clients, I encourage them to view Executive Care’s website, where they can see a variety of settings, themes and designs, as well as before and after photos. This way, the client is confident that we have the talent and ability to bring lasting beauty to the landscape while giving expression to the unique tastes of individual homeowners.
I believe that talent is a gift from God, so I try to be a good steward of the talent I’ve been given. I seek always to grow it through continued education.
I follow trends, read trade journals and carefully study the work of other landscapers. Keeping up-to-date allows Executive Care to bring the latest in styles, plant health and conservation to our clients through fresh design.
Since I work with nature every day, I also work to be a good steward of the land. Water wise irrigation and drought tolerant plants greatly reduce water usage. Square foot gardens and edible landscapes take advantage of nature’s bounty while reducing our carbon footprint. These things and many more, allow us all to be wiser stewards of the world around us.
Thank you for reading and thank you for supporting Executive Care. It is nice to be appreciated within the community. Please be patient as we get into our busy season. It’s just the three of us initially meeting everyone—me, myself and I—and we three work on a quality basis, not quantity. Even so, I always return calls within a day or two. If I do not call within that time period, it means I couldn’t hear the phone number clearly enough to reach you. So please do call again. Now as always, Good Gardening!