5 April 2022

Anyone who’s visited our contact page in the last few months will know we’ve been incredibly busy…. which is why we’ve waited until April to reflect on the last year of work.

It’s been a complicated couple of years for many small businesses, ours included, but we’ve also been incredibly fortunate, both in the quality and quantity of projects we’ve been able to complete. We’ve certainly not been immune to the challenges facing both independent businesses and the building trade. Restrictions, increased material costs, supply chain issues, and the desire to keep our staff and customers safe have been complicated issues to navigate.

Despite the challenges though, we’ve also been able to grow, both as individual landscapers and as a business. It’s actually been one of the busiest years in the company’s history, both in terms of enquiries and completed gardens. We’ve made fantastic relationships with new clients and new team members, and have completed some of our most interesting gardens to date! Plus, we’ve continued to work alongside some of the best garden designers in the biz. Here are some of our 2021 highlights, including interviews with some of our team members to share their own personal highlights.

Interview: Declan Cartwright – Office Manager and Digital Content Creator

What was your favourite project of 2021, and why?

  • In 2021, I got more involved with the rendering of garden designs for clients. I really enjoy transforming simple 3D models into vibrant visual aids for our clients. We also purchased an Oculus Quest to showcase our garden designs to clients, so I really enjoyed getting that set up.

What was the most challenging project of 2021, and why?

  • My job involves lots of moving parts, so it can be a challenge to keep track of the various projects I am involved in. Purchasing plants for our garden designs can be a challenge. Even though we usually have a planting plan to work from, the availability of plants can be problematic and also finding plants that are of a suitable size for the garden can be a challenge. But generally, we can get what we need, and otherwise we can usually find some suitable substitutes.

What was your happiest/most memorable moment of 2021?

  • Two of my best friends got married in 2021, so it was great to see them have two almost 'normal' weddings. My wife and I also enjoyed a few trips travelling around the UK to go to places we previously hadn't visited, such as Devon and Norfolk.

RHS “Message in a Bottle” Garden

Working on the award-winning Tracy Foster’s design for the 2021 RHS show was fantastic, and probably one of our favourite parts of the year. We are lucky enough to collaborate with Tracy on many projects, but it’s always a special treat to join her at the yearly RHS shows and bring her fantastic ideas to fruition.

Tracy’s conceptual garden depicted a discarded bottle floating towards the shore, but filled with beautiful plants and flowers. Instead of being a depressing, unpleasant sight (like most abandoned bottles), it was instead a beautiful message of hope – we can all take action to prevent plastic pollution and use previously discarded materials to make something new. As always, it was a true joy to work with Tracy, and we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next time!

Interview: Louis Senior – Site Manager

What was your favourite project of 2021, and why?

  • The project we did in York was a highlight for me. It had a great design, fantastic materials to work with, the trees and plants looked amazing, and the design created such a beautiful, atmospheric space. I’ll remember that garden!

What was the most challenging garden of 2021, and why?

  • Our project in Knaresborough was very challenging for many reasons. Firstly, the scale of the job was a lot bigger than our average projects, and that in itself can be challenging when managing a site. As well as being able to keep an eye on all the different elements of the garden to ensure they were running smoothly, the distance from each end of the garden meant that moving all the materials and making the different levels flow together was another challenge. But, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was definitely worth the amount of work that we put into it!

What was your happiest moment of 2021?

  • Personally, coming out of lock down and enjoying a few drinks with friends and colleagues again. We’ve got a great team here at Firstlight, and I’d really missed being able to enjoy a drink with them after a long day of grafting!

Media Magic

While we’ve always enjoyed creating our social media content, during the last year we’ve focused in on showcasing both the fantastic talents of our designers (internal and external), and highlighting garden tips that would be beneficial to new and existing customers. We don’t like to brag, but we are incredibly proud of the work we do, so it’s always exciting to share that work with our followers to give them inspiration for their own space (or for existing clients to admire their brand-new gardens while they’re sitting in them). Our digital content creator spent a lot of time this year creating fantastic garden animations and renders.

We also made an effort to share some top gardening tips for those of you with green thumbs! Our blogs highlighted Autumn gardening tips, and whether raised planters were the right choice for growing vegetables, plus – how to care for your existing garden features. A finished garden is just the start for our customers, so we’re always keen to ensure they’re getting the most from their new space.

We received some really positive feedback from readers about the blogs in 2021, so we’re excited to share some more top tips in 2022. Do you have any burning landscaping questions you’d like us to cover this year? Drop us a message on Facebook or Instagram!

Interview: Liam Pickering - Director

What was your favourite project of 2021, and why?

  • My favourite project was the Fulford project with designer Kit Peel. I loved the design and the materials we were working with, and we got on so well with both the designer and client. I’m happy to say that together we all produced an amazing garden that the client was very happy with.

What was the most challenging project of 2021, and why?

  • For me, the most challenging project was the Knaresborough project, primarily due to the site access (or lack thereof). The space and terrain was really hard and steep, but thankfully the finished project was great, despite our difficulties. Plus, the client was great to work with - really positive and engaging, which is always a treat.

What was your happiest/most memorable moment of 2021?

  • My happiest moment was working at Hampton court with Tracy Foster (designer of the “Message in a Bottle” RHS garden). It’s always so much fun working on shows with her as she truly knows her stuff, and never gets flustered or fazed by any challenges. We’d collaborate with her on a project every week if we could. Plus, she won silver for her fantastic design, which was the icing on the cake of the whole experience. (Although, no shade RHS, but we definitely think she deserved Gold).

What are your goals for 2022?

  • Our goal for 2022 is to build on the success of last year. We have some amazing new recruits that are going to make incredibly skilled and capable landscapers. I believe they have amazing careers ahead of them, so I'm looking forward to training them this year and seeing what they can achieve. I’m also really looking forward to taking the team somewhere nice for the weekend. In the past we liked to do it every year, but it has been a couple of years since we have been able to, so I’m excited to plan something fun this year for all our hard working landscapers.

Looking Ahead

We’re all excited to see what 2022 has to offer for our team, both personally and professionally. It will be wonderful to collaborate with designers both known and new. Plus, as always, one of our favourite parts of the job includes meeting new clients, and we can’t wait to see what challenges you present us with. If you’re thinking of having your garden landscaped, keep an eye on our contact page to see when consultation slots will next be available!