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  • james1981smith

Little by Little - The First 6 Months

It’s been just over 6 months now since I started my company and left the security as design director for the well-respected landscape company Bowles & Wyer. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly, especially having a young family to support, and having the normal bills to pay like many. I have however always had that burning desire inside to one day be my own boss and see if I have what it takes to be a success, designing beautiful gardens and landscapes along the way. Having turned 40 in June it really felt like now or never!

After almost 16 years of designing and managing high end residential gardens and landscape architecture schemes, I finally took the plunge and opened the doors of James Smith Landscape & Garden Design Ltd in July 2021. Fortunately, I had an exciting new project ready to start, having been contacted via the Society of Garden Designers. Further projects soon followed thanks to contacts and friends recommending me. The journey had begun!

As if setting up a business wasn’t enough, I also had another exciting challenge ahead. In 2020 I had been invited to apply to design a balcony garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a brand-new category. However, after submitting my application, the show was sadly cancelled due to the awful Covid19 pandemic hitting and I suspected my chance may have disappeared. Fast forward to 2021 and to my amazement and excitement I received an email from the RHS, the very afternoon I had handed in my notice, congratulating me on being selected for a garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021. Talk about timing! This was to be an historic show and the very first to be held in September. Panic and excitement came over me in equal measure!

The Summer of 2021 was spent planning for the show, in tandem with setting up the company and ensuring I had enough work to keep me going. Although there were lots of late nights, it all worked out amazingly well, thanks to help from old colleagues, family, friends, contractors, and suppliers. I had the best experience at Chelsea and was fortunate to be given significant airtime by the BBC following pre-filming for the show in London, both in Mayfair and at Nomura Holdings. It all felt like a bit of a whirlwind, but an amazing one at that! You can check out my garden here CHELSEA BALCONY | design ( and follow the You Tube links on the page to the covera

After the fun of Chelsea was over, I was able to focus fully again on the business for the remainder of the year, working on private residential gardens, schools, care homes and residential development projects across Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and London. I feel very grateful for the clients and designers I have worked with, and the projects I have worked on so far. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the next 6 months. Watch this space!

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