Lavender & Twigs: gardens a passion for former media executive
Posted Sep 7, 2022 01:00:00 PM.
After more than 35 years working for some of Canada's largest media corporations, Cheryl Hammond-Hutcheson traded in her power suits and expense accounts for what might well be, her biggest, and most personal challenge.
In 2020, the corporate veteran launched her bespoke garden design service Lavender & Twigs Garden Design with her friend and business partner Linda Robinson.
She calls it “semi-retirement”, though one suspects that she's never been busier, nor having more fun.
“I love being outside in the garden, getting dirty,” Hammond-Hutcheson says gladly. “Working in media most of my life in corporate sales, giving that up, putting on your sloggers and garden gloves is a big, exciting change. It's fantastic creating a business doing something I love, very rewarding seeing the before and after pictures of our jobs.”
Hammond-Hutcheson initially concocted the notion of going into the gardening business only because friends often complimented her on her gardens were and would ask her for advice on what they should plant where in their own.
“They called me the shoemaker's daughter because I would do everyone else's garden and neglect my own,” she laughs.
A lifelong, passionate gardener, Hammond-Hutcheson, then working for the Ottawa Senators, traded in the boardroom for the nursery in 2020, just as the pandemic landed.
She was ready for a change. However, she wasn't prepared to launch a business on her own. It didn't take much to convince her real estate agent Linda Robinson to join her in the venture.
“It's important having a partner, having someone I could bounce ideas off of, but I would have done this on my own because I've wanted to do it all my life,” she says.
That winter, the pair took courses on English garden design and in March 2021, they launched Lavender & Twigs Garden Design, with a website www.lavendertwigs.ca and social media platforms.
Working from home using 3D design software, the pair divide the work. Hammond-Hutcheson designs highly structured, more architectural gardens. Robinson, on the other hand, prefers more natural-looking English gardens.
The 3D software has the added advantage of showing the customer what their gardens will virtually look like brand new, and in three, and five years time.
“I knew I understood trees, plants, flowers, because I've worked with them all my life,” Hammond-Hutcheson says. “The challenge is the design part of gardening because the elements are growing, changing constantly. It's much easier to design with the 3D software because it's science, the setting of the house, the direction of the sun, the direction the garden is facing, the interaction of the plants and how they grow. It's fun to do, but it's a lot to plan for, especially when we're trying to do something more, something different in our gardens.”
“People were excited to spend their lockdown in their garden,” she adds. “Many people wanted to invest in the garden during the pandemic lockdown. It was a good time to launch this business. After a job is done, I'll drive around to see how our gardens are settling in. If a garden isn't doing as well as I planned, I'll talk to the client and see what we can do. Our relations with our customers sets us apart.”
The phone starts ringing in March and ends in October. Off-season, Hammond-Hutcheson likes to travel and spend time with her family.
Like many independent entrepreneurs, she says the best thing about her business is the control she has over her schedule.
“It's great having control of the business and not having someone telling me what to do,” he says. “I don't have a quota. Meeting our own targets is gratifying. I don't have to many a large staff anymore. I get to work with young men who love the job and might want to take over the business one day. That's awesome.”