Wow, Wow, Wow…. I couldn’t have been happier with the way BBC Gardeners' World Live went this year. APL avenue got huge praise from the crowds and from the BBC too. This was the second year in succession that Association of Professional Landscapers have had an audible mention on national TV. The Avenue itself managed to haul 1 Platinum, 1 Gold, 1 Silver merit and 2 Silvers which is an amazing accolade and testament to the skill of the contractors and designers involved. The APL (myself) supported the build of the John Lewis Home Solutions Garden. This was one of the most popular gardens in the show and also won a Gold medal.

We must not forget the Young Landscapers Award. Brian Hughes and Reece Mckay from CAFRE Northern Ireland competed against Matthew Wood and Sam Gordon from Myerscough College to build a front garden in five days from a design by Professor David Stevens. The morale and banter throughout the build was timeless, the end results were simply amazing. Both gardens were judged as show gardens and both won Gold medals. The winning team by the slimmest of margins were the boys from Myerscough.

The two teams come on the back of finishing in the top four of WorldSkills UK. We will discuss that in minute...

This was a great success on the back of what was the wettest, coldest June build ever.

A huge thanks to all involved, especially Marshalls, J A Jones and Makita for their continued support and of course River Street Events for supporting my mad cap ideas. Rachel Polleti Gadd, Bob Sweet and Lucy Tremlett... You’re amazing.

So we next move on to RHS Hampton Court. A garden designed by Cherry Carmen, built with Kebur and no less than 18 APL member contractors who have pitched in with their time and expertise to build “A Place To Meet”. I always wanted a community, a landscaping family that everyone could feel part of. No one was turned away, everyone got to partake in building this garden. The site has been the happiest site on the grounds and hopefully even happier when we receive our medal. Thanks to you all. Also a big thanks to Kebur Garden Products for the paving, Garden House Design for the Sail and Creepers Nurseries for the supply of the plants. It couldn’t have been achieved without you.

So back to WorldSkills UK. The final 14 have been selected to compete in the final heat at Myerscough 17th,18th and 19th of July. These will now be brought back down to eight and that eight will be put forward the final in November at the NEC.

We are all trying to get the youth involved in landscaping. This competition does just that. It puts these young people in the spotlight and provides training and a great experience. The APL are still thrilled to be involved.

I have to dash now. Two days to get this garden finished!

Catch up in July,

Phil

May 2019

It’s Show Time!

It’s a really busy time of year for contractors and so far the weather has set fairly well.

It's not just busy on the day to day contracting, but for some (not all) its manic with show garden construction.

What is the purpose of a show garden, why do contractors and designers get involved?

It’s a question that arises in many cluster meetings, is there a benefit?

Generally under investigation it would seem there is no real financial benefit to a landscaping company doing a show garden. It is very rare that you get any direct work from your efforts. So WHY do one?

Firstly, I would suggest you look at the market you are working in. If your market is driven from direct client contact and you are producing £15k - £25k landscaping projects marketed from referrals and your website, then probably a show garden is not going to bring in any extra revenue than your current strategies are achieving. But if you work with designers (or wish to) then a show garden is an excellent platform to project yourself in that arena.

Similarly, if you are a design and build company, a show garden is a way to promote your design work and would probably get you build work on the back of that.

As a designer, as show garden is an excellent advert for your business. Designers tend to get most of the media attention and PR at the shows and can be a way to really launch your business. Also you get to network with lots of landscapers and vice versa.

Once established as an award winning contracting business, you will be approached year on year to build at shows. You will even get recommended to designers to build for them. This can then be part of your overall business strategy and become quite lucrative. I mean how many projects do you have that have to start on a date and will definitely finish on a date? There are a handful of landscaping business in the UK that do this, and do it well.

Finally on the softer side, the show garden is a great for team morale. It’s a break from the norm. It is also an excellent way to push yourself as a business and benchmark yourself against some of the best.

We are just about to start BBC Gardeners' World Live at the NEC. This is an excellent entry level show. Not because its judged any less rigorously, but as a site goes for build its surrounded by tarmac, all the dig out is done for you and support is given with break-down. Generally an excellent experience. So if you fancy giving a garden a go, then try APL Avenue in 2020.

Our members have done amazingly well again in this years shows. Check the regular updates in APL and HTA news to see the awards and check out the garden designs here.

I am so proud to represent and organisation with so much talent.

Other areas of interest include APL Awards. There is still time to enter, plus our new MAINTENANCE section! Just follow this link and enter what is fast becoming the MOST talked about awards in the landscaping sector (Well by me anyway) Follow this link to get your entry in. 

Finally, don’t forget to do your Plant Healthy Self Assessment. This has now been made part of the inspection process, but has its own importance and relevance above that. Log on to start yours. You will find it very interesting and could also help prevent some of the biggest threats to our industry. 

Phil

April 2019

I hope you all had a great Easter. Going around the members this last month it is clear that diaries are getting full and the industry is buoyant. Which is great news. Great news of course if you have the staff to fulfil the demand. Staffing is still the number 1 issue for many contractors and something the whole industry is trying to address. But whilst long term many of the initiatives being put in to place will have a positive effect. They don’t really help the hear and now. This is where membership of an association can really help. I have in the past brokered many partnerships between landscapers and designers and landscapers with landscapers. Working as cooperative is common place in some areas of horticulture, not quite so common place in landscaping, but is something that could be thought about. Companies sharing the same area of locality pool resources and skill sets to enable them to provide a service constantly. It enables companies to scale up and down quickly. You may say this is just sub-contracting, essentially you are right, but have you ever thought of making the arrangement more formal? Its just a thought and I would be happy to assist.

So what else has been going on. For me now it’s the start of WSUK judging, inspections, clusters and of course the show season. The WSUK competition attracted a record number of entries this year. Mainly from colleges and their initial testing starts in the next few weeks. Successful competitors from these will go to the final heat in July, where the final 8 will be selected for the final. Once gain we have to thank our sponsors Makita, Marshalls, JA Jones, Landscape Plus and new kids on the block Dickies Workwear. Follow their progress on APL website and this blog. I am sure you will join me in wishing them luck, after all they are our future.

Inspections are a vital part of APL membership. But I really need your support. Booking in inspections for over 200 members is not an easy task. So can I ask you do your best to accommodate Natalie when she contacts you. We have changed these so that most can be done on site, so they stop you from having to take time out of your day. When I arrive, all I need is a site file and copies of your insurances. What should a site file contain?

  1. Plan of the job (even if just a simple sketch)
  2. Services Plan
  3. Quote for the job (Prices can be redacted)
  4. CDM Construction Phase Plan (Signed by all relevant parties)
  5. Method statement (This is sometimes contained in CDM depending on which template you use, or can be part of the quote depending on detail)
  6. RA and Coshh (If applicable)
  7. Site Induction form (Signed off)
  8. Tool Box talks (If required)
  9. Details of where local hospital A and E is located.

This is as a minimum.

So hopefully you can get booked in asap. I really look forward to seeing you.

Clusters.

The new dates will be coming out over the next couple of weeks, with a new venue in Hampshire being added to the list. This time of year I appreciate these become a challenge, but as long as there is a minimum of 7 people we will always go ahead.

Finally show gardens.

The APL with Nicholas Edwards Gardens have completed our first. The garden won gold at Harrogate Spring Show and also the Newby Cup for best planting in the show. So congratulations to Nick. Going forward we have ,  RHS Chelsea With Perennial, BBC Gardeners' World Live With John Lewis “Partners Garden and Hampton Court with Kebur and Cherry Carmen “A Place to meet”.

Perennial is starting next week. APL member Ross Conquest is taking the lead with support from APL members Sussex Garden design, Artisan Landscapes and Urban Landscape Design ltd. Mark Youde from Urban will also be mentoring APL Apprentices at the build, providing them with excellent experience in the show arena. Details of the garden can be found here. https://perennial.org.uk/garden/the-perennial-lifeline-garden/the-garden-team/  I am sure you will join me in wishing them the best of luck.

Details of the other gardens will be posted in the next blogs. But also I would like to take the opportunity to wish all APL and HTA members who are involved in the shows over the coming months. There is an enormous amount of work that goes in to providing this experience to visitors and a myriad of reasons that contractors and designers put them selves through the stress. But I really hope you all do well and look forward to either reporting on or catching up on your successes over the coming months.

Other areas of interest include APL Awards. Please get your entries in asap. Just follow this link and enter what is fast becoming the MOST talked about awards in the landscaping sector (Well by me anyway) Follow this link to get your entry in. https://www.aplawards.co.uk/enter-for-2020

The committee are working hard on several initiatives to support members which will be revealed over the next few months, keep an eye out for these.

Next months blog will include my top 5 favourite hotels in the UK to visit whilst on the road.. Something I have been meaning to share with you all for a long time.

In closing please take a look at the APL’s fantastic cross industry event. “APL SKI ALP Winter Workshop.” Not long to go now.. deposits need to be in by 5 May for this fantastic CPD Ski trip. Intrigued? Well see more details here.

Finally, don’t forget to do your Plant Healthy Self Assessment. This has now been made part of the inspection process, but has its own importance and relevance above that. Log on to start yours. You will find it very interesting and could also help prevent some of the biggest threats to our industry.

Phil

March 2019

Oh well that’s Christmas done for another year... Christmas obviously being (for those who don’t know) what I refer to as MY Christmas day; The APL Awards. As ever it was a fantastic day and apart from the occasional technical hitch was probably one of the best ever. My congratulations to all the winners and I hope that all that attended had a superb day. We are now looking towards 2020. The APL awards entry is now open. It is easier than ever. Just go to www.aplawards.co.uk and all the information you need is held there. It is also useful for you to know that we will except final pictures right up until the end of August, so no need to panic. The first shortlist is completed early July, with visits being arranged for those shortlisted companies in August and September. The final judging is completed in November, when finalists will be announced. So if you have a project you are proud of, or a section of, or a feature, then enter now and benchmark against the best.

So what else is coming up. Well it is show time!

The APL will be featuring at 4 shows through the year. Harrogate Urban Sprawl,  RHS Chelsea With Perennial, BBC Gardeners' World Live With John Lewis “Partners Garden and Hampton Court with Kebur and Cherry Carmen “A Place to meet”. We do these show gardens a) because we enjoy them, but most importantly b) because we use them to promote the APL to the public. Public awareness is very important to us. We want to use the opportunity to shout about all the great work you do, but to also help the public understand what exactly goes in to having their gardens landscaped. We will be talking about the APL Installation Codes of Practice and what they should expect. We feel this is vital.

I am getting prepared for a very busy time. We have WorldSkills UK heats coming up. There is still time for you to enter your apprentice or young person. If you want to register them then go to www.worldskillsuk.org and register there. I cannot speak more highly about this competition. Young competitors get excellent experience and training and the chance to represent their country in Bejing 2021. What’s not to like?!

Inspections are getting done all through the year, but they rely on your cooperation in excepting appointments. My assistant Natalie will be / or has been in touch to organise my diary. If she has contacted you, please do respond asap. Inspections are an important part of your membership and we have a very short window.

Clusters are always popular and the list is getting bigger. I love nothing more than to meet members and feel I am doing my role as a supportive member of your industry. April see’s meetings in The Midlands, Kent West and East, Guildford, Suffolk, Essex, Milton Keynes, Redditch, The North West and East, Devon and SW London. Check the website for Aprils dates and if you can get a long to one, please do. You won’t regret it. Alternatively, if you want one in your area, please do contact and I will do my very best to accommodate.

It would be remiss of me not promote this fantastic cross industry event. “APL SKI ALP Winter Workshop.” We need to get your deposits in by 5 May for this fantastic CPD Ski trip. Intrigued? Well see more details here.

Finally, don’t forget to do your Plant Healthy Self Assessment. This has now been made part of the inspection process, but has its own importance and relevance above that. Log on to start yours. You will find it very interesting and could also help prevent some of the biggest threats to our industry.

Phil Tremayne

February 2019

January and February have hurtled past and we are now in to March. With time going by so fast the APL have managed to pack a lot in to the first two months of the year. Cluster meetings have got off to a great start. We have already had 12 meetings so far this year and have a further 10 booked for March. The topics have all centred around pricing. It is amazing to see the different ways businesses approach this and the variants in prices being worked out. The exercise continues through March and the intention is to build up a full list of prices and pricing techniques throughout the UK. If I haven’t been to you yet, don’t panic. I will be there soon. We aim to try and give every group at least five meetings per year. We are well on course for this.

We have also managed to get three practical sessions of the APL apprenticeship under our belts. We have had practical sessions from Jamie Butterworth, Mark Youlde (Urban Landscape Design) and most recently Matthew Spedding and Easi Grass. These practical sessions are what brings the APL apprenticeship to life. Industry involvement is key to its success and is what creates the massive point of difference to this apprenticeship and others. We have sessions still to follow on lighting, irrigation, carpentry and rendering.

The APL apprenticeship has been the cornerstone for many of the APL activities. None more so than WorldSkills UK #WSUKLive. The competition has now launched and entries can be submitted up until April 4. Click here for more information. This competition has a series of regional qualifiers, followed by a final heat and then the final in November. If you are a college student or apprentice, enter now into what is one of the best competitions in landscaping. You will not only get the chance to benchmark yourself and compete, but you will also have access to some of the best training and the opportunity to either represent the UK in Shanghai 2021 or compete in the Young Landscapers Award at BBC Gardeners' World Live 2020.

Our Young Landscapers for this years competition have been selected and it is truly a national competition with two from Northern Ireland, one from Warwickshire and the other from Preston. The design has been done by Professor David Stevens and judging will be completed by a team of qualified RHS judges including Steve Smith and Mark Gregory. We will keep you posted on their progress.

APL apprentices also will make up build teams for the Perennial garden at Chelsea, with ex WorldSkills UK finalist and silver medallist Ross Conquest of Conquest Creative Spaces, and at Hampton Court in the APL garden “A Place to Meet”. This design has been done by Cherry Carmen and mentorship will be provided by APL members Kebur Landscape Division.

Inspections are in full swing and the new marking structure is proving to be a challenge. So when you pass (which I am sure you will), you know you are truly hitting the mark in landscaping excellence. Natalie or one of the independent inspectors will be in touch to book your appointment, so please get back to her as soon as you can to get the slot booked in.

Finally the committee met again in February and we are looking to progress and develop in a lot of different areas. As a new feature a reduced version of the minutes will be available on this site in the next couple of days so we can show full transparency of what the APL is doing and where are efforts are being placed.

So what’s ahead in March?

Clusters are scheduled for:
Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Arundel, Kent, North London, Bristol, Exeter, Guildford, Reading, Suffolk and Milton Keynes. Individual emails are sent out giving dates and details of these meetings, so make sure you look out for them.

John Lewis are holding two recruitment days March 27 in Kent and March 28 in Brighton, so if you haven’t applied yet for those areas and are interested, do it as quick as you can.

March 7 is APL mini Seminar at Classiflora on Bio-security and APL Awards March 15…

If you want any info on any of the up and coming events or wish to book or simply more info on what is in this blog, then contact me on phil.tremayne@hta.org.uk

Look out next month for my round up on behind the scenes activity of the awards, which hotels to stay in the UK and my top five cluster meals.

January 2019

New year, new beginnings. Every new year sparks a feeling of excitement, well it does for me. I always treat myself to a new pad, a fresh diary and look forward to the exciting year I have ahead. I know speaking to members it is exciting for many of you too. Even with the threat of a no deal Brexit, your order books seem to fairly full and confidence in the market seems reasonably high, which is good news to you all. Hopefully you wont be hindered too much by wet or snowy weather and this enthusiasm will continue.

The APL have a packed year ahead. We are supporting the Perennial Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show with Conquest Creative Spaces; we have another full competition at BBC Gardeners' World Live with APL avenue and once again we have our Young Landscapers Award. Finally, we are at RHS Hampton Court with Kebur Landscape Division with a garden designed for a second year by Cherry Carmen.

The APL WorldSkills UK competition kicks off again in the next few weeks and our APL Apprenticeship continues to deliver quality apprentices with support from the likes of Jamie Butterworth, Mark Youde (Urban Landscapes) and Paul Willavoys ( Landscape Plus) to name a few, truly making this an industry inclusive apprenticeship scheme.

Behind the scenes in conjunction with the HTA we are continuing with our work on the Ornamental Roundtable, have supported the Plant Healthy campaign and continue to develop and deliver best in class business courses. The next one is due to start in September.

The new year also brings the next round of inspections. When you get notification can you please respond and book in as soon as possible as we have a lot to get through. Finally, over the next few weeks John Lewis Home Solutions are looking to roll out over Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent. If you’re interested, either contact them here or contact me at phil.tremayne@hta.org.uk

We have a good round of clusters for you to attend, with some great topics. Find the dates here. We will be holding over 90 meetings this year. April 2, we will be “Still Stoned” at our paving seminar and March 15 is my Christmas Day; the APL Awards day! I do hope you can join us, get your tickets at www.aplawards.co.uk Its going to be a CRACKER!! (sorry)

Phil

November/December 2018

As we approach the end of the year it is always a good time to reflect. 2018 has been a challenging year. We may forget with such a hot summer what a terrible start to the year it was, and then came the summer with its heat that brought so much pleasure but at the same time its own issues. Indeed those of you particularly building on heavy clay are still seeing the consequences of these two diverse weather conditions.

But generally as an industry things are going pretty well. Consumer confidence still seems to be high, even with the B word. The weather as the year draws to a close is favourable and long term this sees no dramatic change and the excellence and professionalism of you as members continues to grow. Many new ideas and products have entered the market place this year and many of you are pushing boundaries never before imagined, both in design and construction.

The APL had a strategy at the start of 2018, part of which was to be the go to association for landscaping in the UK. Do you know, I think we are well on the way. I get calls from members all the time for support, advice, information and sometimes just to have a moan. Some of these members are members of other associations, but yet they choose APL for their advice. I am really proud of this and feel we are doing as much as we can to develop the community that we wished for. In 2018 we managed a business development, apprenticeships, WorldSkills competitions, an exclusive partnership with John Lewis Home Solutions and more clusters than weeks in the year. A good year. On top of that, you as members have designed and built fantastic gardens both in the home and show arena winning more medals across the board than any other association.

So congratulations to you all and on behalf of the committee and APL team I wish you all a very happy Christmas and successful 2019.

Phil

October 2018

Well, I literally have no idea where that month has gone. October as with all months this year has seemed to just fly by.

My month as usual has been filled with many miles of travel interspersed with visits to you our members for inspections and finishing off the last of the awards entries. I have to say the calibre has been really high on both counts. Those of you who have had your APL Safe site inspection will know that we have raised the bar slightly, but also tried to make it has simple as we can for you to comply.  By meeting you on site we are trying to ensure that you do not need to take too much time out of your busy working days and we can also take the opportunity to look at some of the great work you are doing. During this inspection we will need to see your Insurances, but these can be uploaded to the HTA website ahead of time or emailed direct to myself or Natalie. This saves you having to bring this sort of paperwork to site. But I thought it would be useful for me to explain exactly what else we are looking for.

Your site file needs to include the following :-

  • A plan/ drawing of the project.
  • A method statement or written process of how the job will be built. This is very often in your quotes.
  • A copy of the quote for the job. Your prices can be redacted.
  • A Construction Phase Plan to comply with CDM 2015. If you are still unsure what this is, then please contact me and I will send you the details. This is a legislative requirement from HSE. It is not necessary for soft landscaping.
  • Diagrams of any cables and pipes discovered and if you are installing more plans of where they will be. These will form part of your Health and Safety File.
  • Any Risk assessments that you may require for the job (If over 5 employees)
  • Data Sheets of any substances  being used under COSHH.
  • A Site Induction Form to prove that an induction has been done and make sure this is signed off by all staff on the project including sub contractors.
  • Evidence of sub contractor checks made. (Insurance and certificates)
  • Any Certs that could be required. We would need to see PA1 and PA6 certs if spraying on site. Chainsaw Certs if using a chainsaw

On site we would like to see

  • First aid Kit
  • Spillage Kit or suitable alternative and process
  • PPE in good condition and being used
  • Arrangements for dust reduction and welfare.
  • Then we are looking at how the site is run.
  • In all the inspection takes around an hour, (depending on how much you like to chat)

If you need any info please just ask ahead of your inspection and we will help you out. Remember these inspections are an important part of your membership and compliance to APL Code of Conduct that you have agreed to comply with as part of your membership.

So on to what we are doing in November.

It is of course the World Skills Uk Final, earlier this month I have been ordering materials from our sponsors Makita, Marshalls, EcoDek, Landscapeplus and I had a wonderful afternoon selecting the shrubs and trees for the garden at J A Jones Cash and Carry in Southport. I know we say it a lot, but a massive thank you to you all. The competition couldn’t run without your support. So the 6 finalists will meet on the 13th November and have just 16hrs to build a garden that includes decking, paving, block paving, fencing, turfing, planting and lighting. It’s a daunting undertaking and I am sure you will all join me in wishing the guys every success. Competitors this year come from Wiltshire College, Pershore College, Green mount NI (Cafre), Myerscough and an apprentice from our own Vice Chair at the Garden Makers.

We also have the new intake of APL Apprentices at Myerscough, I am really looking forward to meeting these young men as they start on a journey that hopefully will bring them a long and fulfilling career in this great industry.

We will also be judging the APL Awards. Myself, Rupert Keys, Robin Templar Williams Jnr, Bob Sweet and Steve Smith will all be passing the final scrutinising eye over your projects. So good luck to all who have entered. My best wishes go out to Mr Richard Barnard who sadly wont be able to join us this year, but Richard has been looking at the projects and has sent through his helpful comments for the judges.

After this we will be at Futurescape. I am sure many of you will be attending, so we look forward to seeing you there. Remember as well this is the location for the APL  Annual Review Meeting (ARM). It will at 11am upstairs in one of the suites. Try and come along and meet the committee and find out what we are trying to achieve in 2019.

Many of you will be aware of the excellent partnership we have formed with John Lewis Home Solutions. Remember, if you are interested in finding out more about this scheme, just pop me an email and I will send the info through.

Cluster meetings for November are scheduled to be Harrogate, Guildford/ Reading, Kent,  Bury St Edmunds, Redditch and Durham. So try and get a long to one if you can.

So another busy month ahead as we race towards December. I hope to catch up with many of you soon.

All the best

Phil

September 2018

September seems to have come and gone at a fantastic pace. I have spent most of time in the month looking at some of the fantastic awards entries we have had this year. Myself and the other five judges have been covering the country looking at some of the exquisite detail and effort that has been put in to these gardens. They truly are a credit to the entrants and a testament to the industry. I will be finishing the last of my visits in Aberdeen later next month, ready for the two days of judging in November, so make sure you keep an eye out for the shortlisted gardens for 2019 ceremony which will once again be in March at our,now established venue at the Brewery... Simply the best day of the year!!

I am also continuing to concentrate on inspections. I will reiterate as I did last month the importance of these with regards to your membership, so please make every effort to book a date in your diaries. The APL try and make this as easy as possible now, with most of these being site based.

September was always looking a busy month, especially with the start of trade show season. We were happy to attend Futurescape Scotland at the start of the month. This one day show is growing in stature and attendance and I very much hope this will continue to be supported in years to come. We had some excellent enquiries and conversations, I chaired 'The Beauty’s in the Build' debate and ended the day with a fantastic combined APL/SGD meeting. From there I hot footed it to an airport and three spent days in Lloret De Mar, but you really didn’t need to know that!!

It was then prep time for the 2nd show of the month at the Landscape Show. This show again is growing and over the two days we had over 50 enquiries for membership from both contractors and designers and as always it was great to catch up with all our existing members at the show. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mark Youde, Ross Conquest, Dave Booton and our Chairman Rod Winrow for being on the panel of the inaugural “Contractors Question Time”. This CPD session was well attended and a great debate was had over the 45 minutes. To be honest it could have gone on for a lot longer. Questions asked were regarding representation of the industry on TV, how can we recruit and retain to name a few.

From there we moved to final preps for the last APL Seminar of the year. “Its Time To Plant” was an excellent day exploring soft landscaping form design, through to supply and then to application. With a particular leaning towards mature. Finishing off with a lively discussion on Bio Security.. Finally in amongst that we must not forget that Tim O Hare made soil sexy!!! So I would like to personally thank Kate Gould, Tim O Hare, Mark Gregory, Nick Coslett, Richard Mac Kenna, Steve Mcurdy, Paul Willavoys and Jamie Butterworth for providing us with an excellent day. I would also like to thank Platipus Anchor systems for their sponsorship.

Now we look at the rest of the year where I will be at The South West Growers Show and FutureScape, so make sure you come along and say hello and catch up with all the amazing initiatives we are progressing with through the rest of this year and in to 2019. I am still pushing on with the APL meetings around the country. These informal meetings usually held in pubs (no bad thing) are an amazing resource of information for you all. They are your meetings and whilst I do try and set some topics, you have the opportunity to discuss whatever you want. So if you have never managed to attend one or would like one in your area, please get in touch and we will see what we can organise.

In amongst all that the APL committee met at Hort House and started to put together the strategy for APL 2019. This was an initial meeting on this subject and everything will be firmed up in our November meet, but first indications are that we will be pushing on with our Standards work, our Business Development Courses and better social media presence aimed at the consumer. I will be producing a full manifesto in the December E-News so look out for that.

So in closing the APL and myself are very busy as always, but we are here to work for you as members, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any issues or initiatives you would like us to explore.

So bye for now, look out for the messages about my travels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and I hope to catch up with some of you really soon.

Phil

August 2018

Well, we have all survived the heatwave and holidays are now over and everything is returning back to normal. At the APL we are now entering a very busy time as we concentrate on the inspections. The inspections are an important part of the APL membership, as not only do they give you an opportunity to bench mark your business, but they also allow you to offer your potential clients the confirmation that you have received an independent inspection of your business and its practices. The new inspection forms provide you with a percentage score and a write up of the business. We have a lot of inspections to get through and would ask that you try and help us when we are looking to put you in the diary by confirming dates as soon as possible. Natalie in the office will be in touch soon to get your visit booked in, if she hasn’t already.

Now the garden show season is over we move in to the trade show season. The APL will be at FutureScape ScotlandLandscape Show, The South West Growers Show and FutureScape, so make sure you come along and say hello and catch up with all the amazing initiatives we are progressing with through the rest of this year and in to 2019. I am still pushing on with the APL meetings around the country. These informal meetings usually held in pubs (no bad thing) are an amazing resource of information for you all. They are your meetings and whilst I do try and set some topics, you have the opportunity to discuss whatever you want. So if you have never managed to attend one or would like one in your area, please get in touch and we will see what we can organise.

September 28th we will be holding our very first members workshop day at Kebur Landscapes in Farnborough. This session will cover porcelain and all aspects of porcelain laying. There will be live demonstrations of cutting, laying and grouting by industry experts and the chance to have a go. I think this will be an excellent afternoon, spaces are limited but there are still a few left, so contact me directly if you wish to attend or get more info. We will also be taking a look at the final draft of the APL domestic standard for porcelain laying and hopefully proving its suitability.

Finally, in the next week or so, you will be getting an email from APL to invite you on to the committee. If any of you wish to commit a bit of your time to the development of the APL then please get in touch and nominate yourself. The committee will be sworn in at the APL Annual Meeting in November at Futurescape.

So bye for now, look out for the messages about my travels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and I hope to catch up with some of you really soon.

Phil

July 2018

July  2018

Hampton Court came and went and was as usual a great event in the landscaping calendar. Although this year it was a very hot one. Congratulations to all the members who built at the show which included The Landform Garden Bar built by Landform Consultants, Breckland Beauty built by Bespoke Outdoor Spaces and Nicholas Edwards Gardens along with The family Garden.  Also Bowood Landscapes built another two gardens “A garden at the end of the Earth” and the” Dibond Garden”. Landscape Associates built “The Charleston and South Carolina Garden” and last but by no means least Ross Conquest (Conquest Creative Spaces) supported Burnham Landscapes with “A Very Modern Problem”. A good medal haul from members with two Golds, four Silver Gilts and a Silver completed a very, very successful show season for APL and its members.

The Place to Meet garden, built by Kebur Landscapes and designed by Cherry Carmen, was also extremely popular. There isn’t a lot I don’t now know about “Egyptian Limestone” supplied by Kebur and plant of the garden was the  stunning Francoa sonchifolia supplied by Creepers Nurseries, as were all the plants. Shou Sugi Ban was the most difficult word to say when describing the cladding on the bespoke water features built by Decorum London which complimented perfectly the aptly coloured “Cornish Pebble” composite deck supplied to us by ECODEK. Finally if I ever tire of managing the APL I am sure there is a career for me in opening and shutting the louvered roof on a Renson Canopy loaned to us by Garden House Design. I mustn’t grumble, without it I would have cooked. But thanks to all the members who supplied items and resource to this garden. Also a big thanks to Hilary Oakley who came up for the day and helped talk about it. I always ask myself if it is worth it, but to be with the members during the build and breakdown and then to talk to the public and promote the APL and its members, I’m sure it is, especially when you get to spend a little time with the amazing Jo Whiley.

The APL didn't have a stand at Tatton this year, but I did venture there for one day to help Nicholas Edwards Gardens and to interview Warnes Mcgarr during their build. You can hear the interview here where they discuss their garden and how they got in to landscaping. Excuse the background noise, but we’re just keeping it real!

Again we had a good spattering of members building there with Foxcroft Landscapes building two gardens and bagging a silver and a gold and best back to back and category peoples choice and best construction award. So well done to them. But also well done to Niocholas Edwards Gardens and their Silver Gilt and finally the biggest garden in the show “The Poisonous Garden” designed and built by Warnes Mcgarr. This one wasn’t judged as it was a feature, but it looked stunning.

So show season over and its back to normal now, so what else have the APL been up to.

Inspections at this time of year take up most of my time, and Natalie will be in touch very soon to book yours in (If she hasn’t already done so). We are looking to do all of them on site from now on, so we limit the down time incurred from office visits. As you should be aware, insurances can now be uploaded to our system, so no need to bring them with you. Also the same applies for your Waste Carriers License, Health and Safety Policy and Terms and Conditions. This has been set up to help you, but if you are a technophobe and still want to bring a large folder out with you, that’s fine. Essentially at these inspections I want to see what your site file contains and our guidance sheet lets you know what we hope to see. The inspections are a Key part of the membership so your support in getting dates booked in are most appreciated.

We have had some excellent APL meetings in July including Exeter, North London, Suffolk, Guildford and Bedfordshire. If you have never attended one of these, I strongly suggest you try. The topics are loosely set by me, but they are your meetings and you can discuss whatever you want. They are informal and informative and all done over a pint and something to eat. What could be better. August we will be in Preston, Reading, Bristol, Redditch, Guildford and Hampshire. So get along to one if you can.

Also check out the HTA website for up to date info on the Xylella situation and very prominent now the Water Situation. The team at the HTA are watching this very closely and will give any updates on temporary usage bans as soon as they have them.

So another busy month ahead! Planning is in progress for APL Seminar on Sept 25th “Its Time To Plant”, our new Young Gardeners Competition at the Landscape Show and of course the final Heat of this years WorldSkills UK competition to be held at Myerscough and J A Jones Nurseries.

I look forward to seeing some of you over the next few weeks, but in the meantime don’t forget the factor 50!!

All the best,

Phil

June 2018

Wow, what an impressive display of talent at BBC Gardeners' World Live this year. The APL once again took the show by storm with five extremely impressive APL Avenue Gardens built by Keyscape, Conquest Creative Spaces, A to Z Landscaping, Living Landscapes (Peter Cowell) and Timotay. These APL gardens take centre stage at the show and are always packed with visitors and enquiries. River Street Events have already pledged to repeat the gardens for next year and we will be once again announcing the start of this competition very soon. Big Fish Landscapes built two enormous gardens at the show for Wyevale and Tesco.  The APL in conjunction with Marshalls, J A Jones, River Street, Ecodek and Landscapes Skills Academy also launched the Young Landscapers of the Year Award. Two gardens designed by Diarmuid Gavin were built by two teams of two.

The whole show had great coverage from the BBC in a 1 hour show, with extensive interviews of members and the young landscapers, with our brand announced on live tv. Myself and the committee have worked long and hard to cultivate this relationship with the show and are thrilled with the response we get. To find out more at what happened at the show and see the medals awarded the visit the APL website where there is a full report.

From there we are straight in to RHS Hampton Court, which is where I am actually writing this. This year the APL once again has a garden named “A Place to Meet”. The garden has been designed by Cherry Carmen and built by APL members, Kebur Landscape Division, based in Farnborough. Its very much a work in progress at the minute, but keep your eyes out on Twitter to see the final results. Or even better come and meet us. A big thanks to all the other sponsors which include Creepers Nursery, Ecodek, Garden House Design, Exterior Solutions and Landscapeplus. I will be there throughout the show.

As stated in the last blog, we have had a flurry of APL Awards entries and the process is now closed. The initial short listing day is set for July 11 and if successful you will be notified and the all important site visit will be booked. Site visits on all entries will commence in August and myself and the other five judges will be contacting you in July to book these in.

Finally our first collaborative industry best practice / standards day was held on June 21. Marshalls, London Stone, Global Stone, CED, Talasay Group and Kebur were all represented. Bradstone had agreed to take part, but unfortunate circumstances meant they were unable to attend. It was a very full and interesting day as these key companies joined myself and four committee members got to grips with the size of this project. Some great progress was made and a first draft will be made available by the end of July. Hopefully a seal of approval will be given on our very first set of consumer/ contractor independent standards for paving. The next stage is artificial grass and then straight on to decking. This is a really exciting time for me as I see something I have been working towards for the last few years finally coming to fruition.

June as usual sees a reduction in the amount of cluster meetings, but we still managed to sneak in a brand new one in Redditch and another new one in Bristol, finishing off with another new one in Exeter. As the APL continues to spread it’s wings, I remind you that these meetings are excellent networking and educational opportunities, so if you get the chance and you haven’t been to one try and make one. Or you can join the APL members online Facebook forum, just search APL members forum closed members group and apply to join. Both the clusters and the forum satisfy point two.

Finally a reminder that the APL business development programme is nearly full for the 2nd intake. The course will run over five days and starts in October. We envisage these last few places to sell out soon, so if you are interested contact Natalie to book your space.

I have also been around the country judging the heats for WorldSkills UK. This annual competition invites some of the countries young and brightest talents in the industry to build landscaping test pieces under time pressure and to mm tolerances.  I have seen some excellent results and we look forward to letting you know who the successful finalists will be later in the year.

Finally, and a big part of my role, is members inspections. I must take this opportunity to remind you that inspections are a requirement of membership, so when you get an email from Natalie to book me in, please respond asap so it can be completed. You will find them very useful as a business benchmarking tool and can also be used in your marketing.

So as always we are all working hard for you at APL, but also check out the HTA page on Xylella. This has been recently updated an contains so valuable information for you to use to ensure that we can hopefully keep this decimating plant disease away from our shores. This is massively important for our whole industry, so make use of this excellent bit of bed time reading.

So see you soon, either at a show or at your inspection. Remember if it is easier you can now upload your insurances etc. Another initiative to hopefully help your time.

All the best,

Phil

May 2018

So what’s been happening in May at the APL.

As always we look at the strategy and myself and Rod Winrow (Chairman) and David Sewell (Vice Chair) met again to ensure we are still on the right track.

As a reminder to you all the four points were:

  1. To be the go-to organisation for domestic landscaping in the UK, both for consumers and contractors.
  2. To build a landscaping community to help businesses develop within the sector.
  3. To continue and further develop our training initiatives for both young and established landscaping businesses.
  4. To develop and maintain income streams whose revenues can be used to support the above

So if we look at point one, its show time and APL members and the APL brand have been very much in the limelight, both in person and in the media including social media. APL members have had an impressive haul of medals both at RHS Malvern and at RHS Chelsea, all of these have been covered within our own organisation and by our own roving reporter Claudia de Yong who is writing articles on some of our medal winning members as we speak. The APL see the show season as one of the best opportunities in the year to be able promote its members and also promote the skill and professionalism of you all to thousands of potential clients. Our biggest opportunity of the year is fast approaching when we build at BBC Gardeners' World Live alongside the five APL competition winners of our APL Avenue. Gardeners' Wworld Live has over 100k visitors during the four day show and myself and PR and Digital Exec. Amy Winder has produced an eight page flyer to hand out so the brand is pushed out as much as possible. I look forward to telling you how it went in the next edition.

APL Awards entries have been flooding in and I have to say the standard gets better and better. The initial short listing day is fast approaching so keep those images coming if you have entered to ensure your project gets through to the next round. Site visits on all entries will commence in August and myself and the other five judges will be contacting you in July to book these in.

Finally a date has been set for our first collaborative industry best practice / standards day. June 21st will see many of the top stone suppliers in the UK come to HTA HQ and provide input and hopefully a seal of approval on our very first set of consumer/ contractor independent standards for paving. This is a really exciting time for me as I see something I have been working towards for the last few years finally coming to fruition.

May has also seen another five cluster meetings spreading from Reading and as far north as Edinburgh. Over 60 companies have been involved in our cluster business development courses but along with that many other industry topics have been discussed. These meetings are a valuable resource for members, so try and get along to one if you can. Or you can join the APL members online Facebook forum, just search APL members forum closed members group and apply to join. Both the clusters and the forum satisfy point two.

The APL business development programme is nearly full for the 2nd intake. The course will run over five days and starts in October. We envisage these last few places to sell out soon, so if you are interested contact Natalie to book your space. I have also been around the country judging the heats for WorldSkills UK. This annual competition invites some of the countries young and brightest talents in the industry to build landscaping test pieces under time pressure and to mm tolerances.  Have seen some excellent results and we look forward to letting you know who the successful finalists will be later in the year. Finally and a big part of my role is members inspections. I must take this opportunity to remind you that inspections are a requirement of membership, so when you get an email from Natalie to book me in, please respond asap so it can be completed. You will find them very useful as a business benchmarking tool and can also be used in your marketing. 

So as always we are all working hard for you at APL, but also check out the HTA page on Xylella. This has been recently updated an contains so valuable information for you to use to ensure that we can hopefully keep this decimating plant disease away from our shores. This is massively important for our whole industry, so make use of this excellent bit of bed time reading.

See you all soon.

Phil

April 2018

In March this year the APL chairman, Ken White, stepped down and was replaced by Rod Winrow from Garden House Design. With the start of Rods tenure it is a good time to reflect on the Association, it’s achievements and the direction we are taking in the future.

APL objectives are formed by the APL Committee under the direction of the Chairman along with the APL general manager Phil Tremayne. The committee meets every 8 weeks. There are also several ‘sub committees’ dedicated to working on individual strategies. This allows committee members to focus their particular talents and to move initiatives forwards in between full committee meetings.

Under Kens Chairmanship the committee developed  4 key objectives.

  1. To be the Go-To organisation for domestic landscaping in the UK, both for consumers and contractors.
  2. To build a landscaping community to help businesses develop within the sector.
  3. To continue and further develop our training initiatives for both young and established landscaping businesses.
  4. To develop and maintain income streams whose revenues can be used to support the above

From these 4 objectives a single page plan was developed that would enable the Association to develop individual strategies over the next 3 years. Everything the association does or gets involved with has to move one or more of the above objectives forwards. It’s that simple.

So let’s flesh out these objectives.

To be the Go To organisation for domestic landscaping

Seems like a big ask. So why, given the other organisations within the industry, does the APL feel it’s particularly appropriate to set this objective? And indeed what is the APL actually doing to achieve this?

Quickly going back into the history books, the APL was formed by well-respected industry figures who were disenchanted with their existing association and its focus on much larger and mostly commercial businesses. They approached the HTA and the APL was born. This was an amazing alliance – the fantastic resource that the HTA has to offer and its positioning in the industry gives APL members access to thousands of industry specialists and businesses with tremendous reach and influence.

In short the APL was established for domestic landscape contractors by domestic landscape contractors and it has remained thus so for almost a quarter of a century. There is no other association that focuses with such laser clarity on this sector of the industry.

And what exactly does this look like in real life? Everything the APL does points towards this first objective. Our advertising is consumer facing, our show presence is all about educating consumers about why they need to be using professional garden designers and contractors. The recent APL garden ‘What Lies beneath’ at Ascot is a perfect example. The garden not only inspirational in design and construction terms but also set up to physically display exactly what lies underneath the paving and artificial grass and educating the consumer about how important this is. BBC Gardeners World Live will once again have the hugely popular and unique ‘APL Avenue’ demonstrating aspirational gardens built by nobody else but APL members.  As always, any enquiries at shows are directed to APL members.

The APL accreditation process gives the consumer confidence in the contractor they are choosing. It also gives accredited members default entry onto the government backed Trustmark scheme which is a hugely powerful marketing tool. Member support is constantly being revised and increased. Currently the members toolbox, a library of literature and templates that enable members to be professional and compliant, is being overhauled and updated. For the first time in history a set of landscaping standards is being developed to assist members in their quoting and to use as a selling tool when talking to clients. These standards will be a cornerstone in our inspection and complaints procedures, training initiatives, our bespoke apprenticeship scheme and WorldSkills UK competitions.

To build a landscaping community to help businesses develop within the sector.

It was Mark Gregory who first championed the APL  community, with Ken White further developing the initiative. Now, each year, Phil Tremayne organises over 70 meetings which are held in 14 separate regions with more being planned. The meetings provide networking opportunities and peer to peer support and for many members are worth the membership fee alone. Many meetings are attended by SGD members and other designers and part of our strategy is to further develop these relationships.

To continue and further develop our training initiatives for both young and established landscaping businesses.

The cluster meetings often enable the APL to identify other areas where members are looking for support. One such initiative is Our Business Development Programme. A 4 day course developed by Ken White to enable delegates to create a business plan under expert guidance which is then critiqued by industry leaders. It has been a resounding success with the next course scheduled for Oct, Nov and Dec 2018. 

4 years ago the APL responded to the chronic shortage of trained young landscapers by developing its own laser-focussed apprenticeship scheme. The scheme is unique. Aside from the regular on site assessment and coursework there is a series of 8 week-long block releases over 20 months where the apprentices totally immerse themselves in practical learning with unprecedented industry involvement at every stage. The scheme has so far delivered 32 qualified apprentices into our industry. There are places available for the 2019/189 intake, but they go fast! Aside from our apprentices the APL also supports the ‘Go Landscape’ initiative and will continue to do so when asked. We are also the Worlds Skills UK Landscaping organising partner. This intensive competition is  where some of  the best young landscapers can pitch their talents against each other. Its not for the faint hearted but the APL are committed to this again in 2018. Finally our newest initiative is to launch the Young Landscapers of the Year award at BBC Gardeners Worlds Live. Two teams of young apprentices will construct two gardens designed by Diarmuid Gavin which will be judged to show standard, but then receive an extra level of WSUK judging to truly drill down on the best construction.

The APL is currently working on a series of one day seminars for start-ups and smaller businesses. Delivered in the popular ‘TED’ Talk style, these seminars will be punchy, informative and essential for any small business. We will also soon be announcing our 2nd seminar for the year “Getting Mature”. This is the final of the set of four, which will this time be plant focused.

To develop and maintain income streams whose revenues can be used to support the above.

It’s important to reiterate that the APL and indeed the HTA are not for profit organisations. We are not driven by the need to make money. Aside from our members annual fees we also have some fantastic and supportive sponsors for our headline events and our courses and seminars are designed to generate a small surplus. Everything is reinvested back into the Association to help us continue to deliver our service to you.

These are genuinely exciting times for the APL, with Rod Winrow as the new Chairman and a committee that is bubbling with talent and enthusiasm,  assisted as ever  by APL General Manager Phil Tremayne.

The APL remains  committed to supporting it’s members through a wide and ever increasing range of initiatives and is always open to any suggestions of further support.

For further information contact the APL at either phil.tremayne@hta.org.uk  or Natalie.ilsley@hta.org.uk