What does it mean to have so many projects year on year, garner rave reviews at the SALI Awards of Excellence?
It makes all the blood, sweat and tears that go into the creation of the gardens well worth it.
When you entered this House Keller, Du Preez and Du Plessis, did you anticipate it would perform so well winning numerous Trophies and the coveted shield?
We had a feeling that we would win the Mayford Trophy for Best Use of Colour in a landscape, as for the all the other trophies, we didn’t have a clue. We have been working at winning the Shield for 16 years. After not being able to have an event for 2 years, I (Graham von Hoesslin) was very excited to be attending and seeing everyone again, but came down with COVID and could not attend. My right hand, Bridget Robertson, and partner in the business, my father, Richard von Hoesslin, were there to receive the awards on behalf of the business. It was such an incredible feeling when all the updates started coming in via Whatsapp, it took a couple of days for the realisation to really sink in. We congratulated our incredible teams with a braai and mini award service, for which they were very grateful and the ‘high’ feeling lasted for weeks throughout the business.
Why do you think that is? (What about this project makes it so unique?)
The client’s brief was colour, colour and more colour, with textures and indigenous planting. We were given complete artistic freedom on this job. Graham’s plant knowledge and knowledge of the area and microclimate is what stood this job in good stead. It took a lot of attention to detail and sourcing of plant material from a number of different suppliers across the country.
What was the most rewarding element of this project?
Seeing the SALI National Judge, Sbu Dladla, walk into the garden and all he could say was ‘WOW’ in complete awe! As well as the client’s absolute joy that she gets out of her beautiful garden.
We see you do a lot of rooftop gardens and urban greening – Tell us a little more about this element as a growing trend for homeowners?
People are wanting to break away from the concrete jungles of the cities and incorporate the landscape as a major element into the living space and blending with the natural environment. Bringing the natural environment and ecosystem as an integral part of the, often ‘harsh’, man-made structures has become a key factor in softening the environment and bringing nature to your doorstep.
Tell us a little about your team? How many members work on your projects, and do you design and install most of your projects?
We have 4 teams, 3 maintenance teams of 5 staff – each team has a dedicated manager – these 3 teams dedicate their days to looking after our 90 maintenance gardens.
Our landscaping team is made up of 20 staff with 2 managers. The landscaping teams are split into smaller teams, each with their own skillset. We have a dedicated pruning team, irrigation installation team, hard landscaping team and planting team – each team is trained in their specific skillset. In total, we have 50 employees.
Operations Manager, Driaan Terblanche, manages the daily operational running of the business. Our financial team based in Franschhoek consists of my Father, Richard von Hoesslin, and our Bookkeeper, Shirley Sampson.
We have a General Manager, Bridget Robertson, she is a qualified Horticulturist and oversees the running of the maintenance department, general administration and financial tasks, putting our designs into AutoCAD, client liaising, etc. and then, Graham, our head landscaper and the artist behind our beautiful gardens. We design and install 99.9% of our projects.
What’s on top tool you can’t live without?
My phone, a pair of Felco secateurs and my tree saw!