This month, we caught up with Hilary Collins of Grafton Nursery and Envisage Gardens by Design.
WHAT DO GRAFTON NURSERY AND ENVISAGE GARDENS BY DESIGN DO?
We are a family concern, and we have two businesses that complement each other. At Grafton Nursery we grow and sell eucalyptus trees to a wide range of clients. We sell to the paper production industry, biomass power stations, and the cosmetic industry to name a few.
Envisage Gardens by Design provides landscape garden services. My daughter Charlie and my husband Stephen are responsible for the design and implementation. These projects are large, and can last several years.
WHY DID YOU START THE BUSINESS?
I’m unemployable, so I work for myself! All jokes aside, I was rebellious but creative at school. I either wanted to be a dietitian or a horticulturist. I’ve always been fascinated by plants that can do jobs. I met my husband Stephen at the University of Bath where we read horticulture together. Stephen grew up on a 12-acre tomato and salad crop nursery and I’d been growing things with my dad since I was 3! When we graduated, we set up a temporary nursery in Liverpool. Our first joint design commission was for Eddie Braben, who was one of my dad’s friends and the main scriptwriter for Morecambe and Wise.
In 2008, we bought a derelict bedding plant nursery with a plan to build our forever home. The nursery would be our retirement plan. We would keep a few plants for Envisage Gardens by Design and focus on the nursery in our spare time. However, the nursery became the priority as the planning permission dictated that the nursery needed to be active. Suddenly we had two businesses to get up and running. We had the freedom to grow whatever we wanted, and I was interested in the eucalyptus tree because they are evergreen and I wanted to research them more. That’s how Grafton Nursery was born!
WHAT IS THE BEST BIT ABOUT RUNNING THE BUSINESS?
I like being in control of my future, and I like running teams of people to get a result. It can be super stressful, but it’s really rewarding too. No other job would allow me to blend my passion with my career.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON?
Since starting the business, we’ve learnt many lessons. Delegation, cash flow control, having a business mentor, and having the right people to support you, will help to grow your business. However, something that encompasses all of those would be joining the Entrepreneurs Circle. We get so much value from the EC. They provide a business mentor, marketing support and guidance to help understand what will drive the business forward.
WHAT SERVICES DO YOU GET FROM JDA?
We have Management Accounts included in our package from JDA. It has been a real breath of fresh air for me. We’ve had 6 previous accountants, but nobody buys into what we do like JDA do. They are lucky number 7! They provide the type of analysis that we’ve wanted for years. The feedback and comments we receive give us more confidence for the future.
WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I’m a self-confessed workaholic, so that doesn’t leave much spare time. I’ve previously written a book ‘Fantastic Foliage and How to Farm It’, and I plan to write more books in the future. Aside from tending to my collection of plants, I like to spend time with my two spaniels, Archie and Teddy. We like to visit National Trust Gardens, and this year we’ll be starting to build our dream house!
You can take a look at some of the amazing designs Hilary and the team have done recently at https://www.envisage-gardens.co.uk/projects or purchase your very own eucalyptus from https://www.hardy-eucalyptus.com/
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