“I was filming a wildlife documentary in Mozambique … that is where I decided … it was time for a change!” Angela Palmerton, director and owner, Lady Penelope Gardens.
Angela Palmerton established Lady Penelope Gardens Ltd in 2008. The business has grown from just sole gardener to a full-time skilled team of 12, maintaining, managing and landscaping fine country estates and gardens across Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. Angela said “My first ten customers knew that I’d just started out, I was self-taught and they appreciated the honesty … they trusted, supported, and were happy to recommend me as a new starter”. Angela continued “I’ve always aspired to work in larger estates and gardens – you can’t do that on your own, I needed a team of people to work with me.”
2017 saw the business grow yet further to incorporate a new Senior Management Team, which was not without risk, but essential to take the business to its next level. “I realised that I couldn’t do it on my own” said Angela, “so I invested in advice, from those with more knowledge than me, and this gave me the focus, to make business decisions on the expansion…I learnt to run it from my head and not my heart… it was good business advice, but it’s still a constant battle with my heart!”. Many of Lady Penelope’s very first clients still engage their services today, which is strong testament to the quality of service and attention to detail that the Company is proud to deliver.
Rewind 10 years
10 years ago, Angela was working on the production of natural history documentaries for broadcasters such as the BBC and National Geographic. It may seem a considerable leap from TV production to gardening but having spent many years nurturing her own country garden and having an innate love of wildlife and the environment, it was a natural leap to make, and Lady Penelope Gardens was born. “Everybody was under a huge amount of stress … you just stopped enjoying the job you got into in the first place,” said Angela. “I cherished the initial six months working on my own in my first gardens…being able to take a breath and quite literally ‘stand up and smell the roses.”
It wasn’t long before the scale of the gardens Angela was being asked to maintain required the recruitment of other professional gardeners who could embrace her vision and provide a high-quality service to her clients. Gardening is a highly skilled profession after all, and a Client’s garden is their own private space making it essential to offer continuity of care and familiar faces. The ability to attract and instil trust in her clients and to recruit and retain her team are two equally important qualities which have resulted in Lady Penelope’s continued success. “Typically, gardeners are all quite a nice bunch … we’re all doing it because we love gardening and the outdoors … I am as much a people-person as a plants-person and working with a like-minded team is wonderful” Angela said.
Angela actively invests in regular training and CPD for her team ranging from specialist rose pruning techniques, to the breeding cycle of frogs! She encourages a shared vision for the future growth of the Company, which encompasses giving back to the industry that nurtured her by recruiting a new apprentice to join the team to help support new young talent coming into the horticultural industry and help secure its’ future. Angela has also shown her dedication to wildlife in this 10th Anniversary year, by becoming a Corporate Member of local wildlife organisations such as the Sussex Wildlife Trust, Bumblebee Conservation, Hedgehog Preservation, and more to come in the future. Such investment means that the future for Lady Penelope Gardens is a particular shade of rosy pink…