Have you ever considered quitting the rat race and moving to another country to fulfil a dream and experience a different culture and way of life?
If you are trained in horticultural or perhaps you have a great passion for gardening and an outdoor life, then I might just have found you a fantastic opportunity.
Even after two visits and meetings with the business owners Guy and Jane Robinson, I still cannot quite believe what I have seen and what this opportunity offers.
Just ten miles from where I am living here in France, Jan and Guy own and run a garden maintenance, cut flower production and fruit supply enterprise.
The garden maintenance business, called Garden Rescue, caters mainly for English second home owners in the regions of Bergerac, Castillonnes, Duras, Villereal, Monflanquin.
It currently turns over €27,000 Euro's working five mornings a week out on site with the afternoons tending the seventeen acre estate, Blueberry shrubs and cut flowers in the production area.
The estate was once just open ground but forty five years ago, a French horticulture professor bought the land and started to transform it, as a labour of love, into a personal garden space; planting many specimen trees and shrubs.
Mr Charles Ridouard lived in Paris but bought Le Berme as a second home, eventually moving there full time twenty years ago.
Mr Ridouard was in his seventies when he sold the property to Guy and Jane in 2004, but would return regularly to walk around the garden and grounds before sadly passing away just three weeks ago.
Jane recalls how, after deciding to move to France, they visited Le Berme for the first time, she said,"We turned into the a beautiful tree lined driveway, disappearing into the woods that leads up to the house - which was not visible because of the planting. We hadn't even seen the house but Guy told me how he had already fell in love with the garden; something just felt right."
Indeed, even five years later, I could tell that this place means an awful lot to the pair of them. They would not be selling at all if Guy had not been diagnosed with the debilitating bone wasting disease Osteonecrosis.
Guy has already had one hip replaced and he explained to that he expects things to get much worse, eventually not being able to maintain the garden or work in the business.
Guy explains, "The plan is to sell up now while I am in reasonable health to enjoy life. We want to retain a small house here in France but also buy a small house in New Zealand and be close to my daughter who lives and works at a racing stables near Auckland."
Telling 'porky pie's'
Whilst we sat and chatted in the enclosed terrace, Jane was concerned that potential buyers who might read this, would immediately take the view that they were telling a few white lies and that they just wanted out.
If I hadn't have visited and seen their set-up first hand, I would have possible taken a similar view. However, having had two guided tours and long talks, I can tell you that you would not wish to meet a nicer couple. What is more, the buyer of their business won't be left to fend for themselves. Guy and Jane will be on hand to guide the new business owners and show them the ropes.
"For example, We will be around to explain how the irrigation system works," explains Guy - there is a private spring that supplies all the garden watering needs.
Guy continued, "We have a market license and we also have outlets for our cut flowers and blueberries, so we are willing to help our buyers understand what to do and when."
As well as the gardening business, there is a Gite attached to the house with its own private garden and swimming pool. The main house has also served as bed and breakfast and, although Guy and Jane are not currently catering for B&B, Jane says that this can be a useful addition to the household income.
Do you believe in coincidences?
I do, and it was a speculative phone call to the manufacturers of Everedge in April 2008 that resulted in a meeting and visit to a project under the 'gaze of Château Duras' - I met with Guy Robinson, who was installing the Everedge steel edging around borders as part of a large landscaping project.
I promised to keep in touch and I intended to follow up with an article after completion but time dragged on and it never happened.
A chance meeting in the Ecomarché supermarket in Castillonnes a couple of weeks ago refreshed our relationship.
Guy and Jane have worked hard to build up a business and way of life that one lucky family team could walk straight into and start earning immediately.
What you would get
I hope, if I have got your attention, that you would like to know some more of the detail - here is a summary of what you get and what it will cost.
The Gite will provide an income of €15,000 this year. There are no social charges and the tax is low under the current French law (tourism is France's major earner and France is the number one tourist destination in the whole world) - there is a lot of repeat business so marketing it would be easy.
The gardening business has a turnover of €27,000 and has been maintained at this level to stay under the Micro-Enterprise threshold. Guy and Jane says that there would be so much scope to increase the income if the business was upgraded to a S.A.R.L.
A Micro-Enterprise is a scheme whereby you present a simple income return and you pay 22% of your turnover by way of a social charge and tax. It is possible to increase t/o to €32,000 without taxation penalties.
The estimate is €9,000 for the Blueberry crop and €2,000 for the Alstroemeria.
Outside of the formally planted gardens there is a a commercial crop of Alder, Walnut, Pine and Cedar which has an estimated value of €50,000.
Guy and Jane, who have taken advice on what is harvestable, say that there is potentially €20,000 of trees that can be sold now. Guy understands that there is a tax break and that €7,000 worth can be sold tax free each year. With good planning and re-planting, this can provide a good income boost.
The bed and breakfast potential is €4,500 per year.
In the grounds themselves there is a large tool shed/barn where all of the machinery is stored, poly tunnels and netted tunnels for the valuable Blueberry crop.
The soil is acid clay which is fairly rare in the area which is great for growing.
There is a production area for fruit and vegetables, and a fruit orchard with a semi walled garden which could be used as a stock bed or just a decorative garden as it is at the moment.
The entire area is secluded yet not isolated with just a five minute drive from Castillones.
Bergerac airport is a thirty minute drive with regular flights to Southampton, Luton, Stanstead, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Gatwick.
Driving from the Channel Tunnel with take about nine hours - the distance is 537 miles.
Almost risk free
No business is risk free but there is something compelling about this proposition. Guy and Jane have built an enviable tool and machinery inventory that cost in excess of €65,000 when new. I have inspected it and I can vouch for its condition and value.
The buyer of the business will take over a Peugeot Boxer Van (cost price €11,000) , and Iseki TXG23 diesel garden tractor with mulching deck (Cost price €12,000).
The total inventory of tools and equipment is worth (depreciated value) €40,465.00 against an purchase price of over €65,000.
Rare plants and wildlife
The new owner can enjoy the variety of wildlife that is commonly seen around the house and throughout the grounds. A family of Long Eared Owls - Asio otus - regularly sit on the tree outside the kitchen window and Jane tells me that one particular year, the parents laid eggs in two separate nests and when the chicks were old enough they transferred one set to the other nest so that they were all together.
There are also Roe Deer - Capreolus capreolus, Red squirrel - Sciurus vulgaris , Golden Oriole - Oriolus oriolus, Short Toed Eagle - Circaetus gallicus, Tree Frogs - Hyla arborea, Newts, Salamander and Coypu.
Trees on site - Coast Redwood - Sequoia sempervirens, Swamp Cypress - Taxodium distichum , / , Acer, American Silver Maple, Cut leaf Oak, Pin Oak, Evergreen Oak, Hornbeam, Sequoia - just to name a few.
I wanted to publicise the business from the gardening and landscaping point of view and hope that we can connect with a potential buyer who not only wants to start a new life here in France, but also walk into a ready made set-up and enjoy the benefit of Guy and Jane's passion and their hard work that has already put into the venture.
Even though I am based in France, Landscape Juice is established as a strong landscaping and gardening site in the United Kingdom and should you decide to take the plunge, I can help you maximise your business and assist with marketing in the local area by helping to connect with English people with second homes.
I can help set up a blog and so that you can make use of the Google phenomenon and attract potential clients searching for a particular need.