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Hi Phil

I know it’s easy to be cynical about awards. I am myself a lot of the time. I also have no problem with having a pop at the large organisations that tend to figure highly in industry associations.

My business is not a member of BALI, and our turnover is positively minute compared to the sorts of companies to which you allude in your blog. I don’t really know enough about BALI to comment on whether they are spreading themselves too thinly.

However, I do know this: We designed and installed the lighting for two of the winning gardens in this year’s awards (both of them towards the lower end of the budget categories), including one principal award winner. We worked alongside a small landscaping company, both of us subcontracting to a large company. When the awards were announced, I felt absolutely elated that all those long hours and hard work that we and the landscapers had put in had actually been recognised by someone at last. I was delighted for the landscapers, who survive on a shoestring, like many others, and do fantastic work.

I have to say that your blog made me feel kind of deflated. Yes, perhaps the award ceremony was a little OTT in these days of austerity (I wasn't there!), but I certainly didn’t begrudge a nice night out to the two garden owners that were so hospitable to us when we were working in the snow and mud and the freezing cold nights.

Small businesses do benefit from these events too, even if they are not actually mentioned by name.

Andrew Dean - Aceum

Hi Andrew

Thank you for your comments.

I'm really pleased you've taken the trouble to explain how you've been involved. In a way you've kind of emphasised my points.

I'd have liked to have seen much more coverage by BALI of the involvement of businesses like yourselves.

Just as is the case at large shows, such as Chelsea or Hampton Court, it's mostly the designer or the main contractor who gets mentioned whilst the smaller, but no less important or professional, don't get mentioned.

The point of my post was to highlight how BALI are concentrating, mostly, on the large projects and companies.

I'm sorry my post left you deflated but it wasn't meant to: companies like yours are the backbone of the landscape industry.

Kind regards


Thanks, Phil.

I certainly can’t argue with any of your points there, and I think it all highlights why the development of The Open Association Of Landscape & Horticultural Industries (or whatever its name might change to) is so important.
So, a big thank you from all of us for that.

Speak soon, Andrew

Hi Phil - I'm not sure to whom this apparent "Bah humbug" rant is aimed at - large successful companies, BALI, the judges......but perhaps another perspective could be ..........we should be congratulating The Landscape Group(established in 1919 with no doubt a much smaller turnover than today - all journeys start with the first step!)on producing a scheme, judged by an independent panel who visit every project entered, to be of such excellence that it deserved the BALI Grand Award? And congratulate them on growing their business, which now provides work for 1100 people (and their families) in these austere times? And congratulate them on managing to produce an outstanding scheme, that can be enjoyed by the general public at large (rather than just by a domestic home-owner perhaps?), working in the public sector which we know is squeezed in terms of budgets almost to squeaking point? And congratulate them for sub-contracting elements of their schemes, thereby sharing a "slice of the pie" and allowing smaller businesses to share in the warm glow of success (as Andrew clearly elucidates in his comments)? I am sure Lee Webster (TLG) and his team worked extremely hard for this accolade, and I would be extremely suprised that anyone would resent their success?

Surely there is room for everyone in our industry - and the problem of managing a diverse range/size/style and ethos of businesses is the same for most organisations that seek to be broad-spectrum and open-minded ..............or perhaps the OAOLHI will be for <£1m businesses' only and diss all it's members rather than trumpeting their talents? Surely not.

PS The event (now organised by Hort Week on behalf of BALI incidentally) was hugely entertaining thank in great part to Giles Brandreth's sense of humour and seemed very well-attended by large and small companies alike across the entire spectrum of the landscape industry.
Kind regards and Happy Christmas!
Yvette Etcell, Gavin Jones Ltd (started by Col Gavin Jones with his demob money in 1919!)

Hi Yvette

Thanks for your comments.

I wish BALI had written what you took the time and trouble to convey; you are making the exact same points I'm trying to get across.

I don't resent anyone's success and I don't think I said that.

You make the point that even the largest of companies rely on the smaller businesses to achieve their success. If only a bigger noise was made about this.

I wonder what Gavin Jones would think about the landscape industry today compared to 1919?

All the best for the season to you too.

Kind regards


Dear Phil

Well that's OK then - it's good to know we are in complete agreement about congratulating all those companies, whether large and small, that won BALI Awards this year!

.......reflecting on Gavin know, I'm pretty sure that if "The Colonel", having such obvious passion for the horticulture industry, had had constructive ideas regarding the promotion of the BALI Association and BALI Awards, he might just have picked up the phone (no email in 1919!) and had a personable chat with Wayne Grills .............?

Best wishes

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