Jake Catling, bringing the creative passion to landscape contracting

Director of the Landscaping Consultants, BALI South Thames chair and board director Jake Catling is a landscaper who brings genuine drive and enthusiasm to his work.

In this week's Horticulture Week Podcast, Jake talks about the excitement and challenges of working on two RHS Chelsea Flower Show gardens: London Square community garden for James Smith and Boodles garden, Thomas Hoblyn. 

With the spotlight usually on designers and plants, Jake provides fascinating insight into the process of putting together a Chelsea garden from the contractor's perspective. He emphasises the team effort involved and how it is essential "everyone being massively invested and wanting to work together and looking for creative solutions to problems, because there are always problems!" Along with the particular challenges of building a garden on site in central London, this year they also have to contend with potential disruption caused by the coronation of King Charles. 

"The most interesting part of it for me is 'the build', the nuts and bolts, how things are going to together, how things are done and the logistics."

A Chelsea 'veteran' of five years, Jake has also racked up eight years at Hampton Court which he describes as "our proving ground...it feels like a summer camp for us!"

Chelsea gardens now all have an 'afterlife' where they are rebuilt so Jake talks about where this year's gardens are going, how they will adapt the garden to the new site and the value to the community that will benefit from it.

Jake talks about his role on the BALI board and his "mission" to help bring the BALI Academy project to "fruition" to help address the oft-commented skills shortage, although he admits it is "no easy task". Jake talks about how recruitment difficulties have affected his own business, how he focuses on good attitude rather than experience or skills, and how he nurtures his staff once they are on board.

Jake's determination and passion extend to his interest in innovation in equipment, working processes including digital design, and performance coaching for staff. But he says he owes a lot to BALI for support in the early days, the boost of winning a BALI principle award and his ongoing role there.

Presenter: HortWeek senior reporter Rachael Forsyth
Producer: HortWeek digital content manager Christina Taylor

Make sure you never miss a Horticulture Week podcast! Subscribe to or Follow Horticulture Week podcasts via Apple PodcastsSpotify or Google Podcasts or your preferred podcast platform. 

If you are interested in producing a podcast with HortWeek, contact hortweek@haymarket.com.

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