A landscape company owner who beat nearly 1,000 businesses to be named UK Small Business of the Year is now setting his sights on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Designing a show garden has always been an ambition for former rock bassist and singer James Lanwarne, who switched careers aged 22, but it was one that he put on hold until he built up his business Lanwarne Landscapes, based in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Now with the extra clout of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) award behind him he is working on securing sponsorship for a show garden at Chelsea 2016.
"We've got a few sponsors in mind and with my higher profile and strong team I'm ready to move forward. There are people interested and it's starting to feel like we might achieve it," he said. "I've made a lot of great contracts through the FSB."
Lanwarne's plan is to design the garden with company designer Martin Lines, designer Tanya Lanwarne and metal sculptor Christian Funnell. His landscapers will build the garden.
Features of this year's show included first timers Hugo Bugg - the show's youngest gold medal winner - and Charlotte Rowe. Matthew Keighley won a silver gilt medal and was also voted People's Choice. Design partners Nicole Fischer and Daniel Auderset were also first timers and there were four more designing "Artisan" and "Fresh" gardens.
Lanwarne also plans to open a tree and plant nursery to supply stock for his landscape projects. Any savings made by bringing plant supply in-house would be ploughed back into developing the site, which would be a cross between nursery and public nature reserve, he explained.
The nursery would be "as sustainable as possible" with its own natural water supply, wildlife pond, screening of all buildings and roads as well as other touches such as aggregate roads that would allow grass to grow through.
Lanwarne and Lines are working on designs for an initial acre, with plans to expand the area as time goes on.
Nursery wish list
James Lanwarne's nursery wish list of trees and shrubs:
- Acer davidii
- Amelanchier lamarkii
- Birches - Betula pendula 'laciniata' and Betula utilis var.
- Cotinus coggygria
- Magnolia grandiflora
- Photinia 'Red Robin'
- Prunus laurocerasus
- Prunus serrula
- Sarcococca confusa
- Taxus baccata