Career change pays off as single mum takes on more staff and moves to larger premises

Company: Jo Thompson Garden Design

An ex teacher, then full time mum who retrained as a garden designer, has taken on more staff and moved to larger premises in Cranbrook, Kent.
Jo Thompson set up her practice six years ago, after studying garden design at the English Gardening School, and is now recognised as one of the country’s leading garden designers.
Ben Chandler, a 27 year old graduate is the latest recruit to the four person business which has just moved into new offices to better accommodate Jo’s expanding firm.
Jo’s gardens are featured in national newspapers and magazines. She’s a Royal Horticulture Society gold winning medalist, was named ‘Best Rural Garden Designer’ and was listed by House and Garden magazine as one of the country’s top ten garden designers. Her practice is involved in projects in London, Kent, Dorset and other parts of the Southeast and Southwest. She has also designed gardens for clients in Switzerland and Japan.
Ben will benefit from working with someone who is keen to encourage young and emerging talent. Jo has established a ‘Bright Green Shoots’ category at the National Gardening Show held in Somerset, which showcases up and coming designers. She is also a visiting tutor at the London College of Garden Design and, this year, is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society’s show selection panel.
As Jo explained: “I’ve always been interested in gardens and their design. I used to force my parents to take me around gardens and estates when I was 12 years old but I never considered it as a career. It was only when I was a full time mum and called in a garden designer to help with an odd shaped garden that I realised this was something I could do.”
“As anyone who sets up in business knows, it’s hard, hard work. A business growth spurt is good but it can be a tricky transition to make. I really pleased to have Ben on board and I look forward to spending time encouraging my own in-house talent.”
Jo’s practice is currently working on projects for clients in London (Knightsbridge and Kensington) and Kent (Canterbury, Cranbrook and Sevenoaks). And Jo is appearing at the Royal Horticultural Society’s centenary flower show in May with her fourth show garden.

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