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Meet Chuck Perry of Your Intown Gardener

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chuck Perry.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Central Kentucky and spent a lot of time in my grandparent’s gardens as a child. I have a lot of fond memories of helping them in the garden. They took the time to teach us what we were planting, how it needed to be planted and what to expect when it grew. They grew large vegetable gardens to harvest from. Raised tobacco to earn a living. My grandmother was always planting a “slip” of some perennial or shrubs that one of her friends had given her.

My passion for it started there. I took horticulture classes in high school. Earned a Bachelors of Horticulture from Western Kentucky University in 1991. Graduated and took a position managing a garden center in my hometown. Decided to go back to school and earned a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from the University of Kentucky. Out of school, I worked for landscape architectural and civil engineering firms that specialized in public sector work like streetscapes, stream restoration projects, and public parks. Although public sector work was gratifying, it didn’t quite fit me.

So I took a position with a firm in San Clemente, CA for a couple of years that specialized in high-end residential design up and down the west coast. I  LOVED LIVING IN SOCAL! However, feeling a little guilty about being too far away from home, as a compromise I moved to Atlanta. I worked for another firm that specialized in high-end residential design. After 7 years there, I decided to start my own gig. One that allowed me to spend more hands-on time out in the field and with my clients.

In February 2012, I started Your Intown Gardener. With passion and persistence, I have managed to keep it growing. We specialize in landscape design, installation, and maintenance. I love what I do and work long hours to make it happen. All of my business comes from referrals and word of mouth. The private social network, Nextdoor, has been a big part of that referral base.

My favorite part of the business is walking my clients through a landscape design. I get excited talking about it and the plant geek comes out. I talk about the colors, textures, and fragrances the plants have to offer as well as their role in the design and the creation of the outdoor space. I also talk about how they benefit pollinators such as flies, bees, moths, and butterflies. I could go on and on. Again, I LOVE what I do. I think that is what my clients really like about the service that we provide.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road. It hasn’t been all that bad either. I do not have any business training. So, much of what I have learned has been the hard way. The weather greatly affects our schedules. Finding people that want to do this kind of work is time-consuming. Working with a small business adviser has been a huge help as well as developing relationships with other landscape contractors.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Your Intown Gardener story. Tell us more about the business.
I said a lot toward this a moment ago. I work in the business and in the business, maybe not the best practice but you have to wear a lot of hats in a small growing business.

I am known by my peers as a landscape architect that actually knows plants and how to care for them. It is a bit of joke with people in the industry.

I am most proud of the attention to detail and to the client. I think the name, Your Intown Gardener, invokes or suggests an intimate relationship between our business, our clients, and their gardens.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
When I am passionate about something, I just pursue it. Starting this business has been a dream of mine since 1987. I wrote that dream down in a freshman English class journal and forgot about it until I found the journal in 2011. Maybe getting laid off for a while in early 2009 started the process along with finding that journal. Is that bad luck or good luck? I have never really thought of it that way.

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