Forty years ago, Joanne Green sold her little red Fiat, bought a ute and borrowed her parents gardening tools. She didn’t have a grand business plan; all she knew was that she wanted to create beautiful, timeless gardens that people would love to live in.
A self-described naïve, young woman, Joanne never entertained the idea of failing with her fledgling enterprise and was blind to the fact that she may have been passed over for many projects because she was a woman. She simply threw herself into her love of horticulture and gradually grew her business through creating elegant landscapes and quality work that spoke for itself.
Joanne may not have had lofty goals or five-year-plans but what she did have was talent, and lots of it. She also had an excellent attitude towards business acumen, despite having had no formal business training. Her father was a successful business man and Joanne had a very good general education, topped off with a Diploma of Applied Science in Agriculture. Joanne was keen to do everything properly, by the book, and to pay proper respect to business as a profession in its own right. She knew the importance of staying on top of the administrative aspects of running a business, even if she lacked specific knowledge.
Over the years, Joanne’s combination of determination, her eye for detail and her sheer talent have been a potent mixture for success. In an environment where at least half of all small businesses fail in the first five years and only 25 per cent make it to 15 years, Joanne is a marathon runner, racking up 40 years—and with no plans to stop any time soon. In fact, her business is going from strength to strength. With a string of awards to her name and enough trophies to fill any pool room, Joanne still loves her work and continues to have a hands-on approach to almost every aspect of the business.
Landscape Contractor of the Year
Joanne Green Landscape and Interior are synonymous with high-end quality and functional, timeless, elegant design. The Landscape Association, NSW and ACT, has awarded the business Landscape Contractor of the Year a whopping three times, a testament to the ongoing, extraordinary work Joanne and the company continue to produce. Joanne is quick to credit her team with much of the businesses’ success, noting that some of her staff have been with her for a long time and that they all work very collaboratively to achieve the outstandingly beautiful environments they create.
Exterior meets interior
In 2013, Joanne Green Landscapes evolved to become Joanne Green Landscape and Interior, with Joanne’s daughter Angela joining the business. Angela has always been passionate about interior design from a very early age and it had long been planned between mother and daughter that they would expand the business’ remit to include Angela’s skillset. Joanne Green (now Joanne Neylon) gave her daughter every encouragement in her interior design journey, mentoring and supporting her at every step. The result was the birth of an interiorexterior dream team with a purely natural combination of skills. Angela and Joanne each have complete autonomy within their own domain but their mutual respect and easy relationship means they gel wonderfully when they work together. Joanne says that Angela joining the team was like a breath of fresh air, giving her a new lease on life and bringing the fun right back into work. On the other hand, Angela appreciates her mother’s ability to inspire confidence and communicate enthusiasm to clients and is constantly learning from Joanne’s approach to the business, her tenacity and her love for her chosen profession.
Joanne and Angela have also been very lucky with the direction of Australian lifestyles. Once considered to be entirely separate spaces, a shift in the way Australians live in their homes and entertain family and friends has seen a move towards considering interior and exterior spaces as a whole. Open-plan interiors and a desire to bring the inside out and the outside in have dramatically changed the look and the functionality of home spaces. Furthermore, the COVID crisis has meant people are spending more time at home and considering how they can make their living spaces more multi-functional, suitable for work and play, comfortable and beautiful.Both interior and exterior design have experienced a recent boom in interest with people willing to invest heavily in the spaces they are spending so much time in. Bringing together interior and exterior design in one business is a natural harmony as well as a very timely business move that matches the evolving nature of the way Australians are choosing to live.
The Early years
The early years of the business were a struggle. Joanne was dedicated to the business but was also steadfast for the sake of others, not wanting to let down the people who were relying on her. Joanne’s husband, Mark was heavily involved and supported all aspects of the business until he was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance that resulted in severe depression, leading him to step down from his responsibilities. Mark’s health, combined with the pressures and clashing priorities of having a young family, and the demands of the business certainly took a toll, and Joanne had to employ great willpower to achieve work-life balance. Exhaustion and stress certainly come with the territory but fortunately Joanne found her friends, family and stellar team wonderful support.
The Landscape Association
Joanne also found business support early in the piece. In the first few years of the business, Joanne joined the then LCA, now The Landscape Association. Mentorship and guidance had been thin on the ground but joining the Association was just what Joanne needed. The monthly meetings were a real eye-opener about the realities of running a landscaping business and she quickly absorbed all the advice she could to ensure her business survival. Crucial information regarding contracts, insurance, pricing, unions, WHS and the like helped to keep her afloat and Joanne credits the Association as an integral part of her business’ success. Joanne is also keen to say that when she joined the LCA, she gained wonderful, life-long friends with whom she has had a great deal of fun. They have supported one-another and shared advice on tricky questions, such as how to handle difficult customers and situations. She also supplemented what she learned at the LCA with short courses and seminars to strengthen her business skills.
A Trail-blazing pioneer in the landscape industry Joanne is a reluctant pioneer for women in her industry and small business. She is the first to admit that, when she started her business, she gave the issue of her gender little thought, simply naively pursuing her desire to do what she loved. When asked if being a woman in such a male dominated industry was a problem, Joanne says she believes it can be difficult for women working in a lot of different industries. She considers herself fortunate to have worked in landscaping where most people are down-to-earth and the majority of men have been ‘an absolute joy to be around’. However, some time into the business, Joanne started mixing in the ring with some bigger companies tendering for work. In this environment, Joanne found she had to adopt an almost gender-neutral persona to be accepted in the room and succeed.
However modest and reticent Joanne is to admit it, she has been a trail-blazer for women in the landscaping industry. She was the first female business owner to be inducted into The Landscape Association, the first woman to receive an award from the Association and, in 2015, was the first woman to receive a ‘Celebrating Women in Landscaping’ award as recognition of her contributions to the industry.
Forty years strong
On the 40th anniversary of the business, The Landscape Association would like to congratulate Joanne and her team on reaching such a magnificent milestone. We thank Joanne for her contributions to Australian Landscaping, gender equity in business, and her continued support of her colleagues through her membership to TLA.Best of luck with the next 40 years!