Hitchhiking from London to the South West

In the 1970's

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  • Granite and lavender with Purbeck paving
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Hitchhiking from London in 1970

and landing in The Clink in Callington


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Graham

Founded Derna Landscapes in April 1985, with the Sole Purpose to concentrate on Hard and Soft Landscaping, Design and Construction. A decision arrived at after many years of experience starting from school holiday work and later after leaving school for PH Tennant Dip.hort a member of my parents church. It was here with Paul Tennant and his Stone mason Ron May that I spent time on a project at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Shortly afterwards I left the employ of Paul Tennant due to a disagreement with the edicts being dictated by Big Jim Taylor and had been withdrawn from (Exclusive brethren speak for excommunication);
I found employment with Webb Nurseries another Landscaping firm still in Acton, London, where we landscaped the garden of Ginger Baker of Cream the Rock legends of the late 60's . Whilst working for Web Nurseries I was given the task of crazy paving a pathway, where my creative side took over making flowing shapes from the broken paving flags. I was taken off the job as it was taking longer than expected, but was put back on to finish it as the customer loved the way the crazy paving looked, more like a jigsaw as opposed to jagged edges.

It was here that I whacked my thumb with a lump hammer and thought to myself if this is going to be your career best to learn to use both hands, It was one of the best decisions I have made as it has proved to be invaluable over the years whilst working in cramped spaces.

Web nurseries went bust, rumour had it that it was the money partner there is always one was syphoning off some of the profit. It was time for another change.I moved on to Clifton Nurseries conveniently situated between Warwick Avenue Tube Station, and Little Venice, Here whilst working with a team headed by a dutch guy, we planted out roof terraces for well known celebrities, one of whom was Squadron Leader Sir Douglas Bader, a famous fighter pilot who lost both legs during world war 2.

In the early 70's Clifton Nurseries

being in the heart of the well heeled were selling beautiful Bonsai trees, perfectly formed for £70 + They were stunning and well out of reach of my pocket.It wasn't long before I realised that all the landscaping work was carried out self employed landscaping firms. Talking with Vic about it. The best way to get established as a landscaper is to start off with garden maintenance and gradually you will get asked to do other work.

So Vic his surname eludes and has done for years, set me up as self employed by giving me contracts for The Crown Estates Hackney, and a list of his clients for whom I would carry out the garden maintenance. A Mr Joy who ran an employment Agency, a Mr Samson to name a couple, both had been designed by Vic ....and all in St Johns Wood. It wasn't long before I was pretty well established with garden maintenance, I was conscientious and my customer base was growing daily. However due to being told to leave my Parents house due to archaic non christian dogma handed out from the American Leader of the Exclusive Brethren Big Jim Taylor, I decided to make a break from London and move to the west country.
Leaving all behind; I hitchhiked with a chap I met who had been painting Mr Samson's house. His boss had found out that Les had been having an affair with his wife, so he was getting away from his boss until things had calmed down a bit.

After various lifts we arrived at Callington just over the border from Devon and found ourselves outside The Old Clink the local pub that had been a jail in another life.
After a couple of beers and a few questions we walked around the corner and was confronted by the rear end of a boar after a couple of chuckles we knocked on the door of the farm and after a few pleasantries we negotiated with a Pig Farmer, that we would be happy to work in exchange for board and food.

After two weeks we had to leave the pig farm

It Seems that Les was a Ladies man. We got into Plymouth, and Les went back to London and I stayed on in Plymouth, finding digs on Alexandra Road. After a few weeks in Alexandra road I managed to find a winter let in the Village of Craft Hole a couple of miles or so from Torpoint in Cornwall. My 21st birthday came and I received a settlement of £350.00 from the Hearts of Oak foundation set up by my now deceased father. I bought a roll of Canvas, wood for making frames and and an easel having received a set of oil paints from my brother Tim, and began to paint.
I would receive letters from my mother imploring me to come home as her phone hadn't stopped ringing from my customers wanting me to carry on looking after their gardens.

I had already decided that I was staying in the South West

And didn't return to London, and as landscaping wasn't as much in demand here, I became a milkman for the Co-op to enable me to get a mortgage and after a couple of other Jobs, including selling Photocopiers for Rank Xerox and then Canon, 14 years later in April 1985 Derna Landscapes was born and I was back to being my creative self, doing what I always wanted to do which was to design and build gardens, and although I was exceedingly good at garden maintenance it didn't satisfy my creative side.
The name Derna is what we re-named our house, after my wife's parents former Bungalow in Plympton.
Whilst collecting stone from Lantoom Quarry near Liskeard I discovered that the name Derna originated from a Port in Libya, once an important Mediterranean trade centre in the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans and later as a Garrison as the Derna Pass was an almost perfect strategic location.

Since 1985

It soon became apparent that I knew my stuff and Derna Landscapes was establishing as a reputable, and reliable company with an eye for creating stunning gardens, patios, and driveways.

Still the same me

Who wants all my customers to be happy with my work it's who I am., and nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing my customers faces, when their project is completed.

Two of the pictures

On the front page date from 1988 just 3 years after Derna Landscapes was established. The pictures depict a folly that now 31 years later looking the part. This project catapulted me into the area of landscaping dear to my heart and landed me a contract for restoring the grounds of an old farm mentioned in the Doomsday book. East Worthel Farm, for the then President of the Veterinary Society, during the mad cow disease outbreak, and both clients have returned for more work to be done, in 2018 2019 and 2020 so I must be doing something right.

The first Picture is of the semi spiral steps we built in1988

The next picture was taken in the latter part of 2019, is of the same view, with plenty of evidence of the silt run off from the top lane and right of way. in the foreground the preparation for the new patio is under way.

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Our Customer Satisfaction is our Driving Force

No matter what size the project is We Treat all Clients with the same care and respect and furthermore, when a new job is started it will always be finished before moving on to the next project.

This means that every working day the team will be on site, getting the job done.
Unless special circumstances agreed at the outset, prevail.

All good workmanship is down to the correct site preparation,

If we find a soft spot under a Drive, Patio or Path sub base it comes out and is filled with hardcore, it takes more time and costs more, but the end result is guaranteed hassle free for the customer and us the contractor.

It takes time to get a good reputation.

and we ain’t going to risk it for a bit of extra work

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Good workmanship

is also down to taking pride in what you do, and doing the best you can, to achieve a professional result. Take a look at the portfolio of others and then compare you won't find better workmanship!

What ever work you do do it with all your might

is one of our motto's, We Are Not Happy, Until You Are Completely Satisfied With Our Workmanship Our Ethos is based upon Dedication to Customer Satisfaction, If you have managed to read all our History many thanks, it might be the right time to sit down with a nice cup of tea, glass of wine and submit your enquiry, Another one of our motto's is

No Problems, Only Solutions”.

And yes we hope to add you to our portfolio.
Graham



  • Granite and lavender with Purbeck paving

We are Specialists in the Following Disciplines

  • Garden Design,
  • Restoration work,
  • Stone Work,
  • Decking,
  • Fencing,
  • Paving,
  • Terracing,
  • Roof gardens,
  • Turfing,
  • Pond construction,
  • Drainage systems,
  • Rockeries,
  • Planting,
  • Driveways,
  • Retaining walls,
  • Rain Curtains,
  • Tandoor Ovens,
  • Pizza Ovens,
  • Fire Places,
  • Out Door Fire Places

07902 701147
01752 863179

Derna Landscapes
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