Dumpster fire? Roller coaster? Best year ever? 2021 has been ALL of these things. The past couple of years have been quite a ride, honestly. In the landscape design industry, project demand is through the roof, materials have been hard to come by, heat and drought damage plants, and a pandemic rages on. Through it all there’s no place I’d rather be, no job I’d rather have, and no business I’d rather run. Let’s look back at some of the really great stuff 2021 brought to Red Fern.
We kicked off 2021 in January getting to announce that Red Fern was the Dallas County Residents’ Choice Favorite Landscape of the year. What an honor! Landscaping projects are often super complex and frustrating, you guys. Delays from weather, supply issues and subcontractors can bring a lot of issues. Not to mention that we work with living things, and sometimes plants die. We work HARD to get things right and leave clients happy, and we love this work. Being voted as our county’s Favorite Landscaper was just amazing.
In March we celebrated 5 years of business in Iowa. For those of you who don’t know, Red Fern began where I used to live in New Hampshire, and when my family moved across the country I had to rebuild the business in a brand new place. That is no easy task. This kind of work is most often word-of-mouth, and starting out as an unknown service is tough. The two biggest highlights of Red Fern’s first 5 years have been Crystal and Kelli coming on board. Having a team has completely changed the work for me. We are all three excited to enter year 6 and continue improving our practice and developing this business even more.
April brought another huge honor as Adel’s Chamber of Commerce awarded me the title of 2020 Citizen of the Year. Can you even believe 1) that it’s a thing and 2) that I won?!?! I deeply love our small town and cannot communicate the pride I feel in receiving this award.
For the past two years, I have volunteered time for a major project along the bike trail that runs through Adel. I created a design plan for planting beds along the first 4 blocks of the trail as bikers come into town. Our committee organized a huge planting project and raised money to add an art installation and lights along the bridge across the Raccoon River. If you’re local, it’s worth riding out and checking it all out. Of course it’s still a work in progress. This year I am working with the Adel Rotary to design a renovation to a small park that’s right off the bike trail. These community projects are super important to me, and I am thankful to have a skill that is useful.
Garden Tours are another darling small town event that I’ve been able to help with. This year the Chamber group I volunteer on, This is Adel, brought back the Adel Garden Tour. We had three lovely and very distinct gardens on the tour this year. We also had a really fun extra event at Penoach Winery where I got to teach some design principles. That may have been my favorite part of the whole event… teaching groups is so fulfilling for me.
August brought the Adel Sweet Corn Festival and the chance to be the Parade Grand Marshall with my fellow Citizen of the Year (2019), Rebecca Hillmer. This was just amazing! The Adel Parade is so fun and throwing candy to kids out of a convertible was more fun than I’d ever thought. In the fall I got to teach the Dallas County Master Gardeners again, which I love doing.
Besides these fun events throughout the year, I have also gotten to serve in a few other ways. This year started my term on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Arboretum. I love getting to know the other Board members, seeing all the collections and plants at the Arboretum, and helping the Family Engagement project as it’s getting started. I also am on the Board of APLD’s Virtual Chapter. APLD is the professional organization for Landscape Designers, providing education, inspiration, and networking opportunities for designers across the county. The other Board members and I got our Chapter created and going strong the past year and a half, and it has been a labor of love! I am grateful for support and training to improve my practice.
Alongside all these opportunities, Red Fern has served clients with Gardener Coaching, Landscape Design, Plant Installations and Containers. We’ve worked in yards from Ames to Adel, over to Norwalk and out to Altoona. Past clients and new projects have been so fun to work with. Red Fern has brought on fabulous seasonal help and worked with excellent contractors.
What a wild year 2021 has been! I am grateful to look back and excited to look ahead for what 2022 will bring. Thanks for being along for the ride.