The Export Gardener
by Richard Harrison
Author Richard Harrison stops by today to share an excerpt from his memoir, The Export Gardener.
Tasked with bringing an iconic Australian gardening franchise to the United Kingdom, Richard Harrison arrives in the medieval market town of Sevenoaks in Kent not knowing a weed from a wisteria.
His subsequent adventures are a rollercoaster of laughs and tears, from cutting down the wrong tree and solving a seemingly impossible watering puzzle to the bombshell that ended it all.
It was conceived as a great adventure. Live overseas for a few years and concentrate on what I had enjoyed doing most in my twenty year advertising career. I would work as a copywriter with an ad agency in the UK, while my wife furthered her legal career. Weekends would be spent editing my novel, travelling abroad and writing post cards home to the envy of family and friends.
That was the plan.
The reality became working as an office temp, commuting from South London, where I shared a flat with Catherine and her partner Deborah. Catherine was from Sheffield. She was pleasant, friendly and worked as a teaching consultant. Deborah was from Brazil. She spoke broken English and threw a decent left hook.
It was my by then ex-wife that alerted me to the Jim’s Mowing opportunity. She was working in the franchise department of a leading UK law firm and dealing with a group of consultants who were in the process of establishing a platform for Jim’s Group in the UK.
I knew of the business but nothing about it, before I was introduced to a fellow called Brian Duckett. Brian was the head of Horwath Franchising and he explained that Jim’s needed someone to launch its business concept in the UK.
I thought it sounded like an exciting opportunity and we arranged to meet the following week in the foyer of the Novatel in Piccadilly. He drove from Oxford. I caught the bus in Streatham.
We sat down over tea and biscuits, all the while serenaded by a woman dressed in a ball gown and playing a harp. As you do when the conversation turns to lawn mowing.
Brian opened his laptop and proceeded to explain the structure of the Jim’s franchise model. A concept that started with lawn mowing and had since spawned nearly thirty different divisions. He focused very much on its middle tier investment opportunity. Or at least I did. I could become what he called a Regional Franchisor, a role whereby I would secure exclusive rights to various Jim’s divisions of my choice within a specific geographic area.
Thereafter, I would be free to operate my own business, while selling individual franchises to other people.
Mowing and (to a lesser extent) Dog Wash appealed and it certainly made sense to operate a franchise myself. Doing so would provide me with an income and generate a degree of awareness. It might also establish a measure of credibility, as I figured if I could do it, anyone could.
I had absolutely no interest in gardening, had barely mowed a handful of lawns in my life and couldn’t tell a weed from a Wisteria. But hey, how hard could it be?
Praise for the Book
"If a good laugh is what you're looking for, then this is most definitely the book to pick up. The story of an Australian, uninitiated in the art of garden care, had me laughing out loud and I could not put it down. Without wishing to give too much away, The author's engaging writing style, left me wondering what else would happen, at the turning of each page. From washing dogs, letting flats and tending people's gardens, this book has it all. Christmas is taken care of, as I'll be buying copies for everyone this year. You'll not be disappointed. I look forward to another enjoyable book, by this author." ~ Amazon Customer
"This is a marvellous story of an Aussie Abroad, winging his way through an adventure of discovery of his new and unfamiliar surrounds, the often eccentric characters he meets along the way, holding onto his dream of transplanting the iconic Aussie 'Jims Mowing' franchise, whilst his stunning recollections of those times come to life with a great sense of humour, I smiled all the way and couldn't put it down. A must read." ~ Amazon Customer
"This was a great book to read over the Christmas - New Year holidays; a chapter a day was perfect! There are many very funny stories about the author's experiences setting up and running a gardening franchise in south-east England, and some interesting insights into how the franchise was set up and how and why it all went bad. Don't be put off by the picture on the cover: it makes sense when you read the book!" ~ David Meagher
"A fantastic look into the life of Richard Harrison. An Australian born eventual advertising expert, who after visiting the UK, came across the chance of expanding the iconic gardening franchise Jims Mowing. Having no experience within gardening, this great read looks into the highs and lows of Richard, a man who clearly never gives up! I couldn't recommend this book more and can't wait for his next one!" ~ Mr. M. Fenton
"The funniest book l have read for ages, will definitely recommend to my friends." ~ Roma Twort
About the Author
Richard Harrison was born in Melbourne, Australia, and currently lives in Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula.
He lived for ten years in the UK where he launched and developed the iconic Australian garden maintenance franchise "Jim's Mowing", operating a franchise in Sevenoaks, Kent, where his clumsy gardening endeavours and general misadventures became the subject of The Export Gardener.
Other than writing, Richard has two great passions - horse racing and cricket. He is a regular race goer and a premier grade umpire with Cricket Victoria.