Benyon Estate tenant Leon Van Rooyen, known locally as ‘the ultimate plant guy’, has turned his passion into a career after being made redundant from his former HR role; a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rather than sit around and wait for another role to come along, Leon has launched his own gardening business, offering gardening and landscaping services, as well as indoor plant care and maintenance and began by applying for a number of gardening jobs in the area.
“My very first job was clearing a front garden,” Leon explained. “It was just a few hours work but it was what started to get me thinking that I might be able to make this work full-time.
“I started finding more and more jobs online and word began to spread. The number of jobs that started coming in was insane but really exciting.
“I’ve started to see a month on month growth in work already and I’m getting lots of repeat jobs where I’ve transformed a garden or terrace and people have asked me back to do the ongoing maintenance work too.”
Leon offers a wide range of outdoor and indoor gardening services, from clearing gardens to transforming terraces, plus ongoing maintenance and tending indoor plants and outdoor spaces whilst people are away from home.
Where possible, he works with local suppliers for plants and other materials needed for each project, in particular N1 Garden Centre.
“During the lockdown, I think people have seen the value in their outdoor spaces much more and there are so many people in De Beauvoir and the surrounding areas who want to spend some time and money on their garden or terrace and really show it some love.
“Lots of people are investing in ongoing maintenance too which is so important. There’s no point making your space look nice, just to leave it to return back to what it was and have to start all over again.
“I really enjoy taking on a wide range of projects and particularly like the challenge of an overgrown or neglected garden. It’s great to see it transformed into a space people can enjoy and I want my clients to go on the transformation journey with me.
“The Benyon Estate team have been a real help in getting the business going. They’ve been helping to spread the word about what I’m doing and have sent lots of traffic my way on social media, which has been fantastic in generating enquiries. It’s not often you find a landlord willing to do those added extras for their tenants.”
As well as taking on more work, Leon is looking to expand his knowledge and complete a Royal Horticultural Society qualification in hard landscaping.
Working alongside his brother, a graphic designer, and a friend who produces ceramics, Leon would also like to design and sell his own range of homewares, textiles and ceramics that will complement the garden transformations he creates.
South African born Leon was surrounded by a family passionate about gardening and flowers whilst growing up; his Aunt and Grandmother were both florists and other members of his family amateur gardeners.
“My Grandmother was a florist and a keen gardener,” Leon explained, “and her garden has been featured in magazines over the years. It was a traditional English rose garden and I used to love helping her out and learning how to care for plants from her.”
Leon moved to London 11 years ago and has lived in a number of different places across the city. “I’ve been in De Beauvoir for around three and a half years now and it’s the longest I’ve stayed anywhere in London. It really feels like home.
“There’s a real village feel to the place, but with great connections to elsewhere in the city. I wouldn’t ever describe myself as a city person, but I love it here because of that community feel.
“It’s one of few places I’ve lived in London where all the neighbours know each other and really get to know each other,” Leon added.
To find out more about Leon’s work or to contact him, visit his Instagram page.
All Photos Copyright: Leon Van Rooyen & The Benyon Estate