Two years ago, Caroline Dimba Abwoga moved back to Kenya and decided to take up her passion for gardening and landscaping.
Before that November in 2017, she had been a banker at the Trade and Development Bank in Zimbabwe, where she had lived for 14 years.
“Carol’s Landscapes was something that was born out of my pure love for plants, flowers and gardens,” she says.
“Being around plants is a very calming thing for me, the same way yoga or listening to music could be for someone else. I could spend all day in a garden. This is also as long as they are healthy and thriving. (Laughs). Otherwise I would just be demotivated.”
Currently, her team is made up of six: a supervisor, four gardeners and a cleaning lady.
She has undertaken many projects since registering her company, with both residential and commercial clients. She offers maintenance services on a weekly basis for the residential clients who happen to be more in number.
Carol prefers keeping her clients confidential, but her favourite project has to be of one garden she did in Runda Evergreen.
“We chose a blend of colourful flowering and non-flowering plants. We layered them well and they came out so beautifully. We also planted Arabica grass for her, which is lush and very green.”
According to Carol, it’s very difficult to know how much good landscaping and gardening should cost because it all depends on a client’s specifications. One might want grass, another might prefer trees.
“However, on the issue of terrain, we’re very flexible and can work on whatever the client has,” she says.
She mentions how important investing in equipment has been for her company in the long run, with her most unique one being a mower which is very powerful.
“We invested in a very good model which is able to cover the large landscapes we get at times. We have also invested in a roller which ensures that the grass we have planted is level,” she says.
“That’s one of the top tips I would give to someone who wants to start out in the gardening and landscaping industry.”
Caroline is big on colours. She believes in the impact it can have on a space. This is why she prefers coloured cabro as opposed to the grey ones which she finds dull. “Colour lightens up landscapes. On top of that, there are many alternatives to cabro. Tiles, for example, are relatively affordable, look very nice and are as strong as cabro,” she says.
Over the years, Carol has learnt that trending plants really depend on the weather. She says that fuchsia is making a killing at the moment, seeing as the weather is relatively cold. The flowers are over-the-top beautiful and can last the entire cold season.
Her nursery is clean proof of her love for indoor plants, as well as plants that do not require as much sunlight to thrive.
“My favourite plant would be the money plant. It’s very resilient and requires little maintenance. If looked after properly, this plant can turn out very beautifully,” she mentions.
The entrepreneur keeps up with trends by reading vastly and sharing gardening and landscaping information with people in her industry.
“I’m a member of the Kenya Horticultural Association. We get a lot of advice on how to take care of our plants. I am also part of a group of environmentalists where we share ideas of latest trends, plants and practices.”
Like any other business, Carol is faced with challenges too. For her, it’s the competition she gets from people who have been in the game longer.
“Penetrating the market has been the most challenging thing to do. It’s hard to convince clients to go for our services instead of someone who’s been around for more than 10 years.” But all Carol wants in five years is to grow. Initially, she worked from home. She has her own nursery, office and solid client base now.
“In the next five years, I hope to have an even bigger nursery and to increase our clientele. We’re getting many referrals, something that’s a good sign for us. The only way is up,” says the mother-of-three.
Her days always have to start in the office, no matter how early she’s needed on site.
“It helps me plan my day better. I will be on site for a few hours in a day depending on the type of work being done. My colleagues spend longer hours on site because of delegating duties, of course.”