Why should I pay for a design when some other companies provide it for free?

Thoughtful design requires both time and know-how; asking for less is only shortchanging yourself.  Maybe you won’t use the design immediately; perhaps fruition will require several years, nothing wrong with that.  Anyone can plant, but few are chosen to design well.   Instead of making an educated guess, be open to an education.  Careful design will do that, and Heliotrope abides by it.  Experience over many years tells us this is so.

With design in hand, can I plant the garden myself?

The easy answer is  ‘yes’, but this is not a recommended option,.  The Heliotrope crew has the knowledge and skill to perform their tasks correctly and efficiently, from the initial step of soil renovation with organic matter to proper planting techniques, to fertilizing, aftercare, and cleanup.  The short answer is you can do with a design whatever you wish, although we’d love to be involved with the process that makes that design into a garden.

How much can I expect to pay for a garden?

The cost of a design starts at $1200, and depending on the complexity of the garden can run up to twice that much.  Granted, some smaller projects can proceed with a sketch or two; tell us what you want and we will either oblige or recommend someone else to help you. Once the design is approved, a ballpark figure to within 15% can be given for the cost.  Construction, soil work, acquisition and cost of plants, planting and cleanup can vary considerably.  Some of our latest projects that had minimal hardscape construction were $10,000 or more.   The question is, “What are you looking for?  What do you want to spend?”   Be realistic, and then make a choice.  There are a lot of choices out there, for all kinds of people and all kinds of budgets.

How do I pay for the project?

A check or money order is fine.  We do not offer credit cards because we simply won’t pay the fees that credit card companies lavish on small businesses such as ourselves.  Several of our clients draw out their payments over an entire year, paying by way of interest-free installments.  Contact Heliotrope for details; we’ll send them to you.

What does ‘award-winning’ mean?

Talk about an over-used phrase.  To compete in a design competition, you have to enter a design competition. Heliotrope entered and won the international Perennial Plant Association’s Environmental Landscape Award three years running, every year we entered it, including the Honor Award, unlike any other organization in Minnesota.  So, we put a feather in our hat, which is why we don’t enter competitions anymore.  We’ve done that, it was fun while it lasted, and life goes on.  WCCO’s Good Neighbor Award came our way; Heliotrope has been written about in a bunch of local design magazines and featured in the Star-Tribune through the years, was invited to the dedication of The Center for Victims of Torture’s first Healing Garden with the late Paul Wellstone (which Heliotrope co-designed with Rice Creek’s Betty Ann Addison) and is in at least three books: Sunset’s ‘Midwest Landscaping Book’, Betty Jones Hammel’s ‘Legendary Homes of Lake Minnetonka’, and theTaylor’s Weekend Gardening Guide by Cathy Wilkinson Barash, ‘Kitchen Gardens’.   In the last decade, we have donated over six figures in services to the gardens of Twin Cities non-profits.  I like taking flowers to a nearby elementary school where I volunteer, teach as a para, and see kids faces light up. To be honest, I would rather receive a client’s good comments about their garden, and perhaps a recommendation to one of their friends, than all of the above, except for the school stuff. That’s the best way I know I’m doing something right.

Caption: I’m happy to say we’re charting solid progress in de-critterizing the edible garden. The question still remains though, who’s going to do the eating? Only time will tell; I plant the first of the peas this weekend.