A Day In The Life With Landscape Designer Fran Hale Of Peachy Green

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A Day In The Life With Landscape Designer Fran Hale Of Peachy Green

A Day In The Life With Landscape Designer Fran Hale Of Peachy Green

A Day In The Life

by Bea Taylor

Fran Hale of Peachy Green.

Fran’s work day sometimes starts with a site visit to a garden she’s been working on.

This Northcote garden is one of Peachy Green’s completed projects.

Peachy Green primarily designs residential gardens, along with the occasional winery or small commercial project across Melbourne.

‘We design hundreds of gardens, but I never underestimate the fact that my clients will only do this once or twice in their life,’ says Fran.

Fran in her pink and green Peachy Green office.

‘There are always plans to work on, contractors to email, plant orders to organize, clients to chat to, book-keeping to keep up with, meetings to schedule, image boards to make, inspiration ideas to research, all the usual tasks of a design office.’

Mondays are for team meetings to workshop goals and projects that are on the go.

Fran says she loves ‘getting lost in the drawing of a plan.’

A trip to Kilby Park Tree Farm in Kew East.

Fran inspects trees at the nursery for an upcoming project.

Fran says she loves discovering new plant combinations.

Not many people know exactly what career path they want to take when entering university, nor are many lucky enough to adore the work they do at the end of it. Landscape designer Fran Hale of Peachy Green is one of these lucky people.

‘I studied landscape design soon after school,’ she explains. ‘My 19 year-old self nailed that life decision. It has become my life’s work, I will never retire from making gardens.’

She says it fulfils her mutual love of design and architecture, and nature and horticulture. ‘It’s a magic combination,’ Fran explains. ‘The best part, though, is making gardens for others. It’s really nice having a skill that can make people so happy.’

Fran moved from New Zealand to Melbourne in 2002 to, as she says, ‘escape my rebellious teenage life and recreate myself as a responsible grown-up’. The city worked its magic on the budding landscape designer, who now calls it ‘home’ — even more so after her mother and sisters also decided to relocate, one by one, across the ditch.

‘Melbourne is a wonderful vibrant city made up of neighbourhoods all full of their own character,’ says Fran. ‘This applies to garden design too.’

Her work at Peachy Green reflects this verdant variety; from the ‘fancy’ gardens of the Eastern suburbs; the ‘eclectic energy and cool vibes’ of the inner north; the mid-century; and art deco gardens of the Bayside suburbs and the coastal gardens on the Peninsula.

She says there are a lot of things to love about her job, whether it’s getting lost in drawing plans, tree shopping at a nursery, discovering new plant combinations or the camaraderie of her dedicated team of four. But her favourite part is receiving a photo from a client on a Sunday afternoon who ‘just can’t believe how beautiful it is when things grow.’

Fran takes us through a ‘typical’ day in her life below!

First thing 

I love the early morning and always have. I wake up at 6am, make a pot of coffee and head to the dog park or the Darebin creek for some fetch time. I use this time to get my head clear on the main priorities of the day.

Then it’s breakfast and chats with the kids, and making sure they are set for the day before walking or dropping them off at school.

Morning

Work starts at 9am, which is a short drive from home. Sometimes I’ll have a site visit around 7.30am to check on site progress with a contractor.

Every day in the office is different. On Monday we have team talks to make our goals for the week and workshop our projects. Tuesdays and Wednesdays we might have client meetings and site visits. Thursdays is a no-meeting design day with the team, and Fridays I try to keep clear and work from home with minimal distractions.

This structure sets up time-blocking and boundaries for the week that allow us to optimise our workflow by separating the clear-thinking days from the busy talking meeting days.

Lunchtime

Lunch is usually a chicken or tofu salad that my husband prepares in the morning. He is the chef in our house (or the Butler as the kids affectionately call him). He makes exceptional lunchboxes for everyone.

Otherwise, I walk to stretch my legs and grab some sushi or a Vietnamese vermicelli salad or a bubble tea – my favourite!

Afternoon

There are always plans to work on, contractors to email, plant orders to organise, clients to chat to, book-keeping to keep up with, meetings to schedule, image boards to make, inspiration ideas to research, all the usual tasks of a design office.  

I don’t usually do meetings after 2pm because I get tired of talking by then and the caffeine has worn off.

I have a bad back and can’t sit in the office all day anymore so I usually break up the afternoon with errands or picking up the kids from school. I might go for a walk around 4pm and finish up emails at home.

Evening

Dinner is whatever magnificent thing my husband is cooking. It’s like living with a 5-star chef. He loves to cook and always has delicious healthy food on the table. I don’t know how he does it so well!

We often pop over to the dog park after dinner in summer, or clean the house – I love cleaning, tidying and pottering around while listening to music.

Right now I’m listening to… a lot of podcasts and audiobooks! I only have the energy to read books on holidays these days. I used to love watching TV shows at night, but I find I can’t look at screens in the evenings too much anymore after being on a screen during the days. My brain and my eyes need a rest, so I usually listen to something instead. On the podcast rotation I have, The Imperfects, My Daily Business, Andrew Huberman, Tim Ferris, DOAC, Smartless, Dynasty, Parental as Anything, Business made Simple, TED talks daily, Mamamia Outloud… among others.

My productivity tool/tip is… I have many and would be an Organizational Psychologist in another life! I am a big fan of time blocking the week’s calendar into a routine and making one decision to cover a thousand decisions. I try to keep meetings tight together over two days so they are not dotted throughout the week. This also has the added hack of only getting ‘dressed up’ two days of the week, the rest can be jeans and t-shirt and no makeup. I LOVE Excel and my whole life exists in detail, in beautifully coloured spreadsheets that span back two decades.



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