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  • Writer's pictureNikki Hill

Hanging Baskets & Quick Wins: 5 Reflections from the Bank Holiday Weekend

Updated: May 11, 2021

Growing up in Hong Kong, space was at a premium and gardens were not a thing. My mum managed to keep a variety of houseplants looking healthy and I've generally managed to unintentionally kill them. One of our wedding presents was a cactus. This was a good shout.

Fast forward to spring 2021. Having recently - in the last month - bought a car, and less recently - just over a year ago - bought a house with an actual real-life garden, I decided this was the perfect time to develop green fingers.

The goal: to transform a patch of lawn into a mini haven with flower beds, twinkly lights, bamboo covering the back fence, and altogether a nice place to sit with a coffee and a book, or end the day with a well-earned glass of vino.

Just a few minor details to get sorted first. Like getting the tools to dig up the turf and make space for flower beds, having something to plant in them, and the accessories so we can sit and enjoy it, day or night. Having our own set of wheels was going to make this easy.

So we were off to a good start when the car wouldn’t start.

Richard stayed home to try and get it sorted, whilst I set off on foot to the nearest B&Q a couple of miles away. If nothing else, I could at least pick up a spade to start digging. I was absolutely determined to get started before a week of rain was due to hit.

Shortly after I got back home, spade in hand, a lovely man from the AA arrived who checked the battery and attempted to charge it up. It got up to 50% and was touch and go whether we needed a new battery altogether.

‘If I were you, I’d give it a good drive for an hour to see if that does it. But you need to go now, otherwise it might not start again once I’ve gone’.

Righto. Scrap plans to immediately dig up the garden. Instead, jump in the car and head off to a second B&Q in Croydon to charge up the battery and grab compost, hanging baskets and solar powered lights. (Tick, tick and tick).

I finally managed to get going in the garden and realised that digging up the lawn is a rather slow and sweaty process. As in, half jumping on the spade, trying to get any kind of initial dent in the soil that I can then leverage, wondering what I'd got myself into.

Before starting I imagined it would be hard work, but that I'd make decent progress and lift up strips of turf at a time. The reality was spade sized sections after a lot of huffing and puffing.

Despite the effort, it was essential to do before I could plant the very pretty zebra hydrangea and agapanthus I'd discovered on Waitrose Garden (which was almost as exciting as discovering that Waitrose have an online garden section and that it's super helpful).

Richard meanwhile got out the drill and started putting up the hanging baskets on fence posts. In 20 minutes he was done and the garden looked noticeably better, even though the baskets are currently empty. Definite quick win. Luckily, he stuck around to give me a hand with the rest.

After 3 solid hours of digging, shaking loose excess soil and filling our compost bin, the left hand side of the garden has space ready to grow flowers in. We tidied up, placed our existing potted plants (ahem, twigs) on top of the beds to give us a sense of what it will be like in the future and ordered a bumper takeaway for dinner to celebrate.

Haven complete? Not yet, that was never going to happen in one day, but a really decent step forward and sense of accomplishment to go with it.


  • Overcoming obstacles is easier if you're clear on the minimum required to keep moving forward (i.e. I can still find a way to get the spade I need now).

  • If you can, reframe a perceived setback by moving further along in other areas (impromptu trip to even bigger B&Q with a car meant stocking up on extra pieces for the future).

  • Laying the foundations can feel like a hard slog but they enable the rest of your vision to actually happen. Being able to see the progress, at whatever pace, definitely helps.

  • Quick wins early on make it feel like you’re making an impact and can balance out the slow and steady aspects that will come to fruition in the longer term.

  • Regular milestones and making a point of celebrating along the way is way more fun and rewarding than focusing on everything still left on a never-ending To Do list.

All and well and good, but how does this relate to you, as you step up into a new leadership role?

Here are five sets of questions to help you assess where you are now and make progress in your first 100 days:

  1. What tools do you need to move forward? Not 'all the tools you might want at some point', the ones you can’t do without now. Go get those, and get started.

  2. How clear are you on what’s needed later down the line? Can you flex and make the most of opportunities or setbacks as they arise?

  3. What foundation do you need to lay in your new role? How can you prepare yourself for the fact it may feel tough as you get started?

  4. What quick wins can you implement over the next month that support your longer term vision?

  5. What are your milestones and how will you celebrate reaching them?


Whilst landscaping a garden is new to me, helping leaders as they step up in their careers is not. If you'd like extra support to get clear on what you want to achieve in the first place, grab my free 'Define Your Success' guide at the top of the homepage and reach out if you have any questions.

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