Gardening forum The Garden Network TGN is a huge success since its launch in March 2008

Just a quick post to tell you all where I've been for the last few months! Along with all the fun and games my 11 month old boy brings - my new gardening forum has been keeping me busy, alongside garden design work and Toddington Manor- its all go!

I've been running my own bespoke garden design and landscaping business (in addition to Toddington Manor) for the last 10 years or so, and since teaming up with Homebase to provide their homebase garden design service in 2006, it became apparent to me the sheer demand for inspiration from homeowners.

I was inundated with requests for design and landscaping from across the UK, with homeowners saying they 'did not trust business websites' and 'can I recommend anyone locally?' - so I set about creating a 'level playing field' for the industry and a focal-point for consumers to decide who's best for them, by making direct comparisons on gardening businesses.

Seeing the explosion of Social Networks and listening to homeowners, it seemed obvious to use this technology to help them find local businesses and make informed decisions on who to employ. Since its March 2008 launch - designers are meeting local landscapers, homeowners are commissioning projects, students are meeting the industry, amateurs are helping beginners and businesses are forming valuable new connections, it's very refreshing to see!

8 months after starting 'The Garden Network' which very soon has become know as TGN to its members) Im still surprised at the up take - over 3,200 members have joined so far!

A clever search database structure, means you can find and talk to any type of member to further your business or your own garden and was described as "...a networking website that looks set to become the 'Facebook' of the Horticulture world." by Horticulture Week. It's not restricted to the trade, as members showcasing their work has proved a big draw to homeowners looking for reputable companies, with many winning several commissions in the first few weeks of the site going live.

I didn't want to create another faceless 'Quote Database', as industry professionals know how big a part trust, communication and examples of previous work play in securing commissions. Our poll to Homeowners on TGN (on what they rated as the most important factor when choosing contractors) confirmed this - 53% (overwhelming majority) said 'examples of previous work' was their 1st priority. It's just too big a decision for Homeowners to make by 'filing out a form' - hence the 1000's of portfolios, blogs, comments and messages on TGN.

It's still very new, and we have lots of fresh features, areas, software, downloads and other initiatives under development in time for 2009 which we know our amateur gardeners, homeowners and the trade will reccommend it. Unlike many forum and networking sites out there, it's not meant to be a soapbox for one individual or company, but a tool for the whole industry and interested public to use - you can really lose yourself in there for hours!

If you want to see it, start your own Gardening Blog, meet like-minded gardeners, amateurs, designers, students or professionals - click here to visit the TGN Gardening Forum.