Yesterday I was scanning old photos of completed work into my photoshop portfolios and spent a lot of the time thinking about my old friend and colleague, Kevin Likens, whose installation work was pictured in so many of those photos.
Actually Kevin and Jane Likens were so kind to photograph our jobs and give me many of those excellent pictures. Without them I probably wouldn't have many old photos to scan!
I wanted to write a bit of a tribute to Kevin's worklife as he passed away a few years ago from Cancer. I miss him a lot and think of him often as I drive around going to jobs.
I think Kevin would appreciate an ode in that he was an English major in college and loved the written word. He didn't really like having attention drawn to himself but he certainly deserves much praise. Our love of reading was one of the things we shared.
It may have been his thoughtful approach to our projects that made him such a good contractor. His eye for detail and the aesthetic of the garden is unparalleled in my view and his ability to understand that simplicity and basic lines give the garden a calming effect.
I still visit many of the clients and gardens that Kevin and I worked on and the basic "bones" of the garden are in place and will carry through for many years to come. This is his legacy- the creation of beautiful landscaping and enjoyable spaces for people to enjoy.
I always told clients that Kevin's jobs always grew better. He gave a lot of thought to the needs of the garden and the future health of the plantings. His quick response to any problems that arose showed that he took care in his work and wanted his jobs to be successful. Over a period of 25 years I designed many beautiful projects that Kevin installed and they are still some of the best projects that were completed. I will be hard pressed to find another contractor of that caliber of quality and such a wonderful colleague. It was just luck I met Kevin in the first place, working on a job site and both of just starting out with our business'.
Being a landscape contractor combines many skills- working with clients and employees, managing schedules, completing business tasks, procurring quality materials, trouble shooting jobs and overseeing installation. Although Kevin often struggled with his people skills, being an insular introvert, his management ability and intelligence carried him through. Even through his battle with Cancer over many years, he remained true and goal oriented to the task at hand and didn't let the disease suppress his abilities.
This ode would not be complete without recognizing Jane, Kevin's wife, who was indeed (as Kevin often remaked) his better. Her help in running the business was a huge part of Kevin's success and he valued Jane and his family foremost as the center of his life. It was with great pleasure that I to got know them as a family. Liam and Katelyn Likens are quickly growing up and are blossoming under Jane's care.
Here are a few examples of the work that Kevin installed over the years.