ERBE: Landscape Legacy

Had a lot of fun photographing Igors Cupruns and his team when they came to do some work in our garden. So much so, that we decided to interview Igors about his company and the career path that led him to pursue the work he has loved ever since childhood.

Landscape gardening has been Igors’ passion ever since the age of five, when he started working in his parents’ garden at their country home near Dobele in Latvia. Here he began experimenting, learning from his mistakes, and figuring out how to create a beautiful, yet low-maintenance, garden. Even now, this garden is the one he uses in social media posts for his recently founded company ERBE, explaining and demonstrating the knowledge and skills he has acquired over the past 30 years. The word ‘ERBE’ is German for ‘legacy’ or ‘heritage’ and Igors considers each plant in a garden to be part of a rich inheritance for future generations.

Click on a picture to open a full screen lightbox gallery.

An important aspect of creating a garden as a family legacy is making sure it is low-maintenance. Igors recalls how his Mum used to spend hours and hours planting annuals, watering and weeding her garden, taking time away from other activities she could be enjoying with family and friends. His mission is to prioritise the value of time with loved ones by minimising unnecessary work in the garden, making it a place to enjoy together, rather than an exhausting burden. He achieves this by carefully choosing the right perennials and spacing them properly, making conditions for weeds less favourable and ensuring a combination of plants that will provide changing colour and interest throughout the seasons.

As is often the case with people who have a talent for creating something beautiful, Igors’ parents did not consider landscape gardening to be a ‘proper’ job and so he spent the first ten years of his working life as a route planner for public transport companies. However, at the age of thirty, he hit his first mid-life crisis and began searching for new opportunities. He started studying landscape gardening seriously, completed a master’s in Business Management at Banku Augstskola, travelled to Mexico for a month and then started his own company. Igors did not succeed in this first attempt to establish a landscape design business but he did not give up. He spent the next four years as a project manager for another company, gaining valuable experience in landscape design and installation for industrial and public buildings, ranging from logistics parks to a kindergarten.

Two years ago Igors set up ERBE, with a strong focus on marketing through social media. He regularly posts engaging reels on Instagram and Facebook about different aspects of landscape design and runs competitions with prizes like a hydrangea, a magnolia or a garden design consultation, and his client base is growing steadily, with over 2000 followers on Instagram.

Recently Igors has become interested in including wildflower meadows in his garden designs. He says, “Not everything has to be perfectly manicured; you can leave some places to look natural.” Meadowland in Latvia has decreased rapidly over the last century with the rise of large-scale agriculture, falling from 30% of the territory of Latvia a hundred years ago to just 0.9% today. However, the Latvian Nature Fund has set up a project to collect wildflower seeds from meadows and use them to create meadow zones in cities and Igors encourages his clients to include sections of meadow in their garden designs.

Igors brought a team of young workers to plant evergreen thujas and birch trees in our back garden and convert our labour-intensive flowerbeds out front to low-maintenance beds with rhododendrons, hostas, and other plants to complement a delicate purple-white colour scheme. Over the next couple of years, he aims to increase the number of 3-person teams so he can bring low-maintenance, high quality gardens to more and more clients, as a legacy to future generations of their families. He encourages people to use a properly registered, professional company when investing in such legacies, as it can be tempting to cut corners by using cheaper non-specialists who lack the necessary knowledge and training.

Igors says that the greatest joy in his work is when he and a client look at the end result of a landscaping project and the client says, “WOW! That looks amazing!”, which is certainly how we reacted at the end of the day!!

Photographs: Anna Roth
Text: Katie Roth

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