Petersham Nurseries

My mum is a bit of a horticulturist buff. She knows her away around a flower bed, the same way I know my way around John Lewis. As a consequence growing up we’ve toured quite a few garden centres. None however like the oasis a short cycle along the Thames from Richmond to Petersham, which we’ve recently discovered.

To paraphase Marks & Spencer, Petersham Nurseries is no ordinary garden centre. This is an internationally prized garden centre, offering much more than flower cuttings and terracotta pots. This is a destination in itself delivering a tranquil haven from London’s metropolitan buzz.

The story behind the rise of this haven is one of love and passion. Gael & Francesco Boglione moved into Petersham House with their family in 1997. They later acquired Petersham Nursery, which lay within the grounds of their home but had been threatended by demoltion and property developers. Following extensive redevelopment and restoration work a new lease of life was channelled into Petersham Nurseries. It reopened its doors in 2004 and as soon as you walk through the gates you can tell it has been a labour of love.

You’re welcomed by the aroma of beautiful English roses and a wide range of fragrant kitchen herbs. On the Sunday we ventured we were fortunate to explore the families walled garden, open to the public only once or twice throughout the year. Again you can tell the love and workmanship which has gone into manage such a beautiful space, a haven for honey bees and also home to a few chickens! The scope and imagination of this garden is incredible. It has a carefree and wild feel about it but at the same time you know a huge amount of effort goes into maintaining such an impression. There is also an impressive kitchen garden producing seasonal fruit and vegetables for the kitchen.

Those with green fingers will have a field day browsing the impressive collection of plants and fruit trees for sale. Not having been blessed with the green fingered gene {I much prefer flowers I can bung in a vase} I was very excited to put the Tea House to the test. Offering a selection of homemade cakes, loose leaved teas and filtered coffee, there is also a colourful selection of seasonal salad dishes and quiches all with a distinct Italian twist to them. Although yes, a little on the pricey side our choices did hit all the right notes. I can highly recommend the lavender cake and the orange & almond cake as well as the aubergine, walnut & goats cheese salad, in that particular order if you choose too! Choose to sit in greenhouse, which is full of rustic charm and character or outdoors among the plants if the weather is on your side.

Or for something a little more special then definitely book a table within The Café, which in 2011 was awarded its first Michelin star and again in 2012. Lucy Boyd is now leading the charge “combining her English culinary background with her love of Italian flavours”. Also as members of the Slow Food Supporters Scheme, the team behind the scenes are committed towards using good, clean and fair ingredients as well as supporting local food producers and farmers.

It doesn’t stop there. As well as beautiful flowers, delicious food served in a unique setting there is also a chance to indulge in additional retail therapy for the home. Petersham Nurseries also boasts a shop selling an eclectic mix of furnishings and antiques. As well as beautiful vases, candles, mirrors and dining sets, there are also larger items including kitchen dressers, chairs and tables, all very stylish and unique, but fitting with the vibe Petersham Nurseries exudes. One that is bursting with character and welcoming and may even have triggered the horticulturist within me that has been struggling to escape!

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