have little or no interest in doing any real gardening – whether that is due to a lack of time or skill. “Seeds do well but sundries are small for us,” says Ms Ferrando. “Our customers are not very green fingered here. It’s all about instant gardening. They will happily pay someone to get the job done for them but they are not interested in the process. It’s very different to what you would find outside of London,” she adds. This lack of gardening knowledge can work in the centre’s favour, however. “They don’t have the real gardening skills, so when something dies they come back to use and replace it, which is good for us, obviously.”

It also leads to great demand for artificial plants – but, as with everything in this area, only the best will do. “Over the years our artificial offer has become bigger and bigger. They are really high quality now – we purchase those abroad and they look amazing.” The Chelsea Gardener also has an

impressive houseplants department and this is another area that has

really grown for the business over recent years. “The area is as big as shrubs now” exclaims Ms Ferrando. Styled beautifully, like the rest of the centre, the department boasts an assortment of succulents, orchids, palms and mature cacti, amongst other tropical and sub-tropical species. A lot of the centre’s bigger plants and specimens are sourced in Italy, Ms Ferrando tells DIY Week, including large olive trees in the outdoor garden area. Like many garden centres, The Chelsea Gardener also recognises the benefit of having an on-site eatery to help provide a reason for customers to visit and enjoy its surroundings throughout the year. However, the business has found a low-maintenance, yet upmarket alternative to running its own café or restaurant by teaming up with neighbouring British brasserie, Bumpkin. The restaurant, which is located two doors down from The Chelsea Gardener and backs onto its land, has extended its dining space into the garden centre’s outdoor garden area, creating what it calls the Secret Garden.

The centre’s covered outdoor planteria is one of the areas available for hire outside of busines hours

Bumpkin specialises in British dishes, made with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients but the partnership means The Chelsea Gardener’s customers are able to enjoy anything from coffee or a cocktail to a three-course dining experience. Bumpkin’s patrons are also able to wander from the main restaurant into the garden centre if

they want to browse the offer. It may not occupy the largest footprint amongst the UK’s garden retail operators but The Chelsea Gardener certainly knows how to use the space it has and offers more than enough to encourage a customer make a day of it – or even longer if they fancy hiring the venue for a private party after hours!


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