There’s always something very enticing about a green oasis amid the bustle of London life. Fiona Garcia takes refuge at The Chelsea Gardener – a garden centre as unique as its high-end and very particular customer-base.


t the heart of affluent borough of Kensington & Chelsea in southwest London sits The Chelsea

Gardener. It might seem an unlikely location for a garden centre – nestled amongst boutique shops, little brasseries and multi-million pound properties, and just a stone’s throw from the famous King’s Road – but then this is not your average garden centre.

Established in Sydney Street, SW3 in 1984 the family-run business has been thriving for 33 years – something general and operations manager Maité Ferrando observes is good going considering the tough market independents are now operating in. “As you can imagine, is quite a struggle nowadays,” she says. However, as any savvy local

retailer would, The Chelsea Gardener has taken the time to understand its customers’ habits over the years and works hard to cater to the time-poor residents who want instant results and are happy to pay for premium products. Its

desirable inner-London location also means the garden centre is able to supplement its retail income by hiring out its canopy-covered planteria, outdoor garden area, indoor showroom, and bespoke David Salisbury orangery for events. These can range from parties and corporate dos, to private dinners and exhibitions. Being able to provide an unusual and beautiful green space in the city makes The Chelsea Gardener a pretty unique venue within the surrounding area and, at up to £2,500 per event, it also makes for a rather lucrative extra string to its bow. “It is not your regular garden

centre,” says Ms Ferrando, who adds that the business also has a landscaping business, which operates as a separate company. Describing the centre’s offer and its ethos, she says: “We pride ourselves on providing inspiration and a one-stop shop for everybody. When it comes to outdoor living, we understand the outdoor space. Even if it is a windowsill, it is still an extension of the house.” Space is at a premium for a lot of the centre’s customers and the

Striking seasonal and on-trend displays greet customers as soon as they walk through the door at The Chelsea Gardener

team aims to provide products that cater for every type of garden and outdoor area. “In London we sell a lot of fibreglass products,” explains Ms Ferrando. “It’s a light product and is great for roof terraces and balconies. Not many people have big spaces or gardens, so we want to provide solutions for them, whatever their space.” As well as a comprehensive

offer instore, the centre stocks an absolutely huge array of fibreglass planters of all shapes and sizes, and to suit all tastes, on its transactional website, which the company set up to extend its reach beyond the Chelsea set.

The centre merchandises complimentary plants alongside one other to inspire its customers and show them what colours or plant types work well together

Its online offer ranges from window boxes at £68, up to large faux lead or aluminium troughs retailing at £702, with a host of everything inbetween, including decorative Mediterranean-style designs and high-gloss contemporary tree planters. Shoppers certainly couldn’t complain about there being a lack of choice. “We do a big turnover on accessories and ornaments,” says Ms Ferrando, “so there’s always something different for customers.”

The buying team sources a lot of these items from trade shows and ensure they attend all relevant exhibitions throughout the UK, as well as a handful of international ones, including Maison d’Objet or sometimes Spoga Gafa, explains Ms Ferrando. She adds: “Where possible, most of the products we sell are sourced from the UK.” This also applies to the centre’s plant offer, helped by its Colchester- based growing arm, By-Pass Nurseries. The Chelsea Gardener was established and is still owned by the second generation of the Fenwick family. In the late 1930s, the family had established several nurseries in and around Essex and it was here that they developed their knowledge and passion for outdoor living. Wanting to create a one-stop garden shop in London, the family took over the large site in Sydney Street that was once part of The Brompton Hospital.

Get the look

The business follows a specific formula when merchandising its range throughout the garden shop and plant areas in a bid to inspire


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