Yesterday I went with my Mum to buy some shrubs and sweet pea plants at her favourite garden centre. Twenty five years ago Garsons, in Esher, Surrey, started as pick-your-own farm and my parents were early customers. Over the years Garsons have added an excellent farm shop, huge garden centre, a water garden centre and a restaurant and my parents have been regular shoppers. And the place is always changing.
For some years they’ve been building up their range of gifts and this year clothes feature strongly. Their Christmas displays are huge and spectacular and last year they went for Halloween in a big way.
So they’ve developed a range of income streams, to cope with the unpredictablities of selling plants and pick-your-own, while at the same time keeping the quality and price of their plants very competitive. Eight or ten years ago, as Gardening Correspondent of the London Evening Standard, I drove all over London buying plants of Forsythia ‘Lynwood’ to find which garden centre had the best plants at the best price. Garsons came out top – especially impressive with the Royal Horticultural Society’s plant centre at Wisley just a few miles down the road.