5 November 2014
Autumn is a busy time for gardeners as they tidy up and put everything to bed ready for planning again in February. As the cold creeps in there are lots of jobs to do and next month is the time to plant roses and trees. So if through the summer you’ve thought how nice it would be to have more roses or a couple more trees in the garden November is the month!
Woodborough Garden Centre offers gardening and much more. Alongside their nursery and garden shop they also have a gift shop, farm shop & Café as well as a children’s gardening club and plenty of animals for the children to visit. In the summer they have fruit picking and they already have Christmas decorations aplenty. An extremely popular wreath making course (with the all-important glass of wine!) and late night shopping help get locals in the Christmas Spirit.
Claire Rourke, proprietor of Woodborough Garden Centre, explains that they like to work closely to the seasons, and ensure products are available at the right time of the year. A good example being the David Austin roses. They have just taken delivery of a large order of roses, because this is an ideal time to be planting to get them big and strong for next year’s flowering season. Where possible many of the products sold in the shop or used in the café are bought locally, from local supplier and growers, and they are proud to support British manufacturing.
Claire came from the North-East to buy the business in 2010. Claire and her husband Chris were looking for a change in lifestyle and wanted to run a garden centre. Claire has a background in retailing having worked for House of Fraser, Debenhams, Next and Tesco – ultimately working in a garden centre in Herefordshire. Although a keen gardener, the centre keeps her busy so she doesn’t find much time to do her own patch, but admires other’s gardens and those who do it properly.
Having her own business has not been without its challenges. You need a strong character to be all departments (Finance, IT, HR, Logistics – even cleaning the ladies and gents!). However, it’s been fantastic to follow her dream and make it happen.
2010 was a tricky time to buy given the recession and the first 2 ½ years were some of the worst trading conditions for Garden Centres. It rained and then was cold, then a mix of the two and this year conditions have been normalising. Now is the time for Claire to introduce the changes she’s envisaged. They want to encourage outdoor adventures so have started engaging children in horticulture through their Muddy Wellies Gardening Club which already has 70 members. She also wants to increase activity with all the animals and help parents offer an alternative to screen time.
They have lots of lovely things in the farm shop all of which are available in their café – perfect to take home for a treat or to thank someone for hospitality. They bake their own things – homemade quiches, sausage rolls, tray bakes, cakes and meringues. If you’re going to see someone for tea a tray of flapjacks or brownies always brings a smile. And there’s always a planted up pot for a gift. The café is always buzzing with people enjoying a cuppa and Claire loves that so many of her customers are regulars – from the couple who have their breakfast most mornings, to the groups who come in for lunch, and the mums and children who come in after school for a tea time treat. The menu is big enough to be interesting, but small enough to be able to provide great customer service.
It’s a short commute to work for Claire as she lives in the village. She loves the fact it’s so friendly and enjoys socialising in her free time. She loves to explore the local area and the fantastic walks with her two dogs and two children. She also loves Wiltshire’s proximity to London.
And with the Christmas display now being ready and Santa making an appearance in early December there’s no excuse not to pop in…