Fuelling the garden revolution

Fuelling the garden revolution


Butchers, bakers, fish mongers and green grocers. It seems that the public are re-discovering all of these high street gems in a bid to overcome the mundane offerings from ‘the big sheds’. These independent shops, sometimes now called ‘artisan’ outlets, can provide the customer with excellent produce and personal service. But why not garden centres?

“Of course they now supplement their incomes with cafes and restaurants, re-engineering themselves as ‘Garden Destinations'”

So, why is there a trend in the opposite direction regarding plants? Most of the large garden retailers are experiencing shrinking plant areas with escalating individual item prices. The garden sundries sections are also shrinking, replaced with deli’s, ornaments, clothing etc. Of course they now supplement their incomes with cafes and restaurants, re-engineering themselves as ‘Garden Destinations’

Local garden centre

In an attempt to balance out their losses in other areas, the supermarkets are buying garden retailers and selling gardening products and plants from their own shelves. Convenience is a big factor as far as the supermarkets are concerned. Everyone visits at least once a week, why not pick up the odd box of bedding or what they think, is a great value shrub. It requires little effort and they are already there anyway. It is a similar story for the D.I.Y. stores, but at least they are in roughly the correct retail sector.

“draw people into their ‘two for one’ bargain culture”

The supermarkets are now in competition with the garden centres and have started undercutting them. Not by much, but enough to draw people into their ‘two for one’ bargain culture. So the next time they visit the ‘Destination’ they will merely have a meal, look at the fish and let the kids run around the sheds and hot tubs. In my experience people rarely leave a garden centre these days with a plant or a bag of compost.

“So let us start calling such places ‘Artisan’ plant retailers”

So, if we are to start a gardening revolution, we are going to need fuel. The public need to know, as gardening and growing become more popular again, that if they want quality, choice, expert advice and competitive prices, they NEED to visit their local independent retail nurseries. Somewhere who’s focus is firmly on growing plants and providing the essentials that people need to successfully grow their own revolutionary ammunition. The only way that we can encourage people to garden more is if it is more accessible. Spare money is thin on the ground for the average person, and whatever they do decide to spend in their gardens has to be a prudent outlay. I am lucky to work in an establishment that prides itself on affordable quality and superb choice.

So let us start calling such places ‘Artisan’ plant retailers. Let us see them go from strength to strength. Brothers. Sisters. Help the artisans to help us shape our revolution. #growrev


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  1. 1
    Darren @nftallotment

    I’m 100% behind the idea of supporting specialist and dedicated plant nurseries. There are one or two excellent outlets where I live, in the North Manchester area and I wish there were a lot more of them. But there’s a risk, when you start adding labels like “artisan”, of inverse snobbery creeping in. For instance, the use of the term “craft beer” has, over the last few years, created something of a divisive backlash against what some people assume is just expensive elitism by smaller breweries. It’s also demonstrated that there’s no lazy marketing bandwagon that the major producers and retailers won’t jump on.

    I think the solution here has to be for genuine plantaholics and dedicated gardeners to make the choice to support their local specialists whenever possible, rather than taking the easy option of the destination garden centre or supermarket. We have to vote with our wallets and show the specialist nurseries that we’re on their side.

  2. 2
    Robbie Cave

    Thank you for your comment Darren. I agree that there is a slight risk of inverted snobbery if independent brand themselves as artisan plant retailers. However I do not visualise that outlets actually re-sign adding artisan to their advertisements and logos. Many of the new breed of bakers etc have simply become known as artisan assumed title signifies their expertise. Indeed many of these new breed of store actually operate in exactly the same way as the stores that our grandparents used to use on a regular basis.
    I am not discounting your thoughts. If you think this way, others will too. Efforts must be made, in general, to ensure that every walk of life, is welcomed. Not only into the industry for employment but into retailers. The issues do not lie with plantaholics and avids. They will always visit and purchase plants. The issue is encouraging the ‘have a go’s’ and dabblers in higher numbers. Comfortable, affordable, knowledgable establishments are key to this. Places where they are not distracted by millionaires shortbread, scented candles or tropical fish.
    I hope it can be achieved.

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