Inspired by BBC series The Good Life, Burleydam's objective was to show how customers could grow their own in a small area. Burleydam wanted to show customers, talk through questions, provide answers and achieve a better understanding of how it is done and therefore provide a better service. The garden centre also hoped to drive more sales of seeds, fruit and vegetable plants, herbs and all other products used in the garden.
In January, Burleydam started a complete revamp of the area. It stripped back to the grass area, re-laid with a special surface and fitted bespoke raised beds to allow for maximum planting. The greenhouse, compost maker, water butt and hen house were all then placed, taking into consideration the customer flow paths, the customer seating area and the direction of the sun. Finally, Burleydam replaced some turf, laying it under the hens' runway, ready for the arrival of the chickens.
In February and March, a team of experts put their heads together to plan the planting layout. Space was maximised as much as possible with tomatoes in the greenhouse, herbs and strawberries in hanging baskets and potatoes, green beans, lettuce and fruits in the raised beds. Critical to all this effort made was the high level of maintenance required. This was acknowledged early on and staff planning and commitment was organised to take this into the daily jobs routine.
While Burleydam knew the business opportunities surrounding hens, space restrictions were a drawback to actually selling them on site. The centre decided to recommend its customers to the local hen specialist/supplier that supplied it with Penelope and Felicity. The supplier agreed to offer Burleydam customers a 10 per cent reduction in prices on production of a voucher supplied by the centre, in return for Burleydam driving customers there.
To assist communication in the garden, Burleydam produced a weekly bulletin and displayed it in the garden. Back issues were filed away and left in the greenhouse for all to pick up and read. There was also an opportunity to use the outdoor audio sound system and customers can hear a prepared recording of a staff member talking through the stages of growth for that month by pressing a button. This audio is also available at www.burleydamgardencentre.co.uk.
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