At one end of Blue Diamond’s Brambridge Park Garden Centre in Hampshire, a series of three new display gardens is taking shape.
The first, which is largely finished, is a formal English country garden complete with rose beds, lavender and bay trees as well as a small orchard of apple trees and a wild flower meadow area.
The location has attracted a new range of customers for Hambrooks. "We were very keen to get involved in the Winchester area, which is very prosperous, so we needed a local base. We’ve got a good name so we can also attract people to the garden centre. It works very well for both sides," says Hambrook.
Importance of design
For some garden centres, design is extremely important. Moota Garden Centre in Cumbria was initially a design service but started selling plants and landscaping seven years ago. It gets a substantial number of major contracts.
"Our biggest recent job was £90,000 worth of work over 18 months. This included installing a driveway," says director Neil Simpson. The company has close links with electricians and other trades, so it can offer a one-stop shop.
Suppliers of stone and other landscaping materials have started to see the advantages of forging links with designers.
Aggregate Industries brand Border Stone, for example, now works with designer Paul Hervey Brookes. Over the past few weeks, he has put out a blog and a brochure with hints on design.
Although Border Stone does supply to some garden centres, it is not involved in any joint initiatives or reciprocal arrangements.
Although these firms all have different ways of working, they all appreciate that despite the general recession there are still people with money to splash around. Landscaping and garden design can bring in wealthy clients to keep the tills ringing even in the toughest economic conditions.