Tuscan-style nursery grows after success of olive trees

Olive tree and Mediterranean plant specialist Olive Grove Nurseries is expanding following a successful first year taking advantage of the boom in "staycation" Brits.

The Northamptonshire-based nursery, which opened in May and aims to give customers the impression of visiting a Tuscan nursery, was set up by Tim and Jackie Thackeray after they saw a gap in the market when sourcing Mediterranean plants for their own garden.

Jackie Thackeray said: "We have no background in horticulture at all, but lived in France for three years and toured around Europe developing a love for olive trees and Mediterranean plants. When we came back to the UK, we bought a house and tried to create a Mediterranean garden but couldn't get the plants. When a nursery down the road came up for sale we thought: 'Let's give it a go.'"

Commenting on sales this year, she said: "We have had an amazing first year, it's been superb. I'm sure we have been affected by the recession but there are still people spending on the garden and the home - they can't afford a holiday so they spend money on plants.

"We have everything from one-year-old to 400-year-old plants - we just sold a 400-year-old olive tree for £2,400 and have ordered three more. The average spend is about £1,000 and our prices range from £13.50 up to £2,400."

On plans for the future, she said: "We have closed the nursery for the winter period and we are going to expand for next year with a big undercover jungle area. We are going to reopen in the first week in April ready for the spring."

She added: "We don't have the thrills of a coffee shop, but when people come along we give them a free glass of wine or a cup of coffee - we are trying to emulate a Spanish or Tuscan nursery."

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