When I drove past the White Tower Nursery in Aldermaston a few months back, I was surprised (and shocked) to see it had closed! As a frequent visitor of the nursery, I’d got used to knowing there was an ever-ready supply of good quality well-priced plants, served by friendly people who know where they’re at. This could be a disaster. And where would I go for my summer pot plants? Who would supply the exact shade of dark pink geraniums that look perfect against the Mizzle front door?
A couple of months later I drove past again to see some enormous looking glass buildings under construction. Crikey! I thought, is Crissy expanding? – if so, this is big time! But no, a bit of research later revealed that Rosebourne is coming to town – well to Aldermaston – and bringing a bit more than the plants we’ve become used to.
Rosebourne, which is led by Neville Prest, ex-CEO of Garden & Leisure, launched their first site in Andover two years ago, and by all accounts are going from strength to strength. Their branding ‘A fresh approach’ is pleasing to the eye and their values seem to be spot on. Memorable customer experience (in a good way), outstanding service, attention to detail, passionate, happy staff… This is looking good so far. The giant glass buildings will house a table service restaurant, food hall, butchers, gift shop, homeware, ornaments, garden furniture, not forgetting the all-essential plants. The list goes on.
With interest piqued, I decided to take a trip to Andover and test the Rosebourne experience first hand. For those who haven’t ventured there yet, it’s a pretty big operation. Lots of tasty food, mainly supplied by locals (their policy for suppliers is “local, reputable, fantastic products and service”) and a massive area of gifts and other ‘stuff’ designed to tempt the wallet. Aldermaston will be a good spot for pre-Christmas methinks, opening in October, just in time for efficient pressie-buyers.
The plants were nice too. I’d already bought my geraniums from another garden centre (which I hope will be the right colour) so won’t be testing those this year, but I did invest in a night-scented stock (couldn’t resist) and they seemed to have a good range of fine-quality, classic favourites – bedding, perennials, roses, shrubs, trees – as well as some not-so-common plants. Plus they will apparently source special requests on your behalf, which is really useful to know.
One thing I really liked about the Andover nursery was that it appeared to be managed by a more mature gentleman. Not that I have anything against young people managing nurseries, but it’s nice to come across a business that appreciates the value of knowledge that comes with long-term experience. I think he was called Henry, and he looked to me to be just right for the job.
So, all in all, I think I’m looking forward to the arrival of Rosebourne to our postcode. I send my thanks and best wishes to Crissy Clemson for her exemplary products and service for the past 27 years. And after all those long days and weekends of grafting in all weathers, I have to agree she deserves to hang up her trowel and take a well-earned rest.