If you want to experience a cross between a magical midsummer night’s dream whilst entering the secret walled garden of a genteel country house (one whose Victorian glass house has charmingly ‘seen better days’) – then Richmond’s Petersham Nurseries is the place for you!
Anybody who follows me on Instagram (@chariswhite.stylist) might know that my two main obsessions are home and gardens. Not surprisingly, I found myself pretty much in heaven when I made a return visit to Petersham Nurseries in Richmond recently. What they do very well is to mix furniture and accessories with garden plants as well as having a destination restaurant and cafe (oh and they run all sorts of inspirational courses too!)
It’s a business model that has been implemented for several years by chains of garden nurseries but often the styling is a little lacklustre and the stock in need of judicious editing. The bottom line is that they lack ‘magic’. But not so at theatrical Petersham.
Retailers have known for years that they have to think a little bit differently when it comes to finding ways of attracting customers into their stores. The ease and inspirational photography of some on-line sites/catalogues often cuts out the need to pay expensive car parking fees to visit the ‘bricks and mortar’ of tired format department stores.
‘Experiences’ especially interactive ones (and this includes good old-fashioned customer service) are what people are after these days, whether it is courses to learn something new, interactive theatre or really unusual shopping experiences. If people find a ‘brand’ they like, they often want to immerse themselves in it and to import a little of it into their own lives.
Here are just a few shots of the many different home accessories and furniture on offer at Petersham. Set out as mini room sets with intertwining plants, they are all very appealing. Think ‘faded grandeur meets theatrical’! P.S. We did sample the cakes at the end of our visit with a carafe of elderflower cordial and I can confirm that they were delicious. (So delicious, in fact that there was no time to record them on my phone…)
And here follows one of my interior mantras: you can never have enough baskets! They are great for hiding all the ‘difficult’ and less attractive things we all have and several do look sweet in cupboards and on shelves. Love ’em.
Beachcomber lighting ideas
Some of Petersham’s midsummer lighting offer takes inspiration from beachcomber bars and ‘found’ driftwood. So if you want to keep summer all year round at home check these out! Chandeliers always look magical when hung outside from the branch of a tree for a midsummer eve’s dinner (the candle sort easiest). At Petersham, they hang in amongst the vines inside the greenhouses in the shop and in the restaurant.
Even though this is hung for display, I would seriously consider hanging this light this low. Imagine the fab drama of it over a dinner table!
Round and convex mirror shapes are still being favoured. Scandinavians and The Neo Classicist architect Sir John Soane, (1753 – 1837, architect of The Bank of England and The Dulwich Picture Gallery) understood all too well the need for maximising light. Soame used circular convex mirrors on walls and in smaller versions on ceilings and fireplaces – as one of the many inventive ways he used to bring light into his Georgian home. The house (three knocked into one) at Lincoln’s Inn Fields is preserved as he left it when Soane died in 1837 and is now a museum. I would also recommend visiting on the one night a month the museum also opens by candlelight but make sure you allow as much time as possible as there is so much to see!
Very decent budget versions of circular framed mirrors are also available from places like Ebay through to Laura Ashley to exquisite British handcrafted ‘antiques of the future’ from Reid and Wright.
Possibly Swedish, this antique clock adds to the magical, fairy tale Gustavian styling in this corner at Petersham.
Beautiful rose bushes and bougainvillea grow with an abundance of flowers and are planted both inside and outside around the Cafe and Restaurant.
Mythical tree trunk zinc top table
I spotted this beauty in Petersham’s cutting garden, the first bloom of 2017 I believe! The dahlia is now the darling of the interior and floristry styling worlds. This is a pretty perfect specimen and is in this summer’s ‘Blush Crush’ fashion and interior colours.
Garden bench and planter
The planks of wood naturally create a curve to the bench.
‘Bringing the garden back to Covent Garden’
Can’t wait to see what the new Petersham Nurseries opening in Covent Garden is going to be like. Phase one opens at the end of the summer (delicatessen, wine cellar, home & garden shop) and phase two opens in late Autumn with two restaurants, a bar in a courtyard.
Thank you so much for reading! If you would like help on how to recreate the Petersham look, then please don’t hesitate to contact me for styling services.
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