When I started the nursery in 1990, it came as a bit of a shock to discover that the overwhelming majority of our lovely, creative, clever, well healed and accomplished customers were not gardeners. They told us this - constantly. It was true in 1990 and it's still true today.
What to do about this alarming state of affairs? How do we get round the fact that we're selling all these living things to jolly nice people who are self confessed ignoramuses when it comes to looking after them. They tell us they're clueless. We were selling plants to customers who were then killing them and blaming us. The answer? To educate. To engage in a sinister plot : to weave, thread and insinuate horticultural, meteorological, botanical, geological and evolutionary knowledge through everything we say, write and do. By these means we turn our customers into gardeners - whether they like it or not. Having the eye of Monet, Wren and Michelangelo helps but at this stage the object of the exercise is to help people understand that a plant is a living thing and does not obey the same rules as manufactured items. A plant has much (much, much, much) more in common with a miniature Dachshund than a piece of furniture or a fridge/freezer.
Visiting Architectural Plants is not just a walk round a garden centre - it's an exotic garden, a sweet shop and a school - all rolled into one. And - incidentally - we bristle (a bit) when referred to as a garden centre (a department store flogging vaguely horticulturally related merchandise) - we grow plants and therefore we're a nursery.
And where is all this threading, weaving and insinuation to be found? On the webthing it's under 'Plants' on the pull down menu. The 'Read More' descriptions of the plants will sometimes go off into reveries on every imaginable subject, the 'Frequent Questions' and 'How-to Bit' are revealing and as for the 'Glossary of Terms' - it goes on and on and on. For the curious and hungry-for-knowledge, it's a feast. The labels on the plants in the nursery, the posters hanging on the walls, the stories told by the staff and even the dear old printed catalogue are all stuffed with things you need to know to become a gardener.
We don't just want to grow gorgeous, shapely plants - we want to teach as well and as a result, maybe encourage you to do something interesting in your garden.
We all know that conceit is an unattractive trait but - despite that - now is the time to quote my favourite quote from myself from the old printed catalogue, written many years ago - on the subject of garden design : "...if you feel you may be teetering on the edge of doing something interesting, please allow us to at least talk to you about giving you a shove over the edge"