Petersham Nurseries, Café and Teahouse

When businessman Francesco Boglione and his wife Gael bought the nursery at the bottom of their garden, saving it from the clutches of a determined property developer, they did us all a favour.

No ordinary garden centre, Petersham Nurseries is one of the most enchanting places in London. Blink and you’ll miss the entrance, which creeps up on you without fanfare. A potholed track off Petersham Road leads you to a modest car park. Visitors are encouraged to leave their cars at home. Handwritten signs offer two options: shop and café, for which you should read super-expensive restaurant, or teahouse.

The Bogliones clearly have exquisite taste. Divine smells of narcissi, jasmine and citrus engulf you as soon as you walk through the shop’s door. On sale is an array of chic wellies, beautiful trugs, useful tools, rose-printed gardening gloves, ribbon and cards. One of a gang of cheerful specialists will tell you about their seasonal plants, old fashioned roses (120 types), bulbs, ornamental trees, herbaceous perennials, and hardy annuals. Charming antiques and random bits of stylish garden furniture look comfortably at home. It’s all terribly chic but not at all smart, in an expertly jumbled, bohemian way.

Top chef Skye Gyngell, whose kitchen is a converted shed, runs the first rate café, which nestles unassumingly at the back of the shop. You must book well ahead for lunch or dinner here. A pleasing alternative to the high class restaurant is tea and home-made cakes in the railway carriage-type teahouse. Booking for tea isn’t necessary, and it’ll give your bank balance less of a shock. Carry a cup of rose-infused white tea on a chunky wooden tray through to the prettiest greenhouse imaginable. Pots of lavender and rosemary and the weekend’s newspapers are artfully scattered on the tables. You’ll want to linger there forever.

— Becky Pugh

Petersham Nurseries
Church Lane
Surrey TW10 7AG

Tel.: 020 8605 3627

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