Family business celebrates 30th anniversary of garden centre
Seven generations of the Crowder family have for over 200 years been synonymous with their nationally famous plant nursery based in Horncastle but it is one of the newer parts of the business, Crowder’s Garden Centre, which this year is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.
Robert Crowder, the present owner, knew it was a natural progression for the business not only as an outlet for some of the shrubs, trees and hardy perennials that are grown on the 120-hectare nursery but also to cater for the changing lifestyles of customers. Officially opened by naturalist, David Bellamy in 1983, the Garden Centre has grown to be a place to visit for a beautiful selection of plants, to seek expert gardening advice, purchase gifts and homewares, enjoy some delicious local food as well as a rendezvous for many local groups.
The focus began and still remains today with a plant orientated garden centre. A walk through the stands and displays with garden centre manager, Ken Dawson quickly shows the attention to detail and the quality of all the plants stocked.
“Part of our job is to try to anticipate not only the weather but also what is becoming popular. People have wanted to buy large specimens that they can put straight into the ground for immediate impact. People are still replacing plants that died during the bad winters and our A to Z of shrubs makes choosing a replacement quite simple,” he explained.
Ken has also seen a big resurgence in recent years in growing your own vegetables, herbs and fruit partly driven by gardening and cookery programmes. This interest has been catered for in the undercover plant displays and the indoor shop with seeds, equipment, starter plants and sets ready for each season.
As customers’ lifestyles have altered so Crowder’s Garden Centre has increased its array of stock to include the best quality garden furniture, barbeques, designer kitchenwear, educational wooden toys, gifts and wild bird products as well as planters and gardening tools. The Cotton Traders clothing brand located in the shop is perfect for active or more relaxed time spent in the garden.
After the spring months, Christmas is the second popular time at the Garden Centre. The Christmas Shop stocks a great variety of gifts, artificial or real trees and designer decorations by Giselle Graham and Sia International. No visit in the festive season would be complete without Santa, who will arrive on his steam engine again this year in the first week of December.
A natural addition to the Crowder’s experience has been Botts Coffee Shop and the more recently opened Redwood Restaurant, named after the nearby Redwood tree which was planted by the Crowder family a century ago.
The Coffee Shop and the Restaurant pride themselves on fresh home-made food using locally sourced ingredients. A selection of some of this Lincolnshire produce by Piper’s Crisps, Stokes of Lincoln and Skidbrooke Cyder is also available in the shop.
With ample free parking, welcoming staff and free WiFi, Botts and the Redwood have become very popular as relaxed meeting places for the local community, groups and business people. On the first Monday of each month, Ken invites customers and the members of the Crowder’s Loyalty Scheme to a Coffee Morning with a guest speaker. Craft demonstrations and expert talks have been equally popular at weekends and at special themed events.
With ample space to expand further, Crowder’s Garden Centre can certainly anticipate a growing business for years to come but there will always be pride in their credibility as a top quality plant nursery underpinning all their other enterprises.