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  • Shelley Dark

#19 Richmond..

I loved seeing the very sophisticated Petersham Nurseries shop at Covent Garden - I tried to walk in before it even opened! But I was just as eager to see the one in Richmond yesterday. It's casually rustic with a dinky-di nursery and a glass house restaurant.

I’ve read that Italian Francesco Boglione (of Jesus Jeans brand etc) and his Australian wife Gael decided to shift with their young children from the middle of London to 'the bush' at Richmond in the late 90's. They bought Petersham House.

It overlooked a local plant nursery, a ripe prospect for developers. So they bought it too. Then what to do with it?

​Francesco had always been interested in buying and selling beautiful things since his young hippie Indian travel days. Don't you love the dirt floor?

Gael had a love of simple unpretentious beauty and a vision for pared-down strong and simple ethical branding. What a team. Now Petersham Nurseries is a whole lifestyle choice.

​The pair have four children. I didn't realise it at the time, but now I think my beautiful model dragging heavy branches in from the paddock is one of them. What a hardworking and talented family!

I never fail to be amazed when I see a plant growing really happily compared with specimens struggling in places they're not meant to grow. How gorgeous is the potted medinilla?

All the vases were ready to put on the mismatched wooden lunch tables.

I would have liked a set of these six fine, fine glasses. Then they could sit in a cupboard with all my other fine, fine glasses!

Everyone needs an echinacea!

​All sorts of gardens are catered for...

​I don't do stripey, but who couldn't love these?

And more stripes! These little pots of fittonia were seriously perfect.

It was still a little early for lunch so I took a walk in Richmond, like Elizabeth I was wont to do! Although she fancied deer hunting. Like a punt on the river?

photo courtesy The Ivy Restaurant

The high street shops though are pretty much the same as shops anywhere. I happened upon a restaurant called the Ivy. I wondered if it was the same Ivy as the Chelsea one. Google said it was good so in I went. I sat at the second table from the door on the banquette. And yes, it's part of the same group.

Suddenly embracing a five-minute health kick, I ordered a glass of soda water and the raw market salad: thinly shaved crisp vegetables with avocado hummus, maple and wholegrain mustard dressing. I even ate the little viola flower! That was a seriously good salad.

Instagram has been very kind to me. I've met lots of people from lots of different places. Helen @helsburd is one of them. I've followed her since forever because she makes me laugh. She writes lyrically, whimsically and charmingly, lives with her Mum and Dad, and has a life many of us would dream of - she gardens at a palace ten minutes walk from her home! A gorgeously warm happy guileless but grown-up ingénue with an infectious enthusiasm for life.

I loved hearing all about her life, her parents, her gardening, her love of plants - colouring in the details of the framework I already knew. We met at 6.30pm-ish and suddenly it was 9pm and she had to be at work at 8am today. Time to skedaddle! She'd made a huge effort to come to see me - and I am so grateful!

We both had star-gazy langoustine pie for dinner!

It's time for bed on this side of the world, buddies, so here's your Petersham rose for the day.

Until next time, I wait you.

shelley dark, writer 

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