Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden
A quick afternoon dash up to London to check out the new Petersham Nurseries site in Covent Garden which opened today. It’s in King Street, where I worked for several years for Dorling Kindersley Children’s Books, and it feels very much like going home – much more accessible for me from Kent, as I’ve yet to make the pilgrimage to the home of Petersham Nurseries in Richmond.
Information on the Covent Garden branch’s launch has been a little hard to come by, and I had to do a bit of digging on Twitter to discover it was opening today (according to the website, it’s still “opening soon”). Even then I wasn’t convinced, and it took Em wandering past and quizzing people on site on her way to work to confirm the general public would be admitted from midday. Why so soft a launch, I wonder? Perhaps because the restaurant and deli weren’t quite ready – the latter should be open towards the end of the week.
The store itself is stunning, the highlight being the triple domed skylights in the inner room, whose discovery above a false ceiling and subsequent renovation set the shop fitting back by several weeks. Below these, antique chandeliers hang, glittering with light reflected from the glass fronted cabinets filled with tasteful ceramics and glassware, and artfully arranged ferns and succulents (several tall tree ferns stand as sentinels throughout the long room). The mirror-lined wall at the back does the old trompe l’oeil thing of making the (already large) room seem bigger, and turns the floristry section at the far end into a veritable jungle. That said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed at the lack of plants, but in time, there will be a central courtyard for seasonal plant displays, in addition to the two restaurants and the deli.
As things stand, this is definitely more homeware and florist than nursery – for me, a nursery in WC2 was one of the most appealing ideas about this venture – with the focus on the urban gardener, with workshops aimed at this market planned for the future.
All in all, it’s a wonderful space, and it would be great to see it overbrimming with plant and gardening paraphernalia, if that wouldn’t hurt the aesthetic too much. We shall see what the coming weeks bring us – I’ll certainly be back.