Great Spring for the Garden Studio

It's been a busy few months for The Garden Studio since their launch back in the cold dark days of late autumn 2004 (see News October 24th 2004). They've now opened their second "Studio" and published a lavish catalogue that I'll be taking a closer look at shortly. As mentioned in the previous news item, the concept behind the Garden Studio is to provide a one-stop-shop for creating a garden, whether it's paving or pots, chairs or chimneas, fences or water features, they aim is to provide the most comprehensive service possible from a single point.

Firstly, the new store: it's on Beam Heath Way in Nantwich, Cheshire, and was officially opened in February, by the Mayor, Councillor Steven Roberts, while a crowd of people waiting to enter the store looked on. When they were eventually allowed in, the eager customers were treated to champagne and other refreshments to celebrate. Then, Grahame Hall (Group CEO), Tina Crossley (Marketing Controller) and Lorna Carbery (the Store Manager of Nantwich) greeted the Mayor and Mayoress (Mrs June Roberts) and accompanied them on a tour of the store.

The 5,000 sq ft (465m²) store houses the same 10 themed display gardens as in Warrington, but on a grander scale, and that first weekend saw over 1000 customers visiting the store.

  • Mediterranean
  • Oriental
  • Chic
  • Sanctuary
  • Traditional
  • Hi Tech
  • Leisure
  • Contemporary
  • Accessible
  • Play

Marketing Manager, Louise Minshull, told Pavingexpert,

"The reaction from customers was fantastic! They were extremely enthusiastic about the garden displays and many commented that there is a real niche in the market place for a ‘one stop’ gardening shop. Other customers simply wanted to order some of the contemporary wall lights on display in the lighting gallery. The children were treated to lollipops and Garden Studio balloons, and loved the ‘Play Garden' which includes a two tier play playhouse and sandpit. The ‘Sanctuary’ garden was a real hit with customers, especially the Mayor, who loved the atmosphere created by the Gothic wall which dominates the garden."

Nantwich has been specifically selected for the second site because of its exceptional growth in recent years, which has lead to a rapid increase in new housing estates in the area. The Garden Studio’s services are particularly suited to these types of properties. New homeowners often to pay the house builder extra to have turf laid, but essentially the gardens are ‘blank canvases’, perfectly suited to the expertise of the in-house designers, the unique products and the installation service available via The Garden Studio. In addition to creating 6 new jobs in the Nantwich area, The Garden Studio at Nantwich is supporting the local Reaseheath College Horticultural Department's garden at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show this summer, so I'll be looking out for that come July.

All customers visiting the new Studio at Nantwich, or the existing Studio in Warrington are offered a free copy of the 140 page 'The Garden Studio 2005 Directory'. This has to be just about the most comprehensive garden landscaping catalogue I've ever seen. The opening pages explain the thinking behind the Studio, and then explain the various design services that are available from the in-house team of designers from prices starting at just £100. The rest of the catalogue is divided into sections devoted to paving, walling, buildings & structures, ornaments & features, lighting, plants, and finally, leisure & entertainment.

Obviously, of most interest to us is the paving section. This runs to 32 pages of products from the likes of Marshalls, Westminster Stone, Bradstone, and Pavestone, all generously illustrated with images taken from the latest manufacturers' catalogues. There's the essential size information, but nothing about pack quantities. However, everything is priced and, although it doesn't say as much, I'm assuming the prices include the dreaded VAT.

garden studio 2005 catalogue

It would be impossible (and nonsensical) to stock every product from each of the manufacturers, so specific items have been selected to represent what might be considered to be the 'cream': The lovely Gironde limestone-effect paving and the ever-popular Carpet Stones from Bradstone; Heritage, Argent and Saxon from Marshalls; the supremely classy (and in my unbiased opinion best-reproduction-rivens-in-the-world) Old Lancashire and Old Yorkshire flags from Westminster Stone, along with a wide choice of imported sandstone, limestone, travertine, granite, and slate flags. The block paving comes from Marshalls, Charcon and Pavestone, clay pavers from Baggeridge, edgings, kerbs, setts and a whole four pages of decorative aggregates. It would be easy to moan that such-and-such an item is missing, but I have to give credit to the team behind Garden Studio: they have, by and large, made a bloody good choice that's eclectic, stylish, good value, and represents the best on the market at the moment. Well done!

And then they go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like ... decking! Ah well, we can't all be perfect! wink

The next section looks at fencing, gates, walling, and screening, and once again, it's an amazingly comprehensive selection. I keep flicking through to try and spot what they've omitted, and the only thing I've come up with is concrete posts. I have to say that the choice of walling materials is, in comparison to the rest of the catalogue, a little sparse, but then they have all the essentials covered and is it fair to expect them to offer a brick library along with everything else?

Garden Buildings & Structures is your sheds, your pergolas, your arbours, gazebos, summerhouses, etc. They even include a cold-frame! Ornaments should be self-explanatory: it's statues, fancy pots, water features, planters and all the other bits and bats that are deemed necessary for modern gardens. The Lighting sections includes everything from the reproduction Victorian gas lamps to wall lamps, LEDs, paving lights, party lights, and the special security lights we all fit to our homes to ensure the burglars can see what they're breaking into.

nantwich opening
Opening of the Garden Studio in Nantwich

The Planting section is short: The Garden Studio isn't a nursery, but it can supply plants to order, and if you're working from a plan, give them your "shopping list" and they'll deliver the plants along with everything else. Finally, Leisure & Entertainment - what many people seem to do in gardens nowadays (I prefer to grow plants in mine, rather than get steaming drunk and spill good red wine on the patio, but hey! it's a free world!). Patio furniture, heaters, the seemingly essential barbecue, sandpits and even a rocking horse!

Yes: I've rushed through everything that's not paving, but this is, after all, Pavingexpert, not Fencexpert or Chimneaexpert, so I think I've covered my remit. The catalogue really is excellent and will be a boon to both DIYers and Contractors. Those who enjoy the shopping and planning side of things will love the depth and breadth of choice available. Contractors will appreciate the very useful pricing guides and the fact that they can show the best from a selection of manufacturers without having to haul around a half-dozen different catalogues.

If you're anywhere near the thriving metropolis of Warrington or nearby Nantwich, I strongly recommend you nip in and get yourself a copy. If you're a little further afield, try the website request form or try calling them on 01925 423793.