The Women of Petersham Nurseries
Released on 06/04/2021
My mother is very full of life.
She's energetic, she can connect with almost anyone.
She loves beautiful things and flowers.
She's particular as well.
My name is Gael Boglione,
owner with my husband of Petersham Nurseries, Richmond.
I could see the beauty
and the potential because it's this lovely sort
of Georgian style box-like houses.
And I came and had a squiz over the wall,
and I fell in love with it and I had to convince my husband
about coming to live out in Richmond.
You know, he fell in love with it too.
It took us five years to restore,
but we did it slowly and sort of graciously,
we didn't just pound in and we felt how it was to be in.
And we lived in the little cottage
with all the four kids while we restored the main house.
The house was built in 1640.
I think the rumor has it, I've been told,
it was sort of like a picnic house.
The river was the main entrance and they'd come by boat.
I saw the nurseries every day.
I didn't go, wow, this is amazing.
I just thought it was a lovely thing
to have at the end of the garden.
And Bob who owned it, was just so delightful and
so passionate about growing his vegetables.
So my son used to spend endless moments
with him about planting vegetables, this and that.
And I was really glad it was there and then
it came up for sale.
And when it came up for sale
I was very nervous about perhaps taking
on something that, we weren't horticulturalists,
but it just evolved in a very haphazard way
with no business plan, no nothing.
We just did it.
We painted this green, we now call it Petersham Green
because it's such a black and dark green mixed together.
And we painted it for here, but well before we had there.
So we then we carried it through to there
and we wanted to get rid of all the concrete there,
and we put the hogging down and Francesca and Lara went
off to India or he went to visit her
'cause she escaped there and didn't come home for two years,
and they found all these amazing statues
and the tatias and so that gave it its first feel really.
My name's Lara, Lara Boglione.
I am a managing director at Petersham Nurseries,
which is my family company.
And I've been spending the last four years kind of
putting together and working on our latest project
which is Petersham in Covent Garden.
Growing up here was amazing.
It's really a wonderful place you can walk out with the dogs
with no leads along the river or across into the park.
When we moved here, I was 11.
I remember telling everybody at my school, we're moving
to the countryside, we're moving to the countryside.
And it was quite a wonderful place to have all your friends
down for Sunday lunch in the summer and be outside.
And I think it's a very happy place.
Shortly after I finished uni actually
I started working here.
I took two years between school and university.
I started doing, just buying first.
So I did all the containers from India and Indonesia.
So I would go there
and get all the things that we were buying
out there at the time,
the zinc top tables and the Indonesian village furniture.
And then I got interested
in all the Murano vases with my father.
So that's a massive passion of his.
So I went to Murano with him.
There was always that interest in seeing where
the brand could go and what we could do with it.
And I did that with little projects.
Then we took on Wilderness Festival, which we've now
been doing for five years.
We do Frieze.
I definitely am a massive campaigner for organic food.
So I think that ties really nicely into a restaurant
because it's really a platform to showcase all of that.
With the restaurant,
I had imagined, first of all
just to have a glorious English tea house.
And I'm sure you know the story
of Skye Gyngell who's now doing very, very well.
She is a friend and I asked her advice
and I just said, we should we do a great tea house.
What do you think?
And she just came back a couple of days later
and said, listen, I've been thinking about this.
Neither of us have done restaurants,
but why don't we give it a go?
And I said, okay, let's try.
And we had like 20 people to start with,
and Francesco had his 1968 red Ferrari that never went
on the road.
He just polished it every other day
in what is now the kitchen.
He had to move that out and went off and bought some pots
and pans and had a couple of burners and we just started.
Growing up here was quite a lot of fun.
There was a lot of space.
I used to have horses over the road
and I'd have my friends around
and we were outside the whole time.
It was a very full house, even though it was a big house,
we always had lots of people coming in and out.
So it was really lovely actually.
I worked in the tea house
as a chef for about a year and a half.
Then I went away and had another job for a couple years
and then I came back about three years ago
and worked in the buying team.
So I've kind of always dipped in and out.
We definitely have the Italian sense
of the family cause my father's very Italian
and for dinner we do family dinners a lot.
That's important to us and lunches and we're very close.
We're all probably a little bit codependent, but I speak
to my siblings all the time and I see them all the time.
But I definitely speak to at least one
or two of them every day out of three.
[Gael] I'd like Petersham to be remembered for a place
of tranquility, a place where you can just wander in.
There's no pressure to buy anything.
Of course, it's lovely when people shop.
I'd like it to be remembered
for the beauty that's being created in a very natural way.
The ethos of Petersham is honesty in a way.
I like to know the provenance of things,
even where the food comes from.
I know where all our food comes from.
And to have unusual things not to just be bog standard
garden center, to have unusual plants.
I keep saying honesty, but that's how I feel.
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