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The Women of Petersham Nurseries

In 1997, Gael Boglione and her husband Francesco moved their young family from central London to Richmond. Their new home, Petersham House, overlooked a local plant nursery, which had been carved out of the grounds of their Queen Anne home in the 1970s. In 2004, after extensive restoration works, the nursery re-opened, completely transformed. Furniture, gifts and antiques were found amongst the plants which adorned the greenhouses, and in the most elegant wooden teahouse. Over the years the family have steadily nurtured the space in to a beloved lifestyle destination, reflective of their values, love of food and personal collections within their home. Now Petersham’s next generation are stepping forward, forging a future for the nurseries with Petersham offshoots including a new base in Covent Garden. In this film we speak with the women of Petersham, Gael, her eldest daughter Lara, and her youngest daughter Ruby.

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.

[light music]

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.

[lilting music]

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