Bruce Robertson, owner of Trago Mills, loves gardens. So perhaps it is no surprise that he has built a garden centre at his Newton Abbot flagship store on what can only be described as a very grand scale.
The landscaped 15 acre Trago Mills Garden Park, which is tucked behind the main shopping centre, offers everything you could possibly need for your garden.
From real live pet guineapigs to gravel, camellias to climbing frames, this is a garden centre that offers just about everything you could possibly want, all at the famously competitive Trago Mills prices.
Now in its fifth year, the Garden Park is, Bruce freely admits, his pride and joy. “We really did put everything we could into its construction, with no expense or trouble spared. I wanted the Garden Park to be a useful, practical place where gardeners could buy all their supplies. But it’s so much more than that too – I wanted it to be a place that is a true inspiration as well.
“Gardening is a huge part of what makes life in the Westcountry so special. Our Garden Park is all about making horticulture, in every shape and form, easy and creative for all our customers.”
To this end, the Garden Park has two enormous covered shopping areas, where you can buy all sorts of things from tools to live pets, ornaments and much more. Then there is a spacious outdoor amphitheatre packed with a wealth of strong, well-grown and top quality plants.
Alongside this is an innovation of which Bruce is particularly proud – a drive-through supplies area. “You can come in your car and buy things like gravel, peat, compost and so on without having to get out of your car. It saves so much time, not to mention back-ache.”
There is even a weighbridge for customers buying large quantities of gardening materials. And the drive-through experience extends to all of the Garden Park. You can load up your trolley and it will be totted up at the tills while you collect your car, then when you come round in your car, all of your shopping is ready to be loaded – by helpful Trago Mills staff – into your car.
“It’s all about making shopping for these often heavy, bulky items so much simpler,” explains Bruce. “You just drive in, follow the signs and we do the rest.”
But perhaps the most remarkable part of the Garden Park is the range of beautiful show gardens which have been created to inspire visitors. The renowned Westcountry garden designer and multiple Chelsea Gold Medal winner, Paul Stone, has created havens of tranquillity with a range of ten stunning, individually-themed gardens for visitors to explore and enjoy.
As well as his many successes at Chelsea Flower Show, Paul has also twice won “Best in Show” awards for his gardens at Hampton Court Flower Show and is a familiar face on BBC TV’s Gardeners’ World. Paul, who lives and gardens in Falmouth, Cornwall, has created all sorts of fascinating and unusual show gardens for the Trago Mills Garden Park. You’ll find everything from a “Canal Street Garden” with a genuine canal barge floating in water, to an authentic Japanese garden complete with azaleas, full-sized pagoda and charming red lacquered bridge.
“Our show gardens are intended to offer a real haven for our shoppers. You can wander in among them and have a rest or even a picnic,” says Bruce. “The main shopping area of Trago’s can be a busy, bustling place but our show gardens are relaxed and tranquil. There’s no hard sell in this area at all.
“The show gardens are purely about offering visitors the enjoyment of being in the fresh air amid some wonderful examples of truly top-class garden design. I truly think that these show gardens are what puts our Garden Park into a league of its own,” says Bruce.
Over the next few weeks, we will be showcasing the Paul Stone show gardens in Westcountry Homes, with details on how they were designed and planted. They are sure to help give you fresh ideas for your garden this season.
Look out for the details of the Trago Mills Sensory garden with interesting scents and textures, the Devon cottage garden (complete with life-sized thatched cottage) and a Cornish coastal garden with a real beach and floating boat.
If you are thinking of growing vegetables and fruit this summer, there is also a free Grow Your Own workshop run by the Trago Mills expert gardeners at The Garden Park on Sunday March 23 from 10am – 3.30pm.
For more details, visit www.trago.co.uk