The story of Drumhead Cottage Plants

Drumhead Cottage Plants takes its name from the family home I grew up in in a small village near Reading in Berkshire. I spent most of my childhood outside school in and around my mum’s cottage-style garden, growing things, digging ponds and creating flower borders. After a prolonged interlude in which I ventured off into the big wide world to study modern languages and literature at University, with only meagre window ledges to frustrate my horticultural cravings, I was eventually drawn back to the long-held dream of running my own nursery by my restless green fingers. The problem was: how to begin? For want of any other option in those early days, I essentially took over part of my parents’ garden, bought a small polytunnel and began selling the plants I was growing when- and wherever I could locally, usually at car boot sales and the occasional charity open garden events. Growing had always been a passion of mine. Now, it was on the way to becoming in a modest way my living as well.

Creating a plant nursery from scratch

In late 2012, together with my partner I moved to north Shropshire, to what then seemed an enormous blank canvess of a garden in which to properly establish the nursery (and hopefully one day build a garden of our own – but first things first!) Work began in earnest to clear years of undergrowth, rabbit-proof fences were laid and gradually a working space took shape in which I could propagate and grow on plants for sale as well as cultivate my precious stock plants. By now we were very much starting to resemble what you might call a ‘proper’ plant nursery, but tucked away in a residential street in a sleepy village, I was still reliant on getting my plants to my customers at markets, fairs and car boot sales. In 2014, however, all that changed.

Hardy Perennials next to a beautiful lake

I owe rather a lot to the humble car boot sale at which I first met the Bebbington family who own and run Alderford. They invited me to begin selling my plants from their beautiful venue and, of course, I jumped at the opportunity this offered to develop my business. Since we began selling a very modest range of hardy perennials from a small wooden pod next to the cafe in 2014, Drumhead Cottage Plants hasn’t stopped growing! In 2017 we built a new greenhouse in which we and some of our more tender plants shelter from the elements during the colder months and where we do the majority of our propagation and potting. We’re currently enlarging our growing on and sales area on site, which will allow customers to browse a much larger range of plants both in and out of season.