How business bloomed at this garden nursery in Braunton
PUBLISHED: 14:10 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:17 29 March 2016
We meet a Devon couple who are pouring heart and soul into nurturing their garden nursery business
This story begins with a romance, in my opinion a very good way to start. Alan Godsmark and Kay Tudor met at RHS Rosemoor where Al worked in the maintenance department and Kay worked in the garden. They fell in love and had a baby. All was well in the world.
There was, however, one little problem; Al lived in Ilfracombe whilst Kay was in Bude. This was not the best way to start family life. So they bought a three and a half acre plot at the edge of Braunton Great Field in North Devon, formally part of the Braunton Bulb Farm. On the site there was a ramshackle building which had once served as the company’s office. As the property had an agricultural tie attached, meaning any owner must have a land-based profession, it was the perfect scenario. A wonderful opportunity.
Over the course of a (builder’s) year, Al knocked down the building and rebuilt it, while Kay continued to work at Rosemoor. During this time they lived in a caravan, with a toddler and another one on the way. I will give you a moment to imagine this scenario.
Once the house was complete you might imagine they would sit back and relax for a while. Wrong. Slowly germinating in the back of Kay’s mind were dreams of owning a nursery. The pair had recently undertaken a landscaping job and had found sourcing the plants to be the hardest part. It made perfect sense therefore to grow their own. With the little money they had left over from building the house, they decided to invest in a new venture.
The location, close to the dunes of Braunton Burrows and Saunton Sands, would be ideal for growing coastal plants. The die was cast.
Kay has an impressive CV. She is a qualified garden designer, has worked at Chelsea Flower Show and behind the scenes at Gardener’s World. Still she felt that more experience was needed. To gain further valuable knowledge she went to work at Dick and Lorna Fulcher’s Pine Cottage Nursery, holders of a National Collection of agapanthus. It was from here that she obtained agapanthus stock plants, many of which were bred by Dick. Eventually they opened their doors to the public in April 2015, ably assisted by volunteers Jane and Gill. Since then they have welcomed a stream of visitors and gardening groups.
Of course there have been problems along the way. The cover of the first polytunnel was put on back to front, which they had to correct in a roaring gale. An ongoing challenge is the open site, meaning they are at the mercy of drying winds. In the first year Kay gallantly declared that she would hand-water everything, but after a few months she was begging Al for an irrigation system. Of course, they eventually got it right. When you view the well-ordered site and pristine plants it is hard to believe it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Al is not “all mortar and no compost” and he loves to get soil on his hands. Kay says that Al is the more methodical of the two; he says he just does what he is told. It seems to me they are the perfect hybrid of plant and practicality, seasoned with plenty of enthusiasm and hard graft. This year they will be creating new borders at the nursery, both to increase their stock and to demonstrate how their plants work together. There are also whispers of growing bulbs once more on the site. If all this wasn’t enough, they will also be continuing with their landscape business, specialising in low maintenance gardens. To visit email atlanticbotanic.co.uk or call 01271 816225. w