CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Horticultural haven

PUBLISHED: 16:57 22 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2016

Staverton Bridge Nursery is a haven of colour and beauty

Staverton Bridge Nursery is a haven of colour and beauty

Matt Austin

Steph Woolvett escaped the London rat race to open a plant nursery in Staverton six years ago and the business hasn’t stopped blossoming since, writes Charlotte Dear

As you drive along the peaceful lane that leads to Staverton Bridge Nursery, it is easy to miss this hidden haven of colour and beauty, nestled deep in the heart of the South Hams countryside.

Once out of the car, follow the path that runs parallel to the babbling River Dart below past vast glasshouses, taking in the scents of their wonderful displays of herbs, climbers and perennials as you go. Keep walking and you’ll reach the timber fronted café, where you can choose from an extensive and mouth-watering vegetarian menu which includes seasonal salads, fragrant tagines, delicious coffees and tempting cakes and pastries.

On a fine day, continue through the café to the deck beyond and enjoy a glass of local wine overlooking this stunning stretch of the River Dart, before wandering into the adjoining shop to pick up locally made arts, crafts and vintage treasures to take home.

Steph Woolvett was working as a buyer for Boden in London when she decided it was time for a drastic career change. Her mother already owned a small plot of land on this stretch of river where she grew herbs for wholesale and always suspected that her daughter might one day follow in her footsteps. However, it was not until Steph visited Petersham Nurseries in Richmond with a friend that she was inspired to create her own horticultural haven in the Hams.

After two years of careful research, planning and budgeting, Steph quit her life in the capital to start her new venture. She set about sourcing plants from local vendors, passionate about supporting other small Devon enterprises and drawing visitors to the area through complimentary businesses.

Steph Woolvett: 'The possibilities we have here are endless; its sometimes hard to focus on one project at a time'Steph Woolvett: 'The possibilities we have here are endless; its sometimes hard to focus on one project at a time'

She explains: “When you move back to Devon you have to reinvent yourself, find a niche in the market and reach out to people. When I first moved down from London, I was frustrated at how slow Devon worked, but I adapted pretty quickly and my patience has got a little better as a result.”

Steph knew that in the current climate she had to offer her visitors more than just plants, so immediately set to work on an onsite café. Using local suppliers where possible – right down to the scaffolding boards that form the decking outside – she designed the building using her keen eye for rustic, Scandinavian style.

With a focus on organic produce, the café is stocked with Riverford milk and dairy, Ticklemore cheese, vegetables from Annie’s Fruit Shop in Totnes and cakes and bakes from The Exploding Bakery or baked on site.

“Having recently taken on a new head chef, John, from Riverford Field Kitchen, this year’s biggest project is to sort out the vegetable patch so that we can use our own produce in the café,” Steph reveals.

Last autumn, she made the decision to build a shop onto the end of the café: “The idea was to give people another reason to visit, and to support other small businesses in the process.”

The beautifully selected display of ceramics, tableware and jewellery includes Yume Martin silverware from Ashburton, glassware made by Steph’s sister and soaps and creams made by her mother from Staverton Bridge Nursery’s organic herbs.

“I used to spend a lot of time going to auctions for vintage finds, and loved the haggling involved even if I did often find myself returning the money when I felt I’d bought something too cheaply!”

The café uses local suppliers where possibleThe café uses local suppliers where possible

It is clear that Steph, along with her five members of full and part-time staff, is working hard to expand the business and to welcome as many visitors and other enterprises as it will allow. With yoga classes on the decking, gardening courses in the nursery, lessons in reflexology and a new alcohol licence ready for summer evenings, this is becoming more of a community hub than just a nursery.

The impressive traditional glasshouse doubles up as overflow seating for visitors with dogs and a stunning wedding venue when lined with dramatic potted plants, rustic table displays and a fresh, seasonal menu.

“The possibilities we have here are endless; it’s sometimes hard to focus on one project at a time. It is also crucial that each new addition can pay for itself, which involves careful planning and a lot of patience!”

stavertonbridgenursery.com

Last Autumn a shop was built onto the end of the café:Last Autumn a shop was built onto the end of the café:

Five other places to explore in and around the South Hams

Dartington Estate: once you’ve finished exploring the 1,200 acres of listed gardens and grounds, head to the pictures in the 14th-century Barn Cinema.

Lukesland Gardens, Ivybridge: wander the 24 acres of woodland and Victorian gardens and waterfalls before enjoying a Devonshire cream tea in the tearooms.

Bantham Beach, Kingsbridge: at the mouth of the River Avon, this swimming and surfing hotspot enjoys views over Bigbury Bay and Burgh Island.

Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh: founded in 1018, the abbey sits on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and is home to a community of Benedictine Monks.

Greenway Estate, Brixham: walk in Agatha Christie’s footsteps as you explore her family home and woodland garden, which leads down to the banks of the River Dart.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon is particularly stunning at this time of year and so we’ve picked out 18 stunning pictures that encapsulate the county during the festive period

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From cosy pubs galore to winter beach walks, there’s plenty to enjoy in Devon at Christmas. We list 19 reasons you should come visit us this December.

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon is a joy to explore with its beautiful beaches, pretty woodland and charming towns and villages. Made even more magical under a blanket of glistening frost, we pick 12 walks to blow away the cobwebs in the county this winter

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A South Devon walk along a wreck-rich coastline with SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In the latest of our 24-hour tours of Devon’s best locations, we head to Britain’s Ocean City

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

With breathtaking beaches, rolling countryside, stately homes and unique villages, it’s no wonder high-profile film productions flock to Devon - how well do you know the movies that have set up camp here however?

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether it’s on our beautiful beaches, in our magnificent moors or within our stunning stately homes, film productions are constantly setting up in Devon. Here are 16 that you might not know used the county as a filming location

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

From angry spirits to headless horses and ghoulish monks, Devon has more than a few supernatural stories to get your skin crawling. We have picked 11 haunted places in the county

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

October is the perfect time to discover the joys of Exmoor. Jennette Baxter of Visit Exmoor suggests five great ways to enjoy autumn on the moor

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search