Going for a walk in Richmond Park is something I don’t do enough. And every time I go I remind myself how beautiful it is, how tame the deer are and how it actually feels like you’re in the countryside [for a little while]. And now I have another excuse to keep returning: Petersham Nurseries.
It’s one of those places where I wondered why on earth I hadn’t come sooner. First and foremost it’s a garden centre, which doesn’t sound hugely appealing in itself. But then you get there and you understand what all the fuss is about. Even in early November, when it gets dark early and Richmond Park is soggy and your hands are freezing, Petersham Nurseries is like a flowery fairytale. Everything is ridiculously pretty, without being kitsch.
But flowers aside, there’s a lot more to Petersham Nurseries. Namely the restaurant and cafe, both in glasshouses. In fact, it reminds me a little of a British version of South Africa’s Babylonstoren. Arguably without the sun, the winelands, and the Cape Dutch architecture, but Babylonstoren does also have a cafe and an excellent restaurant (Babel) in glasshouses. There’s something about eating in a glasshouse that clearly appeals, I for one love it.
We came here for tea, having walked our on-loan dog Amiga through an autumnal Richmond Park. Dogs are allowed too (in the cafe). Even in the winter this place gets busy, and the restaurant is always fully booked (so book ahead). The cafe is teaming with life; from dogs barking, children laughing and friends gossiping. The cakes are so good you could sit here for hours and work your way through the (considerable) selection. They – of course – also have a large range of teas, from mint to English Breakfast, and also serve more casual, hearty lunch options like quiches and roasts. It’s cosy and warm and the best place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Petersham Nurseries’ more formal restaurant made a name for itself when chef Skye Gyngell (who since left to set up Spring) became Head Chef, and it was awarded a Michelin star. I’m yet to eat here, but I’ve only heard good things.
But quite honestly, Petersham Nurseries was one of my 2016 highlights. And I look forward to returning many more times in 2017.
Church Lane, Petersham Road,
Richmond TW10 7AB
Photo credit: my own and Stephanie Wolff’s photos