A Day at Petersham Nurseries and Eel Pie Island

The weather was very uncertain today and in the morning it was beginning to rain so we were deliberating whether it was a good day for a river walk and part of us wanted to curl up at home in front of TV and get depressed but today was one of the very few opportunities to visit Eel Pie Island and a chance to combine it with a visit to Petersham Nurseries.

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I am glad we didn’t give up. I have heard about Petersham nurseries before but have recently read about it’s history in London for Lovers book (a lovely little guide to romantic days out in London that I recently bought as a Valentine’s gift for my husband, at least that’s how I justified it, as I really wanted to read it myself and it was surely worth it, lots of interesting facts, ideas and good writing style. Actually I found out about Eel Pie Island and the open days that were taking place this weekend in this book too). This made me really want to visit the Nurseries and they certainly did not disappoint! It’s a wonderful and inspiring place that consists of the nurseries with a good variety of plants, a charming tea room with lots of tables dotted all around the grounds that serves delicious lunch and cake, a cafe (booking advised) with a different more formal menu and a shop selling a mixture of antiques, interesting finds and works of craftsmen.   If you go there I do recommend sitting down for some food or tea and taking in the atmosphere. It’s a bit on the expensive side, especially cafe (possibly not for Richmond, but for Penge) but we decided that apart from paying for quality food it’s definitely worth paying for the atmosphere of the place, which must cost a lot of effort and money to maintain judging by incredible attention to detail in creating something very special in every little corner.

It’s definitely one of the most exciting and inspirational places I have been to lately. And I think the reason is that it manages to combine so many components of a perfect day out in one: beautiful garden, delicious food, inspirational shopping and all with great taste. When I went to their antique / interior design section, I just didn’t know where to look and couldn’t stop taking pictures. They are all below:

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This is what I particularly liked about the place, attention to even tiniest details like this little bottle with a peony flower.

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And this was probably one of my favourite arrangements: green pots, green-grey plants and brown glass bottles. I bought one of these bottles as a little souvenier.

Eel Pie Island was a totally different experience but incredible too. The open days happen only twice a year when the resident commune of artists opens their studios to the public. The place was a maze of pathways with woden artists’ studios, a boat yard and weird and wonderful installations dotted around here and there, like a crocodile head adorning facade of a building and a cage with a skeleton inside.

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The highlight for me were the works of potter Judith Rowe. I couldn’t resist and bought one of her works – a littler vase. Maybe tomorrow with some natural light I will be able to take a good picture and will post it separately.

In the end it turned out to be a very exciting day, and it even didn’t rain until we got home!

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2 Responses to A Day at Petersham Nurseries and Eel Pie Island

  1. Katie says:

    Anya, such a lovely post! I’ve always wanted to go to both and gave never got round to it, but I am even more inspired now after reading your blog. I think I’ll hint to Jamie that perhaps we could go for my birthday in August ;-). Hope your well, we do need to catch up soon x

  2. malkova22 says:

    Apart from informal tea tooms, they have a restaurant type cafe there with a really impressive menu, apparently micheline star according to London for Lovers. You might have to book well in advance though, better check. Would be a real treat! And one more thing I forgot to mention, we made a mistake of driving there, but they ask everyone to avoid driving if possible, something to do with their licence, they need to demostrate reduction in traffic to the council. x

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