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Archive for August, 2015

Tony and Helen

We had a great night at the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Wales & West regional awards on Thursday 23 July, going home with a good haul of certificates, but a special mention must go to our houseplant department manager at Castle Gardens, Tony Das.

Tony joined us in 2011, taking over as department manager in 2012, and from then on Castle Gardens’ Houseplant Area has been awarded the certificate of merit every single year, making it four out of four in 2015. With the support of deputy manager, Helen Cuff, Tony has embraced the GCA’s annual audits, which are designed to recognise continuous improvement and help set industry benchmarks to be met and surpassed.

Once a hugely important product, houseplants have decreased in prominence in most UK garden centres in recent years, but Tony and his team have remained committed to offering the highest levels of quality, range and advice to our customers. We’ve even introduced a Houseplant Loyalty Card recently, earning you a £5 voucher to spend in the department once you’ve purchased five houseplants. Speak to Tony and the team for more details!

Mike

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Julie MacDougall, coordinator at Future Roots Whitfield Farm, presents Dan Vaughan, head chef at The Engine Room Restaurant at Poundbury Gardens, with the latest bumper crop of vegetables grown by members of the Countrymen's Club.

Julie MacDougall, coordinator at Future Roots Whitfield Farm, presents Dan Vaughan, head chef at The Engine Room Restaurant at Poundbury Gardens, with the latest bumper crop of vegetables grown by members of the Countrymen’s Club.

We’ve been making the most of the season’s produce this summer at The Engine Room Restaurant and are delighted to be getting an extra basket of fresh vegetables each week from our new partner, Future Roots, based just three miles up the road from Poundbury Gardens.

The vegetables grown on Future Roots’ four acre Whitfield site are tended to by a group of vulnerable adults collectively known as the Countrymen’s Club, who in return for providing carefully nurtured local produce for diners at The Engine Room Restaurant to enjoy, are receiving vouchers to spend on tools and seeds at any of our centres.

Future Roots was established nine years ago and provides a range of programmes for all ages from both Whitfield Farm and its original site, Rylands Farm near Sherborne, Dorset. The not-for-profit social enterprise specialises in giving positive purpose to those in the local community who are struggling with transitions in their lives and is open every day to people who have complex issues to deal with.

I know The Engine Room staff have been bowled over by the range and quality of the vegetables that Future Roots has produced and the initiative dovetails perfectly with our ongoing commitment to local sourcing. We all hope that our partnership helps shine the spotlight on the great work that Future Roots does and inspires more volunteers to get involved.

To find out more about Future Roots, visit www.futureroots.net.

Mike

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The Brimsmore Gardens team celebrate their three certificates of merit at the annual Garden Centre Association Wales & West regional awards evening. (Back row L-R: Mike Burks and Louise Burks, managing directors of The Gardens Group and Adam Wallis, manager at Brimsmore Gardens. Front row L-R: Zoey Rendall, head chef at The Apple Tree Restaurant, Cath Collins, group food manager, and Debbie Lodge, front of house manager at The Apple Tree Restaurant.

The Brimsmore Gardens team celebrate their three certificates of merit at the annual Garden Centre Association Wales & West regional awards evening. (Back row L-R: Mike Burks and Louise Burks, managing directors of The Gardens Group and Adam Wallis, manager at Brimsmore Gardens. Front row L-R: Zoey Rendall, head chef at The Apple Tree Restaurant, Cath Collins, group food manager, and Debbie Lodge, front of house manager at The Apple Tree Restaurant.

With the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s not often that you have a chance to reflect on your achievements, but the team at Brimsmore Gardens had the perfect opportunity to take stock last month at the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Wales & West regional awards.

Following the GCA’s unannounced annual audits earlier in the year, Brimsmore was awarded three certificates of merit in the categories of Catering, Website and Environmental Opportunities, giving the team the recognition they deserved for their tireless efforts to achieve the highest standards across the board.

Representing nearly 200 garden centres nationwide, the GCA’s inspection programme recognises continuous improvement and sets industry standards to be achieved and surpassed, so it means a great deal to us to be placed in such good company.

Mike

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Lucy with John Shepherd from Ridgeway Radio

Lucy with John Shepherd from Ridgeway Radio

Over the past few months we’ve been getting to know Ridgeway Radio, which is a fantastic 24-hour radio station based at Dorset County Hospital. The team of volunteers has been entertaining patients for 49 years and our very own Lucy from Poundbury is going to be joining the line up with a new weekly gardening slot on John Shepherd’s show. Offering seasonal tips, advice and discussing her favourite plants, Lucy will join John in the studio as well as taking him on tours around Poundbury Gardens.

Knowing how invaluable the station’s entertainment is to the patients, it’s a real pleasure to get to know the team and also to donate a computer to the station, bringing the studio up to date with current computerised broadcasting technology. We are really looking forward to developing our relationship with Ridgeway Radio and bringing our green-fingered touch to the station.

Mike

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On Saturday, Zoey and her team took the cooking outside for a sizzling Gluten Free BBQ at The Apple Tree Restaurant. With sausages and burgers aplenty, the Coeliac UK Dorchester Group was in attendance to offer information and there was no shortage of gluten free tasters to sample. We were blessed with blue skies and the raffle raised around £80 for the Coeliac UK Dorchester Group.

Before we say goodbye to summer, our free gardening talks also begin this week, with the first looking at beetles, bugs, spiders and slugs. The free talks all begin at 2:30pm and will take place at Brimsmore Gardens on Tuesdays, Poundbury Gardens on Wednesdays and Castle Gardens on Thursdays, every week until 1 October.

Mike

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Last year's Summer Fancy Dress party at Castle Gardens.

Last year’s Summer Fancy Dress party at Castle Gardens.

For parents looking to keep their children entertained during the summer holidays, our Children’s Superheroes Fancy Dress Summer Party comes to the rescue next Friday at all three centres.

The free family events will take place from 2pm – 4pm on Friday 14 August, with each centre offering an afternoon of super-powered activities, including face painting, mask making and cookie decorating.

Refreshments will also be available, keeping the looming peril of hunger at bay.

Visitors to Castle Gardens in Sherborne can expect a flying visit from Batman and Iron Man, while little heroes at Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil are invited to plant a bulb and witness its incredible transformation into a spectacular plant.

We can’t wait to welcome a blur of emblems, eye masks and capes to our centres!

Mike

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