This is an interview with the owners of The Watered Garden, as featured in Issue 3 of Handmade Nottingham Magazine
What are your backgrounds and how did you get started with plants?
Becca: My background is in youth work and I currently still do part time work for a church. We started doing terrariums for our wedding and it all escalated from there.
Chris: I am a business analyst by trade, we just got into this out-of-hours. It was entirely a hobby, part of it was that we really wanted them for our wedding, the cost was extortionate, we like a challenge so we started making them!
Becca: Yeah, we got a group of friends together, tried it, and it worked!
How did the business grow?
Chris: Very organically! I live locally and have always been very passionate about St Ann’s and the surrounding area and doing stuff here and we had put in an offer on a house locally. These units had been empty as long as I had lived here, Becca had found out that these units were available to rent. You have to put a proposal together to get one of these spaces, you can’t just rock up with the money and they give you one. It has to be a creative business, hence the Creative Quarter. Everyone thought we were nuts
Becca: It’s been a long job, we had to put in the plumbing, the electrical, re-paint the floor, the shelving we made from reclaimed wood, the table Chris made from scratch.
Chris: We have had so much help, it’s been amazing. We just had loads of temporary shelves in Becca’s parents conservatory and started our plants in there.
Becca: We started in eBay and Etsy and realised that people wanted plants, we were a bit mind-blown about it
Chris: It has really snowballed in the past few years, it seems to have started in the East End of London, there are a few places in Shoreditch that are popping up and they were successful.
Tell me a bit more about where the plants are grown
Chris: At the start it was very tentative about how it could work our initial aim was to grow and split out everything. We would rescue sick plants from the garden centre, grow them, split them out into 10 and then split those out and then as time has gone on we had to look for local suppliers. We have been very lucky, we have found really good suppliers who are actually based in Nottingham, we showed them out Instagram and that was enough for them to give us an account! That was one of the pivotal moments, it made it a viable business, before that it was a passion.
Is there a plant that is harder work to look after than the others?
Becca: Yes, the Mimosa Pudicas (Shameplant), I feel like I kill them more than they live! They work the same as a venus flytrap, they protect themselves and take a lot of energy, they need water every other day. They are a little sensitive. Technically they are a weed, in Sri Lanka they grow at the side of the road but in the UK they are hard to get hold of.
Are you learning as you go along?
Chris: Yes, my parents are really green fingered, but old English-style, like rose gardens and outdoor plants. I never really paid attention when I was a kid, don’t think many teenagers do, I think it was only after time that I realised it was a ‘thing’ to make a space look amazing. I think the analyst in me learned about the plants, ‘where does the plant go?’, ‘what does it need?’, ‘how can we make a system to look after these?’. It is the power of Google, you don’t need to be a botanist anymore you just need access to the internet!
Becca: It’s about knowing what each plant needs, this is such a different environment to any house anyway in our space.
Tell me a bit more about the workshops you are going to be running
Becca: We are going to start with our Demijohn workshops, then nearer to Christmas we will do wreaths and succulent boxes. With the Demijohn workshop we will teach you which plants go together, and how to get them in there, it is pure therapy, it stops your mind from racing. The workshops will be running on Saturday mornings, Saturday evenings and a Wednesday nights (check Instagram/Facebook for details and dates).
Chris: The main reason we made such a big table was that we wanted to get groups of people together to get mud everywhere, roll up their sleeves and get a bit messy. Then have something to take away at the end of it. It’s like the plant version of finger painting, it’s an opportunity to let off some steam.
What was it about Sneinton Market that drew you to this area?
Becca: We love Sneinton and we believe in what it has become and what it will become
Chris: We have seen a lot of changes just since 2013, we love the community here. It has recently taken off, it’s become trendy and there are more and more people coming down here, which we love.
The Watered Garden
30-32 Freckingham Street, Sneinton Market