The Garden of Oxford celebrate 40th anniversary
Paul owner of The Garden of Oxford shares his journey and some memorable moments from the past 40 years as the team celebrate this momentous anniversary. >>
On Saturday 15th July, The Garden of Oxford will be hosting celebrations at the shop to mark it’s 40th anniversary. Guests include customers, team-members, suppliers, friends, and also both current and former market traders, who together represent businesses that have traded in the market for a combined period of more than one thousand years!!
Paul shares where it all began…
In the mid-1970’s I had a job during the school holidays on Bonners fruit and veg stall, and I continued this job when I went to college. In 1983, Colin Bonner opened “The Garden” at what had previously been the Waterperry shop, and in early 1984 (following a conversation with my brother-in-law who then worked as a butcher in The Market), Colin offered me the position of manager of this new shop. It seemed a far more attractive proposition than my desk-job at the time, and so in February 1984 I began my new career.
- Every single Christmas, Valentines Day and Mother’s Day since 1984!
- Taking the decision after a very short time to concentrate wholly on flowers and garden plants etc and remove fruits and vegetables.
- Becoming a partner, and subsequently owning the business outright.
- Opening further shops (along with my business partner, Matthew) in Headington in 1996 and Summertown in 1999 – both subsequently closed.
- Taking the decision not to renew the lease on our Headington shop in November 2019, (given what would happen the following spring!) what a great decision.
- Finding a way of trading through the pandemic, and then kicking on when shops reopened.
- Hosting the then Prince Charles and Camilla in our shop when they visited The Market in 2017.
- Chatting with Bill Clinton as he passed through The Market very early one morning when he was visiting Oxford while daughter Chelsea studied here.
What has enabled the business to weather the trials and tribulations of the last 40 years?
The hard work, talent, passion and dedication of team members over the years.
Can a florist have a favourite flower?
My favourite flower depends on the season, and I suspect that the team feel the same. In April I might prefer tulips – but not in August! If I had to commit to a single choice however, it would be peonies.
The Covered Market still retains a sense of community
Working here makes you feel that you belong to something beyond the shop you work in. We remain independent, and at the same time, are part of something that we all have an interest in. I remember when I worked here almost 50 years ago, how businesses that competed with each other, also cooperated with each other. That tradition continues to this day. I know how much The Market atmosphere and environment means to the team members who have worked in The Garden over the years, and continues to do so.
Relationships between staff from different businesses plays a key role in adding to their working day.