Monday 3 November 2014

A day out: Petersham Nurseries


Maidenhair ferns, squash, yellow dirt floor and tattie mats lining the ceiling.

You know I seldom leave the comforting bosom of London N16, especially not at weekends when there is so much pottering about to be done, between park and market, coffee shop and pub, garden and kitchen. But a couple of weekends ago, I went all the way to Richmond which, though it is still technically London I suppose, is a completely different city altogether. The bustle and noise of the Kingsland Road gives way to leafy lanes, church spires and artful interior design shops, selling the scrubbed-up-and-pressed version of Dalston’s many vintage emporia.

I was going to meet my friends Fi and Rebecca at Petersham Nurseries for lunch. I’d been here before, years ago, when Skye Gyngell was in charge of the kitchen, didn’t manage to get there in the Greg Malouf era, and hadn’t yet tried Lucy Boyd’s food. Lucy is the daughter of the late Rose Gray of the River Café and began her career at Petersham Nurseries as the head gardener before becoming culinary director too, so her plot-to-plate credentials are impeccable. Today, with Damian Clisby as head chef, the food is as pretty as it is delicious.


My starter of scallops, watermelon radish, sea purslane and Amalfi lemon zest.


My main course of loin of venison, white salsify, kale and sparkling crab apple jelly.


Amalfi lemon and mascarpone ice cream.


Raggy dahlias from the garden decorate the tables.

It was like eating in the middle of the poshest village fête ever, as rain pattered down on the roof, vines twirled above our heads and a fierce little robin hopped about on the yellow dirt floor. We ate and drank and talked, before wandering around admiring the breathlessly tasteful bibelots in the greenhouses and the end of the dahlias in the garden.


They wander the tearoom at night. Especially the one on the right.


Artfully distressed paint and white-glazed ceramics, very much part of the aesthetic.


I can never resist a chandelier.


A galvanised tin bath, dressed for best.


Angels’ wings.


Possibly my first and last selfie, among the hyacinth bulbs.


A perfect gift for your housekeeper.


In the greenhouse, we found a stack of our friend Mark Diacono’s books.


Dahlias light up a zinc-topped table.


Gardens are so poignant at this time of year – the last dahlias, verbena bonariensis and cosmos defiantly cling on, before the autumn leaves take over the show.


Sitting on the platform at Richmond Station, a bag of pelargoniums on my lap.

Petersham Nurseries
Church Lane
Off Petersham Road
Surrey TW10 7AG

020 8940
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