Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seeds of Success; Louise and Nigel Johnson Have Expanded Their Small Family-Run Nursery into an International Business but Still Base Themselves in the Dreamy Cotswold Village of Burford, Says Katie Law

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seeds of Success; Louise and Nigel Johnson Have Expanded Their Small Family-Run Nursery into an International Business but Still Base Themselves in the Dreamy Cotswold Village of Burford, Says Katie Law

Article excerpt

Byline: KATIE LAW

BURFORD, for most people, conjures up images of one of the prettiest Cotswold villages in Oxfordshire, famous for its filmset pretty high street, dramatic sweeping hill and honey-stone buildings. For Louise and Nigel Johnson, who own and run the Burford Garden Company, set in 15 acres on the village outskirts, Burford is a way of life.

This husband and wife team are enjoying a cup of coffee in their kitchen, taking a short break from running their business, Burford.co.uk.

Even now, on the cusp of 50, they do not often take breaks; their lives are spent buying, selling and building their business into a brand.

What began as a small, family-run nursery in the Seventies is now an enormous, de luxe garden centre that sells everything from painted enamel creamware and scented candles to organic lamb chops and obscure olive oils.

There is a cafe, a clothing store, an aquatic house and a pet shop. There is also an art gallery, reflecting Nigel's passion for buying and selling Victorian paintings. And, of course, there are aisles and aisles bursting with plants blooming and abundant, and all the horticultural paraphernalia to go with them. You could probably live at the nursery for years without ever having to venture into the outside world.

In fact, the Johnsons live in neighbouring Grafton, in a quintessential part-16th, part-17th century Cotswold-stone farmhouse, which they bought and renovated in 2002. They have three teenage children, the eldest of whom, Sam, 19, is on a gap year in Australia. Tom, 15, and Eleanor, 13, are both at local boarding schools.

Nigel, who retains a perennially youthful gleam, still plays in his own band with friends in the purpose-built "party barn" to one side of the house.

"We're all old codgers doing rock and roll," he laughs.

He grew up in Bromley, Kent, and went to Bromley Grammar but moved to Burford when his father, a former policeman, semi-retired there to start up a garden nursery. …

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