Francesco recalls initially not knowing what to do with the place. Inspired by his youthful travels to India, when as a self-confessed hippy, he bought and sold unusual furniture, paintings, sculptures and decorations as a means of funding his expeditions. He recalls a vision materialising.
Bringing a gentle approach and an ability for drawing out beauty in the simplest of things, Gael’s natural style, elegance and attention to detail was at the heart of the transformation, evolving over the years into the strong ethos maintained today.
In 2004, after extensive restoration works, the nursery re-opened, completely transformed. Furniture, gifts and antiques were found amongst the plants which adorned the greenhouses, and in the most elegant wooden teahouse, whole leaf teas and homemade cakes were offered.
The nurseries became an instinctive mix of Gael’s love and enthusiasm for nature and the earth, mixed with Francesco’s desire to deliver products and services in a peaceful and beautiful setting on the river.
Over the years, Gael and Francesco have steadily nurtured the space, drawing upon their travel experiences and incorporating their Italian and Australian cultures within this English garden setting. They have created a lifestyle destination, reflective of their values, love of food and personal collections within their home.
The family is dedicated to positive living; where ethics meet aesthetics, philosophies which are interwoven in every aspect of the business. This is demonstrated from the way they look after their employees, to what is sold and served. In recent years, Gael and Francesco have encouraged their children, Petersham’s next generation, to step forward, forging a future for the nurseries and Petersham offshoots.
The growth and success of Petersham Nurseries in recent years can be attributed to the ideas and determination of eldest daughter, Lara Boglione. Taking the reins in 2011 as Managing Director, she has seamlessly woven her personal vision in strengthening the company’s philosophy and has been the driving force behind the development of the nurseries.
Lara studied social anthropology at SOAS, writing her thesis on seeds and sustainability. She then spent a number of years travelling and was joined by her father in India. Together they developed the Shop’s international buying links; sourcing the ‘Misore’ paintings and the Indian blinds that hang throughout the nursery; building relationships with the village community that produces the terracotta pots, granite pillars and zinc tables; and closer to home sourcing glass in Murano, olive oils and Sicilian crockery.
On her return, Lara began to take on more and more responsibility for all facets of the business, ensuring the values that her parents had established were sustained.
Lara Boglione is the creative visionary behind bringing Petersham Nurseries to Covent Garden, whilst remaining actively involved in all aspects of the business to ensure brand values are maintained.
In 2013, Lara and her now husband Giovanni Mazzei, founded and established Petersham Cellar, an Italian wine merchant, which promotes an ever-evolving selection of hand-picked Italian wines.
Today she leads a growing aspirational brand, inspired by nature, her family’s Italian heritage and her principles of sustainability and ‘slow living’.