Thursday, 12 December 2013

Weed all about it! Andrew's Plants on his Bearwood roots...

One of our favourite Bearwood All-Stars has to be Andrew’s Plants. They have made so many people in Bearwood smile. We caught up with Andrew, the very green fingered owner of Andrew’s Plants, to find out more..

Where did you get the idea from to start Andrew’s Plants and how long have you been operating for?

That’s a long story. After graduating from university I studied for a national award in horticulture and worked at a wholesale plant nursery. I really enjoyed both and started to see how I could make a living from growing and selling plants. Andrew’s Plants began trading in 2009 as a part time operation. It is now a full time business that is unrecognisable from the ‘2009 Andrew’s Plants’. We have learned to specialise selling culinary and unusual herbs. 

We began trading as ‘Urban Herbs’ in 2013 – the change of name reflected our changing emphasis and specialism. I think we are lucky – we sell to a wide range of people, a lot of whom do not have a background or interest in gardening. We are also lucky because we get to sell to lots of foodie people – it’s a fun crowd to deal with!

What type of plants do you sell and what’s your best seller?

We primarily sell culinary and unusual herbs. The weird and wonderful plants with a surprising smell usually sell well. 

Plants like ‘Strawberry Mint, Chocolate Mint, Lime Mint, Pineapple Sage or Orange Thyme’ usually stop people in their tracks. Honestly, the best sellers are probably popular classics such as Basil or Chives. Our customers like to be able to get their hands on herbs like ‘Thai Basil’ which is hard to find.

We like the fact that you love cooking with all different kind of herbs. What’s your favourite recipe and why?

Easy. I am a lazy cook and do lots of pasta. We grow lots of Oregano ‘Hot n Spicy’ which you can just throw in with your pasta dishes to give them a real kick. Is that as close as we get to a ‘macho herb’? I would love to think so!

Where can we buy your plants from? Do you have a stall in Bearwood?

Our plants are on sale and are available for order and collection at the fantastic Warley Woods Shop. We can deliver larger orders.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

It sounds really cheesy, but it’s the look on people’s faces when they first smell Chocolate Mint! It’s such an unexpected flavour. I love introducing new people to the joy of growing herbs.

How did you get into gardening?

I got into gardening when I was at uni. I got a kick out of propagating plants and ‘getting them for free’! I can remember thinking that it was really cool, being able to grow your own food for the cost of pennies.

What’s your connection with Bearwood?

I lived in Bearwood from 1997 until 2013. I went to Lordswood Boy’s School. I worked in Osbornes Stationers when I was at college and at Clive Mark Schoolwear in between years at University. I even had a short spell as assistant manager at Clive Mark. For a couple of years I had regular plant stalls on the frontage of St Mary’s Church facing onto the high street. I also had a pop up shop in Bearwood Indoor Market. Bearwood has been a massive part of my life.

What do you see as Bearwood’s future?

This is so difficult. I care deeply about Bearwood as a place and hope that it has a happy future. There is no doubt that there is good community spirit in Bearwood you can see this in great events like the Crafty Mutha Craft Fayres, the Bearwood Shuffle and the May Day Festival in Lightwoods Park. Bearwood is still however a community built around the high street and the majority of the local community does not regularly visit the high street. Is this because the shops on Bearwood Road are not attractive to the local community? Does lack of parking put people off? Is the high street struggling like the majority of other high streets across the country? The answer is probably yes to all those questions. The trouble is that people never realise what they have until it’s gone. There are some real gems of businesses trading in Bearwood that will perish if they are not supported. I think the future for Bearwood is bright but I really have no idea what that future will look like. I think the people of Bearwood will ultimately make that decision and shape the community that they live in.

You're already on our list of Bearwood All-Stars so we would love to hear yours. What, where or who makes your smile in Bearwood?

That is easy! My Bearwood All Star is the amazing Bead Savvy in Bearwood Indoor Market. If you don’t know what I mean then go and have a look and you will understand. Stefan and Emily have made this beautiful shop. It is a thing of beauty. So creative and well run. Seriously, just go in there and you will see what I mean! Osborne’s Stationers are worth a shout too. The ladies who work there have all been there ages and are so helpful. Osborne’s recently went into administration, so they could really use our help right now.

We like to ask everyone this question. What makes Lightwood Chippy’s chips orange?

Magic. Definitely.

What was the best thing about going to Lordswood Boy’s School?

Orange chips on the way home from school.

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