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An Interview With | Cerys Sapsford, Perrywood

Each month we go behind the scenes with one of our 300 expert stockists nationwide to bring you ideas, inspiration, and an insider’s guide to life at the garden centre. This month we hear from Cerys Sapsford, the Plant Area Department Manager from family-run garden centre Perrywood, in Essex.

1.) Which part of the garden centre do you work in?

I currently work as the Plant Area Department Manager in Perrywood Tiptree.  Perrywood was my first horticulture job after leaving University, and this year will be 15 years since I started working here in my first role as a plant area assistant.

2.) What is the best part of your job?

I love that Perrywood is an independent, family-run garden centre. It allows us creative freedom to build beautiful displays and utilise the retail space to the best of our abilities. Every day at Perrywood is different, and I really enjoy the enormous variety of tasks that I get involved in. I love the buzz of the growing season when we have lots of plant deliveries, and our shop floor is full of colour and customers.

3.) Classic or Contemporary? What is your preferred garden style?

If I had to pick, I would say Classic, but I am definitely the other “C”, Chaos! I couldn’t tell you how many plants I have purchased from Perrywood over the years, but it’s easily in the hundreds based on the number of empty pots in my shed! I don’t follow colour schemes or trends. If I like it and it will grow well in its chosen spot, then I will plant it.

4.) Solo or Social? What would be your ideal garden set up? In a cocoon reading a book in a quiet spot in the garden, or everyone gathered together for a big family BBQ?

I’m incredibly shy so my garden is my little private oasis to reset for the following day. My favourite spot in my garden is in my wildlife corner, tucked in the corner is a small bench where I can sit and not be overlooked by neighbours, and I can simply chill and watch the world go by.

5.) What do you think is the best time of day to spend outdoors?

I always used to be a night owl, but my husband is the complete opposite. I think he may be right though as waking up early to go for a walk is one of my favourite things to do now. We’ve seen everything from otters and kingfishers hunting in local rivers to a notorious escaped kookaburra!

6.) What do you think is the most important thing someone should consider when designing their garden?

Right plant, right place. Look at where your garden is getting sunshine and shade and plant accordingly. This may mean having to adapt your vision and design, but analysing your space first will save so much money! Choose plants that will happily grow in your garden space and they will reward you by establishing quickly as opposed to plants that you have to beg and plead to stay alive as they are in the wrong position.

 7.) When it comes to gardening, what do you think is the one job we should all be doing this month?

Weeding, Feed and Deadhead! Keeping on top of weeding regularly is so much easier than leaving them for another day, and I always add a thick mulch of bark to act as a natural weed barrier. Keeping on top of feeding will reward you with improved growth rates and will boost your flowering and crop yields. It’s particularly important to feed containers as they will always depend on you for water and nutrients. Deadheading isn’t the most exciting task in the garden, but it is important if you want to enjoy flowers right through summer and it’s a quick a simple way to have a bit of a tidy up.

8.) What is one, universal, tip you would recommend for any would-be grower?

Start simple and small. Starting with a small area or a few pots on the patio is a simple way to boost your confidence and each season you can add a little more as you get the hang of things. And set a reminder to check the watering!

9.) What choices can we make that will benefit our gardens and the environment?

When my husband and I bought our house, we first noticed the distinct lack of wildlife in the garden. We are blessed with a good-sized garden, but there wasn’t even a pesky pigeon visiting. We immediately sprang into action and planted trees and shrubs for shelter and food for birds. I piled logs in corners for insects and hung bug hotels in secluded spots. We dug a pond under our existing apple tree, and I’ve filled the garden with plenty of flowers for pollinators. Four years later, our garden is full of wildlife. We have frequent visits from blackbirds, robins, bluetits and a very impatient army of starlings who devour our bird food. Our pond is full of life, and we even spotted mortar bees had used our insect hotels for winter hibernation. Our most recent success was the family of goldfinches that visit every day for niger seed. I did a little dance when I saw those!

10.)What do you love most about gardening and being in the garden?

Simply being outdoors with nature makes me happy. I grew up in the Welsh countryside and some of my earliest memories are gardening with my parents. I love going for an aimless wander around the garden after work just to see what’s flowering. I can’t explain precisely why I love gardening, I just know it’s my happy place.


Perrywood is an independent, family-owned garden centre and nursery run by the Bourne Family in Essex.

Opening Times:

Monday – Saturday 8:30am – 5:00pm

Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm*

*Browsing from 9:30am on Sundays