How passion for plants led to a business

PUBLISHED: 12:16 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:17 27 February 2017

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis

Archant

Lynne Moore has turned her enthusiasm for growing plants into a thriving business so Philippa Pearson went to visit her nursery in Billericay to find out more about her life’s journey and her passion for plants

Francoa sonchifoliaFrancoa sonchifolia

You could say that gardening is in the blood for Lynne Moore.

‘Never mind green fingers,’ says Lynne, ‘I think my grandfather had green arms!’ When she was growing up, Lynne’s grandfather was a very keen gardener and inspired her to grow plants from a young age. ‘I had my own growing area in my parents’ garden at home,’ she explains, ‘and I was always growing plants and out in the garden.’

Asplenium trichomanesAsplenium trichomanes

Lynne’s passion and hobby has now turned into a family business with the launch of Moore & Moore Plants, a delightful nursery in Billericay specialising in rare and unusual plants. Lynne began to turn her love of plants from a hobby into a career in the early 2000s. After doing a garden design course at Writtle College near Chelmsford, she particularly liked the planting design aspect of the syllabus.

One of her friends on the course sadly lost her mother to cancer, which prompted Lynne and her friend to have a garden plant sale to raise funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The sale raised enough money to buy a plaque in memory of her friend’s mother.

Corydalis flexuosa 'Pere David'Corydalis flexuosa 'Pere David'

‘We had some plants left over,’ said Lynne, ‘so I decided to take these to the local farmers’ market at Barleylands in Billericay.’

Beautiful selection of shade-loving plantsBeautiful selection of shade-loving plants

With the help of her husband, Stephen, and other family members, the plants sold well and she continued to be at the market regularly over the next few years. Word soon started to spread about the great range of plants at Lynne’s stall and she began to exhibit at other garden shows and plant fairs across eastern England, including Marks’s Hall, Essex Plant Heritage events at RHS Hyde Hall and further afield in London as well as at Rare Plant Fair shows.

The couple’s back garden soon changed into a nursery and growing area, with raised wooden benches full of plants. 18 months ago they rented some extra land at a nearby farm, which has provided lots more room to grow and propagate plants. Lynne and her husband worked full time in other industries as well as exhibiting at plant fairs at the weekend, but in February 2016, Lynne took early retirement from her job as a fingerprint expert for 26 years at the Metropolitan Police to concentrate on her nursery and growing plants.

Echinops sphaerocephalus ‘Arctic Glow’Echinops sphaerocephalus ‘Arctic Glow’

Lynne and Stephen’s ethos for the plant range at Moore & Moore is essentially based on interesting plants and those that appeal to bees and butterflies. ‘We are a bit self-indulgent,’ smiles Lynne, ‘as we want to grow things that appeal to us and that are special, and a bit different.’

Echinacea 'Secreat Affair'Echinacea 'Secreat Affair'

In their selection of more than 1,500 plants are good groups of Agapanthus, Astrantia, Athyrium, Dryopteris, Echinacea, Hardy Geranium, Hosta, Helenium, shade loving plants and bog garden plants. Lynne has been inspired by Beth Chatto and her garden near Colchester, visiting the garden regularly and keeping up to date with all of Beth’s books.

‘When I worked in London, I always had one of Beth’s books in my bag to read on the train,’ Lynne adds. Beth’s approach of using the right plant in the right place is an advocate that has rubbed off on Lynne and Stephen. At the nursery they have a holistic approach of everyone being inspired by their plants, whatever their skill level in the garden. ‘We have plants for everyone, from beginners to professionals,’ says Lynne, ‘and we like to make sure that people go away with plants that will suit their own garden conditions and that won’t let them down.’

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'

As well as the good range of plant fairs and shows that Moore & Moore will be exhibiting at this year, you will also find them at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for the first time.

Moore & Moore's plant dispaly at a showMoore & Moore's plant dispaly at a show

‘We applied to the RHS to exhibit at one of their shows this year,’ Lynne explains, ‘and after a visit to the nursery last December by the RHS, they have picked us to be at Hampton Court Show. We’re really pleased!’

There’s a hive of activity at the nursery as Lynne and Stephen get thousands of plants ready for this show and their other events this year, but Lynne is in her element growing and working with plants. She discovered a few years ago, while looking through some family archives, that one of her father’s grandparents had been a head gardener in North Wales.

Stipa gigantea grassStipa gigantea grass

‘I obviously have the growing and gardening gene flowing through me,’ Lynne smiles, ‘and I am just thrilled to be living my dream of working in horticulture.’

Eryngium bourgatiiEryngium bourgatii

Where you’ll find Moore & Moore in 2017

Sunday, April 9

Spring Fling Plant Fair

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’

Great Comp Garden, Near Sevenoaks, Kent

April 22 and 23

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Double Ellen Red’Helleborus x hybridus ‘Double Ellen Red’

Essex Plant Heritage Plant Fair

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Chelmsford,

Plants for sun at the nurseryPlants for sun at the nursery

Saturday, April 29

Open Garden & Plant Fair

Saltwood Castle, Hythe, Kent

Shade-loving plants at the nurseryShade-loving plants at the nursery

May 19 to 21

National Flower Show

Tortoiseshell butterfly on Rodgersia pinnata 'Superba' flowersTortoiseshell butterfly on Rodgersia pinnata 'Superba' flowers

Hylands House & Estate, Chelmsford

July 4 to 9

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace, Surrey

Visit the nursery

Moore & Moore Plants

London Road

Billericay

Essex

CM12 9QF

07881 756252

www.mooreandmooreplants.co.uk

The nursery is open on Wednesdays from 10am to 8pm from May to July, but is closed during Hampton Court Show week in July. It is open by appointment at other times.

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