Adventuring into the tangled web

Being a small plant nursery owner is rather unlikely to make you rich, even when you have Nessy on your side and many points running in your favour:
  1. Our nursery is a small operation - family owned and run (With the assistance of several knowledgeable, loyal and wonderful women) and we are located on a beautiful hillside in one of the most gorgeous areas of Scotland.  
  2. We choose our plants carefully, grow them in our own woodland garden to assess their hardiness, vigour, beauty, scent and suitability for Scottish gardeners, and only then sell them in our nursery.
    Buying from us, you know that the plants have been well grown from strong stock, well educated on Radio 4, and hardened off to cope with challenging Scottish temperatures.
  3. We grow and sell many rare and unusual varieties that can trickier to propagate and maintain, so are infrequently stocked by the big nurseries as they are not perceived to be worth the time and energy required.
  4. We also sell more exotic varieties influenced by our time in New Zealand and the Falkland Islands, varieties which may not have been considered by many gardeners until they see them growing this far North.

All these positive factors are in themselves, not always enough to rake in the millions, and whilst we have a strong and loyal base of customers - the convenience and illusory value of plants available in a wealth of supermarkets and hardware stores has impacted on many small nurseries. 

And so, several years ago we reached out to the Internet to expand our horticultural presence - our website has grown and improved and we have made tentative social media explorations through Flickr galleries, a Facebook page, a new Pinterest page (Still finding our feet) and of course this blog to expand our customer base and hopefully allow technological word-of-mouth to tempt more gardeners to Abriachan. 

Will the 'likes' and 'stars', 'shares' and 'comments' translate into more people in the nursery and more plants in the post? Maybe, maybe not, time will tell, yet no matter what, we have gained many new friends and been made to feel welcome as part of the online community.

As we have grown our own blog, I have discovered the wonderful world of gardening bloggers, who share their stories, their humour, their knowledge and their passion for gardening with the wider world.
Great sites like Blotanical (which hopefully will survive its current difficulties),  Garden Grab @ Fennel & Fern, Gardeners Voice and many others allow for easy exploration of a worldwide community of gardening blogs and it is rather too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of reading and following links from one blog to another.

We still send out our plant catalogue in the mail each year, as I believe you can never replace the tactile experience of reading through plant descriptions and choosing your selection by hand with a cat on your knee. 
Many of our customers have only ever ordered by mail, we have never met face to face, yet we often feel a friendship develop, with lovely handwritten notes included with their orders, and comments on how the plants are growing in their gardens.  They trust us to provide them with quality plants and when necessary to substitute a plant that we think they might enjoy if we are sold out of one that has been requested. 
We were wary that the Internet might not nurture the same personal relationships with our customers, and while it is true that orders from the website are less likely to include personal notes, we have been delighted at the warmth and encouragement we have received through comments on the blog and even more delightful, the personal visits from some other bloggers from around the country, who may never have discovered us had we not stepped deeper into the web-world.

So we shall venture onward, thank you for walking with us on this path.
The Davidsons


  1. I really do appreciate how hard it is these days in the horticulture business but you have such a niche market and you've got something that the bigger multiples cannot compete with! Plus you offer unusual plants that can cope with our Scottish climate all from a family business. One day I hope to visit the nursery in person :)

  2. I do enjoy your blog particularly, as I think I have said before, I would like to set up a small nursery in the future. My research into online payment systems has to be honest made this plan grind to a halt as everything seems to involve paying a 3rd party for the privilege and eating into the small proft margin.

    However, I think the internet is the way to go since I know that I often these days cant get the plants I want locally so have to search on line. Then there is a whole dilemma as to the health of the plants, how large a plant I get for my money, etc etc. Sadly a recent experience resulted in one of 4 plants ordered from a nursery (not you) seeming to be dead on arrival. I keep peering but no sign of anything which is very disappointing.

  3. I have after reading this post been nosing around your online store and discovered you stock old fashioned primulas! Oh dear. I visited the Garden House in Devon on Friday and my love of primulas rose to a whole new level when I saw their collection of old fasioned varieties which I didnt even know existed and now I see you stock them. This could get expensive in a month time when I have more pennies:)


Thank you for leaving a comment - it is always great to hear about other peoples gardens and lives. If you ever drop by the nursery, make sure you say hello. (Margaret & Donald)

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