Transitioning from 30 years of farming to running a thriving garden centre is no easy task, but Ashley and Marie McEwan, owners of The Springs Garden World, have managed it with style and aplomb.
The couple began their new enterprise with research, travelling to Europe to look at English-style garden centres for inspiration. “We’re very much based on that English/European style,” Ashley said. “We knew we had to create a destination, not just a nursery. The café and gift shop had to be an integral part of that.” The 10-acre site on which their garden centre is located in Toowoomba was originally a water adventure park. In 1998, the McEwans transformed it into The Springs Garden World, a true sanctuary where bubbling fountains and fragrant blossoms dissipate the stresses of everyday life. “Everything you see here, we put in. Even the trees.”
From glistening pools and dancing palm trees to shady lawns and sunny nooks, every part of The Springs Garden World offers a unique experience that stimulates the senses and gives creativity a boost. Now established for 20 years, it is a haven of inspiration, a peaceful oasis in a bustling city. Springs beckons patrons to linger for hours, perusing lavish garden displays, exclusive outdoor furnishings, and a dazzling array of unique items for indoor/outdoor living. The Kingfisher Café offers serene garden views with its delectable menu, and is a great place for kids to play while parents relax over a cuppa. Marie may have been hesitant in the beginning, but she soon found her niche in the stunning gift shop, and has loved the career change. “We each have our own passion and our own department,” Marie said. “We’re creating something special, working with people and amongst people, satisfying their requirements.”
Early on, Ashley and Marie brought their son Cameron on board, and the three of them work together with a staff of 10 to offer an ever-changing kaleidoscope of inspiring homewares, gift items, flowers, and garden furniture. “We are constantly looking for different lines at exhibitions and gift fairs,” Marie said. They also travel regularly to garden centres around the world, collecting ideas that work well in Australia’s climate, keeping up with trends so that customers will always have new products and ideas to delight and motivate them. “We have the biggest range this side of Brisbane,” Cameron said. “We have an extraordinary range of plants, and 95 per cent of the furniture is exclusive.”
This diversity has won them a loyal following, with customers returning regularly to see what’s new. “It’s become an experience for a lot of people,” Ashley said. “It’s not unusual for people to be here for three or four hours. And it’s great for families because they can have the kids run.” The McEwans still have a couple acres yet to be developed on the site, and they are excited to bring those places to life in the near future. “There are a lot of dreams,” Cameron said with a smile.
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