Hello there, my name is Jeremy and thank you for taking the time to read about us.
I write this as we enter our 22nd season as Riverhill Garden Supplies and our 18th year online as a specialist supplier of garden planters and garden features. Doesn’t time fly!
It is 2.30pm, March 2020 and I am sitting in the office writing the ‘about us’ section for this new website with another eye on incoming e-mails (it is my turn today). It has been another busy day so far. We all started at 7.30am. There have been lots of online orders from our valued retail customers, a trade order from the Marriott Hotel in Maida Vale and another sale of terracotta pots to our friends at Leeds Castle, Kent. Heidi and Ann are on the other side of the office answering the telephone and as the volume of calls increase now that the sun has come out, I can just hear Daniel in the background asking Heidi if she knows where Fosbury is.
“It’s Wiltshire Daniel!” I call out. “The top of Hampshire I think?”
Daniel acknowledges me with a thumbs up as he continues to plan the delivery routes for the next couple of days. It is great to have an office that is lively and friendly. A mix of family and trusted loyal staff – I am very lucky to have such good people around me adding value to our successful business and providing you, with excellent customer service and a wealth of product knowledge that you would expect to support all our fantastic products.
With the blessing of my family I started this business alone, before the internet and mail ordered Geraniums that I would bring on in small terracotta pots I would import from Italy. The first advert went out in the Sevenoaks Chronicle, 1996 – I sold out! This gave me the confidence to advertise nationally and then move onto exhibiting at Garden Shows. I started with local plant fairs where pitches would be less than £30, onto the Kent Garden Show, Detling and then more ambitiously began exhibiting at the National Garden Shows often over 4,5 even 6 days. The National Garden Shows where a lot of effort and a huge financial risk. They could cost anything up to £10,000 to exhibit at and you were always at the hands of the British weather. Very hit and miss! A good show could make your season, a couple of bad ones would ruin it.
I learnt a lot from the Garden Shows. We would always take the geraniums we mail ordered and a mix of pots and plants – mainly Apta Pottery and plants that we would source from How Green Nursery, Hever. (How Green Nursery is a trade nursery that have supplied herbaceous perennials to dozens of Chelsea medallists over the years, to this day I would not go anywhere else).
I loved the camaraderie of the Garden Shows and now working alongside my partner Heidi we travelled the country making good money. Thanks to Danish trollies the plants were easy to transport unlike the pots that were extremely labour intensive and awkward to handle, some weighed over 100kg but we persevered and quite often being the only stand at most of the shows exhibiting large garden planters resulted in big ticket sales – this encouraged us to take more to the next show until we stopped taking plants altogether and focussed solely on specialising in large garden planters and garden features, as we still do to this day. Selling during the garden show and delivering that night to our customers in the lorry. It worked well for both us and our customers.
Lucy Ella enjoying the view at the Helmingham Hall Spring Garden Show, 2013 (pictured above).
We both continued with the mail order side of the business and attended as many shows as we could until…. yes until…. drumroll please…. the World Wide Web arrived! Wow, this was an opportunity Heidi and I were not going to miss. This was a chance to showcase all our products online, there would be no more expensive brochures, no more costly adverts in the press and no more labour-intensive garden shows! This was a chance to reach out to a wider audience and offer customers more choice. We had been effortlessly delivering our products to customers for years and we loved it! We already had the suppliers, the warehouse, the transport and the staff. The internet was made for us so without fail we got to work on building a website and totally embraced it.
Two hours after going live in January 2001 we took our first order for £421.95 from a Mr Ken S***** in Lenham, Kent (thank you Ken), we delivered Ken’s order the next day and I can honestly say we have not looked back. The internet continues to take us all over the United Kingdom and Europe and just like the garden shows our team still get to meet some amazing people, see some unbelievable gardens and after all these years still go to places that they never knew even existed, like Fosbury.
“It’s Wiltshire Daniel, the top of Hampshire I think!” I say to myself gazing around to what is now an empty office!
Thank you for your continued support.