I woke up to sunshine on my face this morning so my thoughts turned to gardening. I had an idea to pop down to Phoebe’s for a few bits. ‘Bits’ roughly translates to “I have no idea what I need or if I actually need anything but I’ll see when I get there”. A trip like that usually results in me sitting in the garden wondering where I’m going to home all the plants that I purchased. Good times!
Shopping for ‘bits’ in Phoebe’s is much more fun than having a firm plan to go and buy a rake or a replacement nozzle for a hose. Just walking around the displays of flowers, herbs and trees is enough to generate some good ideas. Then I recalled that this simple pleasure will soon be no more as Phoebe’s is due to be closed for development.
Yes. That’s right! My tiny piece of paradise is soon to become:
“A three storey building incorporating balconies to provide 5 one bedroom 15 two bedroom and 9 three bedroom self-contained flats, together with the provision of 11 car parking spaces, 38 cycle spaces and landscaped gardens areas.”
More details can be found on the planning website. When I heard the news a few months ago, I was devastated and have been in denial ever since. The hours I’ve spent wondering around Phoebes over the last 20+ years and the results I’ve produced in my garden are unforgettable.
I became a serious gardener back in 1992 when, after the birth of my son I became a hay fever sufferer out of the blue. Being young and foolish and refusing to stand for this strange turn of events, I entered into a battle with Mother Nature. I figured if I was going to suffer I might as well get some pleasure out of it.
With Phoebe’s just a short stroll away (I lived off Rushey Green back then), I started spending hours on a Saturday morning there. I used to pop in there for tropical fish but now it was all about the plants. I often found the displays in the garden leading up to the shop inspirational. I really wished I’d taken pictures now.
When I got my first car it was game over. The boot was so big, I could fit loads of plants and, plant pots and soil in there. When I moved to the Corbett Estate, the garden was just a patch of poorly maintained grass but full of potential. Several trips to Phoebes and Jean’s and I soon whipped it into shape.
Inspired by a pond display that they had in the garden one year, I even built my own pond.
History of Phoebe’s Garden Centre
My history with Phoebe’s is small change compared to how long the business has been around. A lady called Phoebe started a small floristry shop in Sangley Road in the early part of the 1900s. She built up her business selling cut flowers and plants and making up flower arrangements for gifts and funerals.
The business thrived and in 1947, Phoebe and her husband, Ernest, bought a piece of land in Penerley Road, Catford. On this land they grew chrysanthemums and dahlias for the florist shop as well as to supply the cut flower market, then situated at Covent Garden.
When Phoebe’s son Roy became involved in the trade, a small wooden greenhouse/shop was built on the site in Penerley Road and from this Roy and his parents started to sell a few gardening “bits and bobs” such as string, seeds and compost.
In 1978 Phoebe’s grandson Michael formed Phoebes Landscapes Limited and in 1988, Phoebe’s added a pet department.
The shop is due to close this summer but the landscaping business will continue. Do you have fond memories of shopping in Phoebe’s?