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Garden centre benefits from Retail Therapy

Photo: Harry Hatton

Photo: Harry Hatton

“The outside of this building tells you one story, but it’s a totally different story when you come in here. It’s a wonderland.” That’s how TV presenter and politician Feargal Quinn summed up Urban Plant Life on Cork Street when he did an episode of his show ‘Feargal Quinn’s Retail Therapy’, based on the garden centre.

The retail therapy certainly did the trick. The exterior of the building is now a turquoise colour with a numbers of signs, hanging baskets and flowers painted on the wall.

When you walk through into the yard you are greeted by a tall round tower on your left, a dainty coffee shop on the right and an extensive range of plants and garden equipment can be found behind the tower and in the greenhouse on the left.

Sam Smyth is the owner of the garden centre, which first opened in 2011. It is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

The media publicity from Quinn’s programme on RTÉ has helped Sam’s business prosper.

In the programme, Quinn was critical of the way Smyth had advertised his business and interviewed people in nearby streets to find that not many people knew the garden centre existed.

Photo: Harry Hatton

Photo: Harry Hatton

He advised Smyth to set up a stall at the Bloom garden festival and since then the business has gone from strength to strength.

Urban Plant Life provides garden products for 15 businesses. The garden centre is a regular provider to big events in the Irish social calendar.

“Last year we did the Irish Open [at Carton House]. We often do Oxegen, RDS, [the] Convention Centre.

“We’re asked to do a lot of things like we did a big party for Google. We did a job for MCI, they do big events,” said Smyth.

The red painted balcony at the back of the centre that can be spotted in the programme has since been taken down. The new balcony will go across to join with the top of the stairs where an abundance of plants are located.

Outlining the plans for the balcony, Smyth said, “[We’ll] probably do show gardens or something because a lot of the people live in the city and they [have] only got apartments and they might have a little balcony.”

When Quinn first arrived at Urban Plant Life, he noticed there was no coffee shop. Now, after learning how to produce the finest coffee from the CEO of Java Republic, Smyth set up a small coffee shop with tables to sit outside for customers who want to bask in the green surroundings.

The greenhouse has been cleaned up since Quinn consulted Smyth. Everything is organised into sections with detailed descriptions of each plant.

The temperature in the greenhouse, which has under floor heating, is usually 16-17 degrees. The trees which hit off the roof of the greenhouse are around seven metres tall, according to Smyth.

“They were in the National College of Ireland and they didn’t want them. [They] didn’t look after them, they were very diseased,” he explained.

Smyth is critical of supermarkets that don’t put enough effort into caring for their plants, “Like in Lidl they don’t have the maintenance they just let things die.”

There’s little chance of that negligence happening in his store where the plants are blossoming.

Photo: Harry Hatton

Photo: Harry Hatton

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