Cleveland Nursery, an icon in Stirling and amongst the nursery industry, changed hands on 1 July 2017 when James and Bronwyn Bennier decided it was time to retire and hand the gardening tools over to a new custodian. Enter Sarah Burchell, a Stirling local with a love of all things people and plants. We stopped in to have a quick chat and find out what this dynamo has in store for our beloved local nursery
What is your vision for Cleveland Nursery?
We still want to be known for our trees, and for looking after our customers with rare or hard-to-find trees and plants. In the longer term I’d like to expand the gift range plus develop some new activities such as gardening clubs for kids and workshops for grown-ups. We also plan to introduce a café as part of our five-year plan for the business. For now I’m very hands-on learning the ropes.
How did you end up in Stirling?
We lived in England for three years where we lived in a little village just off the high street. It was a lovely close-knit community and we wanted to replicate that when we returned to Adelaide. Stirling seemed like the perfect place.
And is it?
Yes! The high street really is the hub of the community in England, and it’s just the same in Stirling. I love the walkability of Stirling and the genuinely open and welcoming community. It has everything you need – food, gifts, chemists, newsagency…plus it’s beautiful with big blocks and gorgeous trees.
How did you come to be the new owner at Cleveland Nursery?
I’ve been in retail forever and I’ve always loved gardens and plants, plus I wanted a job with a purpose where I could make strong community connections. When Cleveland Nursery came onto the market I thought it would be a great combination of my two passions – people and plants.
And is it working out as you had hoped?
Absolutely! I really wanted to connect with the community via a garden centre, and it’s been so rewarding making those connections on a real friendship level with regular customers. It’s hard work but I’m loving the lifestyle.
How does the family get involved?
I have three boys – Noah (9), Solomon (8) and William (5) all at or transitioning to Stirling East Primary School. They’re a bit young to get involved but they are definitely my future workforce! Husband Dominic has his own full-time career but is incredibly supportive and takes on the parenting responsibilities on the weekend so that I can work. I am quite hands-on and I try to be present as much as possible to meet and get to know suppliers and customers and hear their stories.
Do you agree with the often-stated view that gardeners live longer?
That’s a fact! I can back this up just from my customer base. I have so many customers who’ve been gardening for 30+ years, some are still gardening into their 90’s. Gardening is not an overnight thing, it’s a life-long journey. I learn something new from my customers every single day. For me gardening is not just a physical pursuit, it’s also quite spiritual.
It’s actually gardeners and dog owners that live longer by the way, and there’s lots of people in Stirling who do both, so they’re off to a good start!
Cleveland Nursery is open 7 days a week at 91a Mount Barker Road, Stirling.