New Norfolk garden centre with a difference

AT first glance, the sprawling spaces of Phoenix Garden look like a standard garden centre. There are hundreds of plants and a thousand ideas on how to turn your garden from ordinary into downright beautiful.

Like most garden centres, stockpiles of sand and loams loom large, along with gravels and pavers, bags of concrete and pine bark – the standard offerings of a place that’s a garden centre and nursery and hardware store all rolled into one. And inside is every kind of irrigation pipe and fitting, stock marking sprays, shelf upon shelf of galvanized bolts and electric fence equipment, pumps for water and fire, chain and hooks, seed and watering cans, weed and bug killer.

There’s more types of chicken feed than you would have thought possible. But it is the focus on garden decor – statues, figures and pots, ornamentation for every type of garden – that sets Phoenix Garden aside.

“We handpick all of these items,” says Linden Nolan, the owner of the Glebe Road complex. “I look for a shape, something that catches my eye,” he says. “So here in New Norfolk, customers are able to select a unique decorative item from the largest collection of its type in Tasmania, something that suits just them and their home.”

Phoenix Garden has evolved over the past decade from a fruit and vegetable market to a specialist outlet for garden plants and a very large – and eclectic – array of garden ornamentation. It’s unsurprising to discover its customers come from across the state. Linden’s suppliers of garden statues, fountains, and decorative pots are largely in Vietnam, but carefully selected from different regional areas, often hundreds of kilometres apart.

“The reason we look far and wide is that different clays and natural stones make for a terrific variety of colours and finishes in the final product. Some are glazed, some in their natural colour. All of them bring a level of elegance to your home.” Among unusual offerings are bonsai pots, large enough to nurture a small tree but set on swivel base. The highly decorative pots are designed so they can be easily hand-rotated to catch the sun as it moves through the sky.

The larger, more decorative pots are shipped singly, while those that are stackable arrive well-padded between rubberised offcuts from Vietnam shoe factories. Linden is currently waiting on a 40-foot container, long overdue. It holds about $100,000 worth of statues, figurines and large clay pots and has been delayed three times.

The latest arrival date is mid-January. But today, he’s busy with customers, illustrated by the fact he set out some three hours ago with a pen to mark prices on another container of products that this week finally landed at Phoenix Garden. It’s mid-afternoon and the pen remains unused in his pocket.