No one knows more about Black Birches than the Jinks family. For more than half a century the entrepreneurial dynasty has lived on the Sansaw Estate, first running a riding school and then transforming the site into the Country Garden Plant Centre.
More than 36,000 roses are potted at the Hadnall site every year and more than 900 varieties are sold to the public…many by post.
“Looking back we were one of the first companies to really embrace mail order,” says Jon, as we sit in the courtyard of the café overlooking a sea of plants and flowers.
“My dad was in his 60s when he launched roses by post back in 2002. He learned how to build his own website and how to run an e-commerce business, so he was definitely ahead of the game.”
Although John Jinks Snr passed away four years ago, the business continues to go from strength-to-strength at the Black Birches site.
Jon’s wife, Michelle, runs the countrygardenroses.com mail order side and his mum, Mary, still helps out where she can. Jon also runs a successful irrigation company from the site, Osprey Water Management.
“Mum has an incredible wealth of knowledge and the team really relies on her,” says Jon. “She still works in the garden centre and loves pottering in her own garden which backs on.”
The Jinks connection goes back to the late 1960s when it was horses which made their name.
“Our family has been here since 1967,” Jon reveals proudly. “We lived in Black Birches House from 1972 and although I left at 16 and came back at 45, it’s been part of our family’s DNA throughout.
“Dad was a jockey and moved here to open up a residential riding school. He was really well known and taught all the officers of the King’s Troop. At its height there were 50 horses here and one of dad’s friends was Lester Piggott!”
The garden centre became the focus of attention once it opened in 1989 and business literally blossomed.
It’s a fabulous business and we’re investing a huge amount to ensure it’s a destination which will attract people from all over the Midlands,” Jon explains.
“Our roses have to be in great condition, especially as we post so many of them, but we also have to offer great food in the tea room and plenty of facilities for children. It’s a never-ending cycle of investment but we feel very much at home.”
Jon says the local community is very much part of the success, too.
“We’ve always had great support from the villages and towns around us. We offer a discount to locals and we attract a lot of visitors into the Sansaw Estate. That’s good for everyone!”