Exclusive products for the garden and home, exhibitions and markets for adults and children, permanent exhibitions, pet services: the story of a garden centre in Terni that conquered Central Italy – Interview with Marco Gubbiotti from Spazio Verde.
Mr Gubbiotti, looking at the exhibition areas in Spazio Verde, the modern facilities, the outdoor areas, it is difficult to imagine that just thirty years ago all of this was just a nursery…
“You’re right, the company has grown exponentially. As soon as I completed my training as an agriculturalist, I followed my passion for flowers and opened a small nursery. At first we only dealt with indoor and outdoor plants. Now, in addition to these – which are still an important part of our business because we offer plants and flowers that are unique in this area – we have added a series of items for the home and other exclusive services”.
So you don’t only sell plants and gardening materials?
“There is much more. We organise special exhibitions such as the exhibit of orchids from around the world, or the Rose Festival with a selection of plants from the main European and Italian producers like Barni Pistoia, meilland from France, David Austin for English roses, and Delbard for Danish roses, etc. Then there is also a permanent exhibit of ancient citrus varieties, an event dedicated to chilli peppers (“Piccantassimo”, Ed.), and the “Food and Nature” festival to promote nutritional well-being where you can taste all of the delicacies on offer… all of this in anticipation of the biggest event…”
Which would be?
«The Santa Claus Village. We have already been working on it for months, selecting products from the best German and Dutch suppliers. Over the years the Christmas market has become the main event at Spazio Verde, covering more than 2000 square metres, with more than 100 decorated trees, an impressive exhibition of nativity scenes, and skilful displays of thousands of elegant and refined quality Christmas decorations. Every year we choose a new theme which we then develop for the joy of adults and children alike.
A paradise for children! What about pets?
“We have a petting zoo with rabbits, rodents, exotic birds, turtles, and fresh and salt water fish. We have a series of products for dogs and cats and additional services such as grooming. This year we have added a veterinary service in collaboration with Tyrus, a veterinary clinic in Terni that works with cutting-edge equipment. Being able to benefit from an all-round service for our four-legged friends in a short space of time, from grooming to a vaccination or a specialist check-up, is definitely an added value”.
And for those who want to create a garden?
“At Spazio Verde you will find top quality products and brands and a series of exclusive services. First of all, if you want to plan a garden from scratch or renovate an existing garden, you can ask for our advice without any obligations. Our specialised staff will conduct a site survey to assess the situation, following which you can decide on how to proceed, which irrigation system to use, the right garden furniture to use, because the right setting and scenery are crucial to creating the perfect garden”.
Speaking of gardens, what is “stone city”?
“An exclusive product that you will only find here: we have 600 square metres of outdoor space filled with examples of gardens created from natural stone, gravel designs, stone flowerbeds, an original waterfall, and a pond. Stone gardens are a new trend because you can design beautiful layouts and because they don’t require maintenance. They are very popular with young couples, who also appreciate vertical systems for creating a terrace vegetable garden”.
Speaking of young couples: Spazio Verde offers interesting opportunities related to weddings. Isn’t it unusual to ask for a wedding registry at a garden centre?
“Absolutely! It is an idea that we launched a few years ago and that has been incredibly successful. If you look at our modern society, young couples often already live together and so they don’t need a “classic” registry. That is where Spazio Verde steps in to help, offering barbecues, porch swings, garden umbrellas, Zen fountains, garden art, original garden furniture, as well as a wide variety of ornamental plants”.
Staying with weddings and events, is it really possible to have personalised decorations?
“This is one of our strong points: we have a lot of experience with cut flowers and floral decorations. We can work on large or small orders, customising everything according to the needs and personal tastes of the client in a short space of time. We also have a wide assortment of very realistic artificial flowers. What’s more, we are affiliated with Mondo Flora, an exclusive service that makes it possible to deliver flowers to almost anywhere in the world in just a few hours”.
And if someone has any special requests?
“You see, tastes are continually evolving, and for this reason it is important to stay up-to-date and keep up with the latest trends, always on the lookout for something new. Today, thanks to the internet, more people are interested in exotic plants, new hybrids, Australian fruits, etc… We have a wide collection of samples, but whatever is not immediately available can be
ordered and delivered in a short time”.
So, Spazio Verde is much more than just a garden centre…
“I am proud to admit that I get great satisfaction from seeing clients come here for an entire morning or afternoon just to relax. We want to pamper them, and a couple of years ago we also opened the Natural Bar as a place where they can stop to taste food, cakes, and smoothies made from organic fruit, often using fresh local produce”.
And in the future?
“The idea is to expand the area related to pets, because they are very close to our hearts. We would like to create a dog day-care centre, an agility field, an area for shows and competitions, not to mention a training area”.
Have you got any dreams locked away in the drawer?
“We have grown a lot in this area, so much so as to become a point of reference not only in Umbria. We have many clients who come here from Rome, so, considering the vicinity and the potential, the idea would be to open a branch in the capital. Ideally with an individual or group of entrepreneurs who believe in our product enough to go into partnership…”