Let’s Rush To Rushfields
by Sara Whatley
Plants, gifts and goodies await you at this thriving family run business. Not to mention the fabulous farm shop food to fulfil all your festive fancies.
Rushfields Plant Centre never fails to surprise and delight. Under the energetic direction of Adrian Hillman, one of Rushfields’ owners, it has long since outgrown its simple ‘plant centre’ label and matured into an extraordinary retail shopping location. Of course it still retains its established reputation as the ‘go to’ place for all your garden needs from pansies to outdoor hot tubs, but a carefully thought-out strategy of expansion has resulted in Rushfields becoming the relaxing and fun place it is today.
An independent and family owned business, Rushfields nestles at the foot of the Downs near Poynings and offers not just a wonderful selection of plants and everything associated with them, but a cafe, farm shop and a really extensive and imaginative gift area.
Waiting to talk to Adrian, I strolled around the busy leisure and gift section accompanied appropriately enough by a robin – a regular visitor apparently. As I marvelled at the extraordinary range of goods, it was clear that anybody looking for Christmas or birthday present ideas could not come to a better place. I browsed amongst glassware, china, and wooden ornaments, clothing, cookware, greeting cards, children’s toys, games and jigsaw puzzles. I could continue in this vein, but there simply isn’t space in this short article to adequately cover all of the options in the gift section, let alone the other retail areas of the indoor store.
I asked Adrian about the increased emphasis on the non-horticulture side of the business and his explanation was straightforward; “We’re moving into the winter months now and of course we’re less than two months away from Christmas, so it makes sense to offer people a fun place to shop, especially when there’s not much going on in the garden at this time of year. We have a large and loyal customer base who take pleasure in spending time exploring the site, so we like to give them lots of things to do and see.”
Warming to his theme, Adrian went on, “Nowadays, people’s expectations of what they can buy in a garden centre are much greater than they used to be. In fact so much so that I believe that in certain areas, we are now a genuine out-of-town competitor for much bigger high street stores.”
Adrian joked that as the month of November arrives and their plant stock diminishes in order to make room for all the Christmas trees that will be arriving, some people worry Rushfields is going out of business! “This is definitely not the case,” Adrian explains. “This year we have got the biggest amount of artificial trees Rushfields has ever seen, so you can understand we have to make quite a lot of room.” They will be housed in a dedicated festive marquee along with all the glittering Christmas lights, and then at the end of November the real Christmas trees will arrive and be placed outside.
Christmas is magical at Rushfields. The store will be decorated in the traditional colours of red, gold and silver and the scent of pine will fill the air. In fact it is more than possible to fulfil an entire family’s Christmas present needs from this one store, gardeners and non-gardeners alike. There are books, clever gardening gadgets, toys, festive candles, solar garden lights, plants and cracking crackers.
A really popular present is Rushfields delicious Christmas hampers. These can be bought ready made-up from the Farm Shop, or you can have a bespoke one made for you. Choose from the vast array of food and drink delights to create exactly the kind of hamper you want, be it a selection of cheeses, a hamper made for the beer connoisseur in your life, or how about one filled with chutneys, pickles and jams? Presented beautifully, these hampers can also be made-up to your budget, making them a truly personalised gift.
It’s not just Christmas hampers the Farm Shop has to offer; there’s a huge selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs and cheese, chutneys, freshly baked breads and cakes and local wine and beer. At this time of year especially the shop is overflowing with festive chocolates and sweets, many of them moulded into intricate seasonal characters; fancy snacking on Rudolph’s nose anyone? The shop’s ethos of ‘locally sourced and home-baked’ has proved to be a resounding hit with Rushfields’ customers. All the meat is from local sources, and the many different kinds of sausages are all made on the premises, as are my own personal favourites, the award-winning home-baked pies. And of course, there will be a huge selection of turkeys to choose from for your Christmas order.
As well as those making a well earned pit-stop during their shop, regulars often come just to enjoy eating the delicious homemade food in the light and airy cafe. The winter menu is now in full swing, with hearty and warming meals such as sausage and mash or pies, the very same as those available in the Farm Shop. And for a taste a little further from home, there is a new cook in the cafe who will be creating some mediterranean flavours with a selection of Tapas. So, get ready for some Spanish themed dishes! Make your meal complete with some of the festive fare on offer, after all, who can resist a steaming cup of coffee and a mouthwatering freshly baked mince pie? Not me, that’s for sure.
Open: 9.00-5.00pm 7 days a week
Address: Henfield Road, Poynings, West Sussex BN45 7AY
Telephone: 01273 857445