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The seven-acre site has been associated with growing since the 60s with its lines of greenhouses, and is an ideal sister centre for the long-established Stewarts horticultural business.

Managing Director Martin Stewart said: “It feels totally right for us. We are so impressed with the team there. We have found our niche with medium-sized, earthy garden centres. This fits perfectly and is unique with the Abbey behind it. We are going to be careful to gain the views of loyal customers for their feedback as to what we should improve as we invest in the centre.”

“We want to enhance Abbey Garden Centre to become a destination that fits well in the rural environment for those who like to escape from the modern temples of retailing, yet will still offer a greater range of plants and improved departments full of good quality products for our gardening customers.”

Stewarts also expect to work closely with English Heritage regarding the neighbouring Titchfield Abbey when it comes to the long term refurbishment of the commercial greenhouses. The commercial greenhouses at Stewarts Broomhill Centre near Wimborne grow up to 25% of the plants sold at their centres.

The passion for horticulture has been in the Stewarts family for eight generations. The business can be traced back to 1742. Stewarts claim to have created the earliest dedicated garden centre opened in Ferndown in 1955 before their first out-of-town centre at Christchurch opened in 1961.

There will be additional job opportunities to boost the current team of 42 at the Abbey Garden Centre over the next 12 months.

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