Dan Cooper Garden – Where Gardens Grow

Reading time 10 minutes

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the appearance of a bright yellow box at the top and bottom of my homepage. It invites you to ‘Shop at Dan Cooper Garden’. It’s not subtle, but I like to think it’s tasteful. This obtrusive oblong is all the ‘hard sell’ you’re going to get from me here at The Frustrated Gardener: I elected long ago to keep my blog as a strictly non-commercial entity for the enjoyment of my followers. However, the launch of Dan Cooper Garden will be a momentous occasion for me and I want to take this opportunity to explain what I am up to and why.

I have gardened for as long as I could walk, maybe for longer. When the time I could devote to my hobby has been squeezed, my passion for plants has never waned. Plants still excite me, nature leaves me awestruck and flowers are my first and undying love. So, when the opportunity to change direction came along this time last year, I seized the opportunity. It was time to stop procrastinating, be my own boss and follow my heart. I took a critical look at myself and concluded that I was good at three things – gardening, retailing and being in front of an audience. How could I bring these three skills together in a way that might serve some useful purpose in this troubled world and keep the wolf from the door?

I’ve long felt that garden retail online is lacking. That came into sharp focus during the pandemic when we all struggled to get the goods we needed for our gardens. After all, most of us had never had reason to buy seeds, tree stakes or compost via the Internet before. We went looking, but unless we were ‘in the know’ it was hard to find good sources. The surge of customers visiting garden websites highlighted the inadequacies of packaging for live plants and the lack of carriers who understood how to transport them. I experienced some epic failures, but they helped me to understand the challenges retailers must have faced as the market for garden products grew exponentially.

I am no Horticultural Messiah, but I am still surprised that more established retailers haven’t picked up on the potential for selling good-quality garden products online. Some replicate their massive catalogues online without any of the help and advice you might get in a good garden centre, others shy away altogether. A few niche players are changing the game, many offering access to fashionable houseplants with a clear focus on the younger consumer. I applaud that. A couple of websites stand out, and you’ll know who they belong to, but is there really enough choice online for a community of UK garden lovers that must run into the millions?

In short, I have concluded that there’s a gap in the market. Whether or not I have the wherewithal to fill it, time will tell, but I want to give it a try. My premise is that product, knowledge and inspiration are too separate on the Internet. I want to create a destination where consumers can find all three resources in one place, beautifully and joyfully presented. Not such a big ask, is it? Actually, it is; that’s why most online retailers stick mainly to selling. Content is good for business, but it takes time, experience, money and flair to create. With Dan Cooper Garden I want to offer a different and gently disruptive approach to garden retailing that will grow and evolve over time – not a replication of the garden centre experience, but something more suited to the online world and, dare I say, the Metaverse? I want Dan Cooper Garden to be a modern, positive, vibrant, friendly business that provides a necessary counterpoint to the darker aspects of our lives. More than ever, gardens are a place of fascination, refuge, reflection and decompression. They can help us stay balanced, connected or, indeed, disconnected when we wish to be.

Dan Cooper Garden is a start-up business funded by my own modest savings and some generous family investment. Although it won’t be rooted in a high street, it is being run as a small enterprise rooted firmly in Broadstairs. It will not be all things to all people, or everything I want it to be from the outset. I imagine it could take several years to come of age, if it even succeeds. However, I have put my heart and soul into making it ready for launch next month, supported by a brilliant designer, web developer, photographers and, of course, my friends and family. I hope very much hope that you will enjoy the choice of products, many of which are ones I use regularly in my own garden. I have gone for quality over quantity and for longevity over the quick fix. If I’ve not been able to secure the product I wanted, I have left a gap for them in future. And, in almost all cases, I have sourced from the UK, Europe or Japan. Initially, visitors will be able to select from a carefully curated collection of tools, garden accessories, pots, seeds and gifts. Bulbs and plants will follow at a later date. The advice will come from my head and the inspiration from my heart. It’s my dearest wish that Dan Cooper Garden will eventually create worthwhile and exciting jobs for others – for the time being, what you’ll get is 100% The Frustrated Gardener, and 100% Dan Cooper.

You can find the Dan Cooper Garden launch page using the yellow ‘Shop at Dan Cooper Garden’ box or by clicking here.

With a fair wind, the website will launch in early April. Until then, if you click on that obtrusive yellow oblong you’ll be given the option to sign up for a monthly newsletter and the chance to win a very splendid hamper filled with goodies for you and your garden. I’m genuinely sorry that the free draw is restricted to mainland UK residents as I’d love for everyone to join in with the fun. I’ve learned quickly that getting a business off the ground requires compromises and this is one of them. Even if you can’t win or shop with me in short term, perhaps you know someone who would like to? Spreading the word far and wide will be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, I’d love for you to sign up and be part of a community of people who love their gardens. I’ve chosen the strapline ‘Where Gardens Grow’ to reflect that it’s somewhere that garden lovers may come to help themselves and their gardens grow physically and spiritually. To quote Christopher Lloyd, which very often do, ‘In gardening you can never say, “By now I know all I need to.”’. It’s a journey that never ends. TFG.

Read more about me and my love of gardens and gardening here.

Categories: Musings, Shopping

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

Greetings Garden Lover! Welcome to my blog. Plants are my passion and this is my way of sharing that joyful emotion with the world. You'll find over 1000 posts here featuring everything from abutilons to zinnias. If you've enjoyed what you've read, please leave a comment and consider subscribing using the yellow 'Follow' button in the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen. You will receive an email every time I post something new.

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34 comments On "Dan Cooper Garden – Where Gardens Grow"

  1. Wonderful Dan. I am sure your shop will be a huge success. All the best. I am only sorry teh UK is no longer in the EU and I won’t be able to be your customer… Perhaps the regulations will change in the future and it will be easier to export to the EU without extra cost and custom.

    1. Wouldn’t that be great Paul? We need to stick together more than ever at the moment don’t we?

      I’ve shipped goods in from Denmark, Slovenia, Italy, France and Germany – what a headache! At times I have wanted to give up, but I persevered.

      I hope you will cheer me on from the sidelines. Thanks for your support. Dan

      1. Of course I will support you Dan, as much as possible. Stay strong and infect all your customers-to-be with your enthusiasm and gardening energy 🙂

  2. Good luck Dan, I hope your shop will be successful. There is no denying your horticultural expertise, your love of plants and enthusiasm and your retail experience. I look forward to seeing what will be on offer.

    1. Thank you! I was just reading your hellebore post – I especially like the white one with burgundy freckles. I’m sorry I don’t look in on your blog more often. Please don’t think me rude! Dan

      1. No worries Dan! I know you must be very busy. I’m just happy to chat with you on your blog. Not at all envious of your lovely gardens 😉

  3. Wishing you, genuinely, every success with your new endeavours. Very, very exciting. I’ll be signing up and watching with interest 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Linda. I hope to be able to send orders to the USA in due course, but for now it’s a little complicated.

      I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I am fascinated by your name. The surname name ‘Brazil’ is very specific to Broadstairs where I live, belonging to a large family that has been in the area for some time. I appreciate your spelling has an extra ‘l’, but I wondered if there could be any connection? I believe the name has Irish origins? Dan

  4. Best wishes to you and every success in this new venture. I’m in Ireland so, unfortunately, not a great customer to you for the moment … but, you’ll expand!

  5. Dan I wish you all the best from Northern NSW Australia. I am 81 and can’t get around in the garden as I would like but love your site and your tips on gardening and plants. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you Margaret, I will! I have just finished reading a book about Cruden Farm in Melbourne. So interesting to understand the similarities and differences between that climate and ours. I guess it is a good deal warmer where you are in NSW? Have a lovely weekend. Dan

  6. When the ‘Johnnie Ellis’ dahlia becomes available, will you write about it? I purchase almost nothing, since I can grow anything that I want. However, this is something that I want, but lack access too. I can justify this purchase, and not just because it is white. (Seriously!) I also crave ‘Siberia’ (Okay, so that one I want for my own garden; and there is nothing wrong with that, . . . right? Hey, by that time, perhaps I will try another color that is not white to go with it.)

      1. Chuffed?!
        Well, a small chapel garden within the landscapes here is outfitted with exclusively white flowers. It seriously was not my idea. It was like that longer than anyone can remember. Of course, I have no problem with it, and now enjoy providing white flowers for that garden. The other horticulturist here wants more dahlias in some of the landscapes, like there had been years ago. He prefers the tall or medium tall cactus and semi cactus types, even if they need to be staked. ‘Johnnie Ellis’ is an ideal compromise of white semi cactus bloom on tall stems. Unfortunately, the particular garden is very small at the facade of the chapel, so can not accommodate much. Nonetheless, I might want to add a single ‘Siberia’ nearby, just because it is more my style and shorter. In my own garden is where things get weird. Although I find ‘Siberia’ to be very appealing, and could grow it for that reason alone, I may grow a copy of ‘Johnnie Ellis’ just for bragging rights, . . . well, and because it is white. I do not grow many flowers that are not utilitarian. The few non-utilitarian flowers that I grow have some sort of significance to me. They all came from ‘somewhere’ with their distinct history. Most have been with me for most of my life, even if I am not so keen on them. Seriously, my old bright pink zonal geranium is awful (!) but has been with me too long for me to not grow it for the rest of my life. I could grow the ‘Siberia’ dahlia, but it would be about as significant as something that I purchased for the landscapes from a nursery. I would prefer to grow ‘Johnnie Ellis’ because it is so significant to Mr. Beau, which somehow makes it more appropriate for my garden.

  7. Only three weeks to go! I am so excited for you Dan. A wonderful, heartfelt post. Its not easy to walk away from the ‘comfortable’ role to the dark side of working for yourself. Wishing you huge success. Only wish I was in the uk and able to spend up big! International shipping – what a nightmare that is. xxx

  8. Well done Dan blessings to your new business. I’m a business woman too I know how hard it is but we survived praise God. So looking forward to buying from
    Your website and hopefully visiting your garden this year. Marjorie x

    1. Thank you Marjorie. It’s been a tough time for so many people and it does not look like it’s going to get better any time soon. I’m hoping that if I can survive this period I can survive anything! x

  9. Love it..how beautifully written that is! And I agree with tapping into the gap in the market..Best of luck with your new venture..it’s so exciting.
    Quick question..will there be opportunities on your site to ask any gardening questions ie..plant recommendations for tricky areas etc..

    1. Funny you should ask that Polly! The plan at the moment is that you’d be able to ask me a question via the website and that I would answer a selection in my monthly newsletter. I am also going to write some Q&A posts covering subjects like small gardens, gardening in containers and so on. I’d welcome any ideas and suggestions you may have for these – plants for tricky areas is a great start. And, of course, if you have a specific question you can ask me here any time!

      Thanks for the feedback Polly. Have a lovely weekend. Dan

  10. As a long-time lurker on your blog, I wanted to wish you all the best for this exciting new venture…and I will certainly be buying, too! I started my own business (nothing to do with gardening in my case, sadly) nearly 15 years ago and have never looked back: it is hard, but very rewarding to be your own boss.

    1. Thanks Everso! It’s a big undertaking so all the belief and encouragement goes a long way towards keeping my spirits up. I don’t know whether I’m crazy or inspired 😆 Probably both 😂

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