A GARDEN centre is enjoying a blossoming trade despite the weather conditions - and is now set to expand its car park by 50 per cent.

Summerhill Garden Centre, in Billericay, will be increasing the number of spaces from 300 to 450.

Despite tough trading conditions across the horticulture industry this year, with The Beast from the East effectively delaying the start of the gardening season and the recent heatwave and drought conditions, directors of the centre Karen and Simon Humphreys are confident that the expansion will improve customers’ experience and enable them to expand further.

Director Karen Humphreys said: “We’ve all been working hard to develop the new restaurant on-site called L’oliveta at Summerhill, which has been tremendously successful, breaking records within weeks of opening earlier this year.

"Our garden centre is our passion, one which is shared by our fantastic team who are all eager to pursue the exciting plans we have in the pipeline.”

Manager Darren Chalkley added: “Simon and I secured permission to expand the car park within the existing footprint of the business some time ago. I’ll now be working closely with our contractors to deliver the additional spaces by our target date towards the end of October this year with little if any disruption to customers. Expanding the car park is going to be key to allowing us to bring our future development plans about.”

Growing steadily since opening in 1980, the garden centre has become an important local employer, with over 85 members of full time staff from Basildon and the surrounding area.

Simon Humphreys, director, added: “We’re very proud of the team here at Summerhill, they’re the key to the success of the business. It’s only with their energy, enthusiasm and incredible skills that we can justify the significant investment involved in improving the car park and executing our development plans to improve the centre for our customers.”

Summerhill is well known locally for the quality and range of plants available in their individual plant departments and the in-depth knowledge of their award-winning plant teams.