OWNERS of a once-struggling garden centre are celebrating a blooming great revival.

Arthur Lane Nurseries in Arthur Lane, Ainsworth, opened in the early 1980s and, in its early years, mainly traded in the wholesale market, selling shrubs and trees to other companies.

But when the credit crunch bit in 2008, co-owners and married couple Mark and Jean Lord, suffered as the demand from the wholesale market dwindled.

At the same time, however, more homeowners began getting out in their garden and putting money through the couple’s tills.

Such was the growth of the retail market in plant sales, the Lords decided to open a tea room two years ago and their “big gamble” has paid off to such an extent that they have draw up plans to double the size of it.

“When we first opened the tea room, it was Jean running it with my sister, Anne Helps, and they were serving tea, coffee and ice cream, but people kept on asking for other things, like sandwiches and hot food,” said Mr Lord.

He added: “In March, we had a cold day and the tea room was so full that no one could get a seat, so we decided to change it.”

Mr Lord has asked Bury Council for permission to extend the tea room, taking the indoor seating area from a capacity of 24 people to 50.

He said: “When the wholesale market went down, we did struggle and it was a bad time, but we were able to shift the business and have even been able to take on more part-time staff at busy periods.

“We are open all year round, bar 10 days after Christmas and we are pleased that we have been able to capitalise on the retail market so well.

“People seem to be really keen on sprucing up their gardens and I am pleased that they can come here, have a cup of tea and something to eat and then have a look round.”

The council is currently consulting on the extension plans and is aiming to reach a decision by June 9.