Inspiration Shopping in London – The Conran Shop

Did you watch the Olympic opening ceremonies? I love pageantry… Okay the big baby thing was weird, but whatever… Cameroon’s uniforms were great… I’m glad our boys wore ties, even if they were made in China… There should be a law against chewing gum on TV… Did you know there was an island nation called Nauru, population 9,400? This is why you will not be seeing me on Jeopardy. That thing with Daniel Craig and the queen (link to video) was fab fab fab.

For those of us not in London these next few weeks, here’s some London inspiration of the non-athletic variety.

Flower shop at Conran's
The fabulous flower department at the Conran Shop.

The Conran Shop is a must for every housey-gardeny person on any visit to London. The best one is the one in the old Michelin House, in — as the English say, as opposed to “on” — the Fulham Road in Chelsea. I crave it. Boy that Sir Terence Conran is one smart and styling cookie. I go there every time I visit — last in June.

House and garden display in the Conran Shop
This house and garden display in the Conran Shop is like a grown-up's playhouse. I love it.

I even love the watering cans, the dust pans and the cleaning brushes. This cannot be normal.

Dust pan and doormat at Conran's
Dust pan and doormat at Conran's

And the doormats, the yardsticks, and the bootjacks.

Planting yardsticks at Conran's
Yardsticks (meter-sticks?) at Conran's. The holes indicate spacing for planting of seeds.

Yes the bootjacks. What does this say about a person?

Bootjack at Conran's
Bootjack and boot scraper. You could make a lamp out of it for use in the off-season.
House display in Conran's
Another miniature house in Conran's. The bright green with the black is a striking combination.

Don’t you like that it says PLEASE ENTER?

Housewares display in Conran's

Decoupage plates by John Derian, candles, journals, cloches, and what-nots.

Decoupage bee plate

This decoupage bee plate did not come home with me to Bee Cottage. It misses us.

Shed interior at Conran's
Another diminutive shed structure is given a cozy interior with typically English woven rush matting.

I wish we in the Colonies could get that woven rush matting easily and reasonably. It is so great.

Gardening supplies at Conran's
Gardening supplies at Conran's. Zinc pots, plant markers, and trugs.

I love that garden baskets are called trugs. It also sounds like something I might have called my sixth grade teacher. She couldn’t stand me. I don’t know why.  I also don’t know why I bought four of those zinc pots. Perhaps the universe will reveal. Meanwhile they make me happy just sitting around with my other gardening stuff. That is probably a good enough reason.

Terracotta pots at Conran's
Even a bunch of terracotta pots turns into an appealing display.

As I was buying the zinc pots, the sales clerk told me the garden shop was a new venture for the store. If it’s a success they will introduce it to other stores. This is breaking news, people.

The garden shop at Conran's
A trellis marks entrance to the garden shop at Conran's. If it

There was such excitement in the New York design community when Conran’s opened under the 59th Street Bridge. But it just didn’t go – and 2 years ago it re-opened in ABC Carpet & Home. That didn’t go either, and Conran’s decamped from the Colonies entirely just this month.

More London to come. Cheerio.

P.S. I am pretty sure almost none of our Olympic team knew the words to “Hey Jude” or they would have been singing along at the end. This makes me feel old as dirt. In which case these gardening supplies will come in handy.

Update: Since this post went up several of you have expressed interest in the seed and plant spacing rule pictured above. Funnily I could not find a U.S. source but found many in U.K. English designer Sophie Conran, daughter of Sir Terence, has designed a line of gardening tools that may be found at The Worm That Turned  and Burgon and Ball. Harrod Horticultural has a good selection as well. Or like a few smart readers pointed out pointed out, you could just get a drill…


  1. Cheerio! What a lovely post, sharing the garden items ar Conrans. And introducing me to the wonderful word “trog” as a word for baskets. Now, off to bed where I can dream of being a Bond girl like the Queen.

    1. Thank you all for your comments! And since several of you expressed interest in the seed and plant spacing rule (I have since learned that is what they are called) I did a bit of research. Could not find a single source in the U.S. but did find many in the U.K. Turns out English designer Sophie Conran, daughter of Sir Terence, has designed a line of gardening tools as well. A site called The Worm That Turned (really) sells them, including the hole-y rule. So does another called Burgon & Ball, as well as I’ll put the links on the post.

  2. Frances,
    You are pure delight and wit!
    I am sharing this with daughter Barbara who is
    in Montana now with Jimmy and me – along
    with her two children Claire and James. They live in
    London. Barbara and Edgar moved there from
    NY over 5 years ago, and they love it.
    Our two grands have put “magic and joy” into being grand
    parents – even though 4 year old Claire often
    reminds me, with her most serious expression,
    that I am “very old”!
    We all watched the Opening Ceremony, and
    Claire proudly called off every country she has
    visited. At age 2, even James’ passport is impressive!
    Let’s pray for a happy, safe and successful

  3. Quite a nice post as they would say.The bootjack is my personal favorite! Noone does it like the Brits when it comes to gardening. Thanks for the good dirt on where to find things. Looking forward to the next.

  4. Frances, I am with you. Conrans in the Michelin tire is a magical store. Thank you for giving us a peek inside polished with your ever so funny narrative.

    1. Sarah, Dawn, and Bette, really is so great to hear from you all, and thank you all for your comments! Keep talking. Love, Frances

  5. Don’t those terracotta pots all stacked up waiting to be filled make you want to go out and grub in the garden? Love the butterfly platter on the wall in one of the teeny sheds (love them) and the bee platter! I bet it does miss you and would have loved settling in at Bee Cottage. Love, love, love London. I was in 7th grade when Hey Jude came out, madly in love with a blond, green-eyed boy named Matthew, sigh. Pity that Conran’s didn’t make a go of it here “in the colonies.” Thank you for another lovely read and visual feast and now, I’m off to drill holes in my ruler, Heaven help us!

  6. I love the flowers in the opening shot. That reminds me of an introduction I would like to make. More on that in a bit. The peaked shed and miniature house are ideal garden sheds. Conran’s should sell the plans. I would get going on that DIY today! Why on this earth did that decoupage bee plate not go home with you? That deserves an explanation! The third shed image calls for cocktails. I so look forward to the coming technology which would allow us to virtually meet for a quick gathering in such an ideal spot!

    Back to the introduction. My friend Margot Shaw who started Flower Magazine is often on the road and in and around the Big Apple. You two should meet. Next time I hear she is headed that way I will see if I can orchestrate crossing your paths. Here’s a link:

    1. Adele! I am soooo happy to hear from you and agree with you on all of the above and have no explanation for not buying the bee plate. It may have been the $25 cab fare to get there… I LOVE Flower Mag and was an early subscriber. Margot is fab and I would love to meet her. Moreover I would love to see YOU. So come with Margot when she comes to NYC. Thank you so much for writing. xo F

  7. To the Divine Miss Schultz,
    That green is so, so, fabulous & makes me extremely happy. Maybe it’s the crispness, maybe the clear color or maybe coz it reminds me of asparagus right when I love them before they quickly go to over done…. whateva’ beautiful post. God Save the Queen… that was not meant for Sir Elton…..

  8. Sorry to be such a nerd, but it is a TRUG not a TROG. (I think TROG does mean 6th grade teacher). 🙂

    1. Oh Margaret thank you! You are exactly right and obviously I should have paid more attention to the 6th grade and subsequent teachers! For anyone reading this I subsequently changed trog to trug in the post and am grateful for the correction.

  9. Love being included with such an exclusive group and particularly am grateful for the learned distinction between trog and…exactly,what was the other? Hope all well and happy…X,Le

    1. Hi Le! And it’s TRUG. Now I remember (I think) that the Trogs are the band that sang “Wild Thing”. Is that right? But I dont think they were talking about gardens. Xo F

  10. LOVED every photo and word! I am going to make my reservations this week to return to London and the Stafford Hotel today AND visit all of these fabulous gardening spots.
    And yes, the Trogs sang “Wild Thing”.

    1. Julia and Becky it is so good to hear from you both! Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m so happy you have “joined” us. Also very good to have confirmation on the Trogs and Wild Thing… I still love that song.

  11. Your blog is delightful; reading it sent me back to the past because it sounds so exactly like you. Sidney enjoyed it too and we both thank you for sending. We love Conran’s, still have the books…somewhere.

  12. Love and adore your blog. I read it every day and have since wonderful Duvall introduced me to it a few months ago. And now I know 2 new words – trug and trog! Sounds like names in a children’s book. Hmmm. Not a bad idea!

  13. hi frances — crackin’ me up here — thank u! and question: have you ever published / blogged about your amazing song in honor of landon for swan ball 2010? that was sheer brilliance – hope you published it somewhere

    1. Jack! So nice of you to write, thank you. And Lord no I have not published that silly song. Who would want it – apart from all of us who know and love Jim Landon of course – well, actually that probably adds up. For new readers – if you are curious about this please e-mail me and I will enlighten you. 🙂 Frances

  14. Frances, Duvall forwarded your blog. What a treat!!! I can’t believe I spent a month across the Fulham Rd from Conrans. Didn’t realize it was such a fabulous place. Thanks for such a great blog.

    PS, What a coincidence–My 6th grade teacher hated me too!

    1. Thank you, Peaches! How great to hear from you. And I can’t believe any of your teachers ever hated yo, as delightful as you are.

  15. Reading your blog is like a little trip out of town! It takes your mind away from the everyday, and makes you think of things delightful and magical. Thank you Frances. Hope you are writing another book!

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