By Emily Friedel
It happens to the best of us: popping down to the shops for something specific and walking away with unplanned extras. Intending to get some gardening supplies one day, Jody Rolfe came out of the Alexandra Garden Centre with a whole lot more.
“I needed to order some plants, and Ian [the former owner] was standing there talking to a customer about selling the nursery, and I ended up talking to him about buying it. So I came to buy some plants and then ended up buying the nursery,” Jody says with a laugh.
Jody took over the site a bit over a year ago, renaming it the Alexandra Garden Nursery. Prior to buying the nursery, she had another shop in Alex where she sold clothes, giftware, and her handmade Dindi Candle Co. products (formerly known as Waxy Aroma Candles).
It was in this other shop that Jody met Lynda Hislop, who is now a familiar face to those who frequent the nursery. Like Jody, Lynda went out shopping one day and got more than she’d planned for.
“Lynda and I stumbled across each other when she ventured into my shop down there not long after she moved to town; we had a chat, and she got a job!” Jody says.
After acquiring the nursery, Jody juggled running both businesses separately for about eight months in 2022, but eventually decided it would be better to merge them. She relocated everything to the nursery, including longtime friend and casual employee Kerryn Cashion – another familiar face to nursery customers. Jody says the decision paid off, and the unique combination of goods in one place has worked well.
“Two at once was getting a little tricky, so two weeks before Christmas I moved it all into here. It was hectic, but it was good to be in just one spot at Christmas time and it’s been amazing.”
You’ve got to offer a few different things, especially in the quiet time. Not everyone’s going to want to buy plants in winter, because not everyone’s going to want to go into the garden when it’s freezing cold, but they’ll want a nice knitted cardigan or candles.”
Jody’s scented soy candles are now stocked on the shelves in the revamped gift shop section of the nursery. She first tried her hand at candle making about nine years ago, hoping to create something better than what she’d bought for herself in the past. The process was more difficult than she’d expected, but she persisted and Dindi Candle Co. grew from her efforts.
“I got started because I got sick of buying candles that you couldn’t smell, so then I tried to do it myself. I just about gave up because I couldn’t get any scent throw or anything, and it wasn’t burning correctly, so I was like this is not going to work. But one day it just happened, and it’s just gone from there. Every new jar you get you’ve got to test it, you’ve got to try to work out what wick will work, the percentages of oil you need,” she says.
“I just love providing a product that everyone loves. I stock a lot. And I sell a lot. They’re all made with soy wax and all cotton wicks, so low toxicity, and all made at home, all individually made.”
The candles come in a wide variety of fragrances, including the popular black raspberry and Japanese honeysuckle, and there are Dindi Candle Co. scented wax melts available too. Jody also makes bath salts, mugs and earrings for the gift shop and stocks items from other small Australian businesses.
The gift shop is also where you’ll find the indoor plants, which Jody says are “a big seller” and were popular even last winter when she was still finding her feet after recently purchasing the nursery.
“It’s been very hard to build it up. It was very empty when I got here. And because the changeover was in April, I missed the orders for bare-rooted trees.”
But this winter, with more time to prepare, the nursery will have bare-rooted trees, along with pot plants, veggie seedlings, bird baths, and outdoor settings for anyone who wants to continue their gardening work over the season. If not, there will be plenty in the gift shop and “some amazing clothes” to browse through.
Whatever you’re looking for at the Alexandra Garden Nursery, Jody and her team will gladly help you find it. You may even walk out with more than you’d planned.
For more information on Alexandra Garden Nursery, check out their Facebook Page (just search for Alexandra Garden Nursery) or call (03) 5772 2335.