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Bohemia – the Lymington cafe where you can also pick up the perfect plant

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A PLANT shop where customers regularly enjoyed a chat about all things green over a coffee has evolved into one of Lymington’s most characterful eateries.

Bohemia, in Rashley Mews, started out as a place where people could pick up a house plant to brighten up their home.

But business owners Eleanor Watkins and Amy Boot said it soon became much more than that.

Dishes come decorated with edible flowers, or miniature herbs
Dishes come decorated with edible flowers, or miniature herbs

“It really has grown into what customers wanted,” said Eleanor. “They would come in not just to buy a plant but also to ask for advice and chat through problems they had encountered looking after one.

“We decided after a while to get a coffee machine so we could offer them a drink. I have a background in hospitality, having managed pubs, and have experience as a chef.

“Before long we it became apparent we could turn the plant shop into a really creative coffee shop.”

The result is what has to be one of the most beautiful places in town to work in. When you enter the café, you are welcomed in by an array of stunning plants, big and small.

They cascade down from the counter, surround you in the dining area and even keep you company on the loo!

Plants big and small are on display
Plants big and small are on display

Sitting in Bohemia, one could quite easily imagine themselves in a gorgeous and exotic garden – even on a rainy day.

Eleanor said: “The plants really foster a lovely atmosphere here. The nicest thing in the world is seeing people all having a chat, people that have never met before, or ones that are catching up. It’s a wonderful thing to see.

“It’s a very friendly place, especially for dogs. We have our own ‘house’ chihuahua, Phoebe, who loves to socialise with other doggies that come in.”

It’s not just the plants that are the big draw at Bohemia, but the delicious and beautifully presented food.

Pancakes with banana and chocolate sauce comes decorated with edible flowers and avocado on toast is complemented with with micro herbs grown on the premises.

“People eat with their eyes so we want our food to look as beautiful as it tastes,” said Eleanor.

Breakfast is a popular time at Bohemia
Breakfast is a popular time at Bohemia

All diets are catered for, with gluten-free and vegan options available.

“I have friends who are vegan and when we go out together for a meal there are often just one or two options for them to choose from,” she continued.

“I wanted to provide somewhere people with different dietary requirements could all eat together. Most of our food is locally sourced and all freshly cooked to order.”

Plants are still on sale at the café and Eleanor, a “plant architect and stylist”, will give advice on which to choose.

“This is something I sort of fell into during lockdown,” she said. “It started out as a hobby – I didn’t have a garden, so I wanted to bring the outside in.

“I spent a lot of time caring for them and found it really mindful. They really help with anxiety, creating a soothing, caring environment.”

Her love of plants is shared by Amy, and they do their best to make sure people buy what is most suitable for them.

“What I don’t like is that some people buy a plant because it is ‘pretty’ without knowing whether it is going to thrive in the place they intend to put it,” Eleanor explained.

Coffee is treated with as much love as the plants at Bohemia
Coffee is treated with as much love as the plants at Bohemia

“I hate it when someone buys a plant and then it dies - that’s so sad. I always ask people where they plan to put a plant and other questions so I can gauge what kind is going to be best for them.

“I mean, for someone with a busy lifestyle something that is low maintenance is a safer bet then something that needs a lot of care.

“If I am employed to help someone style their house or workplace with plants, I visit them to see what they want for their space.

“Then I give them options on what plants will do best, depending on light and other conditions.”

Bohemia also hires out plants as well as selling them. “For example, someone might want a jungle theme for a kids’ party, or decorate the table with something really exotic at a dinner party.”

Bohemia is open every day, apart from Wednesday, between 9.30am and 4pm. Booking is advised at weekends.

For more information, search Bohemia on Facebook.

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