A LARGS couple are celebrating 20 years running a popular garden centre and restaurant after building it up from scratch.

David Castelvecchi and Abbie took over the former Little Chef premises near West Kilbride in 2002 and transformed it into the Rowan Tree Garden Centre and Restaurant.

The couple, who also run Haylie Stores in Largs, say the two decades have flown by after making the leap to go it alone.

David said: “The 20 years has gone so quickly, and it honestly doesn’t seem like that long at all, it’s crazy to think about.

“The Little Chef was up on the market just as I was finishing my horticulture course at university, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

“When we first got the keys it had all been stripped out so looked a bit sad, but we could see the potential and we've made it work.

“Over the years we have invested, built the garden centre alongside the restaurant and we are currently looking if further expansion as an option.”

Abbie says the business is now a vital part of the community and regularly makes donations to local groups and schools.

She said: “We’ve got to know our regular customers over the years and we’ve been involved in all sorts of things in the community.

“We work with Douglas Park Project in Largs, and we regularly give donations to community groups and schools.

“We’ve got a really good local base but we also get lots of folk coming from Glasgow and further afield at the weekends.

“We also get lots of passing trade from people going up the coast or on the ferry over to Arran, so it’s a good mix of people.”

David says that gardening habits have changed over the years, with a rise in environmentally-friendly practices such as peat free compost.

He explained: “In the last two or three years during the pandemic we’ve gained a lot of new gardeners.

“A younger age group is now getting into it, and more people are looking for sustainable forms of planting.

“Lots of people are looking for things that are good for their surroundings, so we’ve always got to be on our toes to keep up with the latest trends.”