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The perfect garden centre?

I recently took my friend to my favourite garden centre, (a real gardener's garden centre where the plants are healthy and the staff don't give you a blank stare when you ask them where the vermiculite is.), but he was not impressed. He  took me to his favourite garden centre today and I hated it; full of plastic herons, overpriced plants and expensive pre-moulded 'granite-look' fibreglass ponds (they did a mean afternoon tea though!). This got me thinking: What is the criteria for the perfect garden centre?

Thoughts please?


  • That's a tough question! I suppose the perfect garden centre is pretty much like the perfect garden...It's subjective as to what you want yourself, and down to personal preference. For me knowledgable service is a must, but above all affordability(I love a bargain!). I'm not bothered by if it has a cafe etc but I do like something to entertain the kids so they don't growl at me every time I mention "mummy needs a new plant"! 
  • As you discovered it's such a personal thing. I'd go for a great array of healthy, well priced plants. But also great to have a good selection of pots, compost and fertilisers. Not there for the café but can be useful if you have guests that are for a day out.

    The ratio of plant area to household accoutrements is probably the one indicator that gives me the temperature on a first visit to a garden centre...if not plant led then it's just boring, want to be inspired by planting possibilities and an abundance of varieties on offer...a handful of cheery staff members always welcome too. 

    I'm so easy to please 😉
    To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow
  • TenNTenN Posts: 132
    One where you can see the greenhouses and poly tunnels full of stuff that will be for sale shortly, the staff have dirty finger nails and tans, and where you feel like you can ask any questions without fear of a shrug or sneer. 
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,238
    edited August 2019
    There's one just south of Bristol, near Leigh Woods, that's got an excellent range of plants AND a nice tea room... Brackenwood I think. But they don't allow dogs so my local favourite Hilltop Nursery (Nottingham) gets my vote (+ Ashdale nursery next door with the best range of perennials in the county) get my vote. Neither have any catering or gifts - just plants! And my dog always gets a fuss
  • Personally, I would say it's subjective how the perfect garden centre would be. There should be an assistant in the garden centre. There should be a knowledge sharing in those garden centres.
    Years of experience in garden design and landscaping.
  • debs64debs64 Posts: 4,921
     My perfect garden centre would have a wide selection of healthy well cared for plants at reasonable prices, interesting pots for sale and a tea room with delicious food. Luckily for me there are several nurseries That fulfil this criteria within driving distance. I have now decided to buy no more plants online and instead spend my money in these excellent establishments.
  • chickychicky Posts: 10,379
    I prefer nurseries the ones nickten describes.

    But if I find a GC where the staff know what they are talking about (quite rare) then I’ll go back.  We have 2 that fit the bill round here - both independent - so I give them my business whenever I can.  

    Don’t think I’ve ever visited a GC restaurant 🤔
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,165
    I don't really go to them, but I doubt any of them could survive for long if they didn't have all the other 'extras' to bring in folk all year round.
    If they only have plants and associated items, they'd have a fraction of the business, especially here where I am. They need the folk who go for the coffees and lunches, vases, chocolates and knick knacks, because there's too much competition for the gardening stuff in diy stores etc. There used to be a really nice, small independent one quite near me.
    Houses on the site  now   :/

    Nursery for me every time, online as well as the big one I go to. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,053
    Nursery for me . 
    Am I the only person who'd happily wait until I get home and have tea? I've never had tea in a garden centre. I'd rather spend the money on a plant.
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    nursery for me too, my local one has plants arranged in alphabetical order, by taxonomic names not common names too!
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