Are garden centres dull? That is the question posed in a Gardeners World blog, and the piece makes a few interesting points. When you walk into a garden centre you want to be inspired, leave full of new ideas, whether you are a beginner or a passionate horticulturalist, and it’s a bonus if you can see how plants could work together in your garden.
Perhaps some garden centres haven’t quite achieved the right balance between commercial and inspirational set-up, but we are here to look at the best, so what garden centres are rating highly in Essex?
RHS Garden Hyde Hall
A lot of time and attention is invested by the team at RHS Hyde Hall. They have created acres of gardens packed full of interesting plant life, encouraged butterfly and hare populations, and they are working on bio-diversity projects. There’s a lot to see there, and one of the things that makes this place stand out, is you can find some of the plants they use in the gardens for-sale in their plant centre.
One clear marker for a good centre is knowledgeable staff, and they are on hand there to offer tips on choosing plants, and answer gardening queries. Why not plan a day out, and stop off at the centre before you leave. There’s seasonal stock to give gardens colour all year, and a good range of herbs, roses, clematis and more. RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge Ln, Chelmsford CM3 8ET.
Beth Chatto Gardens
Beth Chatto Gardens in Colchester is another place to go that’s part open gardens, part nursery – with a tearoom attached. They run events and courses (including qualifications) around garden and wildlife subjects, including events for children. These events are a great showcase for what they do, and how to get everyone involved in the garden. The gardens have an almost rags to riches story, and are now a living catalogue for the adjoining nursery and mail order plant business. The Beth Chatto Gardens Elmstead Market , Colchester, CO7 7DB.
Poplar Nurseries, Marks Tey
Poplar Nurseries is a lovely family-run Garden Centre in Marks Tey, just minutes from Colchester. As well is a very well stocked nursery, they have a restaurant that does great Sunday roasts and afternoon teas, and activities and playgrounds for kids, with a miniature railway and outdoor play area. They also have a gift shop, and members Gardening Club where you can meet other avid gardeners.
Altons Garden Centre, Wickford
Altons Garden Centre is a large garden centre and has a large range of plants, and all kinds of garden tools and accessories, from planters and pots, to lawn care products, and many things in between. It’s an everything under one roof place, as it also features a lot of lifestyle/outdoor living products, indoor plants, BBQ’s, furniture, and pet care items. Arterial Road (A127) Wickford, Essex SS12 9JG.
Perrywood Garden Centre
A garden centre that has entered the click and collect movement, for anyone who wants to order online, and pick up in-store. If you’re not sure what to buy, then this is also a well-laid out, pretty place to visit and browse. It’s not just a shop window either, Perrywood has its own production nursery, so millions of plants are nurtured on-site every single year, and the Perrywood Grown range is only sold at the nursery.
Also sourced and for-sale are ready planted bowls and baskets, house plants, alpines and fruit. Some of the staff there are qualified, and a great source of knowledge, and that’s just one reason why they are rated as a Garden Centre Of Excellence. Perrywood, B1023, Tiptree, Colchester, Essex CO5 9SX.
With online shopping very much a part of our lives, you don’t have to make shopping decisions on site at a garden centre, especially when it comes to bigger purchases like garden furniture. It’s worth getting a feel for the size and styles of furniture available, and check out the good quality garden furniture that’s available online, often for less. You might just find savings, just the colour or combination of items you want, or you might enjoy the convenience of someone else delivering your boxes. There’s some some great shopping options to suit all your needs, whatever your next project may be.
Do you have a favourite? Maybe a small one with a nice cafe, or somewhere where the kids can play while you stroll around the garden? Maybe there is one with fantastic customer service that goes above and beyond? Let us know below.