by Janis on 18th March 2022 / 0 comments

It’s often a costly experience

Now that we have made the decision that our rather frayed and tousled country garden needs a revamp in many of its beds and borders, we thought we would head to a local garden centre (or four) for some horticultural inspiration.

I must admit I do love visiting garden centres and nurseries; they always leave you feeling in a good mood, even if you haven’t purchased anything. Brushing past fragrant herbs, dodging pollen-filled honeybees and soaking up a little vitamin D never harmed anyone.

Visiting your favourite

Do you go independent or high street?

Living in the countryside, there are so many garden centres to choose from, from the tiny local nurseries specialising in one species of plant and its many varieties to the chain garden centres with large selections of indoor and outdoor plants and bustling cafés.

They are all a pleasure to visit; however, you do end up having your favourites.
One particular garden centre we enjoy visiting is Brookside Garden Centre near Paddock Wood in Kent.

The larger garden centre will offer a greater selection of flowers, shrubs, and vegetables and lure you in with the latest eye-catching shades. Often, we come away with so many exciting ideas and creative inspiration that our minds are in a spin.

A selection of goodies from our first trip to a garden centre in 2022 featuring a new pair of secateurs, packets of seeds, labels, biodegradable pots and a white climbing rose.

A few of our garden centre purchases

Though the smaller and more intimate nurseries offer specialist knowledge and often with a more personal touch. The choice can be overwhelming at times; I find it best to visit with a rough idea in your mind of how you would like the plant to eventually look and the space you are ultimately trying to fill. Otherwise, I’ll arrive at the nursery and fall in love with it all.

It’s great to understand the extent of the plant’s eventual growing capability, the theme or colour you have in mind. Also, the area of the garden it is being planted in, as you don’t want your beloved new plant being scorched by the sun or stunted by lack of daylight.

Having said that, it costs you nothing to wander in and have a mooch around, so go and have some fun.

The varieties are almost endless

You may need a bigger trolley
We’ve recently found a hybrid of the two types of businesses, named Rumwood Nurseries near Maidstone. I believe it was first established as a nursery specialising in roses in 1965. It has gradually broadened its range and provides a wider variety of plants and now also falls under the umbrella of a garden centre.
One of our pair of Floribunda Half-standard roses, Margaret Merrill, for either side of our conservatory entrance.
Margaret Merrill - Floribunda Half-standard

Well, what’s the difference? I hear you cry; in my opinion, the larger centres or chains offer a one-stop-shop. Not that there is anything wrong with these, as you are able to buy pots, garden tools, patio furniture, sheds, aggregates, and enjoy a cream tea, all in one place.

They also provide excellent knowledge and inspiration for your garden. Ideas on which plants love shady spots, how to deal with those challenging blights on your shrubs and plenty of vision on structuring your garden.

However, they can be more expensive. I recently bought a little Hebe from an independent centre. After visiting a few other places (which happened to stock the exact same Hebe), I had a price difference ranging from 20% to 45% mark-up, which is quite significant on just one plant.

Swat up on your perfect plant

It’ll be worth it in the end

As you can imagine from our recent visits to the nurseries, we didn’t come away empty-handed. I bought more seeds for some summertime colour, treated myself to a new pair of secateurs, picked up some biodegradable pots and potting labels, and a lovely new climbing rose.

We’ve been promising ourselves a new rose for ages, as a few years ago, a wild storm toppled over our fence, and we lost the rose to mother nature.

Our new purchase of a Snow Princess, a white climbing rose, freshly planted next to a fence in Our Garden
Snow Princess – A climbing rose

When purchasing any plant, especially a rose, one thing I would point out is to ensure that it ticks all your boxes. Certainly, don’t assume they will all be fragrant; read the labels thoroughly and carefully choose your new thorny friend.

Do you want your rose to be a rambler, climber, miniature, bush, hybrid tea, floribunda, patio, cottage garden, ground cover, standard, half-standard most importantly scented?

Well, who knew there were so many to choose from?

My grandad would have been so proud that I have done my homework, so let’s start digging a hole for our new housemate or more appropriate garden-mate.

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