Which garden centre? Jan 23, 2019 8:35:27 GMT
Post by murrayc on Jan 23, 2019 8:35:27 GMT
News that Nottcutts, formerly Garden Pride, at Ditchling is to expand its cafe/restaurant facilities to serve 300 people this year suggests that plants are less and less of a core business for the bigger chains of what used to be called nurseries. I can understand they need to diversify and of course in the winter they can only justify having such a big site and staff if they sell a range of products, but this sounds like a big shift of emphasis. Particularly revealing was a suggestion amongst the Facebook comments about this announcement that the increased dining space would mean a loss of storage space. That in turn would increase the trend for fresh plants to be brought in by lorry from larger commercial wholesalers, and in consequence there would be less and less variety in what is available for sale, because "just in time" operations are economically effective when there is a limited and immediately saleable product range.
It's all a very long way from the traditional nurseries run by plantsmen, people whose stock was grown on site and who had all of that growing knowledge to impart with every sale. That really was a transaction that gave value to the customer who could buy a plant, be guided on how to plant it and tend it, and have the assurance that it was of its place: growing in the right climate, the right location. The last of these that I can recall closed a few years ago, the wonderful High Beeches nursery next to the house. Of the 20 or so greenhouses on the site only a few would be open for sales, depending on the time of year, with the rest roped off, bringing on plants to await their proper season. And the advice was free, and the costs were reasonable.
Currently the best nursery I know of that is close to HH is Up Country at Scaynes Hill. Yes, their stock is diverse and they do have a cafe (and a red doubledecker bus in the grounds) and they sell other kinds of paraphernalia. But they do seem to understand their plants and have a good range on site.
I'd be interested to hear from other gardeners on this forum what their experiences are, and indeed, what you look for from a Garden Centre.