We’ve been living in our house now for 18 months. We knew of two local garden centres, one a small privately run nursery, the other a larger scale plantery. The former was great for bedding plants and perennials, the latter for perennials, shrubs and trees.
At the start of this season we took a drive out to the little nursery to pick up the bedding plants for spring only find a sign on the gate saying they were no longer going to be opening weekends as they were slowing the business down, they would also be reducing the stock they carried. You can imagine my dismay. I loved this little nursery and this sign seemed to come from nowhere. Only opening 3 days of the week on limited hours meant I woudn’t be able to get to it unless I took time off.
Then, through the door came a leaflet for £10 off when you spend £100 at the BGC. I hadn’t heard of this one and it didn’t come up on any local google searches for garden centres near to us. Bardfield is a 10 minute drive from us so we decided to check it out.
What a hidden gem this was. Well to us any way.
Run a by a team of lanscape gardeners, all seemingly young and handsome, our initial disappointment at it being so small was soon forgotten once we entered.
A lot of the stock seems to be grown on site – we somehow managed to find our way down the side and to the back where there was grasses, heuchera’s and other perennials all in the ground waiting to potted up. The choice and variety of plant was exceptional, and also really well laid out.
Smaller perennials to the front, larger ones as you go back. A small selection of shrubs and trees, then the shaded plants and a polytunnel, onlyhalf of which is accessible to the public which contained bedding plants, herbs and some exotics. The rear part of the polytunnel was filled with plants being potted up for sale. They also had a small, but adequate range of composts and top soil.
Pricing was great with perrenials and herbaceous from £3.99 to about £6.00, grasses around £4.99 – £6.99 and smaller bedding plants sold by the tray for a few pounds. I think the herbs were about £2.50, maybe slighly less for some.
Potted displays and hanging baskets of various sizes were available to purchase and I have to be honest, I was surprised how reasonable these were. We bought a large pot, around 40cm diameter filled with Salvia and thyme – £18.99! Yes, I know right, I think in a big commercial garden centre the pot alone would have cost us in the region of £30-£40.
It’s not looking it’s best now, but I promise you this was full of colour and height when we got it.
I think the hanging baskets we bought were 2 for £40. they were filled and overflowing with purple Bacopa. these were in full flower when we bought them back in June, and now in August they are on their second flowering and still looking gorgeous.
Since our first visit we have been back fairly regularly, 2-3 times a month, and we never leave empty handed. Our living wall that we built after seeing there’s was filled with plants from BGC.
You get rewarded for buying in bulk here too as the majority of plants are offered as 5 for £15 on the £3.99 one’s (saving you almost £5), and 4 for £20 on the £6.00 plants (£4 saving), and 3 for £18 on the £6.99 pots, (£3 saving). The sempivivums we bought were all between £1.95 and £2.99 each.
So, you can imagine that for a £100 spend you leave the centre with a trolley brimming with gorgeous, well looked after and healthy plants.
We’ve now met about four of the team who work there, and I’ve asked questions and chatted to all them when I’ve been there – it’s so nice to talk to people who a) genuinely have a passion for what they do and b) know the answers to your questions and are able to actually recommend the right plants, or tell you you’re on the right tracks, or what might be the problem etc. In some of the bigger chains when I’ve stopped to ask someone a question, they either haven’t known or have given me the wrong information. The shrub I was told was suitable for full sun actually died to a stick as it preferred shade, since moving it to my shaded bed it’s come right back, although it didn’t flower this year – but that is a £25 plant that they missold to me! I try to read and learn so I have an idea now what I’m doing, but it’s good to know that if you ask someone a question they’re giving you the right information
I know for many readers, BGC is a bit out of the way and a distance to travel for a small garden centre. But it’s worth the visit.
Currently they have a meadow filled with sunflowers and wild flowers and it’s a Pick Your Own field. There is also on the same site a large canteen selling really good home-made food, a gift shop and deli (no fresh counter, just dry stores and some frozen foods), and a florist.
If you go for lunch, a wander around the gift shop and a trip to the garden centre, you could easily lose a couple of hours.
I’m writing this on a Sunday for publishing later in the week, but we’re off there again today. My second visit this week. I took my aunt there earlier in the week. She loved it too.
If you’re lucky enough to have a similar small business garden centre local to you, please support them. The quality and service you receive from these places is incredible and worth supporting. I hate to think how much we’ve spent in the past few months, but it’s easily a couple of hundred of a month on average. However, we have a garden full of some of the most beautiful and healthy plants, plants that we have stuggled to find in other places.
You can find them on FaceBook here: https://www.facebook.com/BardfieldGardenCentre/
or more about their other business here: http://www.countygardenmanagement.co.uk/
I don’t work for them, I don’t get commission – I just wanted to tell everyone about them as very happy customer.
The prices I quoted above may not be entirely correct as they’re from memory. I do know that the 4 for £20 of the £6.00 range is correct.
This is a great little garden centre – I am loathed to tell too many people as it means it’ll get busier and it will be harder to get the plants I want – but I also want to see them succeed. This is my goto garden centre now.
Quick update – I went there today and asked for some advice on something. I had a plant in mind, they came up with the same plant and have ordered it in for me. Now that’s service!