We love a good garden centre – whether you’re a budding Capability Brown or just have one or two herb pots, there’s something very peaceful about drifting through the plants, sniffing roses, hunting out the healthiest specimens, and asking advice on whether or not that lovely hydrangea would be pink or blue in your soil.
And if you can stop for a good cup of coffee and slice of cake afterwards, even better!
We’ve chosen some of our favourite garden centres and added links so you can discover them for yourself. If you’ve got one you think should be on our list, let us know, just click here.
St Margaret’s Nursery, Titchfield, Hampshire
St Margaret’s may not be like many of the other centres we’ve featured on this blog. It doesn’t have a gift section, a kid’s play area or a massive restaurant. What it does have is an awesome colletion of fuchsias.
This is a specialist nursery, so although other plants do feature – especially bedding in the Spring, it’s their large display area of specimen plants and 400 stunning varieties which, for us, is the real appeal.
Family-run, these are genuine nurserymen who know their onions (ok…fuchsias.) Christmas trees we’ve bought from there have also been amongst the best you can buy!
Best for: It’s specialist fuchsia collecton.
Haskins Garden Centres, Hampshire, Dorset and West Sussex
Haskins has four garden centres in Hampshire, Dorset and West Sussex, but it’s their Southampton store in West End that gets regular visits from our gardening team.
One of the largest in the region, the Centre offers excellent specialist advice from its plants-men and women. Their collections are always superb, seasonal and super-healthy and it has gifts, clothing, garden accessories, furniture, lighting and bird-feeding sections which are equally as impressive.
The large restaurant is an attraction in its own right, serving everything from cooked breakfasts to roast dinners, and afternoon tea to pizza and has a section outside with a play area for when the sun shines.
As we head towards December the seasonal areas are transformed into a winter wonderland which is definitely worth a visit, especially if you have little ones. Next door is the sister store, Hobbycraft, which makes a festive shopping visit, with a Costa coffee and a Haskins warm mince pie, a simple way to get you in the Christmas mood.
A superb garden centre with the added benefit of somewhere good to eat.
Whitehall Garden Centre, Lacock Village, Wiltshire
The garden centre is set in lovely grounds with a large play area for children. Lavender Lodge tea room and bistro has table service and an extensive menu. The Herb Garden restaurant also serves excellent Sunday lunches, and has a varied children’s menu.
In the farm shop, you’ll find locally-sourced meat at the butcher’s counter alongside a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables and breads.
The garden centre has one of the biggest plant displays in the south west, there are bee keeping courses run by bee expert Fred Swift, and children will love the large pet and aquatic centres. It’s also famous for its Christmas decorations, Santa’s grotto and festive ice skating.
The beautiful village of Lacock itself, with its picturesque streets and timber-framed cottages, is a firm favourite with TV and film producers, and has been featured in Harry Potter (Lacock Abbey was Hogwarts in two of the films), Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Cranford.
Perfect to combine with a day pottering around the beautiful village of Lacock and its Harry Potter Abbey
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey, and Hillier Plant Centre, Braishfield
The famous Sir Harold Hillier Gardens are set in more than 180 acres of rolling Hampshire countryside, and are stunning year-round.
In spring, marvel at magnificent magnolias, Japanese flowering cherries, azaleas and rhododendrons; summer sees one of the longest double borders in the country ablaze with fiery red hot pokers, echinacea and crocosmia; the gardens turn bronze and gold in autumn; and the Winter Garden covers four acres and is one of the largest in Europe.
Children will find plenty to keep them busy, with a fantastic tree house and a mini assault loop, and there are family activities and trails to follow throughout the school holidays.
There’s also a tea room at Jermyn’s House, a cafe in the visitors’ pavilion and a gift shop in the grounds of the Plant Centre in Braishfield, which has a fabulous plant area featuring many of the rare and interesting plants found in the garden.
Glorious seasonal planting displays, child-friendly
Brambridge Garden Centre, Eastleigh, Hampshire
Brambridge Park Garden Centre is set in beautiful themed gardens in Eastleigh. Stocked with all the best names in tools, accessories and lighting ideas – along with functional and inspirational show gardens at the bottom of the plant area – you’ll find plenty of inspiration for both your home and garden.
Once you’ve finished pottering among the plants, take a break at the Country House restaurant and carvery, which offers a good selection of homemade cakes and biscuits, and an array of fresh roasted meats, with fish and vegetarian options.
There’s also a lovely alfresco dining area, and three friendly resident goats – Bramble, Chilli and Pepper.
The falconry display team Falcon High also operates from Brambridge Garden Centre – perfect for anyone fascinated with striking birds of prey and looking to experience falconry first hand.
Extensive range of plants and gifts – oh and falcons!
Holme for Gardens, Wareham
This family-owned garden centre near Wareham has a really good collection of plants, and an excellent café serving delicious home-made cakes and cream teas against the glorious backdrop of the Purbeck hills.
The Orchard Café has a terrace and pond-side seating – perfect for an outdoor lunch surrounded by fragrant plants.
An onsite farm shop stocks a wide range of produce, much of it sourced from the surrounding area. Holme’s beautiful gardens are divided into different sections, including two ponds, a rockery and waterfall, a cloister garden, a pear walk, a kitchen and cutting garden, an arboretum, and rose borders. There’s a £3 entry fee to the gardens, or season tickets are available for £10.
Beautiful gardens and delicious Dorset cream teas overlooking the landscaped ponds.
New Forest Lavender Gardens, Landford, near Salisbury, Wiltshire
This is a stunning spot – a beautiful little tea room and nursery backing onto three acres of English lavender.
The nursery is small but filled with old-fashioned tea roses, colourful perennials, fragrant herbs and many different varieties of lavender. The tea rooms are always packed, with a small indoor space (where tables can be reserved) and plenty of tables dotted around the gorgeous gardens, where tiny birds hop from chair to chair hoping for crumbs.
All the cakes are home made and delicious and served beautifully with sprigs of lavender and a dusting of icing sugar. The tearoom and nursery are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Superb homemade cakes in a picture-postcard setting
Stansted Garden Centre, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire
This popular garden centre is in the beautiful grounds of the Stansted Park Estate, and has excellent tea rooms and a good farm shop.
The Pavilion tea room is a restored fig house in the corner of the Victorian walled garden set against the stunning backdrop of the arboretum. It gets very busy, so booking is recommended – especially at lunchtime. Stansted Park Farm Shop has lots of local produce, with wild venison, lamb, mutton and woodland port from the estate, and beef and game from neighbouring farms.
There’s also a delicatessen full of award-winning West Sussex and Hampshire cheeses, and jams and chutneys are from small local producers, with some ingredients foraged from the estate hedgerows.
Light and airy tea rooms and an excellent farm shop
Long Barn, Alresford, Hampshire
Set in two acres of lavender fields, the Long Barn has a café, a barn filled with upmarket home and garden ware and natural products from the annual lavender crop, and a plant sales terrace with herbaceous plants, climbers, roses, herbs and a huge collection of lavenders.
The Long Barn looks fantastic and has excellent displays of plants and different lavender plants for sale. The café is beautiful – with stunning views out over the countryside – but the garden terrace ‘overlooking the lavender fields’ is a little disappointing as most of the lavender is grown seven miles from the barn, and there are only two sections on site planted with lavender.
When we visited, the middle section only had a few rows of different lavender and it looked like they were in the process of replanting – it might have been helpful if they had made this clearer on their website. We still enjoyed the beautiful view with our coffee and sticky date slice, which was gorgeous.
Best for: Natural lavender products and delicious cakes
W: Long Barn
Rosebourne, Weyhill, Andover, Hampshire
Rosebourne has an excellent – if expensive – food hall, a very popular table service café, a wide range of gifts, and a well-stocked garden nursery.
The spacious and bright restaurant uses seasonal, local ingredients, and chefs work with produce from in-store butcher Owton’s, local bakery Burbidge’s, and suppliers delivering daily from Southampton’s markets.
The food hall also showcases products from all the best local suppliers, and has a frozen food section from COOK, which makes every dish by hand in their kitchens in Kent and Somerset, using the same ingredients and techniques a good cook would at home.
Top quality food hall products and excellent afternoon teas
Fairweather’s Garden Centre, Beaulieu, New Forest
Fairweather’s is one of the most popular garden centres in Hampshire and enjoys a wonderful location in the New Forest village of Beaulieu.
It’s also in the New Forest village of Beaulieu which is worth a visit in its own right – along with Palace House and Gardens just down the road.This excellent garden centre has beautiful plants and show gardens, and its garden centre and gift shop are very well stocked and interesting.
Patrick’s Patch learning garden is just next door, providing ideas and tips for your own garden.Steff’s Kitchen serves fantastic food in a cosy atmosphere. From warm scones fresh out of the oven to local sausages and garden salads made with leaves and vegetables picked the same day, everything is home made and freshly prepared.
Best for: Inspirational ideas, friendly advice and location for a day out
Choice Plants, Romsey, Hampshire
This retail nursery specialises in hanging baskets and containers, but also has a wide range of shrubs, bedding, patio and perennial plants. Poppies Café serves wholesome homemade food and Poppies Craft Centre shows you how to paint pottery and use decopatch – just drop in and have a go or book up for a large group or children’s party. Choice Plants will also replant any hanging baskets brought into the nursery.
Perfect if you love hanging baskets and containers
To recommend a Garden Centre in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, West Sussex or the Isle of Wight, click here.
This is a blog we will hope to keep updating so please do check back from time-to-time if you’re looking for inspitation!