Sunday afternoons are made for dreamy wanders around the best garden centres in London.
Happiness is good tilled soil, abundant sunshine, and a garden full of beautiful flowers just bursting into bloom. Or, if you’re under 40 and live in Zones 1-3, a flat full of houseplants to compensate for the distinct lack of the above. Either way, greenery that’s good for the soul can be found all over town, as London is blessed with an array of magnificent garden centres that looks great on the ‘gram whilst providing all you need to satisfy your green-fingered urges. Here are some of our favourites, many of which are still open during the November lockdown! [Featured image: @cliftonnurseries]
Please note: these garden centres are remaining open during England’s winter lockdown, unless stated otherwise.
1. Petersham Nurseries, Richmond
Part garden centre, part Instagram magnet, the endlessly charming Petersham Nurseries simply demands a visit. Perching on a lazy bend of the Thames just outside of Richmond, this upmarket garden centre stocks a range of high-quality plants with an undeniable flair. There are greenhouses here in which I’ve wanted to buy absolutely everything in sight, from hanging plants to ornate grandfather clocks, and it’s no surprise that Petersham Nurseries has blessed many a social media feed. The food menu at the garden centre’s cafe and restaurant, meanwhile, would be the envy of many an eatery across town. Read all about it here.
Church Lane, TW10 7AB,
2. W6 Garden Centre and Cafe, Hammersmith
Tucked away on the fringe of Ravenscourt Park, and partly hiding in the railway arches of the Underground line, sits W6. A sprawling courtyard full of shrubs, trees, bushes, and flowering plants is idyllic for a summer wander, whilst a dedicated green room and house plant section will prove a mighty temptation to all. Overcoming one’s urge to buy armfuls of stylish plant pots will be a hard-fought victory on a visit here.
17 Ravenscourt Avenue, W6 0SL.
3. Camden Garden Centre, Camden
The site of many a lunchtime wander for the folks of Secret London HQ (in pre-pandemic times, of course), Camden Garden Centre is a verdant oasis in the heart of North London. There’s a massive range of house plants in all shapes and sizes, and the place has been named both Urban Garden Centre of the Year and UK Garden Centre of the Year in the past. Better still, it’s a vital community space, having been founded in 1983 to tackle youth unemployment in the area as one of the first social enterprises in the UK – to this day they offer employment, training and educational opportunities, with over 300 trainees having earned their stripes here.
2 Barker Drive, NW1 0JW.
4. Rassells of Kensington, Kensington
Amongst all our London garden centres, Rassells is one of the most historic. Having stood here since 1897, it remains a first favourite for freshly-cut flowers, and their seasonal window displays are a big draw too. The real treat, however, is the hidden courtyard through the back of the shop, where greenery looms from every angle.
78-80 Earls Court Road, W8 6EQ.
5. Alleyn Park Garden Centre, West Dulwich
Dreamy Dulwich is worth the day trip any day of the week, but in Alleyn Park Garden Centre, they’ve got an absolute winner. Resident cats Basil and Mittens (😍) will steal a lot of the initial focus, but cast your eyes beyond the animal pals and you’ll find trays and planters overflowing with gorgeous flowers, changing accordingly with the seasons. If you think your money isn’t in danger here, look at these fancy pots. I want them all!
77 Park Hall Road, SE21 8ES.
6. Boma Garden Centre, Kentish Town
Another garden centre with a feline mascot (this one is called Bluebell, and she’s beautiful), Boma Garden Centre is another of London’s garden centres which marries Instagram-ready aesthetics with bountiful plant life. The staff here know plants and are brilliant at intuiting what the casual gardener wants, so listen carefully. Boma also offers a garden maintenance service for those who want beautiful gardens but don’t trust themselves to get it right…
51 – 53 Islip Street, NW5 2DL.
7. Alexandra Nurseries, Penge
Penge is one of the lesser-spotted neighbourhoods on Secret London (to our ongoing shame), but here’s one wonderful reason to make the journey down there. Alexandra Nurseries is an utter gem, with a strong commitment to a low-impact lifestyle and buying and selling only what’s needed. The garden centre stocks creations from a range of independent crafters and suppliers – along with an enviable range of plants – and the on-site coffee shop is a delicious bonus.
Parish Lane, SE20 7LJ.
8. The Palace Gardener, Fulham
Garden trends come and go, but you can be sure that swish West London spot The Palace Gardener will be right on top of them. An upmarket spot in the grounds of Fulham Palace, The Palace Gardener’s charming glasshouses are filled with arbours, patio furniture, planters, and more – in short, everything to make a garden fit for royalty!
Bishop’s Avenue, SW6 6EE.
9. Clifton Nurseries, Little Venice
We’re big fans of Little Venice here at Secret London, and that’s before we even knew about this place. That’s somewhat surprising, given that it’s both the oldest garden centre in London, and one of the prettiest. Exotic plants fill the picturesque glasshouse, and statues, ornaments, and accessories lurk around every corner. Under sunny London skies, there are few better places to be, particularly with Regent’s Canal a stone’s throw away.
5A Clifton Villas, W9 2PH.
10. N1 Garden Centre, Dalston
A sister site to Hammersmith’s W6, N1’s proximity to Dalston Junction station makes it dangerously easy to lug oversized plants back home. The potent combination of cacti and hardwood floors means the crowd here trends towards the millennial and snap-happy, but those lucky enough to have gardens will find everything they need here too.
25A Englefield Road, N1 4EU.
11. Battersea Flower Station, Battersea
I’m desperate to head here for the name alone, and don’t pretend you aren’t too. Making excellent use of a tiny strip of land alongside the Overground tracks, Battersea Flower Station was once the stables for the horses of Battersea Park, but since 2012 has had a new life as one of London’s loveliest garden centres. On a summer’s day, a glorious, hypnotic explosion of colour awaits you here.
320 Battersea Park Road, SW11 3BX.
12. Wheelers Garden Centre, Chiswick
Small but perfectly-formed, Wheelers Garden Centre is a family-run spot with a delightful penchant for garden ornaments. Baskets, ladders, sculptures, mirrors, fountains, and more will help take your humble plot to new levels of style, and their flower workshop is another excellent string to their bow. Find it directly next to Turnham Green station.
Cato’s Yard, Turnham Green Terrace, W4 1LR.
13. The Nunhead Gardener, Nunhead
All of these London garden centres are gorgeous, but even so, The Nunhead Gardener stands out as perhaps the most spectacular one in town. Hiding in the railway arches beneath Nunhead station, the brick walls are festooned with all manner of houseplants, pots, and homeware, with the outdoor courtyard the place to pick up climbing and bedding plants, along with grasses, shrubs, and ferns. Simply a must-visit.
1a Oakdale Road, SE15 3BW.
14. Conservatory Archives, Hackney (currently closed)
A mini-chain of plant shops with branches (not sorry for that) in Cambridge Heath and Clapton, Conservatory Archives trends towards house plants rather than hardier outdoor plants. You can hardly see the walls for all the plants in here, and whilst it must be a nightmare watering them all, the effect certainly is impressive – the shop’s 111,000 Instagram followers surely testament to that. Their shops are closed during the lockdown, but an online store is currently open. Read all about them here.
493-495 Hackney Road, E2 9ED and 3-7 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NS.
15. Neal’s Nurseries, Wandsworth
Part of the Capital Gardens chain, Neal’s Nurseries is actually the largest garden centre in central London, and is ferociously well-stocked. You’ll be able to nab everything from pots to barbecues, and seeds to garden furniture here, on a spot which has hosted a nursery garden since 1850.
Heathfield Road, SW18 3HR.
16. Growing Concerns, Hackney Wick (open for click and collect only)
Wander along the canal from Victoria Park up to Hackney Wick, and you’ll soon happen upon Growing Concerns. Naturally, the outdoor nurseries and cute greenhouses are the main draw here, but add in the garden centre’s lovely black cat, and you’ve got somewhere that you’ll be coming back to again and again.
2 Wick Lane, E3 2NA.
17. The Secret Garden, Crystal Palace
Anyone who tries to tell you garden centres aren’t magical is just plain wrong. Promising houseplants, herbs, vegetables, perennials, shrubs, climbers, and bedding plants, The Secret Garden (loving the name, guys) is a treasure trove of all things that grow, and fans of London’s annual wisteria hysteria won’t be disappointed either. Ignore the naysayers, buy everything in sight, and transform your place into a secret garden of one’s own – you won’t regret it.
70 Westow Street, Upper Norwood, SE19 3AF.
18. Sunshine Garden Centre, Bounds Green
Life without plants is like a day without sunshine, but at Sunshine Garden Centre, you’ll get a restorative blast of both. Another multiple award-winning garden centre – including the crown of the UK’s Best Independent Garden Centre – Sunshine Garden Centre is renowned for top-notch customer service. Having nearly three acres of plant-filled space probably doesn’t hurt either…
Durnsford Road, N11 2EL.
19. The Chelsea Gardener, Chelsea
The famed garden centre from which The Palace Gardener grew, The Chelsea Gardener has been a verdant paradise since 1984. If manicured lawns, artfully planted fruit trees, and neatly trimmed hedges are your idea of bucolic perfection, then the good folks here will be able to point you towards a dream garden layout. You can also hire the space out for events, including a gorgeous Orangery that’s ideal for intimate receptions. But first, coffee and cake in the cafe!
125 Sydney Street, SW3 6NR.
Also published on Medium.