Gransnet forums


... to expect to be able to buy gardening equipment at a Garden Centre?

(21 Posts)
FlicketyB Mon 21-Jul-14 21:25:17

A couple of months ago my special swan neck hoe and pruning saw broke. Nothing daunted I set off to a nearby big Garden Centre expecting to find a large garden implement section from which I could choose the right replacement tools.

When I got there it was more like a National Trust supermarket than a garden centre. As I walked in I was assailed by the smell of scented candles. As far as the eye could see there were scented candles, and other flowery patterned frippery, DVDs, books, a children's section, clothing section, Cook Shop, expensive presentation food in fancy packaging. I had to ask a passing member of staff where the garden equipment was. It was hidden away in a tiny section and the space given to garden implements was about 6 linear feet. I walked out.

I have been to several more Garden Centres and they are all the same, they sell anything but garden equipment and supplies.

merlotgran Mon 21-Jul-14 21:29:41

We buy all our garden equipment from Agricultural merchants or a stall at our local market. Even if you can find what you want in a garden centre it's likely to be over priced.

Ana Mon 21-Jul-14 21:30:50

Yes, our local one is the same now - I think most of them must have been taken over by the same chain. It used to have a whole 'room' with gardening tools, fertilisers, garden netting etc. but now you're lucky if you can find a hand trowel! Lots of new-agey type music CDs on sale though...

Homebase is where I head these days for practical stuff for the garden.

Nelliemoser Mon 21-Jul-14 22:53:27

I live about 12 miles from a large garden centre Bridgemere Garden World. and nursery.
They do sell a good range of tools still but its the wide range of plants you cannot get now there now. It was an amazing place when privately owned. Their range of plants and unusual plant varieties was fantastic.

I think it was the largest in the country. The Man who owned decided to retire, sold the whole business to The Wyevale garden centre group for millions in about 2012.

Since then it has gone down hill as far as the plant are concerned. About 50% less space is now given over to plants and instead its now all plant pots and garden ornaments.

Instead of a superb place to buy plants it has become yet another retail outlet. Lakeland plastics an outdoor shop, shoes clothes and a Hobby Craft.

I went about two months ago to look for some alpines. They had a few sad looking specimens, nothing exciting or unusual like the range they used to sell. I have been really disappointed the last few times I have been.

Aka Mon 21-Jul-14 23:10:56

There's garden centres and garden centres. The first type caters exclusively for OAPs with too much time and money on their hands and the last thing you'll find there is a hoe. We have one that has an Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Cotten Traders and Roman outlets inside. Plenty of scented candies, twee mugs and photo frames and plastic fudge. Tuesday is special Over 60s day with reduced prices in the cafe (I think they'll even mash the food up for you) the staff don't know a daffodil bulb from a light bulb and are not interested in learning the difference.

Just down the road is the Real Thing with tools, bags of chicken shit manure, seeds and even plants. No cafe, car park full of potholes (wear wellies) but the staff are experts and know their plants, which are usually much cheaper and in better condition anyway.

Seek and ye shall find.

Portuna421 Mon 21-Jul-14 23:22:48

Tesco Direct are also good for garden tools.
Our local 'chain Garden Centre' has a soft play area in the restaurant,very handy in the winter for DGS.They make a small charge per child,which goes to the NSPCC,and numbers are limited.DGS loves it for an hour and enjoys the company of other children.
The Garden Centres will soon be filling up with Christmas stuff!!.

merlotgran Mon 21-Jul-14 23:23:33

Same here, aka. We're surrounded by garden centres of the scented candle and OAPs queuing for a carvery variety but there is one, only one, that used to be a nursery crammed full of plants where you paid for your purchases in a wooden hut. It has grown beyond grown but is still crammed full of plants with not a scented candle in sight and the coffee shop/tea room is full of people talking in horticultural latin. Oh please may it last.

annodomini Mon 21-Jul-14 23:33:27

If it's plants you want, there's a great nursery just along the road from Manchester Airport with a huge selection of plants - especially perennials. I used to mooch round there when I was waiting to pick someone up at the airport. However, they noticed that this was happening and put a stop to it. Another favourite place which I used to visit when driving home from a weekend 'down south' is the National Herb Centre near Banbury. They sell not only herbs but lots of unusual plants and they have a lovely bistro, making use of their own produce. Sadly, I now go by train and I do miss my lunches at the Centre! Garden tools? B&Q - where else?

ninathenana Tue 22-Jul-14 07:10:15

We have a good local private garden centre which is great for plants, compost Tec. but it doesn't sell tools. It does however have a small café the space for which tools could be stocked.
DH usually buys garden tools from the place that sounds like barbeque grin especially on pensioners Wednesdays !

NanKate Tue 22-Jul-14 15:24:23

Garden Centres for us have been wonderful places to entertain our two young grandsons.

The South Downs Garden Centre near Brighton has hours on entertainment value including,

Tropical Fish
Variety of caged birds
Rabbits, rodents, snakes etc
Water features
Children's wooden playhouses
Second hand books for £1
Museum of farm equipment
Outdoor area where we put the children in the metal trolleys and chase each other to lots of laughter (but only when the staff are not about) grin
Sparkling Christmas decorations
A lovely cafe which seems to be a nice meeting place for those in
Wheelchairs and the physically and mentally handicapped, as well as main stream customers.

Over the last 3 years we have spent many happy hours free of charge, except for the obligatory (so the boys say) drinks and cake, oh and ice-cream.

I wrote to the management complimenting them on Centre but saying they lacked a soft play area for the children. I got a phone call back saying one was being installed - so hey presto a perfect entertainment centre.

As for garden equipment - I've never looked for it !

Tegan Tue 22-Jul-14 15:29:52

My youngest grandson loves going to the garden centre but I have to be careful when he's round the garden pot section [why do they stack them up the way they do?]. If we had one as good as they he'd want to go there every day! Mind you, the S.O. [who used to work in retailing] said to them a couple of years ago that they needed a cafe and they pointed out that they'd just drawn the plans up for one. Another one we go to has special breakfast deals; huge fry ups for a couple of pounds before a certain time [I assume we're meant to burn off the calories in the garden later that day]. Trouble is, no matter how determined I am not to I always come away with yet more plants.

numberplease Tue 22-Jul-14 16:32:07

We don`t have a garden, don`t want one, but I`m constantly amazed at how little the 2 main gardening centres around here actually cater for gardeners. In fact, come October, they`ll be the prime places to go to for Christmas trees, real and artificial, and all things Christmassy. Lovely, but not exactly gardening orientated.

rosesarered Tue 22-Jul-14 19:53:52

number do you have a courtyard style garden with things in pots? It's true that garden centres now sell masses of other stuff, but they seem to be doing well out of it . B&Q sell some garden implements of course, but DH buys his online FlicketyB for the best all round choice.It is surprising though that they don't have a better selection at the garden centres, surely they would sell them?

rosequartz Tue 22-Jul-14 20:24:00

Ours does sell gardening equipment, but nothing electrical like lawn mowers, leaf vacuumers etc. It also has a good selection of plants and plenty of advice is available.

It has a large cafeteria/restaurant, and I think a lot of them are more like out-of-town shopping centres than actual garden centres. We sometimes go to one a few miles away for a very good carvery!

rosequartz Tue 22-Jul-14 20:25:40

Ours also has a very large section with tropical fish and reptiles. DD2 loves to go and 'find Nemo'.

granjura Tue 22-Jul-14 20:33:07

Mind you- when I get to our local super Tescos- it takes a very long time before I get to any .... food ;)

rosequartz Tue 22-Jul-14 20:35:59

What I didn't realise, granjura, that Tesco also own a housebuilding firm and may release some of the land they have been hogging for years for building new homes.

sara4 Tue 22-Jul-14 22:23:45

I hate it when the garden centres get in all that Christmas stuff. Who buys it and where do they store it before and after Christmas? My nearest has a lovely café, but does tools and plants etc and has kiddies attractions in the summer, a large sand pit 'bring your own bucket and spade'. and a parrot. The plants are expensive, but it seems very popular.

numberplease Tue 22-Jul-14 23:34:06

No, rosesarered, we don`t have anything remotely resembling a garden, we`re just not gardeners, but I do like to see a nice garden, my brother-in-law and his partner have moved homes several times, just so`s she can have a bigger garden. The garden centre nearest to us also has a small supermarket type food shop now, as well as the obligatory scented candles section. I even went to a Jersey Boys tribute show there last month, held in a huge greenhouse, that`s how much they`ve branched pun intended!

Mamie Wed 23-Jul-14 04:57:02

This struck a chord with us Flickety as OH emerged from one of these on a recent visit to England in a furious temper. He couldn't find any organic compost (which they used to sell) and he had to weave a complex path through all the things you describe to get in and out again. It seemed to be a new concept in garden centres designed to make us feel like foreigners.
However, we do sometimes say that it would be nice to be able to get a coffee at a garden centre in France and somebody really should tell them that they need to water the plants.

FlicketyB Thu 24-Jul-14 19:25:36

I like to handle tools before I buy them. The same implement from different suppliers can feel and balance differently, and, again, buying online gives no indication of quality.

The problem is; that the minimal garden equipment sections in most garden centres now usually only stock one manufacturer's goods and if you do not like what they offer or they do not offer what you want, your stuffed.