The florists have been in overdrive. Can mother's day possibly be bigger than valentine's? And if so, is that a positive thing? Anyway, it's one Hallmark holiday that it's hard to be sniffy about. The news was full of reports about the tardiness of this year's daffodils; and although my lovely Narcissus February Gold put in a timely appearance (well, several weeks late if their name is what you go by), they are not quite the right size or quantity for a bunch and I rather like them in my window box.
So, thoughts of what other flowers my mother might like took me to Wheelers in Turnham Green - my nearest garden shop. Let this then be the first of my informal reviews of London garden centres. I want to see how they fulfil the needs of the city gardener and I promise I will either cycle or get there on public transport and see how each one measures up.
Wheelers is very handy for me - barely half a mile away. But it only just qualifies as a garden centre - it's firstly a florists, with a landscaping business, and secondly a place where the discerning, and probably quite flush, garden owner goes with a shopping list for a small London garden. There is a good selection of evergreen shrubs - box, box and more clipped box, and some bay trees and olives; a 5l box ball (that bastion of all urban window boxes and pots) will set you back £15 - the mature olives around £1000. There's a good range of terracotta and other containers in varying sizes, and some nice accessories for One's conservatory, if One has one, such as mirrors and signs.
Proper gardening kit like compost is hidden away in a cupboard and while there is no peat-free available, a bag of organic compost will set you back £5. But parking is a nightmare and you'd have to spend a bit more than a fiver to get a free delivery. It's definitely not a gardeners' garden centre - there are no really unusual plants, no seeds, tools, or vegetable plants - which so many garden centres are cashing in on these days. And it's definitely not good for bargains. But staff are helpful, if not that knowledgable, and will get in plants on request. And if you want to walk away with a pretty window box, then it's the perfect place to go. Here, below, is what I put together for my mother: some Muscari 'Blue magic' in this really rather cute container. It all fitted perfectly in my bicycle basket so I could get it home, and my Italian Mamma was very happy.
Writer, gardener and lover of gardens, plants and all green spaces, especially in cities where grass really does seem all the greener when it has concrete as a companion. I have a small back garden, shared with my husband and dog. A bigger space is a long way off, so for now I'm happy gardening in the neighbourhood and at work, whenever I can and discovering new greenery around town. This blog is about how I get my garden fix in London.