In the past fortnight my ramblings have resulted in me entering the portals of two establishments which term themselves as garden centres. Whilst they may share the same horticultural nomenclature they are very different. The larger of the two outlets has a large garden shop. I did manage to discover the seed stands after much searching and yes there were sprays and fertilisers for sale but most of the floor space was devoted to sweets, jams, biscuits and kitchen ethemera. There were even clocks and candles for sale and of course there was the ubiquitous coffee shop/cafe with its gushing froth making machine. In the semi outside much of the stock of plants looked a trifle tired and it was very evident that the trees, shrubs, bedding plants et all had been bought in for resale. This was no evidence of flora being nurtured through from seed or cutting to plant. I suppose the owners of this emporium might say that they are providing a lifestyle outlet.
The second garden centre was smaller and sold almost exclusively garden products and plants. There wasn't a Yankee candle nor a latte in sight. There were tunnel houses full of small bedding plants that had just been pricked out and dozens of large seed trays bringing on more product. A mist propagator evidenced the desire to take cuttings and grow on plants rather than be dependant on some Dutch supplier. Onion sets and shallots were being sold by weight (pounds and ounces) out of sacks rather than in little packs with gaudy coloured photographs. The owner of this emporium was catering for the gardener not the person wishing to furnish their outside space and overdose on caffeine. In truth he was a nurseryman not a garden centre owner.
I wonder which of these garden centres I will be returning to?