How to shop for Gift Ideas at the Garden Centre

Clifton Nurseries

Garden centres were among the first shops to open after lockdown and perhaps rightly so. They’re an oasis of peace and tranquility and really lift the spirit even for non-gardeners like us. But what to look out for…? Here’s how to shop for gift ideas at the garden centre and unique presents.

One really doesn’t have to be green fingered to head to the garden store. But you’re likely to end up a plant lover once you’re there… many centres have more than just a few pots, plants, seeds, gloves and spades.

Lots of people have become indoor gardening fans over the last decade. An entire lifestyle industry has grown around the famous snake plants and aloe vera. Instagram and Facebook have helped promote the idea of surrounding yourself with gorgeous green plants and flowers.

Now you can pop into a garden centre intending to buy just one green plant for the side table and then come out with a trolley full of plants and accessories.

Showing the entrance to Clifton Nurseries in north London

Where to find a good Garden Centre for Gift Ideas near you

Try Google “best garden centre” in the town/area where you live. A vast range of addresses with images and contact details pop up alongside yellow star rating options: 4.5 out of 5 is good. But look also at the number of people who have left a review. A 5-star rating is not much help if only 1 person has left a review – but 4.6 is brilliant if over 1,000 people have reviewed the centre.

We checked online for a new garden centre to go to, counted the stars and reviewers and clicked on the top five. Then we settled on Clifton Nurseries in north London. Never heard of it but we were blown away immediately we entered.

The entrance oozes charm – a passage between two grand buildings, lined with green plants and trees in beautiful pots. The center itself did not disappoint. It turns out the centre is quite famous. But we the novice gardeners didn’t know. To me it’s a brilliant new discovery.

Bathtub filled with plants at the Clifton Nurseries

Shopping for Gardening Accessories at the Centre

A great garden centre will have things for sale: gardening gloves, pots, plant food and more. A really big, established centre will have an entire collection of large and small plants and all the accessories connected with growing plants both indoors and outdoors. It will have gift ideas too, themed around plants of course, and some store branch out and sell floral fragrance themed soaps and candles….

Another favourite is the Dulwich Pot and Plant Garden in south east London. Apart from a glorious collection of pots – and they’re cheaper than at Clifton Nurseries – plants and soil, the Dulwich Garden is next to the beautifully arched train station.

This image shows the Dulwich Pot and Plant Garden next to the train station

The Clifton Nurseries is among the super centres with different shops, green house, sheds and an indoor and outdoor cafe/restaurant, which oozes bohemian charm. And it serves an oat latte to keep you wide awake for the rest of the day.

Clifton Nurseries cafe table

Fun Accessories and Gift Ideas at the Garden Center

Next time you shop for a gift for a friend try skipping the scented candle and think outside the box such as garden center gift ideas… the centre is usually packed with original ideas from beautiful pots to fun plant toys and small cactus and mini plants.

A small plant is lovely gift which gives the recipient something to nurture and watch grow and become part of their urban jungle. If looked after well, it lasts longer than a candle and can be a fun surprise pressie for a teen used to getting gadgets and other luxuries.

And of course you can’t go wrong with a beautiful stoneware pot. Everybody can find usage of a pot – imagine how it would work with the decor of the person you are buying it for: colour, shape and pattern…

Toy plant gift ideas
Gift ideas: Toy snake and aloe plants

Clifton Nurseries happen to have two stores within the garden center: one which sells distinct planting accessories such as seeds, shovels, water piping, feeds, gloves and so on. Those also work well as gift ideas for the seasoned gardener or someone you know who has an interest in the green fingered lifestyle.

The other shop sells quirky souvenirs relating to gardening – post cards, juggs and jars and much more. It’s a refreshing alternative to high street stores selling the usual in-demand luxury goods.

How to get top gardening Tips: speak to members of Staff

A big part of job is to sell as much as possible, but staff are also often experts in their field. Ask their advice and often you’ll get a surprisingly good idea as to how to look after a specific plant. During our trip to the Clifton Nurseries one of the senior staff gave a top tip: to cut the flower of marigolds when they dry out towards the end of the season and open it up. In there are perfect seeds which can be kept until next season giving you a free sachet of marigolds for the following year.

The assistant said: “That’s how it all started for me. When I was a child it was my job to pick the flowers off the marigolds to pick the seeds. That’s how my gardening career started.”

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