Tales From The Field: In Which I Explore An English Garden Shop

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Two years ago, in 2015, we spent a some time in England before going on to a business meeting my husband had in Bucharest, Romania ( you can read about my adventure there here). My main hobby is gardening. In England it’s a passion, to put it mildly. And one of the things I learned on our first trips there in the 1990s was about the GARDEN SHOPS. Oh my. We may have big garden centers in the US, but I’m pretty sure there are few, if any, that are anything like this typical one, Stewart’s Garden Centre, just outside of Christchurch.

I had a list of seeds I was looking for…

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This was one of about eight display racks from various companies. I managed to not limit out the credit card. I love the quintessential English wallflower. In the tiniest pocket garden in the front of an attached house, if there’s anything planted there it will probably be a wallflower. So I made it easy for myself and got a packet each of every color I could find. The English also love, love, love their peas, so this was the place to pick up some. It was late in the season and there weren’t a lot to choose from, so I got three and hit the jackpot with Hurst Green Shaft. The best pea we’ve ever eaten. Had plenty of seed left from last year so growing a bunch of it this year.

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But what really grabbed me, starting with the display of everything barnyard at the top,  plus gnomes, was the vast number of animal species available, many quite exotic. Really, have YOU ever seen garden statues of meerkats in four sizes available at Home Depot? Didn’t think so.

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Seriously, how cool is this?

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And of course there are plants. Lots of plants. Hibiscus. So very English.

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MUST have red geraniums, of course.

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Bedding plants. Petunias front and center.

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Part of one aisle, about halfway down. I think there were at least four, plus various side areas. And of course a place to get a cup of tea.

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But back to the animals. This juxtaposition of species stopped me in my tracks.

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It was a little overwhelming. Oh, look! a lion on plant pedestal. I think staff is having too much fun.

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This display is what the fine old English word “gallimauphry” was invented for. A nude, an eagle and a modern sculpture fountain thingie.

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The English do love their hedgehogs. And I know you want a closer look at this one.

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Finally, after all that one needed a good tipple. And it just so happened they had “Hairy Potter Beer”.

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“Well-seeded” we were finally done and ready to head north to Stonehenge. You can see more photos from the trip here.






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