Kate’s Top Specialist Nursery Picks featured in Gardens Illustrated

Kate often gets asked to write opinion pieces for fabulous magazines. The Gardens illustrated Editor asked Kate this time to talk about her favourite nurseries and specialist plant growers. Kate could have listed twelve off the top of her head but for the purposes of the article could only choose six as the article was shared with three other designers and ideally we could not choose the same. Most of the nurseries are trade nurseries but you can see examples of their work and specimens at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Europlants have a wide variety of specimen plants which are perfect to create wow factor in a garden immediately. Europlants are based in Hatfield in Hertfordshire just north of London. I have been dealing with Europlants for nearly 20 years, they are always incredibly helpful and operate with a family ethos therefore they always make you feel really welcome. They are a trade only nursery but I couldn’t write a list of my favourite places to buy plants without them being on it.

Orchard Dene are an Oxfordshire based grower of perennials. They are a herbaceous nursery who grow plants in a peat free soil. Their P9 plants may come in tiny pots but the amount of vigour they produce is extraordinary. A visit to Orchard Dene always guarantees that you will learn something new every time from passionate growers Chris and Toby Marchont. Orchard Dene are also a trade only nursery but they very often grow fabulous plants for designers at Chelsea.

Todd’s Botanics specialise in drought tolerant herbaceous and architectural type plants and trees which are either grown by them or hand selected from Europe’s specialist suppliers. They are based in Essex and owners Mark and Julie are really lovely and great to deal with. You will usually see their stand exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show but they also supply a number of the show gardens at the show. you can buy online or visit by appointment.

Hare Spring Cottage Plants is run by the absolutely adorable Stella Exley who exudes passion for Camassia’s out of every pore. The nursery specialises in Camassia but has a wide variety of other hardy perennial plants. Stella also holds a National Collection of Camassia as well as growing a range of Sidalcea and Uvularia. It is impossible to place an order with Stella without having an exuberant conversation about plants and a good old fashioned catch up. The nursery has recently moved to North Yorkshire, Stella’s home county. She is a regular exhibitor at Chelsea in the floral marquee and has also supplied her stunning specimens for show gardens in the past. You can order stock online or by appointment, but she does hold regular open days as well.

Jacques Amand has offered flowering bulbs of many varieties to discerning gardeners for over 70 years. They are my local bulb specialist based in Middlesex where I will happily spend several hours filling paper bags with way more bulbs than I need. When they pick orders for me they are always immaculately labelled and packed. Although I visit their nursery infrequently, each Autumn when I do my annual visit they always greet me with a friendly smile. They are both a wholesale and retail nursery. The nursery is running a Spring bulb event in February, with a talk by John Amand and sales of dormant bulbs as well as those about to flower or in flower.

Preston Bissett Nursery– A great retail nursery based in Buckingham, which has a wide range of really well grown perennials, interesting pots and great selection of sundries. You will discover the enormity of the entire selection of plants in dedicated areas, enabling you to create a whole garden in one visit. There are no limitations to choice. Rows of cottage garden plants right through to herbs, fruit, hedging and specimen large trees can be bought from this nursery. Another reason to visit this nursery is the amazing cake! They also run events with a selection of gardening speakers and tutors who come in on a regular basis and offer short workshops and talks.