Just as every Wimbledon fortnight is met by a surge in tennis lessons and racquet buying, the week of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show cues the nationwide flexing of newly discovered green fingers. Suddenly all outside space is considered afresh as a repository for ariculas, lupins and clambering jasmine, while inside, cacti and succulents become the table decorations du jour. At AnOther, we’ve been championing the joy of green for a while now – from the prominent position of foliage in fashion to the best restaurant gardens – so today, in honour of the Flower Show, we present our favourite London Garden Centres, guiding you to the best places to start creating your own urban oasis.
You enter this Little Venice haven through an archway lined with olive trees, fragrant wisteria stems and an enviable array of ornate planters, and at once anything seems possible. Clifton has the heritage to back this confidence up – there have been plants growing here since 1851, and the original plans from that time decree that the only buildings that could be erected on the land were greenhouses. 160 years on and it is one of the most pleasurable places to spend a day, filled with every type of seasonal and perennial plant, a beautiful hothouse brimming with trailing ferns, delicate orchids and lurid succulents, a dedicated bonsai section, a delicious café, and incredibly knowledgeable staff. And their expertise is officially recognised – the Clifton entry into the 2015 Flower Show, a curved and sensual alignment of the wild, ornamental and edible, was awarded a Silver Gilt medal.
Clifton Nurseries, 5A Clifton Villas, W9 2PH
Battersea Flower Station
Down south, in what used to be the Battersea Park stables, is a relatively new addition to London’s garden centre roster. Extending down a long thin strip of some 8,000 square feet, the Battersea Flower Station is a joyful tangle of plants, shrubs and trees, a florist, a tool shop, a greenhouse and a marvellous collection of pots. Hosting celebrations such as a Spring lavender weekend and contemporary theatre productions with the Chelsea Fringe, as well as offering advice for the best options for those of little space and free local delivery on its wares, this is a place bursting with bright horticultural ideas.
Battersea Flower Station, 16 Winders Rd, Battersea, SW11 3HE
The Boma Garden Centre
With the tagline “North London’s friendliest garden centre”, this Kentish Town sanctuary is a dream for aspirational gardeners. Not only offering lots of great planting ideas onsite, it really excels with its garden services department which helps clients reimagine their gardens and balconies with innovative, inexpensive planting ideas. The unusual name is linked to the company’s South African origins – translating from Swahili to mean a central meeting place – which, along with Kentish Town, inspires much of their aesthetic. Filled with lovely solutions for everything from large gardens to tightly crammed window sills.
The Boma, 51-53 Islip Street, Kentish Town, NW5 2DL
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs to May 23.