50 best plant nurseries in the UK

Wondering where to go to buy interesting plants in the UK? Garden expert Val Bourne selects some of the nation's finest nurseries.


Wondering where to go to buy interesting plants in the UK? Garden expert Val Bourne selects 50 of the nation's finest nurseries.

(in alphabetical order)


Architectural Plants
Exotic plants with presence sum up the plants here and specialities include bamboos rated for hardiness with a traffic lights system, seaside plants, ‘spikies’ such as agaves and yuccas, topiary and rare evergreen broadleaved trees. Large range of pots too.

No mail order

North Heath
West Sussex RH20 1DJ
Tel 01798 879213



Ashwood Nurseries
Although masquerading as a garden centre, with an excellent restaurant and gift shop, this is an immaculate plantsman’s nursery full of treasures admired by owner John Massey. Strengths are hellebores, hepaticas, salvias and winter-flowering shrubs. John’s garden is open on occasion too.

Mail order available

West Midlands DY6 0AE
Tel 01384 401996



Avondale Nursery
Plant Heritage collections of wood anemone, sanguisorba and New England aster plus a huge range of perennials mostly propagated on this pin-neat nursery. The well-labelled display garden is inspirational.

No mail order

Coventry CV8 3AG
Tel 0797 909 3096



Beeches Nursery
A plant lovers’ paradise packed with 3000 interesting plants, some of them very rare. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the range for you’ll find plants here that aren’t generally available elsewhere.

Mail order available

Saffron Walden,
Essex CB10 2HB
Tel 01799 584362



The Beth Chatto Gardens and Nursery
Beth Chatto, inspired by husband Andrew, pioneered ecological gardening by placing plants in the right place and their website usefully lists plants for specific places. The nursery developed an on-line presence early and most plants are traditionally propagated from the garden under the care of David Ward. There’s no better place to buy herbaceous plants, ferns and grasses.

Superb mail order available

Elmstead Market
Essex CO7 7DB
Tel 01206 822 007



Binny Plants
Billy Carruthers is mad about peonies and has over 300 on the nursery. In recent years he’s exhibited them at the Chelsea Flower Show. However they’re just the tip of the iceberg for this nursery, midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, grows 3000 different plants including irises, bamboos, grasses and ferns.

Mail order available

West Lothian EH52 6NL
Tel 01506 858931



Blackmoor Nurseries
The best range of fruit trees and bushes, expertly packed and well-grown -many on the estate. Expert help available too and an informative website. Rootstocks, AGMS etc clearly displayed bu the variety.

Mail order specialist - not open to the public

Nr Liss
Hampshire GU33 6BS
Tel 01420 477978



Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery
Choice trees and shrubs, selected by RHS Woody Panel member Robert Vernon, are the main fare. Many grow in the nine acre arboretum planted by Robert and specialities include acer, betula, cornus, liquidamber and tilia. Just off the M1.

Mail order available
Ashby de la Zouch
Leicestershire LE65 2TA
Tel 01530 413700



Burncoose Nurseries
Burncoose, who specialise in acid-loving magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons, also stock a wide range of other plants including herbaceous and conservatory plants. A plant Mecca, it lists 3500 different species and cultivars. Cafe welcoming.

Mail order available

Cornwall TR16 6BJ
Tel 01209 860316



Cally Gardens
A place of pilgrimage for plant lovers because Michael Wickenden, plant collector and nurseryman, has an unusual range of perennials to die for. Crocosmias, perennial impatiens, irises, meconopsis, salvias and veratrums are among his treasures, some wild-collected. 

Mail order available
Castle Douglas
Dumfries and Galloway
Tel 01557 815029



Cath’s Garden Plants
This family-run lakeland nursery, set in a walled garden, sells the widest range of Barnhaven and Cowichan primulas. Other specialities include herbaceous peonies and Itoh hybrids, although they have a full range of good perennials too.  Plants can be taken for collection to the larger shows they visit.

Mail order available

Cumbria LA8 8EF
Tel 015395 61126



Chipchase Castle Nursery
Plants have to be hardy in Northumberland, so everything grown in this Victorian walled garden will thrive. Specialities include eryngiums, geums, hardy geraniums and potentillas. there are well-labelled borders, full of choice plants, and tea in the bothy.

Mail order available

Northumberland NE48 3NT
Tel 01434 230083



Claire Austin Hardy Plants
Claire Austin’s nursery has now settled down and the peonies, hemerocallis and irises (all specialities)  have been replanted in the fields. Peonies are sold bare-root from October, some ninety cultivars, but Claire also sells easily grown garden perennials and collections - such as for clay soil.

Mail order available
Not open generally but there are open days

White Hopton Farm
Wern Lane
Powys SY16 4EN
Tel 01686 670342



Cotswold Garden Flowers
Bob Brown’s nursery, ably run by manager Mandy, comes up with surprises every time. Specialities include kniphofias, crocosmias and unusual bulbous plants. Informative website, regular plant talks and display garden (on horrible clay) that shines from spring until late autumn.

Mail order available - but do visit

Worcestershire WR11 7EZ
Tel 01386 833849



Crûg Farm Plants
Always a challenge because most gardeners, even experienced ones, find that they don’t know many of the plants here! After all many were personally collected by Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones, from some far flung part of Asia, so they are Crug specialities. Shade plants feature heavily as do magnolias and acers. Plant Heritage collections of coriaria, paris and polygonatum. 

Mail order available

Griffith's Crossing
Gwynedd LL55 1TU
Tel 01248 670232



Dove Cottage Nursery and Garden
Such a photogenic place, with display gardens to inspire. The well-grown plants have to be easy and fairly slug proof and the range of grasses and perennials is particularly suited to naturalistic, prairie style. Hellebores and hardy geraniums also excellent.

No mail order

Shibden Hall Road
West Yorkshire HX3 9XA
Tel 01422 203553



Duchy of Cornwall Nursery
Initially set up to grow trees for the Duchy Estate so and trees and shrubs still play a huge part here. Over 2500 plants are stocked and 50% of plants sold here are propagated on site. The three real specialities are conifers, fuchsias and camellias, but there are excellent ranges of bamboos, magnolias, fruit and perennials. Stylish cafe, gift shop and wooded walks too.

Mail order available

Cott Road
Cornwall PL22 0HW
Tel 01208 872668



Dyson’s Nurseries
William Dyson’s nursery, attached to Great Comp Garden, specialises in salvias propagated on the nursery. However there are always other interesting plants here too and Great Comp Garden, which William also looks after, is always goos but especially so from late-summer onwards.

No mail order

Great Comp Garden
Kent TN15 8QS
Tel 01732 885094 



Edrom Nurseries
There are over sixty troughs, a trough garden, raised beds and a half acre of woodland garden as well as four-acre woodland garden that’s being renovated, so plenty to see on this immaculate nursery. Specialities include Japanese hepaticas, cypripediums (slipper orchids), gentians, primulas, meconopsis and trilliums, generally plants that enjoy the cool Scottish sea-frets. Excellent website.

Mail order available

Scotland TD14 5TZ
Tel 018907 71386



Paul Barney’s working, no-frills nursery is in an old walled garden. The nursery name, an academic way of saying edible, reflects part of his range which includes unusual Asian plants etc. Umbels also feature heavily and there are plants here that you can’t find elsewhere because Paul collects himself. Snowdrops are also available: he’s now offering 200 this year!

Mail order available

The Walled Garden
Tidmarsh Lane
Berkshire RG8 8HT
Tel 01635 578113



Farmyard Nurseries
This three-acre working nursery stocks over 2000 varieties of garden plants and although there is a sales area the best thing to do is wander through the beds and tunnels -where treasures lie. The range is immense with many plants coming from well-know raisers of the past such as Eric Smith etc. 

Mail order available

Dol Llan Road
Wales SA44 4RL
Tel 01559 363389



Fibrex Nursery
Family run nursery in rural Warwickshire specialising in ferns, pelargoniums, ivies and tender plants. A working nursery with two Plant Heritage collections - pelargoniums and Hedera ( ivy) but also the best fern nursery for hardy ferns. Expert advice freely given.

Mail order available

Warwickshire CV37 8XP
Tel 01789 720788



Hall Farm Nursery
Husband and wife Christine and Nic Ffoulkes-Jones, also Pershore students, began this nursery almost thirty years ago. An environmentally run nursery, using peat-free-compost, they won a Chelsea Gold in 2010 for a quiet display of shade plants -o ne of 46 RHS golds. They know their plants and only grow the best.

No mail order

Nr Oswestry
Shropshire SY10 8DH
Tel 01691 682135



Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants
Rosy Hardy, known for her stunning displays of perennials at flower shows, grows in peat-free compost in outdoor conditions and the plant respond so you may pay more but they’re great plants. Strengths include geraniums, peonies, geums and achilleas and they will advise too.

Mail order available

Freefolk Priors
Hampshire RG28 7NJ
Tel 01256 896533



Harveys Garden Plants
There are two Great Greens - so do check the postcode. Roger Harvey’s nursery is one of the best places to acquire named snowdrops and other woodlanders including epimediums, erythroniums, wood anemones and trilliums. There’s a cafe if you visit personally and there’s also a garden design service. 

Mail order available

Great Green
Suffolk IP31 3SJ
Tel 01359 233363



Hill House Nursery
Ray Hubbard, the nursery’s founder, loves all plants and if they’re slightly tender he loves them even more. In all there are 3000 plants on the nursery, including shrubs, perennials, fruit and ferns, mostly propagated here. Sparrows hop in and out of the greenhouses on this working nursery, but there is a tea room in high season and a huge range of plants. You will need time and there’s a garden too.

Mail order available 

Devon TQ13 7LY
Tel 01803 762273



Keepers Nursery
A fruit specialist offering 600 varieties of every type of fruit and some nut trees. Good pictures, information about pollination groups, sterility and root stocks etc. Many varieties offered in different forms.

Mail order available

Gallants Court
East Farleigh
Kent ME15 0LE
Tel 01622 326465



Once the largest nursery in the world, Kelways are best known for irises and peonies which are sold bare-root and potted. Visit in June and it’s possible to go to Peony Valley, or visit the Garden Centre which now has a cafe. Large range of plants available for mail order including clematis and plants for pollinators.

Mail order available

Picts Hill
Somerset TA10 9EZ
Tel 01458 250 521



Larch Cottage Nurseries
Peter Stott started this nursery in 1985, frustrated by a lack of suitable plants for his landscaping commissions, and thirty years on it’s packed with rare and unusual garden plants so much so that if you’re looking for something it’s probably here in this beautifully presented nursery. Old-fashioned roses, bamboos, acers, and cornus for sale and also planted in the garden.

Mail order available September to May inclusive

Cumbria CA10 2DR
Tel 01931 712404



Long Acre Plants
A full range of shade-loving perennials, grasses and ferns grown by expert plantsman. Lots of information, including dry shade plants, on the website and the best packed mail order ever.

Excellent mail order

near Wincanton
Somerset BA9 8EX
Tel 01963 32802



Longstock Park Nursery
Set in a walled garden this nursery is packed to the gunnels with good plants. Plant heritage collections of buddleia and viticella clematis, an 80 metre herbaceous border and apple and clematis arches make it even better. The Longstock Water Garden ( once owned the John Lewis himself) opens every first and third Sunday of the month from April.

Mail order available

Hampshire SO20 6EH
Tel 01264 810894



Madrona Nursery
This husband and wife team, Liam and Ylva, combine plantsmanship with garden design so this beautiful nursery has style and there’s a garden design service run by Ylva. The range, containing woody and herbaceous, is unusual with a large range of eryngiums, colletia and shrubs. Ian also sells conifers. A cafe and collection of gardening books will make this a very special trip.

No mail order

Pluckley Road
Kent TN26 3DD
Tel 01233 820 100



Marchants Plants
Graham Gough, a man with a musical background, now creates crescendos with flowing grasses and tall perennials in his downland garden instead  - cursed by heavy clay. Specialities include taller grasses and his list of miscanthus and molinias, inspired by an early visit to Ernst Pagels’ German nursery, is the best I know. Sanguisorbas, asters, veronicastrums and much much more - take plenty of money!

No mail order

East Sussex BN8 6AJ
Tel 01323 811737



The Mead Nursery
Stephen and Emma Lewis-Dale, both Pershore-trained, sell a wide range of potted bulbs, alpines and perennials on their first-rate nursery. The mature garden setting offers inspiration and their range, always correctly labelled,  constantly changes. You won’t be disappointed.

No mail order

Wiltshire BA13 4EG
Tel 01373 859 990



Mickfield Hostas
Now hosta specialists with a Plant Heritage Collection, this nursery was a market garden until the Great Hurricane of October 1987 destroyed their polytunnels. There are now 2000 hostas here, often available in small quantities, and this friendly nursery are amenable to dividing parent plants for keen collectors.

Mail order available

Suffolk IP14 5LH
Tel 01449 71157



Norwell Nurseries and Gardens
Dr Andrew Ward, who does lecture as well, has a garden and nursery full of interesting perennials and bulbs. Woodlanders, hardy chrysanthemums, trilliums, grasses and hemerocallis are featured heavily.

Mail order available

Woodhouse Road
Nottinghamshire NG23 6JX
Tel 01636 636337



Old Court Nurseries and the Picton Garden
Family run nursery with an emphasis on asters, late-season perennials and some alpines. Their Plant Heritage collection of asters, many rescued by Paul Picton, is second to none. Daughter Helen introduced mail order, but the display garden is fantastic - so do visit.

Mail order available

Walwyn Rd
Herefordshire WR13 6QE
Tel 01684 540416



Pan Global Plants
Conveniently close to the M5, Nick Macer’s Pan Global is well-named for this well-travelled nurseryman turns plant hunter in the winter months. Consequently Pan Global lists new plants that no one has as yet. His range is wide, from trees to shrubs, from bamboos to bulbs and there are exotic plants from far flung places. Irresistible!

Mail order available

Tel 01452 741641



The Plant Specialist
This nursery, run by Sean Walter and Roger Pounder, combines garden landscaping with superb plants at the forefront of garden design. Sanguisorbas, lots of stylish grasses, heleniums, echinaceas and veronicastrums (and so much more) beautifully displayed on this immaculate nursery. 

No mail order

7 Whitefield Lane
Great Missenden
Buckinghamshire HP16 0BH
Tel 01494 866650



Penwood Nurseries
Thousands of different hardy trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, roses, conifers, fruit, climbers, ferns and grasses, most produced on site. Exceptional plant quality and range but you will have to visit. Good numbers of oak, maple, birch, beech, sorbus, magnolia, witch hazel, hundreds of shrubs and over 1000 herbaceous plants.

No mail order

The Drove
Berkshire RG20 9EW
Tel 01635 254366



Peter Beales Roses
Set up by the late Peter Beales who spent a lifetime collecting roses, this nursery grows 12000 varieties, with 300 only available here - reflecting Peter’s passion.  Plant centre open daily, with tea room. Bare root roses dispatched in late-autumn and winter. Container-grown roses also available. Good range of clematis. Informative website and expert staff.

Mail order available

Norfolk NR17 1AY
Tel 01953 454707



The Place for Plants
Rupert Ely’s nursery and 20 acre garden and arboretum at East Bergholt Place carries a huge range of plants mainly bought in from top suppliers in Britain and on the Continent.  Specialities include a huge range of Japanese acers, magnolias and many cornus and there is a Plant Heritage collection of euonymus. Herbaceous plants also feature heavily.

Mail order from September to March -then a limited service

East Bergholt Place
Suffolk CO7 6UP
www.place for plants.co.uk
Tel 01206 299 224



Rose Cottage Plants
Anne Barnard and husband Jack travel to Holland to source new varieties of  spring-flowering bulbs and summer-flowering bulbous and tuberous plants.  Garden varieties of dahlia are their speciality and they have popularised varieties such as Waltzing Mathilda’ - a dark-leafed orange whirligig. There’s an  attractive website, swift and efficient mail order and prices are affordable.
Mail order available
Bay Tree Farm
Epping Green
Essex CM16 6PU
Tel 0845 452 0645



RV Roger
Over a hundred years old, this family-run traditional nursery carries a huge range, some 16000plants, including field-grown roses, fruit trees, shrubs and ornamental trees. Their bare-root plants are well-grown and arrive in excellent condition. Fruit of every type ( bush, standard and maiden for instance) can be acquired and many are heritage varieties. They also hold the Plant heritage collection of erythronium and sell the best range in the country.

Mail order available

The Nurseries
North Yorkshire YO18 7JW
Tel 01751 472226



Special Perennials
Martin and Janet Blow’s specialities include heleniums, phloxes, monardas, centaureas, geums, persicarias and hemerocallis. All plants are traditionally propagated on the nursery so they are full of vigour and soon romp away. Plant Heritage collections of heleniums and centaurea and they attends lots of plant fairs where plants can be collected.

Mail order only

Cheshire CW3 0JB
Tel 0771 699 0695



Special Plants
Derry Watkins exudes energy and her nursery is just as busy, packed with good plants that include tender perennials such as pelargonium and salvia. A good range of interesting hardy perennials and an excellent seed list also tempt the buyer. Derry runs practical courses and opens her garden -please check the dates - and she attends all the best plant fairs. 

Mail order available

Cold Ashton
Wiltshire  SN14 8LA
Tel 01225 891686



Stone House Cottage Nurseries
Louisa Arbuthnott’s one man band offers such unusual plants, grown by own hands, and most of them can be seen in the garden adjacent to the nursery. Once the nursery closes Louisa takes off to far flung nurseries, such as Cally gardens, so her stock is up to the minute and hugely interesting.

No mail order

nr Kidderminster
Worcestershire DY10 4BG
Tel 07817 921146



Thorncroft Clematis
This third generation clematis nursery, which regularly scoops Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show, sells 350 of the best clematis known. They also introduce new clematis bred in Poland, Japan and Holland and also sell patio clematis -sometimes raised by Raymond Evison. First-rate mail order plants and a useful website that subdivdes clematis according to type etc.

Mail order only - not open to the public

Norfolk NR9 4QG
Tel 01953 850407



Twelve Nunns
This mail order only nursery is run by Penny Dawson, the daughter of Hugh Nunn who raised the Harvingtom strain of hellebores, triliums and erythroniums. There are plug plants, mature plants in pots and rhizomes for sale, all seed-raised on the nursery - well-grown and well-bred.

Mail order only - not open to the public

16 Carisbrook Grove
Lincolnshire PE9 2GF
Tel 01778 590455



Woottens of Wenhaston
Sand blows along the lanes close to this Suffolk nursery near Southwold, but it’s perfect for irises, hardy chrysanthemums and agapanthus - just three of the specialisms. Auriculas and pelargoniums also feature heavily, but there are lots of other plants too. Iris field open from end of May to mid-June and display garden open between April and October for the National Gardens Scheme.

Mail order available

Suffolk IP19 9HD
Tel 01502 478258


• Please check all opening details before visiting those nurseries that are open to the public.

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