Being in lockdown with flower shows cancelled and trips to specialist growers a thing of the past, has made gardeners even more grateful for online nurseries.
Many of those who have traditionally sold their plants face-to-face have embraced mail order as a way of salvaging something from a desperate situation.
It’s a way of gardeners being able to support an industry while continuing to garden. Being able to tend my own plot has been a much-needed relief from the mental stress of the current situation.
While there are many big horticultural companies that have long been selling via mail order, it’s worth hunting out some specialists when looking for online nurseries.
Go to someone who grows a particular range of plants rather than a little of everything, and you will often find something unusual, while the advice they give is borne of long years of growing.
Here are just a few of my favourite online nurseries.
Sited in the former walled kitchen garden on the Binny Estate near Edinburgh, Binny Plants is known for producing high-quality plants in peat-free compost.
They specialise in peonies and unusual perennials, ferns and grasses. Explore their range here
Herbs should be a part of every garden. They are good in the kitchen, many have a medicinal use and they often attract pollinators. Not least, they look good in either a dedicated herb garden or grown among other plants.
The ‘Queen of Herbs’ is Jekka McVicar and her herb farm in South Gloucestershire is selling seeds online. Find out more at the website.
Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants
Husband and wife team, Rob and Rosy Hardy, are well known on the show and plant fair circuit for their wonderful range of top quality herbaceous perennials produced peat-free at their Hampshire nursery.
Again, they have many unusual plants and a stock list that has around 1,200 varieties, including many they have introduced themselves. Mail order is available here.
There’s so much more to pelargoniums than the blousy scarlet blooms beloved of parks departments. At Fibrex Nurseries – holders of the National Collection – there are pelargoniums with flowers in every shade from white through pink to peach.
The nursery in Warwickshire also has plants grown for their scented or variegated foliage and has put together special collections this season. They are available at the website.
Another peat-free producer of perennial plants that I love is Bluebell Cottage based in Cheshire.
More than 700 varieties are stocked at the nursery and many can be seen in the nursery garden, currently closed due to lockdown. Plants range from early season epimedium to late flowering Japanese anemones. Find out more here.
Old Court Nurseries
One of my favourites for autumn colour are the aster family. Old Court Nurseries near Malvern has long specialised in these late season stars and has a great range.
They are holders of the National Collection, which can be seen at the adjacent Picton Garden (currently closed to visitors) and are the experts when it comes to growing Michaelmas Daisies. You can buy here.