I use garden centres occasionally, I’m lucky to live near a good family owned place which is perfect for all the garden essentials but when it comes to buying plants you can’t beat a good plant nursery. Eggleston Hall Gardens in one of the best I’ve been to and believe me I’ve been to a few. Situated in the North Pennines of Teesdale, not far from Barnard Castle it is a gem of a place. We discovered it a couple of years ago whilst visiting family nearby. It has now become an annual pilgrimage and I don’t think we’ve ever left empty handed.
We made a trip there this weekend with the vague idea that I wanted a few plants to go around the new pond. It’s never really a good idea to go somewhere like Eggleston with just a vague idea, certainly not for the credit card anyway.
The plant nursery consists of over half an acre housed within the old walled of the nearby Eggleston Hall. Attached are over 4 acres of gardens which form the shop front for the nursery, giving visitors the opportunity to see plants growing in a garden setting. There’s a wide selection of plants available from trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials to alpines, climbers and grasses. You could easily stock a whole garden from the plants on offer and with a glasshouse packed full of auriculas and restored Victorian glasshouses housing hostas and pelargoniums, this is plant heaven. Everything is so well cared for, unlike the forlorn specimens you so often see at DIY stores and much better value compared to those plants on offer at my local garden centres. The other advantage of growing plants raised here is they’re hardy fellows. If a plant can survive the Teesdale winters it will pretty much cope with anything.
I am very much like a child in a sweet shop when presented with this many gorgeous plants to choose from. I try to be restrained, remembering my garden is already groaning with plants but sometimes the temptation is just too much. I came away with a marsh marigold, 2 white Primula denticulata (drumstick Primulas) and a Geum rivale album to go around the pond, a couple of white wood anemones, well I’ve seen so many recently on my woodland walks I felt I should have some in the garden and a big clump of cowslips which I’ll divide once it has finished flowering.
In recent years I’ve become a big fan of scented leaved pelargoniums but have found them really hard to find. I did pick one up last year from a garden centre but it had one of those frustrating plant labels that just said it was a scented leaf pelargonium, no varietal name, nothing. It has the prettiest, tiny white flowers which I managed to take cuttings from and overwinter them and lovely fragrant leaves. One of my quests for this year was to acquire at least one more scented leaf pelargonium and one of those on my list was ‘Attar of Roses’, which they had sat on a bench in the glasshouse at Eggleston, so that went onto the trolley, too.
Another group of plants I’ve only really started to like in the last couple of years is auriculas. It’s funny how your taste for plants changes, I used to think they looked to strange, a bit fake even but I love them now. Eggleston has a great selection and I chose 2 with deep rich velvety flowers which I’ll plant up into old terracotta pots.
And finally, possibly the cheekiest purchase of the day, and this was Wellyman’s idea, was a Magnolia stellata. We have no space for a Magnolia and we’ve often said how frustrating they are because one frost and all those much anticipated blooms are wiped out, turned brown and mushy. They are beautiful plants however, and whilst I was trying to be restrained with my plant buying Wellyman came to find me saying he had found a real bargain, a small but perfectly formed Magnolia for £7.50. It was just to good to resist. Stellatas are perfect for growing in containers and growing a Magnolia this way will mean we can protect the blooms from frost with a cover of fleece.
I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Eggleston Hall, with a wander around the gardens and tea and cake in the nearby cafe what more could a gardener ask for? Just don’t buy so many plants that you don’t then have any room in the boot for your luggage like we did. We managed to squeeze everything onto the back seat, but only just. Good job we didn’t buy that Ribes as well!
For more information about Eggleston Hall Gardens.
Where do you like to buy your plants, have you got a gem of a plant nursey nearby or one you’ve come across on your travels? I’d love to hear from you.