Auriculas, Eggleston Hall Gardens, Magnolia stellata, north pennines, scented leaf pelargoniums, Teesdale
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.
It certainly sounds as if you have found a really good place for buying plants, like you I prefer nurseries to garden centres. Our local garden centre is very good, but very pricey and it sells far too much that isn’t connected to gardening at all. My favourite nursery is Long Acre Plants who also do mail order, they are in Somerset and only sell woodland and moisture loving plants!!
Hi Pauline, I’ve heard about Long Acre Plants but never visited. We spend quite a bit of time in the south west so will try to make a trip there at some point. I don’t like garden centres so much because of all the other ‘stuff’ they sell. I know they have to offer customers products throughout the year to be profitable but there is often quite a lot of ‘tat’ on display!
I am so envious. This kind of nursery doesn’t exist in this part of Italy and most plant fairs, even of national quality remind me more of a few stands at a poor village fete. Enjoy!
Hi Christina, Are the Italians into gardening? I remember seeing a Monty Don programme when he was touring Italian gardens and he visited a small nursery in a town in the north and he was asking the owner about why there were so few nurseries. He said he thought it was because people were always working and had no time for growing any more. A couple of years ago we were in the Bergamo/Monza area and spotted a few garden centres but never had time to take a look.
Donna@Gardens Eye View said:
What a wonderful place and I can see how hard it would be to use restraint…none of that…you made some wonderful purchases and your lovely pond will be in bloom before you know it.
Hi Donna, I’m really pleased with the plants especially those around the pond. It doesn’t look quite so new and bare now. Hopefully some local frogs will discover it soon and help keep my slug population down.
The Green Lady said:
Lovely what a haul! Since we don’t have a car I never go to garden centres and we have some nice ones near here. It is just as well because I don’t have the money to spend in them and I would want to buy everything! Funny, I just mentioned Magnolia Stellata in my post about magnolias. Enjoy!
Hi Green Lady, I don’t drive or have a car either, so when Wellyman is around it’s always good to use the opportunity to seek out somewhere like Eggleston. That’s my plant buying for the year. Anything else will have to be grown from seed. The Magnolia is only small but there are two flowers on it and they are beautiful, looking forward to seeing it next year.
I see a lathyrus vernus sneaked its way into that box too WW 🙂 Will look out for Eggleston Hall if we are ever that way. We are lucky to have Bluebell Cottage Gardens nursery almost on the doorstep. I also believe in that adage of buying plants grown in the north and have ordered from Elizabeth MacGregor Nursery in Kirkcudbright a few times, always with satisfaction. Last but not least we have a local Country Market (formerly WI market) which is a great source for buying plants.
Hi Anna, Well spotted. How bad is that? I bought so many plants I forgot to name one of them. I can heartily recommend a visit there. The area around is very beautiful too. Will have a look at Bluebell Cottage Gardens. We’re often here, there and everywhere so it’s nice to now there is somewhere to stop off for a nosey around.
I can see why you like visiting Eggleston Hall, nothing like that around here! We have a tiny little place that we visit in May/June, they stock interesting perennials and grasses that you don’t get in garden centres. Your pond is looking fabulous!
Hi Karen, Thanks for the compliment about my pond, I’m really chuffed with it, now I just want some wildlife to find it. I think I’ll have to be patient on that one. Eggleston is a real gem, it’s just a shame I live several hundred miles from it. It’s a shame there aren’t more places like it but I think they find it hard to compete with the big boys. Fortunately for Eggleston it is in quite a rural place with no competition from the big chains.
There are no real nurseries here, of that kind, just places that sell on plants they’ve bought wholesale. It may be a good thing, though, because I spend enough on plants as it is – heaven knows how much I’d buy if I had an Eggleston Hall to visit.
Hi Lyn, I have learnt some restraint. I can generally go to places now and come away without a plant purchase. I have realised my garden can only take so many plants!!
We dont have any nurseries around here only very pricey garden centres so I buy alot of my plants on ebay and so far have done very well really. You can get some really good bargains admittedly you cant see them before you buy but if I were to go to a nursery I would be bankrupt in no time I cant resist and I have just got to buy.
Hi Gaynor, I’ve never bought anyplants on ebay. I’ve only just started to use mail order. I always prefer to see the plant I’m buying first. I haven’t had any problems with mail order plants though so I’m coming round to it as an option.