I’ve done two posts about garden centres before. The first one is now quite old, but remains consistently in the most-visited top ten, and the more recent follow-up, is also very popular. So, for this post, off Battleaxe goes again, finding yet more new places to visit and enjoy.
It was my birthday on Tuesday. In the evening I went to the Hastings Lifeboat House followed by a fish and chip supper with the WI. That’s another story – sounds a strange thing to do on your birthday but we had a really good time. So, Philosopher and I had a daytime outing, wisteria hunting (see below).
We went over to Cripps Corner, between Sedlescombe and Bodiam, to Ed’s Nursery and the Staplecross Shrub Centre.
Ed’s Nursery is a very traditional place – lots of interesting-looking plants, and a knowledgable, elderly lady tending them. Plants looked healthy and prices were very reasonable. I bought a yellow crocosmia but didn’t take any photos. No website either.
Over the road, the Staplecross Shrub Centre. Wow, what a truly bonkers, interesting place. It is a big site, with big old trees all round. There is an old railway carriage that has been converted into a café – we had a coffee there – and the headquarters of the Hastings Tramway Club. They have the only two remaining Hastings trams, currently under restoration, and a miniature tram running along little rails. We met a nice man and told him we’d go back and look at his trams, but got so carried away with our wisteria we didn’t visit him again. We will, honestly, promise!
|Railway carriage cafe|
|Old Hastings tram|
In addition to the trams they had this vintage bus – apparently heading to West Hampstead – with its attendant roundabout, and various other strange things….
The plants – mostly shrubs and climbers – were looking a tiny bit tired but it is not the best time of year and it has been very dry. However, they had a very good selection.
Joy of joys, they had some enormous wisterias. We are currently creating a pergola in the back garden, and we wanted a wisteria to grow on it. Wisteria is very slow growing, so we needed the biggest one we could afford. Otherwise, we’d be dead before we had a good show of flowers. We found an absolute whopper, so big it would only just fit in the car, for a mere £27.99. The woman we spoke to – who had hair redder than mine – was very knowledgable.and friendly.
I also got a blue clematis. We had a lovely one on the back fence but when the hedge cutting man came, unfortunately it somehow lost most of its stems, cut off at the roots. The new one should supplement the remains of the old one.
Yes, the place is bonkers, but Battleaxe would recommend Staplecross Shrubs – combined with a call into Ed’s, it makes a good trip out. You can have lunch in the railway carriage too, or even brave Blackbrooks on the way back to Hastings.
On Friday, I set off in the other direction with some WI folk, to Marchant’s Hardy Plants, off the A22, in Laughton, on the Lewes Road. It was a lovely sunny day. I had no clue what to expect, but when we arrived, I was absolutely bowled over. They have a fabulous garden with views over the South Downs. The nursery specialises in grasses – elegant seed heads waved in the breeze, surrounded by blocks of colour. Many of the plants were really unusual – we spent ages peering and speculating.
Then, joy of joys, back to the plant centre and they actually had, available for sale, the plants that we saw in the garden. That might sound obvious but so often you visit gardens and go to the plant centre to find a boring generic selection.
The plants looked lovely and healthy and prices were very reasonable. Graham Gough, a former classical singer who runs the place is charming….. what more can I say? Marchant’s is totally excellent and Battleaxe would one hundred percent recommend a visit. It has loos, but only downside, no café….. we had to return to Wyevale on the A22 for our lunch.
Wvevale itself is a high quality garden centre- bigger and better than the one in Hastings – and the café is very good. So, that’s another ideal outing – coffee at Wyevale, on to Marchant’s, lunch at Wyevale plus browsing for garden basics.
So, all good.
Another thing I’ve done this week that I feel pleased about: sanding down and re-waxing our 1960s Ercol elm dining table. We’ve had it for 17 years – got it in Birmingham off Ebay, and the guy we bought it from said it needed resurfacing then…… We never did it, and over the years it had grown somewhat sticky and nearly black in places. You could hardly see the beautiful grain of the wood.
Here it is, sanded down, and after four coats of Ercol wax.
Philosopher has been working on the pergola. Here it is, finished. He also made that mosaic picture, by the way. The walls are a brick built barbeque, built by the previous owners of this house. For the past five years we have been looking at the gloomy little area and not doing much with it, but then inspiration struck. You can see the new wisteria on the left, already at the top of the structure, and beginning to curve over. In a while I’ll move those pots and we’ll install some seating. Excellent.