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My favourite local nurseries

Our gardening columnist Sue Tallents encourages us all to get planting for the 2012...

There are a number of garden centres in the Cheltenham area that are popular, well stocked, and manned by helpful staff. However I love to use the privately owned local nurseries which grow their own stock, and have really knowledgeable staff on hand to answer your queries.

Most of them are gearing up for the season in February and March, so they will be bursting with trees, shrubs and perennials ready for planting. Some are set in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside and a trip to pick up plants can be combined with a pub lunch or country walk.

One of my all-time favourites is Hoo House Nursery just off the A38 between Tewkesbury and Coombe Hill. The owner, Julie Ritchie, specialises in alpines plus unusual and easy perennials most of which are grown on site in peatfree compost. Over 900 varieties are on offer, the majority of which are available at the beginning of May. There is a full plant list on-line with advice on planting and maintenance and Julie is usually on hand to give advice to visitors.

The nursery with the most beautiful setting has to be Miserden Nurseries, set in the old walled garden of Miserden Park up in the Cotswolds. The owners, David and Philippa Robb, restored the old glasshouses and cold frames about 20 years ago. They have a great selection of perennials along with shrubs, climbers and roses. The nursery opens again on March 17 and thereafter from Tuesday to Sunday 10-5 until July, from when it will be closed on Sundays. The gardens of the main house are open to the public from April to September and there are lovely walks to be had through the Park.

Gotherington Nurseries is just outside Gotherington village on the road to Gretton. The owners,Mark and Liz, started it 20 years ago and propagate much of their plant material themselves. You are greeted at the entrance by a display of the best looking plants for the season, arranged to make a harmonious combination. There is always a good stock of annual bedding for containers, many in single colour modules so you can pick and choose to create a special colour combination. Outside there are herbs, perennials, shrubs, trees and climbers. Inside there is an array of gardening sundries, bird food and at this time of year about 15 varieties of potatoes plus seeds for the vegetable and ornamental garden.

Mark and Liz also own Toddington Garden Centre on the Broadway Road out of Winchcombe which has a wider variety of products, including some non-garden products such as greetings cards, pot plants and gifts. There is a very wide selection of Suttons and Thompson & Morgan seeds, and also a good variety of trees, shrubs, perennials and bedding, some of which is propagated at Gotherington.

There are two family-run nurseries easily accessible from Cheltenham along the A46 to Painswick just beyond Shurdington. Open every day, Dawn Nurseries always has a great selection of annuals, hardy plants, Ferns, Maples, and indoor pot plants such as Orchids, but its collection of containers is hard to beat – there is a huge variety of
shapes, styles and sizes.

Shurdington Nurseries, run by the Shackell family, is great for the DIY gardener, as they have loose topsoil, compost turf etc available, and delivery can be quickly arranged. There is an excellent selection of shrubs trees and perennials and there is always someone on hand to give
you advice.

I hope this has inspired you to get planning for the 2012 season – February is not too early to start planting, as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Happy hunting!