Retail therapy in the middle of January buying gorgeous gifts for myself? How did I manage that?
Back in September my friend bought me a gift voucher for the lovely Morgans Garden Centre in Carlow and I’d popped it in my handbag.
Initially I thought I’d save it for spring seeds, but today I’m having a bit of a low day and remembered that I’d slipped it in there…
Walking around a garden centre, spending money and buying treats is usually guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. It also has the beneficial bonus of igniting the gardening mojo (which is probably a healthier form of therapy than the retail version but hey, there was a voucher burning a hole).
So on this melancholic day I spoilt myself with products I usually just gaze at – a fushia Kneelo kneeling pad, a Burgon & Ball herb rack and a beautifully perfumed verbena and lavender soap to wash the veggie garden mud away.
I find it virtually impossible to walk into a garden centre without purchasing anything practical so today it was a bag of seedling compost and plant labels. I’m now heading outside to pull a few weeds and make a few seedling pots in the hope that it will heal my low-spirit.
If anybody is uncertain as to whether a gift of vouchers might be a little unimaginative, this girl for one just adores receiving them, and in particular saving them for days like today.
We all love the bargains offered by the discount stores but you can’t beat the garden centres for expertise, variety and love of their plants and products.
I visited two of my favourite Carlow garden centres today on the way home from the CEB network lunch. I try not to favour any one business when I tell fellow grow your own’rs about the availability of products however I’m a great believer of shopping locally where possible and supporting local businesses – particularly now when they need all the support they can get.
Therefore I’m raving about Morgans Garden Centre. When I walked through the doors I was met by a lovely Grow Your Own stand from Burgon and Ball (a UK company so not local) but beautiful products at reasonable prices. I bought a jam and sugar thermometer to help me with my so far disastrous efforts at making strawberry jam. An early purchase but you can never find one when you want one. Ian has fallen in love with this tool and tuck box above.
Morgan’s also have a great range of vegetable seeds and composts. While I was there I had a really informative chat with Bernie, their expert horticulturist about planting hanging baskets before moving onto my second garden centre of the afternoon – Arboretum Lifestyle & Garden Centre.
On a much larger scale than Morgans, Arboretum are on my own doorstep and are really getting into the grow your own market. As well as stocking vegetable plants of all descriptions and associated products too (I picked up an instant mini pH tester from them today) they’ve just opened up a vegetable garden, which is being run in conjunction with the Sue Nunn Show on KCLR.
The raised beds are all fully planted and the converted area also houses a chicken enclosure. Ger and Eamon are on hand to give out expert advice (both have their own vegetable gardens – Ger grows organic vegetables and Eamon has an enormous designer vegetable garden.
I couldn’t talk about my favourite garden supply shops without mentioning Highbank Organic Orchards. They’re slightly further afield at Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny however well worth the trip for organic growers. The Organic Farm Shop has a great range of very reasonable priced products – from potatoes to green manures, organic slug pellets and insecticidal soap. They also sell horticultural fleece, wind fabric and weed membrane by the roll or by the metre and are the cheapest I’ve found to date. And it’s impossible to leave without buying a bottle of Julie’s delicious organic apple juice.
Keep up the great work guys… the more great products that are easily available locally, the more people are likely to get growing!
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