Not Mulch Going On

Charlotte is gearing up to get gardening next year – and sensibly is preparing the soil now. She asks:

“I’m in the process of doing my garden from scratch (it’s currently an overgrown mess). A friend who knows about these things tells me that you get better value and quality if you steer clear of B&Q etc.

So wondered if anyone had any recommendations regarding getting hold of topsoil/organic matter in the area. And also good plant nurseries – presuming there must be a few not too far away what with Kent being the garden of England and all that. Ideally places that would deliver as I don’t have a car…”

The Phantom is a bit depressed at the choice of gardening-y type stuff round here. In my fantasy world, that huge derelict site in Charlton behind ASDA (the one with the big walls around it and the fancy entrance) would be turned into a fabulous walk-round herbery with funky garden centre attached – a sort of park and store combined. In real life we’ve got – well – B&Q.

I agree – B&Q is just a big old shed that sells small things in plastic packets-of-three-when-you-only-need-one at expensive prices. Its only plus is convenience, but most DIY things can be sourced elsewhere – Ken was reminding me about the joys of Screwfix the other day, and I favour Standard DIY at Blackheath Royal Standard – but neither of them do plants in any great number or quality.

Soil first. The one place that we SHOULD be able to get good compost from is Greenwich Council – after all, the stuff they make is the contents of our organic recycling bins. But I understand they only sell it to commercial buyers. To be honest, I really don’t know anywhere in Greenwich other than B&Q – though some builders merchants may do it, if you don’t mind a couple of hundredweight turning up on your doorstep.

Might be worth asking at Mudchute Farm if they sell manure, but I suspect the problem might be with delivery.

If you have to go for a ‘shed’ I’d recommend Homebase at Kidbrooke rather than B&Q – there’s a better selection of plants and a much better selection of pots, but the choice is poor if you’re trying to avoid peat. Actually, everywhere round here is poor if you’re trying to get peat-free (I loathe the stuff but feel guilty about not using it).

Plants – The only place I can think of in the centre of Greenwich is the lovely, lovely florist at the bottom of Royal Hill – but beautiful though their plants are, you’ll be bankrupted if you try to fill a garden with them. Ditto Hortus in Blackheath and the funky stalls just inside the market.

Phoebe’s in between Eltham and Lewisham appears to have closed, and Ruxley Manor, though humongous, is inaccessible without a car – and a good map.

Which really leaves you with mail order. I haven’t had a flawless experience with Crocus – indeed, I boycotted them for an entire year after having a very poor experience with their customer services department, but they do do good quality plants (on the whole…) and their gift plants are always very good, so I’m grudgingly back with them.

I wish I could be of more help – and I’ll be watching the replies today with an especially beady eye – I could do with some new horticultural places to visit…

One Comment to “Not Mulch Going On”

  1. Erkat says:

    Thompsons on Shooters Hill is a nice little garden centre. The plants tend to be in better condition than Ruxley Manor and cheaper and they also have very good xmas trees at good prices as well. Also Thompsons is much easier to get to on a bus.