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9 gorgeous garden centres with cafes

Pick up a slice of cake along with some plants at these bloomin’ brilliant garden centres where the cappuccinos look as good as the chrysanths

The Barn, Colchester

Run by husband and wife team Richard and Rachel, this cool garden centre cafe is so popular it’s advisable to book. People drive from all around to enjoy an afternoon tea in the barn, which looks bit like a wedding venue with its white chairs, wood beams and rattan lampshades. The gardening section’s packed full of inspiring displays and the shop has lots of covetable clothes, toys and homewares. It’s basically an afternoon out. 

Altons Garden Centre, Wickford

This place has been running for more than 50 years and is huge so be warned, you might just be popping in for some bedding plants but it’s easy to come away with a new barbecue, patio furniture, water feature, books and even a pet. Digbys, its popular cafe, is well-known locally for serving the best breakfast and brunches – meat and vegetables are locally sourced and there’s an outside area to enjoy too. 

Fillpots, Boxted

Have your cake and eat it at Fillpots, a family-run garden centre near Dedham Vale where the cafe serves up local produce and is open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea (best enjoyed in the outside garden). And when it comes to transforming your own garden, this place has a brilliant range of pots to choose from.

Hilltop Garden Centre, Weeley

‘More than just a garden centre’ is their marketing blurb and we concur, because there’s loads more on offer than picking some plants; think pets, homeware, gifts and outdoor furniture. Floral Days cafe’s very cool, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows and a living roof, with plants hanging down – not what you expect from your average garden centre eaterie. A decent kids’s menu, great cake, mouth-watering brunch and pretty terrace make this a great mid-shop pit stop.

Perrywood, Tiptree

It’s all about afternoon tea at Perrywood, where chefs whip up a very impressive selection of tasty treats including scones with local Tiptree jams and finger sandwiches – add a bottle of Prosecco for £6.99! There’s also a tempting selection of homewares and gifts alongside acres of plants. Warning: if you take the kids it’s hard to get them away from the toadstools and cuddly toys in the gift shop, though the garden tools for toddlers are hard to resist snapping up.

Parkers Garden Company, Frinton-on-Sea

Love this place, with its food hall stocked with yummy local produce, like freshly baked bread and Tiptree chutneys, and loads of thoughtfully curated plants, gifts, clothes and homewares. Not forgetting a top notch cafe serving delicious cakes and a lunch menu featuring hearty mains like fish and chips or Mediterranean veggie lasagne in a tranquil setting. 

Riverside Nursery, Hockley

The Garden Room is the cosy restaurant at this popular nursery and it gets glowing reviews on TripAdvisor for good reason – the Full English breakfast is definitely worth getting up for at the weekend. Lunch is pretty spesh too, sausage and mash or a garden room burger hits the spot after a morning wandering around the indoor and outdoor plants, pots, furniture, children’s section and gifts. 

Summerhill Garden Centre, Billericay

L’Oliveta restaurant is a destination in its own right, with handmade pizza, pasta and lasagne on the menu in an airy, light garden room. Also consider the afternoon tea, which includes delicious macrons, fruit scones and perhaps a cheeky glass of Prosecco too. This place also has some stunning garden furniture to peruse alongside all the lovely plants. 

Beth Chatto, Elmstead Market

Probably the best garden centre with a cafe in Essex, even though it’s not actually a garden centre – technically it’s a nursery with gorgeous grounds attached which you can pay to view. You’re not going to find discount furniture and pets, it’s all about specialist plants and gardeners flock here from all over the country to pick up grasses and shrubs. Attached to the nursery is a delightful gift shop and a tearoom where Muddy has happy memories of taking toddlers for finger-licking good pieces of Victoria sponge cake before letting them loose on the immaculate lawns.

2 comments on “9 gorgeous garden centres with cafes”

  • edinchief June 1, 2022

    Hi Gary, thanks for this, am going to take a look!

  • Gary Hyams May 29, 2022

    I think the British Garden Centre in Braintree is the best garden centre In Essex


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