Saturday, July 31, 2010

The UK Files - The Garden Centre

Since my aunt is so into gardening, it was inevitable that one of the first places she took us to was the neighbourhood Garden Centre. I'd never seen anything even remotely like this, and so my mouth fell open and my jaw hung down all through my first visit.

A garden centre differs from a nursery in that a nursery actually grows the plants and nurses them until they are fit to be sold, but a garden centre usually just sources the plants from such nurseries. A garden centre is much, much more than a nursery. It has everything you can imagine that has to do with a garden. And as many things that I couldn't even imagine.

It has plants, of course, and saplings, and trees, and seeds, and compost, and soil and pots and watering cans, fertilizers and pesticides and everything to do with plants. It then has gardening tools, rakes, and gardening gloves and lawnmowers and knee-pads and hats to keep away the sun (heh). Well, alright.

But then, it has garden furniture. And barbecue grills, and chairs and picnic mats and picnic baskets and picnic cutlery and stuff. And it has tea things, tea leaves, tea cups, doilies, tea-cosies, and varieties of biscuits to go with it.

It has landscaping instruments and garden ornaments and door-stops and stuffed toys and marble busts and things. And it has sheds and greenhouses and conservatories and frost-protection devices. It even has a whole section for wild bird feed. And it even has a pet shop and an aquarium in the same campus.

And they have very helpful people who give you valuable advice as well. And I'm just getting warmed up.

I think that if you want to study a people, you should visit their Garden Centre. That should give you, to use an English understatement, a fair idea of the people.

While my head was whirling with all this, Puttachi's jaw was dropping at something totally different. They have a few trolleys with toy cars attached to them. (Something like this) So the adult pushes the trolley, and the child sits in the car pretending to drive it.

For every visit after that, my job at the garden centre was to push around an empty trolley with Puttachi turning the steering wheel for all she was worth and honking away at passerbys. Old people stopped and smiled and said to me, "I hope your daughter has a license, dear," and all the while, Puttachi was deep in ecstasy.

We spent money taking her to what we thought were interesting places, the zoo, lambing at a farm, the merry-go-round at the town centre, but her favourite part of UK was the free car-trolley at the garden centre. Every morning, she would get up and say, "Shall we go to the garden centre today?"

Even yesterday, she asked me when we could go to England again, as she wanted to ride in the car trolley.

It breaks my heart that I couldn't take a picture of her in it.

Speaking of gardens, there is a very interesting concept known as NGS - Gardens Open for Charity. Every year, fair-sized private gardens open their gates to the public for a fee, the proceeds of which goes to charity. My aunt, Puttachi and I visited one such open garden. It was beautiful, attached to an imposing old house, with "grounds" all around, and fabulous views of the countryside. This one house brought to my mind all the settings of Jane Austen and such English novels. The batteries of my camera died here, and I didn't have spare ones on me, so no snaps :(

The plants were labelled well, and the landscaping was excellently done. The brochure had also promised us a walk in the woods next to the house - a Bluebell walk amid birch and ash trees, but though it wasn't exactly overflowing with bluebells, we could see some pretty ones here and there. The woods were lovely, dark and deep (Thank you, Frost), and it was fun walking in them. I almost expected Little Red Riding Hood to emerge from behind the nearest tree, because it was exactly as I had imagined Red Riding Hood's woods. (Or perhaps seen it illustrated somewhere). I also saw holly for the first time. I've seen pictures and have even drawn those distinctive holly leaves dozens of times, and finally, I saw it for real.

As usual, Puttachi was very cooperative, and sustaining her on Peppa Pig and Jammy Dodgers, we finished the walk and got back.

A wonderful concept, and perfect for garden-lovers.

Next: Lambing


hAAthi said...

for such a cold and dreary country that england is made out to be, i have always wondered at how green it can get!

Mangala said...

It's restful and lovely even to just read about it :)

Anonymous said...

You can find those trolleys on Sarjapur Road at the Spencer's or the Total Mall :)

Bhargavi Sameeran said...

When I was moving to UK last yr , I had my own apprehsnions like hAAthi , the first commentor does .. but its beautiful in springs and summers ..Good you and puttachi had such good fun ...

sandhya said...

Made me remember Manderlay from Rebecca. And also the tours of famous gardens that Miss Marple went on in Agatha Christie books.
And the country is so green because it keeps raining most days, but the rain is not like our monsoons, but like a sprinkler in a lawn put to keep it green.

mumbai paused said...

Bangalore had/has many farms that have nurseries that provide such spalings, etc. In fact there was one large nursery on New BEL Road down the road from MS Ramiah.

Shruthi said...

hAAthi, cold and dreary yes, in winter. But you forget the non-stop rain! No way it can't be green!

Mangala, you bet!

Anon, thanks a ton. I was positive someone would tell me where it is available in Bangalore :)

Bhargavi, you must have experienced one winter there? How was it?
Oh yes, we had a lovely time.

Sandhya, perfect description. A year long sprinkler.

Mumbai paused, yes, it still does have many nurseries... many near Lalbagh, a good one inside Lalbagh...

monisha mehta said...

hey , nice blog , like it ,
won't be nice if i u can clickover to my blog page too ,
& post some suggestion

praneshachar said...

amazing you have given a feast to read the way you have penned it is superb and I felt as though I was there. gr8 post I love gardens and just like it very much.

Manish'sMom said...

The gardens are to die for! And almost all the historical houses and private houses that are open to the public offer wonderful "walks"! Just that concept of "walks" is so unique! And I just wanted to buy every single piece of garden furniture in sight! they were so beautiful! Alas! The pocket does not support such fanciful ideas! :))))))))))))

Shyam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shyam said...

What I like best is that, even in the depths of the coldest, dullest, darkest winters, the countryside is still so amazingly green! For me, that's a fair substitute for the short-lived sunshine.

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