While a few interesting things have happened on our house this week, I'm starting to think about my poor half-destroyed garden. My new herb bed is filled with broken bricks and tiles, recycled concrete aggregate and planter box mix, and it's just sitting there looking at me, all ready to go...
Well, I thought I'd just see what's out there* in the nurseries up Dural way, which is where you go for interesting nurseries if you live in Sydney, so last Wednesday I spent a chilly (maximum 11 C) grey day by myself doing just that. Here are all my stops, in order:
Flower Power, Glenhaven. Just like the smaller Flower Power nurseries in Sydney: a full range of plants and inoffensive indoor-outdoor decor, but not particularly interesting or inspiring for obsessives -- Enfield is a better place to go. I also became dubious when I spotted Dietes grandiflora and D. bicolor in the 'Native Plants' section -- they are from South Africa. A nice general nursery, but with all the competition up the road, it might be struggling. The cafe was full. I am wondering a little about the "eight themed display gardens" advertised on the website, as I didn't notice them at all!
Hargraves Nurseryland. A well-known family-run nursery, with a delightful layout on a sloping site. Beautifully-tended plants attractively arranged, and a definite nod to the cooler climate of the Hills District in the selections. Browse and enjoy. No cafe -- the big signs saying CAFE out the front refer to the next-door neighbour, but if you have already parked in the nursery parking area there are signs saying Strictly No Exit This Way (as it would block their In driveway), so it was either tramp down the steep hill on foot or continue the journey. Off I went. (Website warning: contains music)
Swane's Nursery. Possibly Sydney's best known nursery, again a family business. Swane's staff will always say hello, even if they're not in customer service. Signs indicate which plants have been "grown by Swane's" (ie, on-site) and note their lower carbon footprint. The retail nursery looks pretty big when you are in it but is only a small part of the Swane's site. I remember walking right down to their dam when I was a child, past plants being readied for sale, but these days there's a gate with a No Admittance sign (when I was a kid it was just obvious we weren't in the retail section). As usual, the rose garden out the front -- guess the Swane's speciality -- is in apple-pie order and there was a vast selection of bare-rooted cultivars for sale. July is our coldest month, the time to plant and prune roses. With few people braving the bleak day, the wrens happily flitted through the garden, chirruping away, just as they always have. It might be the nostalgia factor -- I used to come here regularly with my Dad -- but I find it hard not to buy here. Lunch in the cafe, which used to be their sales office: leaf tea in a plunger (hooray!) and rustic vegetable-and-bacon tart with salad. (Website warning: poorly-organised and buggy)
Dural Garden Centre. All that's visible from the road is pots, because this is also the premises for Pots Online. There is a wholesale nursery at the back and the retail stock I saw was mainly herbs, though there was a greenhouse for shade plants. I was not quite sure whether I was supposed to be in the back section or not, as it had a wholesaler's look but there were prices up on the rows. There were a few herbs officially for sale. It also had a big cafe of the type that doesn't put the prices on the blackboard. I didn't try it, but it looked appetising, and was warm and buzzy despite its size.
Engalls Nursery. The website says they specialise in fruit trees and roses, but I would have said fruit trees: five types of fig alone! And I didn't count the citrus, but it was obvious that much of their land was devoted to it. A small nursery with an impressive array, and I'll be back here next time I want a fruit tree.
Geranium Cottage Nursery and Cafe. Another small specialist nursery which imports new geraniums and pelargoniums from Europe. I admired their display of scented geraniums; I think the full set were there. But the really lovely thing about it was the cafe with the fire in the grate and the Devonshire tea (leaf tea again, hooray!) I had while sitting beside it. I think the local jams, honey and eggs on sale in the old shed are another reason to visit it again, even if I'm not after any geraniums.