Posted: 30/03/2013 at 09:18
Like others on here I don't really have a choice. I do not drive. We have a family car but my OH loathes GCs (well shopping at all really....supermarket shopping is about his limit tbh) and will chose routes that avoid GCs...sounds worse than he is achully he's generally a sweetie and has done a lot of structural work for me in the garden. He's taken me before but he's so impatient it's not worth it...
I go to GCs with family members sometimes, but obviously as I'm being taken I am not at liberty to request particular nurseries...my sisters in particular choose GCs on the basis of the standard of their restaurants. Most of these tend to be humungous 'lifestyle centres' where plants and gardening products form a tiny percentage of the merchandise. I know that these places have to attract as many people as possible to compete in the marketplace, but that is scant comfort when one is looking for a particular plant.
These huge GCs seem to offer a pretty limited number of (often poorly cared for) plants. Occasionally I will purchase something that I know that I can't grow from seed, but on the whole I prefer to wait until I can get along to garden shows in the spring and summer. A local company puts on a coach and it means that I have access to many specialist nurseries in one place, I can usually see what the plants are going to look like (in theory) often the growers are around to chat to and generally the prices are not bad.
Seeds I do buy online, and I have had excellent service from companies like Nicky's Nurseries, Chiltern Seeds, D T Browns and Nuts n'Cones amongst others. Quality Control has been excellent and on the rare occasion that I've encountered problems the customer service has been prompt and effective.