Centres, Garden


For pensioners, garden centres are the equivalent of drop-in clubs for delinquents and there is a growing body of opinion seeking to bar entry to anyone under 65.

Although some garden centres still stock plants and shrubs, most now concentrate on candles, chutney, books on rural buses, doormats and candles, and an increasing number also have a pet department where you can buy rabbits, slugs, red lily beetles and snakes for indoors and out.

All garden centres now have a café or restaurant the size of a small African republic and these invariably feature 38 different types of coffee, a choice of gluten-free flapjacks, wood-fired pizza ovens and a decorative vat of coleslaw.

From August onwards, garden centres specialise in Christmas decorations and many have Father Christmas grottos where pensioners can sit on a live reindeer and receive a special gift, such as a small trowel, a very small packet of carrot seeds or an infinitely small poinsettia.

In line with current health advice for pensioners, very few garden centres now sell Nicotiana (tobacco plant), Beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) or Cotinus (commonly known as the smoke bush) – though some offer opium poppies and cannabis plants in their medicinal herbs and natural apothecary section.