Visiting a garden center is a bit of a guilty pleasure for most of us and these days it has become less about going just to shop for gardening items and plants and more about a round experience of browsing the nice gift shop, grabbing a coffee in the cafe and even taking the kids to the play area that many seem to have these days. At Christmas time there is, even more, a lure to spend your weekend at a garden center with the promise of Christmas lights galore, doing some Christmas shopping and grabbing decorations from the extensive array of choices that they often have in their winter wonderland-like Christmas sections. Sometimes if you are really lucky a Christmas trip will be topped off for the kids with a visit to see father Christmas in his grotto. So if you are a big fan of spending your free time this way then have a look at our guide to the 5 best garden centres to visit in the Cotswolds
1. Dobbies, Gloucester
This big garden center used to be owned by Wyevale and has now changed hands to Dobbies. You can expect to find everything you might need for your garden, please a huge gift shop with great Christmas ideas for all of the family including a lovely little toy shop area. They have a section selling Christmas decorations that your little ones will love exploring, full of lights, sounds, and colors, whilst you get everything together and ready for Christmas. Treat yourself to a nice lunch or a coffee in the big coffee shop with a lovely menu and some really good cakes, and let the littlies burn off their energy in the great soft play which isn’t so big that you feel you’re going to lose your child but is a decent size to keep them entertained. The benefit of Dobbies Garden Centre is also its location which is right next to a fabulous aquatics shop that sells an array of beautiful fish and water-loving creatures. Popping in here to have a look around after your trip to the garden center will make for happy kids and in turn happy parents/grandparents!
2. Evesham Country Park
One of our absolute favorite spots to visit is Evesham Country Park. There really is so much going on here that you can have a day out here alone. Firstly pick up all you could ever need in the Garden Centre which is huge and full of plants and flowers for your garden, and very knowledgeable staff to help you with anything you might need. The garden center also has one of the best shops we’ve seen with really lovely Christmas present ideas and an amazing kids’ section with all manner of toys. The cafe within the garden center is really big and is a lovely spot to stop and have a bite to eat or a drink with an outside space too if the sun decides to pop out and say hello. There are plenty of other shops to visit at Evesham Country Park; outdoor clothing type stores, a health food shop, a book/toy shop, and more, plus another one or two lovely-looking cafes. For children, it’s an absolute dream here with a play area in the garden center cafe and to top it off a real-life, working, miniature steam railway. Once your shopping is done head down to the station, buy a ticket, and take a ride on the train, which stops off in the middle at a castle fort designed for the children to play on. During school holidays this place really comes alive with miniature steam train journeys to see father Christmas in his grotto, a magical experience.
3. The Daylesford
The Daylesford has been farming organically for over 35 years, with a simple passion for real food, straight from the farm to your fork. The garden center is absolutely beautifully done with the most gorgeous items that you’ll find around. Christmas shopping here is an absolute delight. There is an amazing cafe selling mouth-watering delights that you must visit if you make a trip here. Aside from the garden centre itself The Daylesford also hosts events such as; Cookery School, Supper Clubs, and Florist Workshops. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on their website for up-and-coming events that might be of interest to you.
4. Burford Garden Company
The lovely Burford Garden Centre is certainly a great spot to come to for Christmas shopping, they pride themselves on loving things that are a little different, well-designed, quirky, original, and individual, meaning you’ll be able to find some fantastic presents for every taste. The Burford Garden Centre offers a unique, curated mixture of plants, gardenia, home decor, furniture, art, clothing, and food that reflects their individual style. As well as the usual goodies you’ll pick up at a garden center you can also visit the Art Gallery and peruse the beautiful works of art on offer once you are feeling creatively inspired then pop on over to the gorgeous cafe which has become a bit of a fixture in the accolades at the annual Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards. Set in a stunning, light-filled glasshouse, the vibrant, welcoming space is very much at the heart of the Burford experience.
5. Fosseway Garden Centre
Situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, the Fosseway Garden Centre is a lovely day out. With everything you could possibly want on sale for your garden, a garden machinery service and repair service, an on-site florist, a lovely restaurant, and an outdoor play area, the whole family will be entertained here. Christmas shopping is a must and there is an abundance of great Christmas events being held here too, including; a Christmas table decoration-making class, gingerbread decorating, reindeer food making, wreath-making masterclass, festive afternoon tea, breakfast with Santa, tea with Santa and Santa’s grotto. Have a browse on their website and book yourself onto one of these festive treats to really get you in the mood for all things Christmas!