Based just south of Tunbridge Wells in Mark Cross, Sussex Country Gardener is a great place to visit all the year round.
I’ve been taking my children for years as it is just down the road and offers good plants, real live guinea pigs to fall in love with, beautiful tanks of tropical fish and a handy cafe as well as heaps of present ideas and endless good quality garden kit. Independently owned for years, it’s a different kind of garden centre.
And Christmas at Sussex Country Gardener is a little bit special.
From mid-November onwards everything moves into a different gear. Christmas in all its guises blankets Sussex Country Gardener in all things kitsch, glittery, cute and cuddly. It’s captivating for children and Christmas affirming for the grinch in some of us. Take someone with you to enjoy all the quirks and revel in some Christmas retailing without having to traipse around endless shops.
There are colour-schemed corners with huge model (impressively life-like) moving animals, a massive Father Christmas (a tad scary when they were all really young) who ‘reads’ stories, trillions (pretty sure) of beautiful decorations all grouped into themed alcoves, a food ‘hall’ crammed with Christmas goodies and countless, endless present ideas spilling from every corner. EVERYTHING Christmas is here. Someone was in buyer’s heaven.
There is a lovely children’s presents area with lots of books, traditional toys and games, plenty of beautiful cards and those irresistible Jellycat toys. So hard to ignore for some weird reason.
Plants (easy to forget it is a garden centre in December) in season are all good quality, the compost and landscaping products now competing with freshly cut Christmas trees and the small pets and fish are another well-kept attraction the children love visiting.
There are also festive events including breakfast with Father Christmas (You have to book, just under £8) and Christmas wreath-making workshops. There is a good Gardener’s cafe serving breakfasts, lunches and teas whilst using local produce in an airy space with good facilities and a big free car-park.
My only complaint, they had run out of chocolate advent calendars …