While in the Lakes as we drove to the gardens of Brantwood we noticed a sign to Halecat. This rang a bell loudly for us, as we had intended to seek this lovely nursery out. Halecat is an independent nursery where the owners Tom and Abi grow most of their plants from seed. We had invited Tom to come to our Shropshire Hardy Plant Group to talk to us about getting the nursery established. He brought along an amazing selection of plants for sale. So having seen the sign we planned to visit a few days later.
Halecat Nursery was rescued from dereliction by Tom and Abi. They took on an old nursery that had been closed for years and slowly the woods that surround it had encroached into the site itself. Years of hard work and dedication has returned it to a working nursery.
We followed that sign down lanes that got narrower and narrower but soon found the nursery entrance. It looked like no other nursery we had ever seen before. Blackboards were full of information, informing the visitor what was in season now, what the nursery staff were up to and any nursery news. Unusual containers were full of equally interesting plants. A large sign invited you to the self serve cafe where you made your own drinks and put your money in an honesty box. It was all very friendly and inviting. We were pleased to notice that the nursery had won a Gold Medal and Best in Show award at the recent Holker Hall Garden Festival.
When we arrived owners Tom and Abi were busy in one of the polytunnels potting on seedlings. A large bell was hanging outside the office for customers to ring when they wanted help or wished to be served. When it rang either Tom, Abi or one of their employees soon arrived on the scene.
Looking over the site we could see that the many raised sale areas were intermingled with display gardens. It had a very lively look about it. Several prospective purchasers wandered around the gravel paths. Plants were labeled with all the information a gardener could want to know, the plants soil requirements, aspect etc as well as an accurate description of the plants. We found many plants we had never come across before so these labels were most useful.
Our visit emphasised how much better these independent nurseries are for the real gardener compared to the modern chain garden centres. Here at Halecat there were no gifts, no pet food, no clothing sections and no outlet shops. So refreshing! And above all the staff know about plants and gardening.
As you must have guessed, we didn’t come away empty handed. We found room in the car for a few special plants. The temptation was simply too great!
We came away with Polygonum , Nepeta s, Pentstemen, a tiny Iris sibirica and an alpine Aquilegia