I went to the National Herb Centre near Banbury the other day. It’s not too far from here and I wanted to pick up some white or pink flowered lavender and look for a statue for a small niche in the garden. I didn’t really think of it as a bloggable outing (when do I ever? Must work on that) but then an old work colleague asked me about it on Facebook and I realised I could quickly blog a review. So here goes…
National Herb Centre is really just a very good herb nursery/garden centre. First, the plants – I’ve been on several occasions and they always have a wide selection of herbs, in the broadest sense of the word, with lots of unusual ones. There’s a comprehensive plant list on their website to give you a good idea of the variety. This time I was particularly looking for some white or pink flowered lavender for the new courtyard garden (blog post coming up once it looks more established). I was spoilt for choice and came away with 6 Lodden Pinks which will go in some large terracotta pots, once I’ve grown them on for a year or two.
I had bribed my daughter to come with me, with a promise of lunch – there’s a lovely cafe/restaurant there. Actually, I think they call it a Bistro. This is where it would be good if I planned ahead with this blogging malarky because I could have some pics of our yummy food. But as it is, you’ll just have to believe that it was scrumptious. I had a vege burger with lime yoghurt and some hot hot hot salsa, and Maddie had a beef burger. Both with a good portion of salad and some really chunky potato wedges. Recommended.
Another attraction of this place is the display gardens – there are 6 equally sized herb gardens. As ever with this kind of place, a bit more maintenance wouldn’t go amiss, but remember, it’s basically a shop and nursery, not a display garden on a par with the RHS. They’re a little old fashioned for my taste – but then most herb gardens are as it’s a very traditional way of doing things. Again, could have taken more pictures – will try and do this when I go again, but that could be a while. There are just these 2 pics, one with my daughter imitating the roman-esque statue:
There’s also nature trails, but I’ve never taken the time to explore these, so can’t comment. I imagine they’re pretty idyllic as it’s a great setting with views across the three counties of Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. I think it’s in Warwickshire, but I couldn’t be sure. But I did take a photo of the view, with my daughter in it!
Then there’s the shop part. Outdoors (as well as the plants) there’s a small selection of statues – some rather twee, but I guess there’s a market. Anyway, I bought this Buddha for my garden. He’s in a small niche created by an overgrown gate between the woodland path and the naked garden. More hidden away than this image suggests – sort of laughing quietly in the hedgerow. The plinth he’s sat on is recycled floor tiles from my son’s house.
They also have some very good value, large chunky garden furniture. This would be great in our garden as it’s in scale – not so good for a smaller plot.
Finally, just a little about inside the shop – the usual garden centre tat, but not too much of it. I meant to pick up a lovely blue heart pendant, but forgot – and excuse to go back. Also, some lovely cards, Sativa bags and nice smellies.
So, a lovely day out and shopping experience for the plant-aholic who will spend hours amongst the plants. And a great way to spend a few hours on a sunny summer day, for almost everyone.