“ City: Mersea Island / Shopping Type: Garden Centre „
Situated on the Island of Mersea near Colchester in Essex is Jarmans's East Mersea Plant Nursery - this is a treasure trove, if like me you are a plant lover and like to support independent growers. Travelling to East Mersea and Mersea Island in general is a wonderful day out as well, as there is the romance and excitement created by the tidal approach road known as "The Strood", which can at times leaves the islanders to themselves for a couple of hours when the tide is high.
The nursery is approached via the B1025 Colchester Road and after crossing The Strood, you take the left turn to East Mersea where the nursery is to be found about 2 miles along the left hand side. There is ample parking and the summer opening times are 9.30am - 5pm (Sunday - 10am - 4pm) and winter 10am - 4pm.
The nursery itself is really like stepping inside the world of the grower. It isn't a chain where you find the same plants time and again. This place offers a unique insight into the life cycle of the plants, as they journey from seedlings to sturdy workhorses, and nowhere will you find the quality, or the commitment to producing plants of a such a superb standard.
The owner has this year been superbly assisted by two young lads, James Middleton and Andrew Frostick, who are students at the Writtle Agricultural College. My first visit this year was earlier in the season when I was seeking out some salad leaves for my garden. I was rewarded with a display of leaves which I couldn't believe at the entrance, and the choice was incredible from beautiful lettuce, right through to more unusual plants including perpetual spinach. The price was incredibly good value, and enthusiasm was apparent for the plants as they had been arranged with care and devotion. I asked if I could take photographs of the stunning displays and they were delighted!
The layout of the nursery is very simple as the area is small and compact. To the right is a staff only seed nursery where you can glimpse germination in progress. Then along the floor in the main tunnel are the plants which are grouped in categories, but are simply laid out. The right hand side of the space is for plants which are not quite ready for sale, and outside are the hardier specimens who don't need the protection of the tunnel for warmth and shelter.
The quality of the lettuce plants I purchased was outstanding. They were the cut and come again variety, and they have been cropping for three months which represents superb value for money.
The nursery grows a superb selection of bedding plants and these are also available alongside the vegetables and are of outstanding quality. They also do lovely hanging baskets and stock a wide range of perennials.
In the summer the nursery also offers a pick your own option for soft fruit, which is popular and makes a lovely afternoon, especially if you pop to the Post Office across the road afterwards for a lovely locally made goat's milk ice cream! The strawberries are grown using the table top method, and this year alone they planted a further 16000 plants. If you haven't been to a table top farm, then I think you will be surprised, because it is no longer always necessary to break your back picking strawberries on straw lined ground, as methods have now been developed to grow them off the floor, which makes picking easy and delightful!
Of course you never really know what plants you are going to find at the nursery, but I think that is the beauty of it! Whatever you do find will undoubtedly be of the highest standard, and will reward you with the brightest bloom or the tastiest vegetable I can assure you!
Now we don't live on the doorstep, it is about 45minute drive from where we live, but making the journey, as we do, just to visit this place is testament to the fact that the quality and service is second to none.
A new venture for the nursery is that it is, from September, going to also be the home of The Pot and Grass Company, who will display their full range of Bamboo Plants and Ornamental Grasses on the premises. If you love these kinds of plants this will be prefect as you can now see them as well as online at www.potandgrass.co.uk
I love this nursery, it what really appeals to me- quality hone grown plants nurtured with care and presented for sale by enthusiastic experts! Mersea Island is a lovely place too with lots to see and to enjoy. Just check the tide tables before you set off if you plant to visit the nursery, just in case you find yourself stranded!