Newest Review: ... sell a wide variety of garden furniture, but I can say from experience that it is good quality stuff. I have bought a number of items ... more
PLANTS, PETS AND PATIO SETS
Grosvenor Garden Centre (Chester)
Member Name: hazydaze123
Grosvenor Garden Centre (Chester)
Advantages: Good quality produce, wide selection
Disadvantages: Can be expensive
Brief Background Information (...very brief!)
The Grosvenor Garden Centre is built on land that was originally the Pulford Forestry, but now owned by The Duke of Westminster who, believe it or not, lives in the mansion house next door! The original building was erected in 1974 and, having expanded over the last 30 years, now occupies a 14 acre plot. Over the years, the centre has built up an excellent reputation for using local produce where possible, even down to the food it sells in the cafe, and is the only UK garden centre to be awarded the Garden Centre of Excellence Award nine years on the run.
The Grosvenor Garden Centre is approached via a fairly grand driveway. BUT - a word of warning: as I mentioned earlier, the garden centre is situated next to the Duke of Westminster's Estate, which has an even grander driveway. On more than one occasion, I have been driving behind a little old couple (usually in a Corsa or a Smart Car) and rather than going in the right direction to pick up their pot plants, they have turned a little too early and paid an unplanned visit to Dukey, only to have to turn round at the large iron gates. Anyway, I digress. Once you have entered the grounds to the garden centre, you find yourself in a fairly large car park with more than ample parking spaces to cater for the large volume of visitors it attracts. The car park has a good allocation for disabled visitors, together with parent & child spaces.
The exterior of the building itself is not the most attractive and I am sure there are other garden centres with more frontage appeal. However, it does have a very modern outlook and the surrounding gardens within the grounds are very attractive, as one would expect.
As you enter the building through the huge automatic doors, there is fairly large display area which is usually laid out either to advertise a specific range of products such as garden furniture, plant range etc., or at Christmas time, there is a fantastic snow scene which attracts absolutely everyone, and I don't just mean the children, but more on that later.
So, now that we have entered the building, what's on offer?
Once you walk through the inner doors, to your left, you will see a vast range of indoor plants that the Grosvenor Garden Centre has to offer. I am covering this section first because it is the most obvious area of the garden centre, and one which does not necessarily require a lot of explanation. I would add though that the selection of plants is huge. Not only do they stock the standard range of house plants, but there is also a large selection of tropical plants, bonsai and cacti. I won't bore you with all the varieties on offer, but suffice to say that you will not be spoiled for choice. Within the area, there are usually trained members of staff who will assist you with any advice that you may require, and this applies to the entirety of the garden centre. There is also a selection of dried flowers, if this is more to your liking.
Home & Garden Section
To your right, you will find the Home & Garden Section. Not only does the Grosvenor Garden Centre sell a wide variety of garden furniture, but I can say from experience that it is good quality stuff. I have bought a number of items from here and it really has lasted. During the summer, this area is jam packed with various styles of garden furniture, patio sets, sun loungers and barbecues. Unfortunately, there has been one occasion where I have not been overly impressed with the service in this section. A few years ago, I purchased a wrought iron garden furniture set. The furniture set itself was absolutely fine, but I had to order it (where larger items are concerned, you are often unable to take it there and then but have to place an order, where you can either collect it or have it delivered). The problem was that they were going to take a couple of weeks to deliver and in this country, unless you're quick, the nice weather disappears and you miss your chance to sit out in the garden. However, this is a very minor point, though one which I thought readers should be aware of. Of course, I may have just been unlucky on that occasion.
Fancy Pulling the Birds?
Moving a little further along, we come to the wild bird section where there is a wide variety of bird feeders, nesting boxes and food supplies. Personally, I find these a little more expensive than those sold in general pet shops, but again, I do believe that you get what you pay for and it is sometimes worth paying that little bit extra. For example, my little boy loves watching the birds coming into the garden so I bought a basic bird table from our local pet shop. It came boxed up and needed to be assembled, but the wood was quite flimsy and I don't suppose it will last more than a few years. However, the bird tables at the Grosvenor Garden Centre are pre-assembled and are of good quality wood and sturdily built. However, they cost in the region of £45 but I would say they are certainly worth the money.
Need some Tools?
I find this section of the garden centre quite amusing. Admittedly, like most departments within the garden centre, there is a good supply available and you can be spoilt for choice. From small pinking shears to electric hedge cutters, they can all be found here. However, I think they are trying to woo the female gardeners because there is a separate range of tools where all the handles are.....PINK! The handles are that little bit smaller too which I assume is to encourage the lady of the house to get on down and start digging. Ok, I own up - I have actually bought a pair of their secateurs and I do find them much easier to use than the ones we previously had in the shed!
The clothing section is fantastic. Don't get me wrong - it's no use going looking for your top of the range fashion items here. Being the very proud owner of two fairly large dogs, I am often out and about walking and getting muddy paw prints all over me, so it's no use wearing a little suede number. So, about 8 years ago, I purchased a navy waterproof Barber-style coat which was ideal for walking the boys. I still wear this coat now, and it's as good as the day I first bought it. So, from experience, the clothing is of very good quality and, in my opinion, not overly expensive. I think I paid in the region of £25 for this coat. There is also a good range of sweaters, fleeces and general outdoor clothing. They stock a small range of children's clothes, and in particular, do very cute crocodile wellingtons. (Unfortunately, they don't do them in an adult size 6!)
Leaving the main building and entering the outdoor plant section, here is where Grosvenor Garden Centre excels itself. They stock in excess of 850 varieties of plants and shrubs and as you walk round the area, it is obvious that these have been grown with great care and attention. The first section of this area is located in a greenhouse-type environment and concentrates on bedding plants and has a vast range to choose from. As you venture out into the open air, you are met with all the varieties of plants and shrubs you can think of. Each section is laid out in alphabetical order to make it easy for people to find what they are looking for.
On each occasion I have visited, all of the plants and shrubs look in excellent condition and I can only imagine that any plants that are not doing so well are removed. I have purchased many plants from here and all have been really healthy.
Carry on Camping
During the summer months, the Grosvenor Garden Centre stock an extensive range of tents and camping equipment. I can honestly say that I have no interest whatsoever in camping (nowhere to plug the hairdryer in!!) so I cannot comment in any great depth on the camping equipment sold, but I would say that they do seem to have a good selection.
Something Sounds Fishy
Ok, I am back in my comfort zone here. Within the Grosvenor Garden Centre, there is an individual company called The Fish People. This is basically a fairly large aquarium shop built within the garden centre, and obviously sells everything to do with fish! I currently own about 20 tropical fish so do most of my 'fishy' shopping here. Unlike your bog-standard pet shop, The Fish People are experts in their field and as well as selling fish and fish-related items, they also offer good advice on fish keeping. They offer a large selection of both coldwater and tropical fish, and on occasion, they have had a marine tank set up.
They also sell Coi Carp for garden ponds and all the hardware that goes with keeping fish such as filters, heaters, lights, live plants etc. It's certainly worth a visit to the shop even if you don't need to buy anything from the garden centre. In addition, you can request that they do a water test for you if you need your aquarium water checking for nitrates, PH levels etc.
Let's go Shopping
There are two shops within the Grosvenor Garden Centre, one at each end of the building. To the far right of the building, there is an area which sells children toys. Not the usual, modern day toys that little ones tend to go for these days, but the more old fashioned toys such as wooden train sets, cuddly toys and board games, together with a good selection of story books. There is also a wide selection of nursery items and baby toys. On the opposite side of the garden centre, down towards the checkout, there is a fairly extensive range of gifts on offer including tea sets, kitchen wear, utensils, locally produced cakes and biscuits, hand printed birthday cards and gift wrap. As with the other areas within the Grosvenor Garden Centre, everything in the gift shop appears to be of exceptional quality and quite different to the goods that one would find in a high street gift shop.
Anyone for Coffee?
The Grosvenor Garden Centre prides itself in its cafe, and especially in the local produce that it sells. The cafe has recently been refurbished and looks very inviting from the outside. I have eaten in the cafe before its refurbishment and I can say that it was nothing beyond excellent. Although I have not been in there since its revamp, I can only imagine that the quality is just as good. The cafe serves fresh sandwiches throughout the day, together with salads, hot food and drinks.
It's Christmas Time!
Christmas is a fantastic time at the Grosvenor Garden Centre and I take Matthew there each year just so that he can look at the magnificent display of Christmas wonder. Each year, the display differs very slightly so I will base this section of my review on Christmas 2008. The display section in the foyer, which I mentioned earlier in the review, was decked out in make-believe snow. Sat very happily within this winter wonderland were some very cheeky elves (not real ones...), together with a couple of polar bears (again, not real ones...) whose heads moved to and fro! All were sat quite happily around an igloo (and no, not a real one). It's lovely to see the children's faces as they try to work out whether the polar bears are going to jump down!
As you go through the inner doors, you are met by a vast array of brightly decorated Christmas trees, together with huge displays of tinsel and decorations. I must admit that the Christmas decorations are not the cheapest I have seen, but again, you can tell that they are of excellent quality. I would also mention the area that sells the Christmas lights - these are situated in a darkened section of the shop which is very prettily lit up with samples of the lights on sale.
Moving along, you come to Santa's Wonderland where everywhere is decked in snow and Santa's little grotto is situated at the end. In previous years, this has worked on a ticket basis where you purchase a ticket for your child which gives you a time allocation for visiting Father Christmas.
The Grosvenor Garden Centre is renowned for its Christmas grotto and fantastic winter scenes, and as such, when Father Christmas visits each year, accompanied by real-life reindeer, you can see all the cars parked along the main road outside the grounds as young children wait for him to arrive. A word of advice: if you are in the area at this time of year and your child wants to see Santa arrive, make sure you get there early because this really is a popular annual event.
Overall, in my opinion, this is a fantastic garden centre which goes above and beyond selling plants. The main feature that stands out for me is the high quality of the items on sale. Whatever you are looking for, there always seems to be a wide variety of stock available.
Compared to other garden centres, some people may find the sale items a little expensive, though certainly worth paying that little extra in my opinion. There is also the possibility that you may have to wait longer than you anticipated for home delivery items, though they may have improved this service since my experience some years ago. One final thing that I always find a little annoying, especially in the summer when it is busy and the coach trips all pile in, is the small number of checkouts. This garden centre is huge, yet there are only 6 checkout desks, which explains why there is very often a queue.
Grosvenor Garden Centre
Tel. 01244 625200
Finally, would I recommend?
Yes I would. You can find more or less anything here, and whether you are looking to buy or just to have a browse, you are doing so in lovely rural surroundings. Basically, the products are great, and where possible, come from local farmers and suppliers, it is nicely laid out and, quite simply, is a pleasure to visit.
I visited the Grosvenor Garden Centre today to take some photographs to accompany this review, but when I arrived, it appears they are re-designing the front of the building so visitors have to take a little detour to the side entrance. However, the garden centre still remains unchanged inside, so I anticipate that the frontage will be greatly improved once these works are finished. I will try to edit this review once the refurbishment has been completed, hopefully with some new photographs!
Thanks for reading.
(Also on Ciao - matthewsmum)
Summary: A top rate garden centre