“ Address: Wainﬂeet Road / Boston / Lincs / PE21 9RZ „
My Dad is a keen gardener and as far back as I can remember when I have visited my parents back home in the UK there has always been a trip to a garden centre on the itinerary. This year my Dad was away so my granddaughter and I took a trip with my Mum and sister to the local garden centre called Johnson's. This is on Wainfleet Road in Boston, a short drive from my parent's house. The Johnson family have owned the business for many years and always employed local people. They believe in having special contact with their customers and supplying top quality food and goods.
We visited as a family on a Sunday afternoon. There is a huge car park in front of the garden centre so we didn't have any trouble finding a parking slot. As you walk through the main doors you can choose whether to walk around the gardening areas, gift shop, food store and café or visit the restaurant and conservatory. As it was quite late in the afternoon we decided to go straight to the restaurant.
The restaurant is situated just past the main entrance, most of the tables and chairs are inside but you can choose to sit in the conservatory which is very pleasant with lots of potted plants and looks out on to an area where plants and garden statues are displayed. Altogether the restaurant seats up to 250 people. There is a card menu and a board on the wall showing the day's specials. You have to order at the self-service counter. Cutlery, serviettes and condiments are to the right of the counter close to the entrance of the conservatory. My sister and her boyfriend asked us what we would like to eat and when we had chosen she told the ladies behind the counter. They said that they would bring the food out to our table. I ordered chilli and a jacket potato as did my sister and my Mum and sister's boyfriend both chose scampi and chips. My granddaughter chose ham, egg and chips (children's portion).
We had to wait about ten minutes before the food was delivered to the table. It was busy in the conservatory and quite noisy. When the meals arrived I was surprised at the size of the portions. They looked very large. My granddaughter's plate was oval in shape and filled with large, fat chips, two very large pieces of good quality ham off the bone and a fried egg. I think they must have given her an adult's portion. She started tucking in after she had covered everything in tomato sauce (a Polish thing) and really enjoyed the food. My chilli was tasty. I am usually very fussy about this dish as I like it to be very spicy and the meat well cooked, not chewy. I was content with the chilli, the side salad was crisp and adequate but I thought the jacket potato was too big and could have been cooked a bit longer. I knew when I started eating that I wouldn't finish it. Mum started tucking into her scampi when we all realised that my sister's boyfriend hadn't received his meal. He went back to the counter to see what had happened and they had forgotten it. This was a bit of a bummer as we had all started eating and by the time his meal arrived we had nearly finished. My granddaughter had started to fall asleep while tucking into her ham and eggs. I sat her on my knee and then she suddenly woke up and started eating again. Oh Boy, how she can eat!
The dessert menu consisted of rich cakes with lots of creamy fillings and things like apple pie and fruit puddings but we were all full so ended the meal with water and a pot of tea. I read on the menu card that all meat and vegetables are locally sourced which is something I approve of. The minced beef in my chilli was of a very high quality and the ham on my granddaughter's plate was thickly sliced, and tasted meaty rather than of just salt and water. I thought overall the food wasn't bad but a bit expensive. You could probably get the same meals in a pub for half the price. The bill came to just over £35.
Wheel chair accessibility is good and there was plenty of room for movement in the conservatory and also in the main part of the restaurant.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 09.00 a.m to 16.30 p.m, Sunday 10.00 a.m to 15.00 p.m
After we had finished the meal we needed a walk so we went to the garden centre to look at the plants and pots etc. I was impressed with the layout of the centre and the number of staff on duty who were available to give advice, help with lifting heavy pots or bags of compost and able to point you in the right direction when you were lost and couldn't find what you were looking for. Dad had already planted his garden up by this time so we didn't need any plants as such but there was a huge variety of seasonal flowering plants, shrubs, trees, vegetables etc. I always like looking at the seed section and was impressed with what I saw. I don't have a garden at home but I have a very large patio so I was interested in seeds that I could plant in pots and containers. There were also seeds available for planting in borders as well as baby plants, herbs and vegetable plants.
***Pots and statues***
Walking over to the glazed pot section was fun, so many colours and designs to choose from. Some of the prices were out of this world and I don't think even if I was mega rich I could bring myself to spend £40 or £50 on a pot to put a plant in no matter how beautiful it looked. I would rather buy a terra cotta one and paint it myself. Some of the stone containers were huge and must have weighed a ton. As for the stone statues, these were amazing. My granddaughter loved this area as most of the designs were of animals. She kept walking around and shouting out the Polish names for the animals. Again, these were very expensive; something like a small hedgehog cost £25 and then a full size goose was over £100. I found the experience totally bizarre.
As you can imagine this section was massive and you could buy everything you needed for a garden here including furniture, sheds, paving stones, barbecues, fencing, children's wooden playhouses etc.
Good to know that Johnson's have a delivery service so you don't have to destroy the boot door by forcing a fully sized ceramic horse inside.
***Tropical or cold water***
Now to another fun area, the Aquatic Centre. My sister's boyfriend led us all to this area because he has been thinking about installing an aquarium into their home. I couldn't get over how clear and clean the water was in each of the tanks. The varieties of tropical fish were lovely to look at, so many pretty colours. The small minnows were cute as they darted about; I also liked the blue and yellow Rainbow Fish and the metallic blue and orange Tetras. I wasn't too keen on the Siamese Fighting Fish as they looked aggressive or the Albino Cory Catfish, he looked real mean. There are lots of different sized tanks on sale suitable for cold water and tropical fish as well as various plants and accessories. If you wanted to install a pond in the back garden instead of a tank in the house there was a wide range of ponds to choose from. I overheard a member of Johnson's staff speaking to a customer about installing a tank and what species of tropical fish to buy. He seemed very knowledgeable and happy to help without trying to sell him any old thing.
***Gifts and Fancy Goods***
Before leaving we had to visit the gift shop which is filled to the brim with all sorts of fancy goods including ornaments made from bone china, gimmicky items for men and women, herbal fragrances and handmade soaps, individual gift cards and lots of things to tempt my Mother who loves shopping. I only buy things when I need them unless something really catches my eye and nothing did so I saved a few bob. There is a gift wrapping service available too.
***Fine Foods and Grocery***
Moving on to the best part of the garden centre and to the end of my tour, the fine food and grocery store. My dear old Mum isn't so good on her feet any more so she struggles with every day shopping. Johnson's centre is a godsend to her as my sister can drive her to the centre and she can walk around the food store, take her time, have a cup of coffee in the café and buy all her provisions for the week. This really is a great food store, I loved it. As soon as we entered I noticed the fruit and vegetable section and how bright and fresh everything looked. I could smell the freshness. The bakery is only small but the aroma of freshly baked cornbread is wonderful. I spotted croissants, bagels and various Italian breads which I love especially focaccia.
The meat and cheese counter was closing so I couldn't see what was on offer but my sister said that the selection of cheeses came from Britain and other European countries. She preferred to buy cheese from Johnson's because it was super fresh. All cuts of meat came from local suppliers and were of a high standard. My Mum always orders her Xmas turkey and joints of pork from here as she says the quality is outstanding.
The thing I liked about the food store was that there were many products that came from small suppliers and were beautifully presented in decorative glass jars and packages. The herb, spice and curry section was interesting. I generally make my own curry sauces but I still like looking at what is available. Panjaban.co.uk are the main suppliers to this store, they pride themselves on creating handmade authentic curries from the heart of the Punjab. I have a jar of Naga Chilli (extra hot) in the cupboard but haven't tried it yet so I can't vouch for the authenticity. The jar and its contents certainly look good.
***End of tour***
I have come to the end of the tour of Johnson's Garden Centre, it is something I wouldn't have thought about reviewing but I enjoyed my visit there and I recommend it. The garden centre is a twenty minute drive from Boston Market Square where you can catch a bus travelling in the direction of Skegness. Buses run every twenty minutes during the week and on Saturday, less frequent on Sunday.
Garden Centre & Restaurant - 9am to 6pm - Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm - Sunday
Fine Foods Store - 8am to 6pm - Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm - Sunday
Telephone: 01205 363 408