Visiting London’s stateliest centre, established in 1851, fills the amateur gardener with longing and enthusiasm. From the gorgeous stucco mansions of Little Venice you enter a horticulturalist’s paradise, via a shady drive lined with topiarised box trees in lavish pots. Fortunately, good looks aren’t Clifton’s only selling point. Helpful and knowledgeable staff are able to steer you toward sensible purchases for your patch. The centre’s impressive exotics are pampered in a large hothouse – head inside for carnivorous plants, fragrant gardenias, cacti and succulents, and fleshy tender tropicals. There’s a huge flowering shrub and perennial section, as well as a lovely indoor shop featuring tools and accessories, stacks of books and lots of lovely ceramics for outdoors and indoors. Non-gardeners might like to enquire about the legendary Clifton design and landscaping service.
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