At first glance, London might seem grey and concrete-covered, but it's actually a proudly green city. Almost half of London is made up of lush green space, with grand stretches of grass in famous parks, hidden gardens where you'd least expect them, community spaces sprouting out behind office blocks and Londoners planting on shelves, balconies and windowsills. And when outside space isn't an option, we're filling offices, house shares and rented bathrooms with as many house plants as we can keep alive. As a city, it’s clear we’re suckers for foliage, so we’ve pulled together our pick of the biggest, best and the most beautiful garden centres and plant shops in the capital.
RECOMMENDED: The best of outdoor London
London’s best garden centres and plant shops
Local values, sustainability and the gentle spread of nature are the goals at the heart of community fave Alexandra Nurseries. The much-loved Penge plant haven is a ramshackle herbaceous oasis in south-east London. Visitors can also find vintage homeware and a charming café, which sometimes stays open late in the summer months for barbecues and beer, under a canopy of vines.
Regularly highlighted as one of Britain's finest garden centres. The boutique-sized Alleyn Park emphasises UK-grown stock from small suppliers. Fruit trees, herbs and herbaceous perennials are a key feature, while a gorgeous onsite shop also stocks tools, gifts and delicious sundries.
Puns always deserve praise, but its name isn’t the only reason we love Battersea Flower Station. The sprawling space is a homage to shoots and roots. Its narrow space alongside a railway line is like taking a wander in woodland, past greenhouses, huts, hanging lights and bunting. Let it lead you up the garden path.
Boma is jam-packed with bedding plants, trees and bushes, plus pretty pots and cans. But it's not just a place to visit when you're in need of some plants. Boma also offers the complete gardening package, from regular gardening services, one-off re-landscaping projects, plus personal shopping to help guide you through your purchases.
Fan of all things floral? You’ll love these cutesy shops. As well as home to living plants, the artisan stores sell pressed flowers, botanical soaps and candles, handmade crafts and flower-print accessories. Everything is carefully displayed on stained-wood surfaces and mismatched tiles.
Ever-so-bonny Botany is half potting shed, half art installation. It’s home to photo-ready greenery neatly lined up on shelves, as well as curated collections of fancy planters, ethical skincare and floriculture accessories. The shop also runs Happy Houseplants workshops for horticulturally challenged Londoners.
You can put down your phone for this one. Camden Garden Centre doesn’t need a filter to look good, because it’s a charitable enterprise, founded in the ‘80s to help combat youth unemployment in the area. Nowadays they employ the long-term unemployed, homeless people, ex-offenders and people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction too. Oh and they also stock a huge selection of ace indoor and outdoor plants.
Like your bush clipped and your garden furniture shiny? Want to sit on a giant champagne cork stool or pop your shrubs in a light-up LED planter? The Chelsea Gardener, a pretty, manicured expanse of green on Chelsea’s Sydney Street, is a hub of high-quality, aspirational agriculture.
Clifton Nurseries, London’s stateliest garden centre, is a horticulturalist’s paradise. The centre’s impressive exotics are pampered in a large hothouse, there’s a huge flowering shrub and perennial section, plus a lovely indoor shop featuring tools, gardening accessories and lots of lovely ceramics. Non-gardeners may be interested in the legendary Clifton design and landscaping service...
One visit to Conservatory Archives’ urban jungle and you’ll be lusting after its hanging greenery and climbing vines. The shop on Hackney Road is one lavish indoor garden, a stark space with peeling plaster walls and big windows, stuffed full of weird, wacky and wild vegetation. Prepare to fall hard for the green stuff.
This vast warehouse of plants on Cambridge Heath Road has a really great selection of flowers, indoor plants, hanging terrariums and multiple cacti. It’s also a cheaper alternative to the pricier nearby plant shops, with some great local advice from the friendly owners.
Set in the railway arches of Deptford Market Yard, Forest is a leafy space populated with unusual houseplants, terrariums and the kind of understated homeware Pinterest dreams are made of. Fronds hang from the ceiling while shelves and surfaces are covered in a clutter of potted plants. It’s blooming marvellous.
This east London florist wants you to green up your gaff with glossy, fluffy and spiky flora. A trip to its aesthetically pleasing shop will be all the convincing you need. They just released a book called ‘How Not to Kill Your Plants’, too. Which should come in handy, unless it’s a ‘Day of the Triffids’ situation.
This social enterprise garden centre is staffed by a team of horticulturalists and garden designers who are intent on improving the environment for those living in the East End. They work with local groups to transform public spaces and visit local schools to raise gardening awareness. If you're interested in improving your own skills or contributing to community projects, you can sign up for one of its many gardening classes.
At the fringes of Wandsworth Common, Neal’s is one of the largest garden centres in the capital. Pitched at the mainstream gardener, it comes well stocked with a wide selection of popular plants, covering fruit and veg to roses, as well as a small number of specimen trees. The spacious shop, meanwhile, offers a wide selection of garden accessories, designer garden furniture and indoor plants. Staff are helpful and offer on-site assistance (for free) or a landscaping service (for a charge).
The N1 team knows their urban clientele well and the site is dressed like an interiors magazine, with garden design furniture and chic accessories (it's a gnome-free zone). But for all its designer's eye, it's hugely practical too with a good range of solid tools, and friendly and knowledgeble service.
Just a two-minute walk from Nunhead station, this petite centre has just four resident gardeners. But what the gardening team lacks in size, it makes up for in knowledge and passion. Product-wise, there are indoor and outdoor plants, pots, barks and soils, tools and feeders, garden decorations, plus an enchanting collection of vintage statues and outdoor furniture. Workshops, such a terrarium making and Christmas wreath designing, take place throughout the year too.
The Palace Gardener at Fulham Palace (previously known as Fulham Palace Garden Centre) has reopened after a very extensive refurb. A family-run business, The Palace Gardener offers a wide selection of luscious houseplants, outdoor shrubs and perennials, garden furniture and accessories. The centre has been designed specifically to suit the gardening needs of Fulham and nearby residents, but it's definitely worth a visit for those outside of SW6 too.
What would happen if a garden centre and Anthropologie had a love child? This. The Richmond staple, which has recently opened a new shop in Covent Garden, is a cathedral to visually stunning gardening, and there’s also an ace café and restaurant housed in its beautifully shabby greenhouses.
London’s first cactus and succulent boutique stocks prickly plants big, small, solid and spindly. The collection is the creation of photographer Gynelle Leon and prices range from a few quid to over a hundred for a big heritage plant. Prick also holds ‘Cactus and Chill’ parties in the shop too. Just be careful of who you bump into.
A visit to Rassells is probably as close as you’ll get to children's book, ‘The Secret Garden’. On first sight, the centre looks like a florist, but once inside a hidden door leads to an expansive and completely unexpected courtyard. Rassells is a wonderful centre to explore, full of surprises at every turn. Plenty of staff are on hand too, with friendly advice.
Located bang in the middle of leafy Crystal Palace, The Secret Garden was once a baron building site. Just over 30 years on, the centre sells a varied offering of shrubs, climbers, planters and roses. Lots of plants are proudly sources from the surrounding areas, including herbs from Surrey and perennials from Essex. As with all good garden centres, there are accessories, tools and gifts too. A definite highlight is Cyril, the resident dog, who you can often catch snoozing in the entrance.
Originally the site of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, the Sunshine Garden Centre still inhabits the old pool glasshouse as well as two outhouses, which were once changing rooms. These spaces plus some more modern additions now house a solid selection of indoor and outdoor plants and shrubs, gardening tools and accessories. There's plenty in the way of cute and quirky gifts here too, and there's a sublime Christmas department to be explored in December as well.
Urban gardening is the focus of this west London garden centre. It’s on the edge of leafy Ravenscourt Park, in and around the railway arches, and staff pride themselves on knowing everything there is to know about keeping plants alive and well in a city. One for sage shoppers and serial cactus-killers.