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Useful links seeds/plants

Tracking down elusive seeds and plants

It’s often hard to know where to get advice or buy plants/seeds from in an over-saturated market. Here’s my pick of the best companies – big and small.

Specialist nurseries

Climber James Galway from David Austin Roses
Climber James Galway from David Austin Roses

David Austin Roses: Combining the much-loved forms and fragrances of old roses with the sought-after repeat flowering of modern varieties, www.davidaustinroses.com

Peter Beales Roses: Gorgeous fragrance, robust growth, and disease resistance are the key to these modern classics from expert growers, www.classicroses.co.uk


Welsh Holly: One of the few Ilex (holly) specialists in the UK, with ornamentals and some rare varieties, www.welsh-holly.co.uk

Stunning Kniphofia head (red hot poker)
Kniphofia from Beth Chatto’s nursery

Beth Chatto: Rare and reasonably-priced perennials – search by conditions, from one of our most inspirational gardeners, www.bethchatto.co.uk

Bide-A-Wee Cottage: Mail-order service from September-March, when gardens are shut, or direct from the nursery April-August. Grown on site near Morpeth, Northumberland, www.bideawee.co.uk

Birkheads Secret Garden: Garden nearly 700ft high in rural Gateshead. No mail order, visit from March-Sept, good coffee shop, www.birkheadssecretgardens.co.uk

Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries: Multi-Chelsea gold medal winners from near Stanley, Co. Durham. Specialists in alpines, shade and woodland perennials, plus specimen plants, www.harperleyhallfarmnurseries.co.uk

Alpines from Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries

Downderry Nursery: Kent-based lavender nursery, with Lavandula x intermedia Heavenly varieties, bred to make feeding easier for bees, www.downderry-nursery.co.uk

Thorncroft Clematis: They stock an amazing range of Clematis, but there are lots of other climbers for sale on the website too, www.thorncroftclematis.co.uk

Hooksgreen Herbs: Chelsea gold medal winners,  stocks a wide range of culinary, medicinal and scented pot-grown herbs and seeds, www.hooksgreenherbs.com

The Botanic Nursery: Family-run nursery with great selection and the national collection of foxgloves, www.thebotanicnursery.co.uk

Plantagogo: Multi-gold medal-winning experts in Heuchera, Heucherellas, Tiarellas and hardy perennials,  www.plantagogo.com

Heucheraholics: Billed as ‘for the hopelessly addicted…’, gold-medal-winning Heucheras, Heucherellas, Tiarellas, and Pulmonarias, www.heucheraholics.co.uk


Wildflower Turf Ltd: Created the displays in Queen Elizabeth Park for the 2012 Olympics. Suitable for green roofs, www.wildflowerturf.co.uk


Crocus:  ‘Designer’ plants often presented in colour-themed packages; interesting and unusual sundries, www.crocus.co.uk


Gardeners Kitchen: Pesticide and organic young vegetable and herb plants in 9cm pots and a plug vegetable range, www.gardenerskitchen.co.uk

Abyssinian red banana
Abyssinian red banana, from The Lost World Nursery

The Lost World Nursery: Bananas, palms, succulents, cacti, gingers – anything with a touch of the exotic – you’ll find them all here, www.thelostworldnursery.com

Plantbase: From temperate plants to tropical, the nursery stocks 1,800 different varieties, more than 350 stocked only by them in the UK. Some available mail order, www.plantbase.co.uk

Seeds: the big boys

Garden Press Event seeds
A batch of seeds from the Garden Press Event

Thompson & Morgan: www.thompson-morgan.com

Suttons: www.suttons.co.uk

Dobies: www.dobies.co.uk

Marshalls: www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk

Mr Fothergill’s: www.mr-fothergills.co.uk

Unwins: www.unwins.co.uk

DT Brown: www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk

Chiltern Seeds: www.chilternseeds.co.uk

Seeds: specialists

Echium Blue Steeple
Echium Blue Steeple, taller than the greenhouse, from Plant World Seeds

Simply Seed: Free delivery on seed orders over £10 – good selection and prices, www.simplyseed.co.uk

Plant World Seeds: Rare and unusual seeds from all over the world – fantastic varieties of tomatoes, www.plant-world-seeds.com

The Real Seed Catalogue: Kitchen garden specialities, heirloom varieties for the home gardener, www.realseeds.co.uk

Sea Spring Seeds: Chilli specialist run ‘by gardeners, for gardeners’ – sells the Dorset Naga Chilli, www.seaspringseeds.co.uk

W. Robinson & Son: Suppliers of mammoth vegetable seeds for exhibition and plants, www.mammothonion.co.uk

Plants of Distinction: Specialist veg and flower varieties, heirloom and rare seeds, www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk

The National Vegetable Society: Society’s recommended seed and seed potato suppliers, including exhibition varieties, www.nvsuk.org.uk

Kings Seeds: Vegetable (including organic), herb and flower seeds, strong selection of sweet peas, www.kingsseeds.com

Higgledy Garden's Bee and Butterfly Collection artwork
Higgledy Garden’s Bee and Butterfly Collection artwork

Franchi Seeds of Italy 1783: The oldest seed company in the world, naturally supplying the best of Italian produce, www.seedsofitaly.com

Seed Parade: Heirloom and rare varieties – minimum packaging, low postage, www.seedparade.co.uk

Jungle Seeds: Rare, unusual and the downright bizarre – including Passiflora erotica, one of the world’s rudest fruits, www.jungleseeds.co.uk

Higgledy Garden: Lovely, stylish seeds and cut flowers, plus great blogs from owner Ben, www.higgledygarden.com

Growseed: Mostly veg seeds, each variety that is sold online has been successfully grown in Growseed’s gardens or allotment sites. If there is a seed variety you want and don’t see it, contact www.growseed.co.uk.

Gardening forums

Gardenweb.com: The internet’s largest gardening community, www.gardenweb.com

Gardenersworld.com: Based on the Gardeners’ World TV programme and magazine, www.gardenersworld.com

Allotment and Gardens: John and Val Harrison’s – no-nonsense advice, good books, www.allotment-garden.org

My Garden: The Royal Horticultural Society’s online community, www.mygarden.rhs.org.uk

Gardeners Corner: Vast forum with enthusiastic and interesting debates, www.gardenerscorner.co.uk