I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published November 20th 2015
For all things green and fresh - for you and your garden
I don't profess to be a gardener. I don't have a green fingernail, let alone any green thumbs. But combine a nursery with an organic food store and divine café, all set in a tangle of green plants and fresh flowers, and I'm there.
McGain's Nursery, Food Store and Café, in the Surf Coast hamlet of Anglesea, was originally simply McGain's Nursery, and was opened in 2000 by husband and wife Peter and Pam McGain. They expanded their business in 2005 with the addition of the food store, and then again in 2012, when they started running their café from the same premises. The result is a glorious treasure trove of plants, shrubs and flowers for the garden, fresh organic produce in the food store, and a simply gorgeous café, right in the middle of it all.
McGain's is a delightful mixture of garden, cafe and produce.
This delightful abode for all things garden and food is in the rather unlikely location of the Anglesea Industrial Estate, in Inverlochy Street (but, Anglesea being Anglesea, it' not really all that 'industrial'—there's bush land across the road, the roads turn to gravel pretty quickly, and it's really quite small). Snuggled up against landscape suppliers and warehouses, McGain's is actually rather hidden away, and I drove right past it without even realising it was there. The front fence (and what looks like a sign) is completely covered in lush green foliage, and there are lots of plants and flowers growing beautifully just outside the entrance. And once you step inside the opening, it's like you've walked into another world, where tip trucks and factories are far, far behind—Anglesea's very own secret garden.
The front of McGain's is almost hidden, kind of like a secret garden!
Huge wine barrels filled with bright yellow bananas, fire engine red tomatoes and colourful pot plants greet you as you enter, with the food store just to your right. I was tempted to start pottering about amongst the organic delicacies, but the mini Christmas trees and other green-as-green plants to my left pulled me towards the nursery section, so off I went, my un-green thumbs and all.
The green of the darling little Christmas trees led me through the walkway into the nursery section.
The walkway through to the outdoor nursery is filled with green and white and purple, with vines growing gently overhead along the wooden pergola and potted flowers everywhere. There's a little garden store to your left, with all sorts of trinkets and knick knacks and bits and bobs for your garden and home.
The garden store has lots of little bits and pieces for your garden and home.
The nursery was quiet and peaceful on my weekday afternoon visit, and whilst I don't generally know a petunia from a pansy, a nursery is still a lovely place for a wander. Very calming, don't you think? I could hear the trickle of the water feature in the middle of the nursery, smell the fresh earth as plants were being potted, and my toes got wet from the hoses twisted about as they softly watered all the plants, ready to be sent home with someone with greener thumbs than me.
Taking a wander around the plants is very relaxing and calming.
McGain's have a huge range of plants, shrubs and seedlings in their nursery, and are more than happy to help out with advice and recommendations. If you need something a little more in-depth, they can even arrange to come to your home and carry out a professional garden consultation to help you plan your perfect garden. Check out their website for costs (some which are redeemable on plants) and to make a booking.
Whether you are wanting to start a vegie patch (oh, how I would love one of these…but even my previous attempts at growing herbs in a pot have failed miserably), need some traditional flowers to add a burst of colour to your garden, or are keen for some local Surf Coast indigenous plants for your beachside holiday home, McGain's will have you covered. They also stock all the other bits and pieces to get your garden going—and growing—including pesticides, fertilisers, potting mix, garden tools and pots.
Whilst my wander through the nursery was peaceful and inspiring (for a short while, I did actually imagine myself tending to my dreamy garden with a pair of secateurs, wearing a big floppy sun hat…but that hazy image disappeared quite rapidly), I was keen to check out the rest of what the wonderful McGain's has to offer. The café was just closing up by the time I arrived, but that was fine—I was able to sneak a few peaks through the lovely glass doors, still swung widely open. The café almost falls out into the garden and nursery, and with wooden tables dotted throughout the grounds, you can take your tea and treats out amongst the plants and flowers and soil and shrubs, and completely feel at peace with the world.
There is of course seating inside the café too, and from my stolen glances inside, it looks utterly divine. Mismatched wooden chairs, pot plants on the tables, a wooden rack with a bundle of magazines to flick through as you sip on your coffee, blackboards with the day's specials written up in white chalk (Honey & Hazelnut Saffron Chicken with Rice and Saffron Yoghurt on the day of my visit), and glass jars full of delicious baked goods (I may not have green thumbs, but I certainly have a sweet tooth or two!). Many of the dishes on the menu are created with the fresh produce from the food store, and garnished with home-grown herbs from their very own garden.
Sitting alongside the café is the food store, which is small but filled to the brim with fresh produce, homemade relishes and pickled vegetables, biodynamic yoghurt, free-range eggs, organic groceries and breads and even biodynamic wine and beer. McGain's also stock a range of ready-to-go meals, including gourmet quiches, pasta, curries and pizzas, with vegetarian and gluten free options available—so you can get that fresh, home-style taste for your dinner on the go even if all you have time for is a quick whiz in the microwave.
McGain's Nursery, Food Store and Café is a little jewel on the stunning Surf Coast, a beautiful spot for a quiet coffee, some inspired perusing among the nursery, or to treat yourself to some organic food for the soul. The passion Peter, Pam and their team of friendly and knowledgeable staff have for everything green and fresh tumbles out into every nook and cranny of this plant-filled paradise. They're open seven days a week, and after your visit, you'll feel inspired, refreshed and invigorated to get out into your own garden and kitchen and create, bake and grow...and who knows, maybe even I'll slowly turn my thumbs a little green.