I do love a good garden centre, one that takes the time to fill its space with something unusual, or makes that bit extra effort to create an inviting space. An old favourite of mine is Parkers Nursery, at 45-47 Tennyson Ave., Turramurra, NSW. The humble entrance really hides the beauty inside, and it's quite easy to drive right past if you're travelling along the perpetually busy Eastern Road. My normal commute either takes me west along Burns Road towards Hornsby, or south along Mona Vale Road, but I have a bit of time to play today so I take the opportunity to stop for a cuppa as its been a while since I visited.
The heady scent of a murraya hedge hits my nostrils like smelling salts as soon as I get out of my car, and with just a few metres walk I feel the tranquil ambience of the place wash over me. At the entrance I'm greeted by a pretty arrangement of flowers and shrubs, and inside I stroll amongst the lovely tables of gifts and homewares. There's always something tempting to pick up - scented candles, beautifully illustrated cards and stationery, tea-towels with a garden theme imprinted on quality linen or cotton, and fine unusual crockery that would make my next dinner party special.
I roam into the hardware section and fancy a new pair of coloured wellington boots. Even their garden tools seem special, a bit different from the standard fare you would find at the big chain garden centres or hardware stores. Who says you can't be stylish AND garden? There's a large range of seeds, potting mixes, bagged soils, and anything else you would need to tizzy up your garden.
Outside there's a lovely shaded area full of herbs, vegetable, and ornamental seedlings, plus stone sculpture, fruit trees, and the flower of a water-lotus that reaches about half a metre high takes my breath away.
Being a gardener, I love the fact that Parkers is still a viable and thriving business. Established in 1978 on the site of an old bus depot, competition from large chain nurseries has threatened its continuation over such a long period of time. But I think the attention to detail, the palette of diverse plants - including a large selection of of roses - and the knowledgeable staff all add up to a really special and tranquil place to visit. I've recently heard that ALDI attempted to take over the site, but it would be a real tragedy to see such a beautiful place replaced by another multi-national. So if you happen to be in the area any time soon, stop by for a cuppa in their relaxing coffee shop - I can highly recommend the passionfruit curd tart!