Ok, Garden Centres.
So imagine how refreshing it is to just buy plants and it’s not like you have to worry too much about the season, or the location, or soil type as what you see is what you get. There are only a few Garden Centres on the Island that I know of, and you can still get seeds, bulbs, tools, compost and pots of every shape and size etc. and maybe a BBQ of the outside wood burning variety not the metal on wheels type.
You don’t get the hard sell as you browse along the lines of pots, nobody will bother you unless you actually request some help. Some of the plants look a bit tired but you get that anywhere, most of them are in very good health and, although I have never had to do it, I am sure if you bartered the price you could possibly get it cheaper and hope to nurse it back to health. This isn't really necessary as the prices are so cheap it is unbelievable! If you have been to a garden Centre in the UK you will know exactly what I mean when you see the prices as you can pick up a huge bush or well established rose for about €5/€10 which would cost you well over £20 in England.
The Big Centre also has what looks like a very large white tent at the back, this is basically a greenhouse and houses all the more tender plants, vegetables, annuals, house plants and this is where you will find the bougainvillea. Shrubs and fruit bushes, trees and roses. I was under the false impression that I wouldn’t be able to get soft fruits such as Blackberries or Raspberries but was wrong.
Another small garden Centre only opened this year. It is on the main road at the bottom of the hill opposite Jimmy's Supermarket, about two doors along from the car hire place. Really nice young man works in there. He has very good English and has been to agricultural college so knows what he’s talking about. There is a small area at the front which has house plants, bedding plants etc. then inside the shop there are seeds, bulbs, fertilizers etc., out the back is trees, bushes, roses, all the bigger plants, again in rows on black weed suppressant material with the pipes for watering. When I went there he hadn't been open very long and was still stocking up so there wasn't a huge choice but he probably has a lot more in now. Whether it was because he was only just starting, I picked up about 10 plants and he threw in a couple of pansies for free, he also found me a box and carried it out to the car for me. I came away with about 10 plants, including the 2 pansies and a huge rose and it cost me something like about €20.
My friend was having a problem with her hydrangea with rust spots and a white powdery substance on the leaves and the rose started with the same thing so her husband took a piece of each and went down to see him. He sent him back with a small bottle of liquid to be mixed with water and sprayed on every 3 days, within a month both plants had cleared and are now doing really well. It is so convenient having a Garden Centre so close to home though. I might not get a scone and coffee or Christmas Bauble or Easter Bunny but I’m close enough to get a Frappe or Beer in a bar should I need it.