Soto’s plant collections are designed by RHS Gold Medal winner Will Williams, with collections available for borders, window boxes, patios, balconies and front gardens. It also provides a curated selection of plants and accessories at garden centre prices, alongside helpful advice and inspiration. All collections come with layout suggestions and instructions on how to put it together – and there’s also a series of videos and blogs available as part of the Soto Masterclass; the online journal contains a jargon-buster and further reading for those wanting to build on their plant knowledge. In terms of the collections, The Soto White is a bestseller, while astrantias are superstars in the Soto edits, with the Mexican feather grass also proving popular. Hydrangeas sell well, too – Annabelle promises to produce a bountiful supply of white-with-a-hint-of-green flowers during summer months.
Sproutl is a dedicated gardening platform and curated online marketplace where you can shop the UK’s best independent garden and outdoor living brands. Co-founders Anni Noel-Johnson and Andy Done – both previously at Farfetch – noticed the disconnect between gardening brands and younger people who were keen to learn more, so they started Sproutl to make gardening easy and accessible to all. Customers can shop different edits and discover the collections online, ranging from Front Door Makeover to the exclusive Sproutl x Kew Palm House Collection. Smart filters help shoppers select the perfect plant and pot combination for any location and the team has also created a complimentary compost calculator to ensure you order just the right amount of peat-free soil. Everything comes with Sproutl Aftercare as well – fool-proof guides to help you keep your plants alive.
Beth Chatto OBE was an award-winning plantswoman, author and lecturer – her work involved transforming an overgrown wasteland of brambles, parched gravel and boggy ditches into an inspirational, informal garden which you can still visit today. Via her eponymous site, you can now shop plants that are clearly listed by the conditions they like (e.g. dry, shade, damp, scree) so you can create a thriving garden whatever its aspect or soil type. Most impressive is the border design service. A team member trained to take the same ecological and sustainable approach as Beth will offer you their knowledge and experience, suggesting plants best suited to your garden. Most of the plants will need some maintenance, but they won't need to be replanted annually.
Ashwood Nurseries is a traditional plant and nursery garden centre in the West Midlands, and its online service has a fine selection to choose from – its award-winning hellebores are regarded as some of the best strains ever produced and its hydrangeas have won gold medals at RHS Chelsea. Online, plants are divided into colour, type, month, soil type, aspect, hardiness and award, so you can easily navigate the extensive range. There are also categories such as ‘Perfect for sunny borders’ or ‘A touch of romance’ if you need further inspiration. Finally, check out the Gardener’s Corner where you’ll find a growing calendar, nursery notes and a useful glossary of terms.
The all-female team at Hayloft champion all sorts of rare, unusual and exciting plants – suitable for everything from large beds to kitchen gardens. Founded in 1993, the growing team now scrupulously nurture a variety of perennials, annuals and shrubs, while also following the latest trends, predicting future styles, and maintaining comprehensive varieties of everyone’s favourite garden staples. Expect specialist care and attention from the minute you place an order to when it’s delivered to your door – the customer care team are renowned for their superb aftercare service and professional advice.
What to look out for when buying online, according to the experts at Soto Gardens...
According to Will Williams, where, when and how plants are grown can impact the longevity, quality and their look. For example, an olive tree looks more attractive with a straight stem next to a front door in full sunshine. There’s a reason the sunny hills of Italy produce much stronger and attractive trees.”
We’re all used to the quick delivery times these days, but the plant world hasn’t quite caught up yet. Make sure you check the delivery arrangements. Some will deliver in a few working days while others will arrange a future delivery date to ensure plants are delivered in peak condition.
Ensure you look at the size of the nursery pot – few things are more disappointing than opening a package to find a tiny plant in the box. Ideally, you don’t want less than a 2l pot for a bedding plant.
Consider the quality of the plants – just as you would the quality of food or homeware. The budget supermarket product might be cheap, but does it look as good or last as long?
Check what aftercare service the site provides. Do they let you know how to look after your plants with tutorials, planting plans and specific plant guides? Check for guides, aftercare advice and video masterclasses so you don’t have to look for it elsewhere.
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