When a friend offered to take me to a garden centre that was also a vintage shop and cafe, I jumped at the chance to go with her; three of my favourite things all in one place! Alexandra Nurseries sits on an unsuspecting corner in South East London, in Penge, somewhat hidden behind a brick wall.
Behind the bricks what you find is something of an oasis. Stepping inside is a total delight; you feel like you’ve entered someone’s beautiful garden. The only difference is the plants are for sale; all beautifully arranged on various vintage tables and fixtures, many of them British-grown despite the nursery’s small size.
Housed in the former caretaker’s office and maintenance workshop for Alexandra Cottages (a small estate built in 1866), the whole place couldn’t be more different to your usual garden centre. There’s character and charm at every turn.
Inside the building is a small shop selling a variety of vintage items and locally made gifts – French enamelware through to handmade soaps. Plus there’s a weeny cafe where you can order tea and cake and sit and admire all the lovely plants. They’ve thoughtfully provided lap blankets in case it’s chilly, while upstairs you can hide away and pour over a wonderful selection of vintage gardening books. Bliss!
Images by Leigh Metcalf