Larch Cottage Nurseries – Penrith

If surprise and wonder are your shtick, take 13 minutes out of  your M6 journey north or south and get along to Larch Cottage Nurseries just south of Penrith. I know, it sounds disarmingly underwhelming, and believe me the little terraced cottage entrance compounds the deception, for you have in fact found the horticultural equivalent of J K Rowling’s Platform 12 and three-quarters.

It’s an underwhelming entrance.. but with ’til you get inside!

It was created by Peter Stott over three decades ago when he was unable to find more unusual plants for his landscaping business. His vision to create a unique visitor experience has, unequivocally, been met. The site continues for acres – a huge collection of often hard-to-source plants in tip top condition, set amongst crumbling Roman ruins, yes that’s right, Doric columns, bridges, pillars, gurgling ryhls and magnificent borders all framed by the Penines in the long distance.
As it says in its charmingly eccentric leaflet – ‘More Umbria than Cumbria’.

Larch Cottage – how a garden ‘centre’ should be

Its principal role is as a retail nursery. The vast stock is logically set out in alphabetic order; shrub area; climbers; shade lovers etc each has its place in what feels like the charming remains of the Colosseum. There are gardens and a chapel and they wont disappoint but were closed for the winter when we visited and are only open two afternoons a week in summer (see below).  By adding a café – La Casa Verde – and gallery gift shop, you’d think the Stotts may have risked their integrity but no, they pull it off. The café is high-end hipster and the gallery and shop has stuff you actually want to keep yourself, never mind giving it to your mum.
The plants aren’t cheap but if they look this good in such challenging geography, they’re going to give you value.
If you’re seriously into plants this is a great nursery. It is the aesthet’s antidote to garden centres. And best of all – the border plants all have massively long labels – you don’t have to bend down to read them. Bravo!
Details: The centre itself is open for free seven days a week 9-5pm. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. They do online sales from their website.

The chapel (looks amazing, created by Peter) and gardens are open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, (1-4pm) from May 7 to October 4, raising money for charitable causes.

Postcode CA10 2DR. Tel: 01931 712404.

Caroline. 26.03.2017

North West, , , ,

2 Comments

  1. When visiting family in Lancashire years ago, I was taken to visit Larch Cottage Nurseries; it’s gardening heaven!
    I’m about to have a garden again after 5 years without and can’t wait to revisit LCN to find a few wonderful plants no one else has to fill some gaps I plan to create.
    Their Red Barn has some unique, beatiful jewellery as well as other goodies, and we always try to time a visit so that we can have lunch in la Casa Verde,

    1. Kathryn, Caroline here. I can really appreciate your excitement about having a garden again, having lived my life with and without one at various points. It brings so much more than plants – the prospect is almost like that of a new baby! Like you, we loved Larch Cottage which was a revelation when we visited. So much so, we took another weekend trip to the Lake District just to revisit it! Its back history and stock are so unique – something quite rare in life. Without a doubt we’ll be back there before the spring – maybe we’ll bump into one another! Thank you so much for leaving a comment – it means a lot to us XX

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