I used to work in a library.

It was a long time ago, in the pre-Google era when libraries were the place to go if you wanted to find something out or look something up.

Even so, I’ve never been to a library like the one at the Avondale Nursery, in Bagington near Coventry, although there were similarities.

We found out about Avondale through the ‘100 Best Independent Nurseries Guide’ in a recent Gardens Illustrated magazine. We visited this week and were pleasantly surprised. Real knowledge and enthusiasm, and a great stock of plants which were nicely presented and well organised. It has staff who are both interested in the plants they sell and the customers who might buy them… a pleasant antedote to the now ubiquitous garden centres which only seem interested in growing their profits.

What really stood out though, was their plant library.

What a good idea.

The library is free to visit (all you have to do is ask), and it displays some of the plants you might consider buying… in a way, it’s a kind of try before you buy environment.

Each plant is labelled clearly with its proper Latin name and the more commonly used one. It’s well organised. Different varieties are planted together so that you can compare and contrast.

The library is not just a showpiece for what’s on sale. There’s plenty there that can’t be bought because they are newly planted. And there’s a serious element to it too. It contains national collections of three species of wood anemones, asters and sanguisorbas.

The whole thing is beautifully kept and maintained, enhancing your visit and making you realise that this nursery really is a cut above the rest.


As well as enjoying the calm and serene environment, I definitely felt I was somewhere that was serious about plants and – in an understated way – was interested in spreading knowledge and learning.

Of course, buying plants and visiting the library is thirsty work. There’s no tea shop at Avondale but you’ll be pleased to know that there is one just 100 yards away at another garden centre which is based on the same site.

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