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BURFORD GARDEN CENTRE

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Farnham
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REVIEW SUMMARY

FOR
Excellent plant guarantee
Healthy plants
Pleasant layout of plants area
Good range of sheds and greenhouses

AVERAGE
Decor of interior sales area
Lack of rain protection in plants area

AGAINST
High prices especially noticeable on every day items.

Entrance to Burford Garden Centre

OPENING HOURS BURFORD GARDEN CENTRE


Open Close
Monday 9.00am 6.00pm
Tuesday 9.00am 6.00pm
Wednesday 9.00am 6.00pm
Thursday 9.00am 6.00pm
Friday 9.00am 6.00pm
Saturday 9.00am 6.00pm
Sunday 11.00am 5.00pm

 
EASTER OPENING TIMES

Good Friday - 9.00am to 6.00pm
Easter Saturday - 9.00am to 6.00pm
Easter Sunday - CLOSED
Easter Monday - 9.00am to 6.00pm
 

CHRISTMAS OPENING TIMES

Christmas Eve - 9.00am to 6.00
Christmas Day - CLOSED
Boxing Day - CLOSED
New Year's Eve - 9.00am to 6.00
New Year's Day - 9.00am to 6.00
 

BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY OPENING TIMES

Includes May and August Bank Holiday:
Open 9.00am, closes 6.00pm

OTHER CONTACT DETAILS



WEBSITE:
Click here for the website

GOOGLE MAP:
Click here for a Google map showing the location of this garden centre
   
EMAIL:
info@burford.co.uk
 
OWNER:
Privately owned

WEATHER FORECAST:
Click here for the weather forecast in the Burford area.

GARDEN CENTRE AND CAFE REVIEW

According to Horticulture Week, Burford Garden Centre is the fourth largest garden centre by turnover in the UK. It aims to be up-market, selling quality goods rather than going for the low end or middle market. The gardening side of the business is large but slowly more and more home ware goods and gifts are finding their way into to the store.

THE OUTSIDE AREA
The outside plants area at Burford Garden Centre provides a very pleasant shopping experience. The plant displays are laid out very well and points of interest are dotted around to maintain interest. One long, very attractive arch of roses is in the middle of the garden centre and several smaller ones provide further interest. Overall this is a very attractive area.

Camellias under cover

In most places the paths are wide with main ones being tarmac, smaller side paths are on relatively solid gravel. The area is kept clean with very few obstructions. The vast majority of the outside area offers no protection from rain although, as is normal, less hardy plants are housed in a covered area.

Garden buildings for sale

Overhead signs to enable quick location of plants is barely adequate. There are some signs but not sufficient for the hurried shopper.

VIDEO OF BURFORD GARDEN CENTRE

Shoppers for large greenhouses, garden buildings and sheds are spoilt for choice at Burford Garden Centre. Crane is the company which has this concession and they have done an impressive job in displaying their buildings. Garden pots are well featured as well with a good selection of larger pots. One we examined, unglazed, was selling for £375 but it would look superb planted up as a centre piece.

Greenhouses on display

To one side of the garden buildings is a display illustrating how to grow vegetables and other small plants in raised beds. On the other side of the garden centre is a covered area (unusual!) for composts and some other products. The cheapest large bag of of compost we found was Levingtons multi-purpose at £5.50 for a 60 litre bag, pricey. Better value was the three bags for £12 for the same multi purpose compost. There was a good selection of different composts and manures.

Plant pots

THE PLANTS
Plant quality is high with healthy plants and no weeds. Unique as far as we know is the Burford Garden Centre double plant guarantee. First, all hardy plants are guaranteed for a massive ten years. Second, prices are guaranteed so that the difference will be refunded if you can find a plant of the same specification locally.

Northern Polytunnels

Lots and lots of clematis were for sale and they were in good condition. We looked and looked for the cheaper ones but the cheapest we could find was selling at £11, higher than we would expect. Camellias also seemed to be something of a speciality at Burford Garden Centre with lots of healthy ones for sale. The choice of roses is also excellent, both David Austen and other types. Prices for roses start at £8.50, again, higher than the average garden centre.

INSIDE BURFORD GARDEN CENTRE
The overall impression of the interior sales area is dominated by the lower than normal ceiling made up of unattractive bare metal girders which, in places, span down to the floor. That said, the layout is good with lots of separate areas devoted to different items. Wander round for 10 minutes and, because of the size of the area, you will have lost your bearings entirely. The paths are mainly wide and there are no problems for wheelchair users.

Bird feed section

Because of the "shed-like" construction of the building, the piped music (admittedly our pet hate) is appalling. The acoustics are all wrong and the attempt to introduce an ambience to the

Prices for gardening goods at Burford's was definitely higher than normal. Amazingly the cheapest spade on offer was a £29 stainless steel one. The cheapest non-stainless steel spade was a Bulldog priced at £40. We would definitely suggest investigating prices elsewhere for these items before buying yours at Burford Garden Centre.

Interior view

Prices of a few other gardening items included 1 litre Tomorite at £4.50, and £5.25 for a standard box of Miracle Gro, both the highest prices for both items which we have encountered during our reviews this year.

The selection of houseplants is excellent, lots of them and very attractively displayed. Orchids in abundance was the key when we visited but there are many other different plants as well. Definitely going for the high end of the market, many of the plants were large specimens with matching price tags. The condition of the houseplants was tip top.

Garden tools

Bird life accessories including a large variety of wild bird feed and feeders which are well displayed and the range is large.

Gardening goods and houseplants aside, the remainder of the very large inside sales area is devoted to up market gifts, interior furnishings and accessories, books, cards, bathroom goodies, kitchen ware, Food Hall and lots more. Burford's website describes their non-gardening goods as "Perfect English, a little bit eccentric and eclectic". After our wander around their store that seems a fair description.

What Burford's website don't say is that the prices of these goods are Central London prices not those of a medium sized Oxford town. The pictures on the right hand side illustrate this clearly. A teapot cosy for £36!

They currently have no club / reward membership scheme at this garden centre. For a comparison of discount schemes available at other UK garden centres, click here.

DISABLED ACCESS
Access all round is excellent except for a very few areas in the interior sales area. Wheelchairs are available near the front entrance.

OTHER STUFF
Car park - Huge, big enough for all eventualities. Solid surface and well drained.

Pet Centre - Feeds and accessories

Aquatics - Feeds and accessories

Water Features - A reasonably good selection

Sheds and Greenhouses - Excellent range of up market greenhouses and garden buildings

Toilets - Gents, ladies, baby-changing facilities and for the disabled. The gents were clean and well-maintained. Our female reviewer was not impressed with the ladies though. The lock on one of the doors didn't work leading to an embarrassing moment! Flushing the toilet after minimal use showed it to be blocked. She was definitely not impressed.

Children's Play Area - set well away from the main garden centre there is a children's play area. It looked good fun and there were lots of children using it.

CONCLUSION
Excellent plants which are well displayed. Up market goods for sale in the interior sales area. Scratch the surface just a little however and the overwhelming impression is one of higher prices than normal.

CAFE AT BURFORD GARDEN CENTRE


THE PRICES

Main meals were at the top end price-wise for a garden centre cafe. The main meals ranged from £7 to £10 which seemed a bit high. For example a home made beef burger would set you back £9 which seemed over the top to us.

Teas and coffees were £1.95 and a good pint of beer was only £3. The sandwiches were good quality and the price of £4 was reasonable for the quality of the bread and filling.

RANGE OF FOOD
There were four main meal specials to chose from when we visited. The meals were braised beef and red peppers at £9, mushroom and chestnut filo pastry pie £7, fish pie £10 and beef burger at £9. The selection of snack meals was rather limited to sandwiches and baguettes.

Cafe cakes

No toasties, paninis or baked potatoes were available as far as we could see. There was a good number of sandwiches and baguettes to choose from though, plus a "choose your own" selection of salads at £6.

Main meals are served between 12 and 3. For early birds, the breakfast menus is served between 9 and 11 (not on Sundays). The Burford breakfast, which is a full English, costs £7, other breakfast items such as porridge cost around £4.

Cafe food 1

This is a licensed cafe and beers and lagers were on sale. A self-service draught beer was also available. There were lots of home made cakes to choose from and the ones we had were very tasty.

Cafe food 2

To one side of the main cafe is the Little Burford cafe aimed at kids. The meals cost a very reasonable £2.95 and that includes a drink as well. It's all decorated in bright colours for the kids and looked very attractive. Having said that, most kids were still eating in the main cafe area. Beware of the toy shop, which is situated immediately beside the kid's cafe, if you care about your wallet! It's laid out to get the attention of children and is very pricey.

Also just off the cafe there is a "children's cinema". In reality this is a medium sized television in a small room, see the pictures on the left and right.

QUALITY OF FOOD
The quality of the food is very good, excellent ingredients, well presented and it lives up to the description of being home made.

Cafe seating area

DECOR AND SEATING
The cafe area is set into the main garden centre with no real separation from it. It's really a matter of taste if you prefer a separate seating area or one open to the main garden centre. We weren't particularly impressed because it allows little opportunity to give the area any character. Sitting in the cafe and contemplating the surroundings, it's difficult to get away from the fact that you are sat in a metal shed. We feel that something more could have been done to provide a pleasant cafe environment.

The tables and chairs were mainly set out in simple rows although a side area was a little less regimented. The tables and chairs were of chunky wood which was attractive although the table we sat at hardly allowed us to get our knees under it.

SERVICE IN THE CAFE
Service is quick and pleasant with very little waiting for food. Principally self-service although we did see some meals being served to the tables.

CONCLUSION - CAFE
The food is good but expensive for what you are getting. The cafe decor and surroundings are average. Service is quick and pleasant.

CHRISTMAS AT BURFORD



When you first enter Burford Garden Centre during the Christmas period there is little or no sign of anything festive. The general appearance is one of business as usual.

Go further into the garden centre however, and the influence of Christmas becomes immediately apparent. There is a reasonable selection of Christmas decorations for sale as well as gifts. But for such a large garden centre they are certainly bucking the trend by devoting relatively little of the sales are to Christmas items. For some this may be a good thing, for others not so good.

The Christmas decorations and gifts are all set out in one area which has three or four centre pieces, some excellent some not so good. The kids toy section, elsewhere in the store, remains much as it does for the remainder of the year. There is a small attempt to make it look festive but it is only a small one. There is a reasonable range of synthetic Christmas trees and we assume real ones will be available nearer Christmas.

Christmas 2

We looked around for signs of any Christmas interest for the kids, possibly a visit from Santa Claus. But none was to be found so we strongly suspect that this will not be the favourite garden centre for your kids.

Christmas 3

We then visited the cafe, there were no adverts for special Christmas menus or kids seasonal meals so it looks like Christmas will also be a restrained affair at the cafe.

Christmas 4

To sum up, Burford Garden centre have a fair range of Christmas decorations and trees but nothing special for the fourth largest garden centre in the UK by turnover. If you are looking for gifts, their normal giftware section is excellent and will provide you with plenty of choice but few Christmas novelties. Opening hours during the festive period remain as per normal and they are closed on Christmas day.

We hope you have enjoyed and benefited from this independent review of Burford Garden Centre. Remember that it is our opinion and may be the result of one visit only. If you are the owner of Burford Garden Centre and want to discuss this review with us then please contact us by going to our "contact us" page which can be found here.

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