The Palm Centre, Richmond, Surrey

Hotter summers are great news for growing Palms in the UK

Check out this excellent nursery near London

The Palm Centre

Located not far from Kew Gardens is The Palm Centre which claims to be one of the leading exotic plant nurseries in the UK.

This impressive nursery not only stocks a range of palms but also propogates from seed – this means your carbon footprint can be kept low knowing that very few air miles have been used in the production of the plants that you buy. This is an issue that many gardeners are becoming increasingly concerned about.

I visited the Palm Centre to check out the range of 400 species that is on offer and experience the advice and information available. The Palm Centre is located next to Ham House, just half an hour from Central London by road or a bus ride from Richmond tube station. It has the feel of the countryside sitting behind a lovely old brick wall which opens into an enclosed nursery set around many glass houses.There were many assistants wandering around offering advice whenever I needed it – including the very helpful Tim pictured with me here:


The display includes everything from bananas, phormiums, cordylines, agaves, olives, eucalyptus for opurchase over the counter and by mail order

The most impressive thing for me was the passion for plants and the desire not just to sell me something, but make sure that I really understood what I was buying. The owner, Martin Gibbons, started the business over 14 years ago developing his hobby of collecting exotic plants into a thriving business that now houses a wonderful collection of oriental, tropical, arid and temperate exotic garden plants suitable for UK gardensrich-kew-008

There are an enormous range of palms to choose from with delectable names such as- Windermere , Jelly, Yatay, Mexican Blue, Chilean Wine – all transporting me to some exotic destination before I remembered that actually these palms have to deal with the unpredictability of the english climate. Back to reality with a few questions about hardiness, growth patterns etc

Tim asked me crucial questions about my garden, where I wanted to plant and what the soil was like.These are key factors when investing in these types of plants as they are often fairly expensive and it is important to make sure they will survive. He suggested that the best palm for hardiness in UK gardens is the Chusan Palm or Trachycarpus Fortuneii from China which has large, fan-shaped leaves on the top of a spectacular, hairy trunk. If fed and watered well, It can grow to a massive 18-21ft (6-7m) but if your garden is small, there is a miniature version available which reaches a more comfortable 12-15ft(4-5m).

There is more excellent information about the range of outdoor and indoor palms available on the nursery web-site

Owner Martin Gibbons has also written THE best selling palm book called “Palms – the illustrated guide to palm species” which has illustrations and characteristics of 120 of the world’s most common palms.This book is available in 3 languages via amazon and is the culmination of many years of being both a nurseryman and an international plant hunter.

I was impressed by the number of plants that are being propogated for sale by the nursery- and not just palms.Tim showed me some agave that were being cultivated in a greenhouse using seed that the nusery had collected themselves from Mexico. These are a variety called Agave Montana which survive well in our wetter winters – in fact my own agave in a pot had been challenged this winter by wet and frost . Tim added a piece of expert advice about positioning it on a slope so that the water drains off rather than sits in the leaves – invaluable words of advice that I had not even asked for.

The Palm Centre lived up its claim of being one of THE specialist nurseries for palms and other exotics with its combination of invaluable advice from horticultural assistants, an impressive range of plants in a suberb location and the reputation of its owner, Martin Gibbons.



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- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Victoria Says:

    I agree. I would highly recommend trachycarpus – good in a pot, or in the ground. I find Chamaerops humilis is also hardy (in London) and reasonably good in a pot, but much more prickly. Ditto Phoenix canariensis. I also have Washingtonia robusta, which took a fearful pummelling in the cold winter, and is only just beginning to look respectable again. The trachycarpus on the other hand always looks good and doesn’t scratch you when you brush past!

  2. Valeri Says:

    Of course in Cornwall we’ve been growing palms for years as the climate is so mild. Those such as Draceanas are very common and I notice that banana trees are becoming a common sight too. I think I’d like to have a go at growing agaves, especially if I could make my own agave nectar! Val

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