Whether you are organising a day trip, or just stopping off during a lengthy journey further afield, garden centres are packed with more than just your garden essentials. They will be able to offer you, and your passengers, a multitude of delights. We’ve picked our favourite – and coach friendly – garden centres to help you plan your next group’s excursion.
Specialising in roses, Peter Beales (NR17 1AY) is home to a two-acre display garden which passengers will love venturing around to stretch their legs. But it’s not just about the roses. The gardens also host events throughout the year which can be great when setting a group itinerary.
If you wanted to give your group a little something extra during your visit, you may want to opt for the group guided tours and refreshment packages that are available.
And for the driver there is free entry as well as complimentary refreshments.
Baytree in Weston, Lincolnshire (PE12 6JU) is more than just a garden centre. It is home to an owl and wildlife centre as well as an antiques centre which makes it a great day out for groups. Plus, the on-site restaurant can easily accommodate groups if you are only able to stop for a short period. Coaches of any size are welcome here, and there is plenty of dedicated parking.
If a driver brings a group of 15 or more into the restaurant, they can receive a free meal themselves.
Although it’s not essential to book prior to your visit, the garden centre says: “It does help if we know rough numbers prior to arrival.”
Located on the Springfields outlet shopping and leisure site (PE12 6EU), Springfields Home and Garden has a wealth of products including patio furniture and clothes. It also has a café where passengers can enjoy light refreshments during their visit.
Coach parties can be booked through the outlet centre, and since there are multiple retailers in close proximity, it makes a great day-long venture for passengers.
Coach drivers can receive a £10 voucher, which can either be spent on food in the garden centre’s own restaurant, or at one of the other food outlets on the outlet shopping and leisure site.
The Van Hage Garden Centre (PE1 4YZ) sits on Peterborough One Retail Park. This hub of activity has plenty of outlets to visit making it a great day out for passengers.
The garden centre is accommodating to drivers. It can offer coach drivers either a breakfast, a two-course lunch, or a slice of cake (all with an option of tea or coffee) dependent on the time of day they visit. The voucher for this is at the Van Hage Customer Service Desk and is redeemed when the driver checks in.
Also, the park can offer a £20 store voucher to drivers, this is for any store at Peterborough One. After checking in at customer services, the driver can say which store they would like the voucher for, and it will be ready for collection at the end of the visit. There are some terms and conditions drivers need to meet, and Van Hage asks to be notified before you and your group plan to attend.
Just inside of the M25 is Polhill (TN14 7AD), this expansive family-owned garden centre has a number of departments for your passengers to enjoy, including toys and clothes.
There is a restaurant on site where drivers are entitled to free food and refreshments, and there is also a £10 cash incentive for coach operators too. There are more terms and conditions on the website, but you should be aware that this only applies to parties which are booked more than 24 hours in advance (by 1600hrs on Friday for the weekend) and you need more than 25 passengers on board too.
Dunstable-based Poplars (LU5 6HE) gives drivers a £10 cash incentive as well as lunch if you book in with a party of 30 or more. Minibuses and other coaches may have to ask for the incentive when booking if you have fewer passengers. There is coach parking near the entrance to the garden centre which is great for infirm passengers.You are still able to take passengers here without booking, but you may not receive the driver incentive.
Frosts is part of Millets Farm Centre (OX13 5HB) and is in Oxfordshire. The farm centre makes it ideal for a day trip, and drivers can receive a £15 meal allowance in the Farmhouse Kitchen Restaurant if you book in advance. It also accommodates groups who are there for a coffee break.There is free coach parking on site which is next to the garden centre.
Mere Park (TF10 9BY) is a garden centre nestled in Shropshire and is home to multiple departments and retailers – including Premier Inn and Edinburgh Woollen Mill – which makes for a great day trip for passengers.It does offer benefits for coach drivers and asks that you contact beforehand to arrange your visit.