The Nursery

Our nursery had a rather modest beginning, with Rosy Hardy and her husband Rob hitting on the idea of growing and selling plants from their own back garden at local car boot sales.  That was back in 1988, when they both had a lot more hair.  Since then, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants has grown from strength to strength, attracting many loyal customers and winning hundreds of awards.  We are now recognised as one of the UK’s leading independent nurseries for herbaceous perennials.  

Still very much a family-run nursery, we believe we offer an unrivalled selection of 1,200 varieties of herbaceous perennials, from proven garden favourites to the more unusual and noteworthy.  These are all grown outside in peat free compost, at our 13 acre site in the beautiful Hampshire village of Freefolk.  You should come and see our stunning views over the Test Valley.  

As dedicated plantaholics, we really enjoy growing an exciting range of high quality plants that will thrive in your garden, whatever its situation or conditions, and make you smile. 

 

Rosy Hardy holding Guara Rosy Shimmers
But we do not just grow plants, we also breed and propagate our own varieties, including our well known range of Gaura, plus launch new introductions from other breeders.  ( Here's Rosy pictured with GAURA 'Rosy Shimmers' )

If that was not enough, Rosy and Rob are kept busy on the road, exhibiting our home-grown plants at numerous flower shows and events throughout the year. Together with the team back at the nursery, they have achieved many awards over the years including an outstanding 21 RHS Chelsea Gold Medals. 

Find an event near you
Dogs are welcome at the nursery

Come visit us

All visitors, including four legged friends, are welcome at our nursery in Freefolk, as long as they, the hounds that is, are kept on a short lead.  Our knowledgeable, horticulturally trained staff are very approachable, down to earth and eager to help you find your perfect plants. They nurture each plant, from the start of its life at the nursery, all the way into the boot of your car.  And boy, are they skilled at packing plants safely into the back of a car!

We know that not everyone is a plantaholic, so if you need to bring one along as your bag carrier or driver, we will try to keep them amused in our homely crèche, equipped with proper coffee machine (other hot drinks are available too), comfy chairs, interesting books and magazines.  You never know, you might just want to take a break here from all that browsing through our plants too.  

Here at the nursery, we hold a variety of events including a very popular series of talks and propagation workshops run by Rosy herself, plus throughout the year exciting guest speakers from the horticultural world join us to speak about their specialist subject too.  

We also host an annual Charity Open Day to raise money for our local young people and children's hospice Naomi House and Jacksplace.  Come along and join us - it is always great fun and fantastic bargains are to be had.

We accept both National Garden Gift Vouchers and Cards.  On request we can supply our very own Hardy's Gift Vouchers which can be redeemed at the nursery against the cost of plants or a place on one of our popular talks - please email or ring us for more information.
 

 

 

Our opening hours & how to find us
Freefolk Laverstoke and Whitchurch. Local places of interest.
If you are coming for a day out, there is a lot to do in and around Freefolk too.

At the bottom of our lane, a gentle 200m stroll away, there is a superb pub called the Watership Down, which does a rather scrummy lunch.  The River Test and the Mill Trail walk, plus St Nicholas' Church, a veritable jewel of a chapel, is only a short walk further on.  

Another lure is Bombay Sapphire, located a mile away in the next village, Laverstoke. You can tour the distillery, including the fabulously restored original Georgian buildings, learn more than you ever thought you needed to know about gin and sample the famous tipple itself.  Every bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin across the world is distilled in Laverstoke Mill.

Two miles further on from Laverstoke lies Spring Pond, a stunning garden with individual garden rooms that wrap around a set of beautifully converted brick and flint farm buildings . A private garden, it opens for the NGS and by appointment.

 

Bere Mill Farm

 

A mile from the nursery along the B3400 towards Whitchurch, you will find Bere Mill, Portal's original working paper mill that made the first Bank of England notes in 1716. Its garden is strongly influenced by both the River Test that flows through it and oriental garden design. Bere Mill is another private garden which opens for the NGS and by appointment (pictured).

Whitchurch Silk Mill, located 2 miles away in Whitchurch itself, is a stunning industrial heritage site. This Georgian Water Mill weaves silk using 19th Century machinery and is the oldest silk mill in the UK that remains in its original building.  As its exhibition will tell you, many a period drama has been graced with its opulent silks.

 

 

Turn your visit into a day out

Right plant for the right place

Our aim is for you to go home happy with the right plant for a particular spot in your garden.  

To make it easier for you to look at and select from our plants, they are all displayed on raised benches.  Colourful displays are also created around the Sales Shed to inspire and showcase combinations of plants that look stunning at that particular time in the year.

New for this year is our demonstration area, where we can lay out your plants as if in your garden.  It makes choosing plants so much easier and a lot of fun.

Plants in our sales area are displayed in the different sections below, to help you find and put together your own plant combinations: 

  • Colour benches reflecting all the main floral colours, loaded with examples of all our currently looking good blooms

  • Foliage tables for both sunny and shady conditions 

  • Shade loving plants, separated into spring, summer and autumn

  • Sun loving plants, again grouped into spring, summer and autumn

  • Moisture loving plants, which thrive in damp or boggy conditions

  • Specialist tables displaying groups of plants such as alpines and herbs 

  • Specific plant genus tables for Peony, Geranium and Penstemon

  • Shrubs which we particularly like and know will thrive in a garden 

If you know your botancial plant names, we also have an A-Z plant list available on request, which will help guide you to their location quickly.

If you cannot find the plant that you are looking for, please do not hesitate to ask a member of staff, who will check our stock areas, or let you know when the plant will be available.

If you are travelling from afar, please email or phone before your visit, to check that we have the plant that you are seeking in stock.

As well as providing plants to the public, we have worked with many Professional Gardeners, Garden Designers and Landscape Contractors over the years and warmly welcome any trade enquiries. For further details ....

 

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