New South Wales
Whether you have a green thumb or you’d just like to enjoy a coffee surrounded by flowers and chickens instead of the noise of busy suburban traffic, a trip to the right plant nursery can be a relaxing way to spend a weekend morning. With enough space for the kids to run around and enough caffeine to keep the parents happy, these are North Shore mums’ top picks for garden-variety entertainment.
After you’ve had a mooch around the garden centre and been tempted by the stylish homewares, relax over coffee or lunch while the kids can play. The Vines has just been taken over by new owners (and given a new name) and it offers a new and exciting menu with lots of gluten-free options. It overlooks a gated and shaded children’s playground within the grounds of Flower Power. Plenty of easy parking too!
Attached to Hills Flower Market, Piemonte Cafe and Restaurant serves Australian cuisine with an Italian twist. Choose a seat on the balcony which overlooks the exquisite gardens, and keep an eye on the kids who will be entranced by the secure, enclosed playground. Truly family-friendly, the cafe even has a baby change room for the smallest member of the family.
Lynne: The cafe has delicious organic coffee and looks out on to the playground so you can relax while you keep an eye on your kids outside
New Leaf Nursery are experts in edible plants, landscaping and raised garden beds, but are specialists in poultry, with chickens and ducks available to buy at the nursery. The centre offers a petting zoo and free buckets of feed so kids can get up close and personal with cute critters like bunnies, guinea pigs and the famous ‘pink chickens’
Sophia: New Leaf Nursery on Powderworks Rd is my all-time favourite. Very home-grown, hand-made and friendly with chickens wandering around the garden beds and old tricycles for your kids to play on. Go for the products they sell or just for a fun family excursion – you’ll definitely leave happy
Elizabeth: New Leaf Nursery, Ingleside – it’s fantastic for kids!
Boasting an impressive nursery, Eden Gardens is also home to the Dragonfly cafe, serving fresh seasonal produce for breakfast and lunch dishes, with a wine list available. The display gardens are terrific and are often the spectacular backdrop for weddings. Keep an eye on the Eden Gardens calendar for events like the Gnome Roam or the Junior MasterChef gardens challenge.
Sarah: Eden Gardens is my top pick for their yum breakfasts and their amazing gardens at Halloween- with giant pumpkins!
Cafe Salinga – another name for the Sydney eucalyptus, or the blue gum- is situated in Australia’s only metropolitan state forest, Cumberland State Forest. The picturesque surroundings are the perfect place to enjoy the offerings at the cafe, including breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea with an assortment of cakes, cookies, raisin toast and croissants plus heartier fare like salads, burgers and pasta. Outside, pick up a native plant from the on-site nursery.
Sara: After being at the nursery and cafe in the Cumberland State Forest today I would definitely recommend. Loads of space for running around, lovely bushland, decent coffee, and dog-friendly too
Kaija: Cafe Belle Fleur at FlowerPower Glenhaven has a great playground and a dam with ducks and geese
Greenshades Cafe Restaurant is set in a restored old farmhouse in the midst of a plant nursery, with a view over the gardens. The cafe itself offers both indoor and outdoor dining, with the outdoor section covered in a lovely green trellis vine. The surrounds are studded with Italian statues -including two fierce-looking guard dogs at the entrance- and besides snapping up a sapling or two at the nursery, you can also buy beautiful antiques for your collection.
Kaija: Greenshades has another great playground and loads of seating either indoors or outside near a lovely fountain.
More outdoor fun for the whole family…