Hannah is a world record breaker!

With one of our Taunton team members taking part in the Müller British Athletics Championships we were keen to find out the results! The Championships took place on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th September at the Manchester Regional Arena. The event was held behind closed doors.

With para-only events being staged at these championships for the first time, we were so thrilled to see Otter Garden Centre team member, Hannah Taunton, do so well. Hannah broke the women’s T20 5000m world record in a time of 17 minutes, 17 seconds (17:17.30)!

Hannah has worked in Otter Taunton Garden Centre for many years and is a vital part of our plants team. Colleagues describe Hannah as some who always has a lovely smile on her face and enjoys caring for the plants at the garden centre.

From everyone at Otter Garden Centres, and especially Rob and all the team in Taunton who work with Hannah, we would like to say a huge congratulations for breaking a world record, this is a massive achievement and we are all very proud of you!


Face coverings from July 24th

From July 24th it will be compulsory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England.

We are asking all our customers to adhere to this and to come to Otter with your face covering ready to wear.

Exemptions will apply, please click below for full details of the latest government guidance:


The government has issued this information on why wearing a face covering is important:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread predominantly by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.

A face covering should:

  • cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably
  • fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
  • be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
  • be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
  • ideally include at least two layers of fabric (the World Health Organisation recommends three depending on the fabric used)
  • unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged

When wearing a face covering you should:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
  • avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
  • avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
  • change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it

When removing a face covering:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
  • only handle the straps, ties or clips
  • do not share with someone else to use
  • if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle


Celebrating 95th birthday with a return to Otter!

The red carpet was rolled out for a very special customer at our Ottery St Mary garden centre when Lionel Smith paid a visit to mark his 95th birthday. It was the first time Lionel had left home since lockdown measures were introduced, and he came with wife Barbara to choose his birthday presents.

Otter team members worked hard – within social distancing guidelines – to make his visit memorable. They rolled out the red carpet, with a banner, balloons, cake and birthday card from founders Marilyn and Malcolm White, signed by many team members.

Lionel and Barbara moved to Devon 30 years ago after Lionel retired as a scientist. A very keen gardener, his first question to a new neighbour was “where can I find a good garden centre?” and he was duly directed to Otter. Lionel and Barbara have been loyal customers ever since. Barbara says, “All our garden has come from Otter!”

The garden centre seemed the obvious choice for the big day. Daughter and son-in-law Jenny and Tony Seculer drove from Newbury in Berkshire for a socially distanced shop with them. Lionel brought his shopping list; first up were the basics, like orchid compost and other essentials, but his face lit up with a smile when he saw the plants.

“Lionel has such a love of gardening and passed that to Jenny, who took a degree in horticulture,” explained Tony. “When they got to selecting plants, it was like watching two children in a sweetshop!”

Our Managing Director Jacqui Taylor was on hand to wish Lionel a happy birthday. “We’re delighted that Lionel decided to spend his 95th birthday with us, and we hope he enjoyed his birthday cake! Many of our customers are regulars who have shopped at Otter for many, many years, and we feel like they’re part of our family.”

Happy Birthday Lionel from all the team at Otter!


ELF wishing well update

Ongoing support for Elf

Back in 2015 our Ottery St Mary garden centre supported Exeter Leukaemia Fund (Elf) as charity of the year, raising over £8,000 to help with the building of the Family Suite at the Yarty Ward. The suite was designed for haematology patients facing critical or terminal illness, and their families. It has a living area, family en-suite bedroom and patient bedroom with access to a private garden, allowing families to enjoy home comforts and privacy whilst going through difficult times.

We also pledged to provide the plants and accessories for the garden, giving a peaceful space for patients and their families to relax together. In 2017, as the Yarty Ward was about to open, our team planted up the garden areas with a selection of plants including Phylostachys Nigra, Rhododendron, Clematis and Pinus. The Otter team has also continued to help maintain the garden.

We also support ELF in another way. Many customers will recognise the ELF wishing well – this has been a feature at our Ottery St Mary branch for some years and has been an ongoing source of income for the charity, thanks to the generosity of customers who like to throw their spare change into the well.

ELF recently announced that the total raised from the well over the last few years has reached over £2,800. Particularly at this time when charities are struggling with funds after having to cancel so many fundraising events, it is nice to know that your spare pennies are making a difference!

Elf Fundraiser, Gary Moore said: “Exeter Leukaemia Fund is eternally grateful to Otter and their customers for continually supporting Elf via the wishing well. It is amazing how much this well has raised in recent years from small donations of loose change.”

So, next time you visit our Ottery branch, look out for the wishing well, opposite the entrance to the plants centre. If you happen to have a few pence in your pocket, purse or wallet, please do make a donation for this local charity – “every little helps”!

Elf aims to lighten the load, supporting families affected by blood cancers and disorders across the South West.

Coronavirus – FAQ’s

Instead of calling our garden centres, check below to see if your question is answered below:

Are the toilets open in your garden centres?
  • Yes, at this time the toilets are open, although we ask if you can only use these if essential
Can I use vouchers from the Otter Beautiful Gardens Spring magazine dated March or April?
  • We are sorry we will not be accepting vouchers dated March or April from our Beautiful Gardens Magazine in our garden centres
  • We have very limited stock of the Parsley plant advertised as a May voucher, we are sorry that this may not be available.
If my Otter Gift Card expired between March 24th & May 13th can I still use this?
  • If your Otter gift card was due to expire whilst we were closed, we will be very happy to extend the period of time that this can be used in our garden centres, please visit your local Otter Garden Centre centre with the card and ask to speak to the branch manager or supervisor who will help you.
Are you extending your 28 day refund / exchange policy for purchases made between February 25th and March 24th ?
  • For purchases made prior to our store closure on March 23rd, we have extended our time period for refunds. We normally offer a refund or exchange within 28 days of purchase. If you purchased goods between February 25th and March 24th 2020, you will be able to bring these into our garden centres for an exchange or refund up until the end of June 2020. This does not affect your statutory rights.

Seeds – Postal Service

We are now offering a telephone order service where will be able to take orders for seed packets which we will post to your home address with Royal Mail.

All you need to do is to call us on the number below, where one of our team members will take details of your order and can provide advice on which seeds to choose too. The postage & packing cost is approximately £1.50 per envelope. Depending on the seeds chosen, we can fit 4-6 packets in one envelope – our team will be able to give you the exact postage cost when you call. We are sorry that we can only post to addresses in the UK.

We have excellent stock of all seeds including vegetables, salad, herbs, summer bedding, flower seeds, perfect for pollinators, and much more. We also have a range of ‘Mr Men’ & ‘Little Miss’ seeds from Thompson & Morgan suitable for children, so this may be the ideal time to introduce them to gardening and the joys of seed sowing! The brands we have in stock include Thompson & Morgan, Johnsons, Mr Fothergill’s, Mr Fothergill’s David Domoney range and Mr Fothergill’s RHS range.

Please call our team on the number below between 9.30am and 4pm Monday to Friday. If you can’t get through, please try another number, or call us back later:

01404 815815

The lines are usually quieter after midday.

We are sorry, our Seed Hotline phone lines are only available Monday to Friday.

Happy Sowing and Growing from all the Otter Team!

School Dinners from Otter!

Normally our restaurant in Ottery is very busy on a Sunday, with 8 chefs, 14 kitchen assistants and 10 waiting staff managing our popular Sunday Roast service. Today two of our chefs were delighted to be back in the kitchen again – this time working on a voluntary basis, although unlike their usual work environment it has been very quiet in the kitchen!  Today…. you could hear a pin drop!

Although the restaurant is closed to customers, our two chefs – Neil & Arron – were kept very busy. The reason?  They have been making 300 school dinners for local schools for the children of key workers, and for delivery to vulnerable children.

We’d learned that one hard working school cook was being asked to cook school meals seven days a week for a fortnight over the Easter period. The schools have stayed open every day to support the children of key workers doing vital jobs to keep us all safe. Additionally, there are a number of vulnerable children who require a meal delivered to them each day.

As we have a large commercial kitchen currently standing empty, we volunteered to help by making and donating the meals so that the school cook can at least have two days off work next week.  When she learned she could have two days off the school cook was over the moon! Before the coronavirus outbreak she was due to be going away holiday over Easter, so not only was she missing her cancelled holiday, she was also expecting to have to be in work every day. We are so pleased to step in and help, and give her a bit of a break.

MD of Otter, Jacqui Taylor, commented that if the situation continues, Otter will be pleased to cook and supply more meals. “Everyone wants to help the NHS teams and all key workers right now. We are thrilled that this is something practical that we can do, and it’s one way we can donate our help whilst we are closed.”

The ‘Otter School Meal Menu’ this week includes:

Roast chicken with roast potatoes and vegetables, home-made chicken pie with mash potatoes and vegetables, and home-made cottage pie with peas and carrots

And for the all-important pudding, a slice of home-made flapjack or shortbread!

Not sure which seeds to choose?

If you’d like to start seed sowing whilst you are at home but not sure which seeds to buy, we can help you!

By clicking on the link at the bottom you’ll find a helpful chart which provides excellent information on seed sowing and harvesting times, along with a guide on which seeds can be sown directly outdoors into the soil, and which need to be started inside. We are now providing a postal service for seeds, click here to see our news post for more information on this service.

Happy Sowing & Growing from Otter!

Please click below :-

Seed Sowing Guide

Support for Shekinah Mission

Staff and customers at our Plymouth garden centre raised over £3,550 during 2019 for local charity Shekinah Mission.

Donations came through a variety of events and initiatives, from the collecting tins at the tills to staff raffles, plus a visit from traditional woodturners who generously donated £350. In addition, the Christmas launch day and festive animation displays featuring a popular group of singing penguins and talking reindeer also attracted plenty of donations from customers. Fundraising was kept on track by our Plymouth Front of House Manager & Events Coordinator, Adele.

Shekinah is a Devon and Cornwall based charity that supports people experiencing homelessness predominately rough sleeping, and anyone experiencing issues with addiction, criminality or mental health issues. The charity treats everyone as individuals, working with them so they can continue their journey which may be back into housing or employment.

Shekinah’s Community, Events and Enterprise Manager Andy Kebby says “The support from all the team at Otter Garden Centre at Plymouth has been amazing; the company has been very generous as they also donated tools and raffle prizes throughout the year which helped us a great deal.”

The money raised will be spent on keeping a 365-day service at the charity’s Drop In Centre on Bath Street.

Andy explains “Anyone accessing our services at the Drop In Centre will get support with benefit and debt advice, housing support and advice, access to health professionals such as GPs, mental health workers and support with addiction or criminality. We also have a team of Navigators who work with a caseload of people to help them back into their own accommodation, which runs a 7 day a week support service.

“We receive very little funding to keep our Drop In open so we rely on the generosity of businesses and members of the public to raise funds or donate money so we can continue to help people who really need it the most.”

In 2020, Otter Garden Centre Plymouth is supporting the RNLI, as chosen by the staff who were keen to support a charity with relevance to the coastal area they live and work in.

Fantastic fundraising for Hospiscare

The charity team at our Ottery St Mary Garden Centre has revealed a fantastic total of over £11,500 raised for 2019 charity of the year, Hospiscare.

Branch Manager, John Giblin says “Our fundraising efforts were helped immensely by the help we had from the Otter Vale Friends of Hospiscare, a local group of volunteers who supported many of our fundraising activities. They were amazing and worked really hard to make the partnership a success, which is reflected in the brilliant amount raised.”

The volunteers were headed up by Steve Pearcy, whose wife received end of life support from the adult hospice charity.

Events run throughout the year included a tombola at the garden centre in April and another at the Ottery Food & Families Festival in June. Fundraising at staff-held quiz nights and two bingo nights, was terrific.

John says “On one of the bingo nights the weather was terrible and we were worried we’d have a low turnout – we were amazed as family members and friends of the Hospiscare volunteers kept coming through the doors – in the end the event was a huge success and on its own raised over £1,000 for the charity!”

Richard Cousins from Hospiscare adds: “I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the fundraising over the year; our amazing volunteers, all the wonderful staff at Otter Garden Centre, and customers who donated so generously. The money raised will cover the costs of 225 visits by Hospiscare nurses to patients in the East Devon area and will allow us as a charity to really make a difference in the local community.”

The branch will continue its support of Hospiscare in 2020 as the charity launches its Hospiscare@Home appeal in East Devon, and the volunteers from Otter Vale Friends are looking forward to another successful fundraising year and to equal – if not better – last year’s total.