Garden Centre Association

The GCA has its origins in the very roots of the garden centre movement, which surprisingly has only been in existence for around half a century.

The association was established in 1966 by the early pioneers wishing to make plants available year-round and make gardening more accessible. The term ‘garden centre' was not coined until the early 1960s – before that, gardeners bought their plants from nurseries or by mail order.


One of its first decisions when the association was set up, more than 50 years ago now, was to set up an inspection scheme for members, who were entitled to “Approved Centre” status. The inspections still take place, annually, today.

In 1967, the group joined the European Alliance which included similar associations within the fledgling industry. This group eventually became the International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) and today this group includes associations from around the world with countries such as Australia, Japan and the United States represented.

The GCA offers its members a range of benefits but at the core of our activities is the garden centre customer experience. One example of this is the GCA's pioneering e-learning training programme for garden centre staff. There are approximately 100 courses available, covering topics on product knowledge, plant care and customer service. These courses have been accessed by 10,000 members of staff within GCA centres.

The GCA asks its garden centre members, from the moment they join, to meet the highest retail standards and to participate in an annual inspection process, to ensure these standards are maintained and improved. GCA members, large and small, set the benchmark for high retailing standards within the industry which others can only aspire to. The Association can state, proudly, that it represents the leading garden centres within the UK and worldwide as part of its membership of the International Garden Centre Association (IGCA).

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