THE heady scents of the flowers, the rows of bright, clamouring blooms that almost seem to be flirting with you, begging you to take them home, the fresh, oxygenated air. These things we have missed. If you have a garden, or even if you haven't but just appreciate a nice bit of greenery, then the fact that over the next few days garden centres all over the country are starting to open up, will be enough to give you an anticipation high. Ordering online is one thing – but nothing beats seeing the plants themselves. The only big question is, if you're driving, how far are you allowed to motor to get your cluster of bedding plants? (Tip: a 260-mile round trip is probably not within the rules, even if you are plant-desperate.)

Many garden centres have been priming themselves up for this moment, champing at the bit, as they've seen centres all across England welcome customers. Now's their moment. And to herald it we're publishing our guide to some of the best nurseries and garden centres across the country. Here's hoping there's one near you.

Cardwell Garden Centre, Gourock

Family-owned and always a hive of activity, Cardwell grows over 60 percent of the plant material it sells in its 16-acre nursery. It's also good not only for indoor and outdoor plants, but garden items like tools and furniture Recent weeks have seen them not only busy doing online orders, but also publishing, on their website, a regular Beat the Boredom gardening column by George Irvine.

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Rouken Glen Garden Centre, Glasgow

Nestled in the beautiful Rouken Glen Park, and therefore also a good start for a walk up into the woods and taking in the waterfalls, providing lockdown restrictions allow. It's also, if you check out a video tour on their Facebook page, stocking delphinium, west country lupins, azaleas in full colour and much more. “Look at that. Absolutely gorgeous,” says the video's guide as she swoons over some peonies.

Rosebank Garden Centre, Carluke

Former fruit and vegetable growers, the Forrest family, set up Rosebank which grows many of its own plants on site, 65 years ago. The centre has been all set to go this week, while continuing web shop home deliveries. Though their coffee shop may be closed, there are still treats here, and they’ve been home-baking like fury – strawberry tarts, their famous meringues and traybakes - for you to pick up at the till-point.

Caulders, Mugdock Country Park

The idyllic setting is enough of a draw – right inside the walled garden in Mugdock Country Park – and then, right now, there are also the bedding plants. Caulders centres are a riot of them. Director Colin Barrie lists just some: “begonias, geraniums, marigolds, petunias, bacopa and surfinia.... all looking great and full of colour!” Customers might also want to take home a Jacobite Rose, or Rosa Alba Maxima, which currently is filling the centre with its rich scent. Most years they would be sold before coming into flower, but this year, it's on the stands in full bud and flower. If Mugdock isn’t local to you, perhaps one of their other centres – at Kirkintilloch, Newton Mearns, Erskine, Cupar, Cumbernauld, Kinross and Loch Lomond – is. Caulders is also continuing its new web shop and will deliver to customers shielding and isolating.

Glendoick Gardens, Perth

Glendoick has long been where to go to see and buy glorious rhododendrons. Euan Cox began their woodland garden in the 1920s, following a trip to Burma and many of the unique plants he brought back are still thriving 100 years on. Right now the world-famous rhododendrons and azaleas are in full flower, plus the centre has plenty of Scottish grown stock, much of it grown there in the Carse of Gowrie.

New Hopetoun Gardens, Edinburgh

The creation of Dougal Philip and Lesley Watson, former Beechgrove Gargden presenter, New Hopetoun Gardens became an employee-owned company last year. The centre plans to open on Friday but have been running home deliveries and click and collect since the third week of March. "Our whole business at New Hopetoun Gardens," says Philip, "is to inspire our customers and help them enjoy their gardens more. They need to be here to experience all our temptations and unusual goodies that they didn’t know they wanted or needed to treat their gardens." Their plant area and demonstration gardens are the biggest in Scotland– so there is plenty of room for social distancing.

Pentland Plants, Loanhead

Pentland Plants is a family-run garden centre with a bedding plant nursery attached that produces over 50 million plants per year. Hence there is a veritable forest of homegrown bedding, basket and perennial plants on their site in Loanhead. At the start of lockdown , they recall, many customers cancelled large orders of plug plants. "We were very worried," says manager Carolyn Spray, "about continuing growing our vast numbers of plants for the coming season. We took the extremely brave and potentially stupid decision to bash on and keep spending huge amounts of money on labour in potting up plants every week in the hope we could eventually sell them.” Many plants went out on home deliveries from other garden centres, allowing customers to enjoy their lockdown gardening fully supplied.

Plant Market Garden Centre, Dalgety Bay

An independent garden centre near Dalgety Bay, run by Stan Green, who has always ensured the ethos of The Plant Market is to make gardening “accessible and exciting for everyone” and also that they are a sustainable business. They stock eco-friendly garden pots and watering cans and, prior to lockdown, ran their own pot recycling centre.

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Silverbirch Garden Centre, Crossford

Silverbirch are ready for it – not just with their plants but with their extensive home interior department. If you’re restless not just about the state of your garden but also your indoors, then this could be the place for inspiration. A vast selection of garden furniture is available, plus the coffee shop will be open for homemade cake and coffee to go

Smeaton Nursery Garden, East Linton

A garden centre that’s a true paradise set in, and near the Smeaton arboretum, which houses a significant tree collection and makes a magical walk when it’s open. Tables of flowers and collections of trees and shrubs are ranged across the yard in the beautiful walled gardens of Smeaton Estate’s old mansion house, which was demolished in the early 1950s. They specialise in rare fruit trees and stock here includes fruit trees, herbaceous perennials, conifers, climbers, seasonable bedding plants, compost, seeds and pots and planters.

Simpson Garden Centre, Inverness

A destination garden centre that's a perennial when it comes to clinching awards. Simpsons is all set to open come Friday and has put in place an array of distancing measures. "Expect to do your steps," says one staff member, "because it's all one way and you'll be walking a long way." But it will be worth it, because this is a store stocking everything you could ever dream of for an outdoor life. Director Andrew Simpson observes, "Gardening is such an important activity for all ages, and the health and well-being benefits of getting outside are well documented. At a time when everyone will be spending lots more time in their outdoor space, we want to be able to provide the tools to enable our customers to do this."