It is 40 years since plants reared in the Trewithen Nursery went on sale to the public and this week staff enjoyed a traditional celebration with cake and champagne to mark the occasion.
Although the garden – based just outside Truro and famed throughout the world for its fabulous collection of magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons – is now closed until the spring the nursery remains open for business.
And the future for the nursery looks brighter than ever with the possibility of expanding the business beyond Cornwall.
Speaking to staff and guests at the ruby anniversary celebration Trewithen's owner, Michael Galsworthy, broke the news about the nursery's future.
Welcoming the crowd of well-wishers Mr Galsworthy said: "This is a very special occasion for a number of reasons. We are marking our 40th year in business, we are hoping for an endorsement from Kew Gardens after their representative, Tony Kirkham, visited and said our range and growing conditions are superb and we are also thinking of branching into mail order for the nursery. It's all very exciting."
Mr Galsworthy explained that Trewithen's nursery came from very humble beginnings with just a small shed and a sign to potential customers reading ‘If we can sell ring the bell'.
By 1972, four years later, it was necessary to print a catalogue to satisfy the many customers. That catalogue included a six-page long list detailing plant varieties available including two types of camellia seedling and 41 camellia plants. The cheapest plants could be bought for as little as 15p with large leafed Rhododendron seedlings being the most expensive at £1.75. Some of the plant varieties available were in such high demand that the booklet makes it clear customers would be limited to buying just two or three each.
This year's catalogue is around six times larger than its predecessor listing many more plants including five whole pages of camellia, which was the most popular plant sold in 1968 and is still popular today.
In its forty year history, the nursery has had only two managers – Mike Taylor, who established it, and the current manager Luke Hazelton. Luke first came to Trewithen on a Youth Training Scheme. He liked the work so much he went to college, got himself a relevant qualification, took a job at Tregothnan and then went back to Trewithen as Mike Taylor's deputy. Five years later, when Mike Taylor retired, Luke became manager.
Mr Galsworthy said: "We still offer extraordinary value for money at Trewithen Nursery and our greatest badge of honour is the quality of the plants we produce. Many of them originated from the mature stock in the estate gardens which have then been nurtured on by our great team of nursery staff."
Trewithen Nursery is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3pm October, November and February and Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm in December and January. For details of the mail order service please see the website on www.trewithengardens.co.uk.