Nicholson trained at Lackham College of Agriculture after World War Two. In 1948 he bought a 0.8ha smallholding on the Wirral for £9,250. After a few difficult years, his family decided to sell and move to Canada but at auction the property only reached £9,200.
He and his wife eventually chose to stay. They bought more land, put up buildings and increased the product range to develop one of the UK's first garden centres.
Son Peter joined the company in 1979 after completing horticultural training. Harold took a background role but still visited the office daily until he retired last summer.
Gordale, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, is run by Peter Nicholson and his wife Jill.