The 1950s

1951
The Festival of Britain on London’s South Bank brings Hillier acclaim, as the nursery’s ability to transform arid sites into landscaped parks is shown to perfection.

1952
The Gardeners Royal Benevolent Institution opens a residential home for retired gardeners at Horton, Berkshire and an appeal for £20,000 appears in The Times.

1953
Edward Stewart writes to his sisters from the Ford Hotel, Toronto to say he has seen the future and that it is called ‘garden centres’. He creates his first garden centre within adapted sheds at Ferndown in 1955, the forerunner of Garden-Lands at Christchurch.

1953
Harold Hillier moves his family from Winchester to Jermyns House in the village of Braishfield, two miles north east of Romsey where he sets about creating an arboretum.

1954
Lawrence Hills, a journalist and keen organic grower, rents a smallholding in Essex, to experiment with comfrey before creating the ‘Henry Doubleday Research Association’ – now called Garden Organic.

1954
Pershore College is founded to train horticultural workers in the Vale of Evesham.

1954
The Glasshouse Crops Research Institute is established at Littlehampton, West Sussex, with a research remit covering glasshouse crops, mushrooms, nursery stock and bulbs. It succeeds the Experimental and Research Station at Cheshunt and also takes over the work of the Mushroom Growers’ Association Research Station at Yaxley, near Peterborough.

1955
Michael Cooling joins his father Arthur to form the partnership trading as Coolings Nurseries. The first garden centre trading commenced in the same year with the sale of fertilisers, insecticides, peat and compost.

1955
Percy Thrower presents Gardening Club, the first regular television programme devoted to gardening.

1958
Notcutt’s small town centre shop is outgrown and a custom built garden centre is constructed on the nursery at Woodbridge in Ipswich – one of the first such centres in the country.

1959
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe is commissioned by the third Viscount Astor to design a new rose garden at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. Inspired by the abstract painter Paul Klee, Jellicoe’s garden uses swathes of colour, drawing the visitor to the centre as they are enveloped by each bed.


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