Pershore College Garden Centre and Nursery is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
Pershore College Garden Centre and Nursery, part of Warwickshire College Group, is the college’s commercial plant growing and sales operation based within the grounds of Pershore College. It operates two divisions, with the Garden Centre opening daily to the general public and the wholesale/trade nursery opening Mon-Fri to landscapers, garden designers and other tradespeople.
It has been growing plants in the nursery since 1961 and its garden/plant centre has been operating for almost 30 years. Horticulture and embedding sustainability into everything we do is very important to us.
One of its earliest employees met with the current manager to discuss how it has changed over the last six decades.
Bob Hares started working in the nurseries site in 1964 as a 24-year-old propagator and grew to be manager of the nursery.
He keeps in regular contact with Josh Egan-Wyer, the current manager, and the two came together to share their fondest memories of the site as it celebrates its diamond anniversary.
When Bob, now 81 and still living in Pershore, started at the nursery its annual income was just £1,300 per year – in April 2021 alone it took sales worth more than £78,000.
“When I joined the nursery, it had been running for four years and was starting to get more commercial and running as a separate unit to the college,” said Bob.
“The first income I recall was around £1,300 a year – but that was still quite a bit for the size of nursery we had in those days!
“The early days saw a lot of changes, including moving from clay pots to plastic pots. When I first left in 1973, we were expanding over the road where the majority of production is still based today.
“After a brief stint at my own nursery, I returned to Pershore College in 1975 as head gardener.
“I have some lovely memories and it was perhaps one of the happiest spells of my life. We all got on very well and it was a real family atmosphere.
“We would have students involved and helping out on the nursery, and I would always bring my dog into work to chase off the rabbits.
“In those days we worked hard but it was laid back as well. I remember we used to sneak a few tomatoes home and the principal turned a blind eye. I’m not sure that would be allowed now!
“It was a seven-days-a-week job with me living on site too but I loved it and will always remember my time at Pershore College fondly.”
Josh Egan-Wyer, Pershore College Garden Centre and Nursery manager, added: “Everyone that has worked on the nursery down the years keeps in touch, it’s almost like a family run business in that sense.
“Currently working for us we have past students, apprentices, graduates and even the son of the first principal of the college.
“Over the last six decades the nursery managers have always had a great passion for horticultural excellence and doing what we can to drive the commercial venture forwards.
“Every purchase made at the garden centre and nursery goes back to supporting the education of college students too.
“There has been a lot of change over the last six decades and that has continued in recent years with our move away from peat-free compost.
“It is fantastic for a garden centre and nursery of this size to hit 60 and we have a strong future ahead too, we are continuing to improve our offering and offer a wider range of plans all year round.”