Lime Cross Nursery
Lime Cross Nursery is now in the third generation of the Tate family, with sisters Helen and Vicky at the helm of this truly independent family enterprise. Their grandparents Alan and Olive purchased the land in Herstmonceux in the early 1940’s and after trying pig rearing and tobacco farming they settled on growing wallflowers which they did successfully up until the 1960’s.
In the 60’s their son Jonathon joined the business, who by this time was a well-known and highly respected plants man specialising in the propagation of conifers. He was a founding member of the British Conifer Society, and discovered several new varieties as well as rescuing others from the brink of extinction. Selling container grown conifers, trees and shrubs to the wholesale market both in the UK and internationally the business expanded during the 1970’s with the rise in popularity of conifers.
As the conifer market started to go out of fashion during the 90s the business continued to specialise in conifers and despite the hard times started to diversify as the new millennium arrived. By the middle of the 2000’s Lime Cross Nursery had built a new shop with a café and then daughter Vicky joined in 2008 to help run the business after studying fine art and working at The Auckland Botanical Garden.
Six years later, Jon’s other daughter also joined the business having studied Viticulture at University and travelled the world working in the wine industry. During this period, unfortunately and very sadly Jon had become ill with cancer and after 7 years of treatment he passed away in 2014. However, his spirit and legacy lives on in his daughters and the trees that he propagated as they now combine their knowledge, experience, energy and passion into Lime Cross Nursery.
In the last couple of years, Vicky and Helen have been helping to revive the interest and popularity of conifers by attending major shows such as Grow London, Wisley, Chatsworth and by special invitation only to Great Dixter by head gardener Fergus Garrett.
With conifers coming back into fashion Lime Cross Nursery has been working with eminent gardeners such as Matt Pottage, the Curator at Wisley, who is also passionate about the revival of conifers and have supplied specimens of conifers to the new Exotic Gardens at Wisley. Many Garden Designers are going to Lime Cross for their expertise and knowledge of conifers. As they are recognising the uniqueness, robustness, structure and forms that conifers o er with vibrant greens and blues mixing beautifully with other plant groups like grasses, tropical specimens and acers.
2018 has been an incredible year for the sisters and the team at Lime Cross Nursery. Winning a Gold medal at Hampton Court and a Silver Gilt at RHS Chatsworth Plant Show for their display themed ‘well-being, wildness and escapism’ and appearing on BBC Gardeners World and next year they will be applying for Chelsea so watch this space!
Helen and Vicky have worked hard to preserve the essence of what their father and grandparents created. So typically, rather than expand the retail element and become another big garden centre driven by profit and margins, they have diversified the lake area with a new stunning modular and mirrored building known as the ÖÖD House, distributed in the UK by Round Wood of Mayfield. This calm and relaxing space has classes for yoga, meditation, massage and times for wild swimming in the lake to create a real retreat area.
Whilst times have changed, it’s refreshing that this family business is still thriving on the passion and substance that created it many years ago. But it is now being driven by the energy and enthusiasm of another generation that keep to the principles on which it was founded. How uplifting!