Exploring Devon nurserymen, nurseries and plants

Looking for a new project?

The Trust wants to increase understanding of the role of nurserymen, nurseries and the plants they bred. This is an aspect in the development of the county's wonderful gardens and parks that is often overlooked in favour of the designers and garden owners. Devon can boast perhaps the most historically renowned family of nurserymen in the country and possibly internationally, Veitch & Sons, but there were other substantial nurseries and nurserymen at the top of their profession across the county, about whom there is still much to discover, as well as smaller nurseries about which little or nothing as yet is known. We would love to find out more about:

  • Personal and social history of nurserymen, their wider expert or community role, links between them
  • Nurseries as businesses: employment (eg training of apprentices, rates of pay), how were they funded, profitability, were they wholesale or retail or both, costs of plants
  • Clients/customers
  • Location and layout of nurseries
  • Horticultural builders, suppliers of equipment, use of new technology
  • Links with garden owners, sharing plant material and trialling new plants
  • Impact of plant fashions
  • Links with market gardeners
  • Plant hunting and national/global links
  • New plant introductions, hybridisation, trialling, exhibiting

There are so many strands: family, social, business, economic, horticultural, and technological history.

The more we find out the more it will complement and enrich the work being undertaken by the Trust’s team of researchers who are working on the history and development of Devon's designed landscapes. 

We would like to hear from anyone, whether DGT member or not, who is interested in one or more aspect of this topic. No research experience is necessary, just curiosity. The winter months, and COVID restrictions, are a good time for desk research and we will help with ideas of where to look and how. 

Contact [email protected] to find out more.