This year’s flagship RHS Chelsea Flower Show promises to be an outstanding display of horticultural excellence with the themes of accessibility and sustainability running through the various gardens on display. Amongst them will be The Nurture Landscapes Garden, designed by the renowned Sarah Price, and which has a family story behind it.
In the leafy surroundings of Windlesham, Surrey, sit two neighbouring businesses run by the Fane brothers Peter and Mark. Nurture Landscapes Group, founded in 2008 by Peter, is one of the UK’s leading green services provider in grounds maintenance and landscaping, boasting a wide array of clients from shopping centres and major hospitality chains through to Royal Parks. Crocus Ltd, founded by Mark in 2000, has grown into the largest gardening website in the country with some 6,500 plant varieties available to order and 31 Gold Medals at the Chelsea Flower Show and 12 Best in Shows.
Both businesses have horticulture at their cores. Indeed, during the early days at Nurture, Peter himself was often seen with the tools of the trade in his hands, but these days has more focus upon leading the company through its ambitious growth plans, both organically and through strategic acquisitions. Mark also served as a trustee of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) between the years 2009 and 2019, and is Chairman of the Garden Museum. Previously, Peter and Mark owned and ran, grounds maintenance company Waterers Landscapes. This was sold in 2003, having developed into one of the leading corporate grounds maintenance companies in the country.
Both Nurture Landscapes and Crocus have long been champions of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Crocus has partnered with many of the UK’s leading designers to produce award-winning gardens and even the coveted ‘Best in Show Award’ and a gold award for its Mind Garden for mental health awareness. Likewise, Nurture’s presence has been seen across numerous Chelsea Show gardens in the form of supporting its various charity partners, including the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2022. This year, however, it will be its own sustainability credentials and commitments on display.
As a PAS2060 Carbon Neutral company, Nurture is committed to operating sustainably across all its operations. That commitment is put on display through its use of reclaimed and ‘waste’ materials in constructing the Nurture Landscapes Garden, where Sarah Price has used the inspiration of the work of artist Cedric Morris, famous for both painting, and growing, irises. Cedric’s home at Benton End, Suffolk, saw around 100 species of iris grown at any one time, with many named after his students and other individuals who had a significant place in his heart. In much the same way that Cedric educated and inspired generations after him, it is the aim of the Fanes and their respective businesses that, by collaborating with one of the most notable designers in the country, to inspire the future of sustainable gardening and just what is possible when the past and present combine.
Bricks constructed by hand and through sustainable, traditional processes are prevalent throughout the garden, as is reclaimed timber and even demolition waste, resulting in the creation of unique fixtures and planters that bring perhaps long-forgotten creativity into the era of sustainability.
To go even further, many of the plants and materials used in the construction of The Nurture Landscapes Garden will find a new yet familiar home once the Show is over. Upon Cedric’s death in the 1980s, the gardens and plants at Benton End were distributed to gardeners across the country. However, they will be returning to their spiritual home, where Cedric’s house is currently being renovated into a visitor centre.
Despite the significant growth and successes that both organisations have accomplished, Nurture and Crocus remain governed by the values upon which they were founded. Consequently, both are synonymous with the high customer service standards which translate into results and colleagues that are proud to wear the respective badges. Those elements of sustainability and quality are apparent in the construction of the Nurture Landscapes Garden, with the individual flowers sourced by Crocus and grown at its nursery where Nurture, too, is headquartered, and the design acting as a blueprint for what can be achieved by the horticultural sector when sustainability takes a leading role.
Bringing together the heritage of being family businesses and the resources of being industry leaders, Crocus and Nurture are model examples of how the best of both worlds can be combined. Today, Nurture employs 1,750 people nationwide, growing to sales exceeding £125 million through both organic means and the acquisition of like-minded businesses, such as the Royal Warrant Holders for landscape construction, Gavin Jones Ltd, in 2018, and for pest control, Rokill Pest Control, in 2021. Crocus, too, has grown through acquisition, building on its own reputations, employing 350 staff and recently acquiring online garden retailer Primrose.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place from the 22nd to the 27th May. To learn more about the Nurture Landscapes Garden and the respective roles of Crocus, Nurture, and Sarah Price in its creation, visit here.