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A Century Of Gardening

2nd of October 2007

One hundred years ago this year Terry Simmonds� grandfather Herbert established his nursery in Chipperfield, which has developed to become today�s Garden Scene. To celebrate the nursery�s centenary Terry has written a brief history.
Back in the great Victorian era George Simmonds, a farm laborour from Chalfont St. Giles, came to Chipperfield where he raised his two boys, Herbert and Ernest. For a while they lived in Mobcroft Cottages in Flaunden and Herbert was able to attend the village school in Latimer. It would have been around 1890 when Herbert got a job as under gardener at Chipperfield House where he soon developed a great interest in growing plants.
It was not long before he met Rose Bates who had gone into service as a cook at Woodmans. Her father George had brought his family from Marsworth to Venus Hill in Bovingdon and Rose and her sisters grew up in a world of Victorian farming. Around the turn of the century Herbert and Rose were married at Chipperfield Baptist Church and soon their first son, Arthur, was born.
Plants would have been grown in the back garden of their cottage in Chapel Croft, close to where the newsagent now stands. The vegetables they grew were sold locally and in 1907 the first nursery was established.
An acre of land situated where Chapel Croft joined Pest House Lane (now called Croft Lane) was purchased from the Blackwell family who occupied the Manor House at the time. Young Arthur helped his Dad with his new nursery venture. Every morning at dawn his first job was to scoop up buckets of manure left by the horses in the road. In 1909 Jim Simmonds was born and as soon as he was old enough he too helped Herbert grow plants in the nursery. Soon jobs were being provided for local lads and the business began to develop.
Greenhouses were erected and these were heated using the traditional cast iron hot-water pipes connected to a boiler, which was installed in what was called the �stoke hole�. Coal and coke were the usual fuels and these were transported using a handcart, which was also used to deliver produce to customers. Ornamental plants were now being grown as well as vegetables
The family moved into the cottage opposite the nursery (known today as Drywall Cottage) and above the door was a sign, which read H.SIMMONDS Nurseryman and Florist.
Many of the lads who worked for the nursery left to join the army during World War One and sadly Herbert�s brother Ernest was killed in France in 1917.
After the war the nursery grew, as did the labour force. Jim Simmonds acquired a motorbike and sidecar and he and a new lad, Lisle Venables, used it to deliver tomatoes and other produce.
To be continued next month

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