Bloomin’ great 60 years in garden

Bloomin' marvellous: Graham, James, Libby and Harry  surrounded by a colourful collection of flowers.
Bloomin' marvellous: Graham, James, Libby and Harry surrounded by a colourful collection of flowers.

RATIONING still ruled, King George VI was on the throne, and Newcastle beat Blackpool to win the FA Cup.

And in Doncaster, a new garden centre was opened just outside Blaxton.

Bloomin' marvellous: Graham, James, Libby and Harry  surrounded by a colourful collection of flowers.

Bloomin' marvellous: Graham, James, Libby and Harry surrounded by a colourful collection of flowers.

The year was 1951.

It may be seem like a long time ago now, but Walker’s Nurseries - set up as a family business 60 years ago - is still going strong, and this weekend is marking its diamond anniversary.

Bosses plan to celebrate its landmark with a party for invited customers.

Walker’s Nurseries was founded by Lawrence and Vera Walker just outside Blaxton, on a plot of land on Mosham Road which had never been ploughed before.

Walker nurseries founders: Lawrence and Vera Walker.

Walker nurseries founders: Lawrence and Vera Walker.

Now run by the couple’s daughter Elaine Bodle and her partner Steve, the nurseries have show gardens, exhibit at flower galas around Britain and employ around 24 full and part-time workers.

Staff include Lawrence and Vera’s grandchildren, Graham and James Bodle.

Elaine said: “Mum and dad started the business which back then was called Walker’s Roses, and today we have beautiful show gardens on the land and have won many awards.

“We don’t just sell plants - we are about so much more than that. We want to foster an interest in gardening, whether for amateurs or at advanced level. Our advice is free and readily available.”

Elaine’s sister Hilary Walker said the business was originally called Walker’s Roses because roses were her dad’s abiding passion.

She said: “Dad was a market trader first of all - Fridays in Rossington, Saturdays in Doncaster - until the rose business grew.

“Alongside the flowers there would be lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, dahlias and cornflowers.”

But fashions changed, and Walker’s Roses gave way to Walker’s Nurseries.

Mr Walker was always a keen exhibitor at horticultural and garden shows – and won many awards over the years in places like Harrogate and Southport.

Hilary added: “I don’t think that mum and dad were ever hugely ambitious – in the sense they never ever wanted to build an empire. What they wanted to do was to give exceptional value for money, and to make the customers happy.

“They weren’t interested in amassing a fortune, and spending time on a yacht moored in the Bahamas. Dad wanted his work to be in his gardens and his nurseries, and his holidays to be in someone else’s.”

The family are hoping to continue to grow the centre and have plans drawn up for next year including more retail space and a food hall in a custom built modern building, and a children’s play area.

Their diamond celebration will include a violin performance by Alex Parker and a singing duo, Enchanted, singing songs from the last 60 years, as well as a hog roast and a video describing the history of the centre.