Top path sales benches.
In January 1928, Archibald John Mills and his family arrived at the picturesque area of Forty Hill in Enfield and established a plant nursery on part of an estate, taking over land that had formerly been used to grow fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers for a grand adjoining 18th Century Mansion, the Clockhouse. He kept the name, and the Clockhouse Nursery was born - a business that is now owned and run by the third consecutive generation of the Mills family.
In Archibald’s skilled hands, the enterprise thrived, and produce and flowers were soon being sold from a stall at the historic Market Square in Enfield. As word spread about top quality produce and good value, trade steadily grew into the 1950’s.
As custom increased through that decade, more and more customers wanted to buy direct from the nursery, buying cut flowers - Chrysanthemums and Dahlias were favourites - and there was a brisk trade in tomatoes and bedding plants. With that demand, the range of plants increased until it was beyond what a mere stall could cope with. A decision was made to give up the stall altogether and shift the business completely to the Clockhouse site that customers have visited ever since.
The 1970’s was a decade of change, expansion and modernisation. New facilities were built - modern aluminium greenhouses, an expanded sales area, and a spacious car park to accommodate the increased car custom. Shrubs, conifers and hardy perennials were brought in to supply increasing demand.
As people’s knowledge and understanding of gardening increased, so their demand for range and quality increased - they didn’t just want top quality plants - they wanted the best pots, composts, hanging baskets and garden treatments. Clockhouse Nursery, with a wealth of experience, was uniquely placed to keep up with that demand, always adding new plants to its “repertoire”, searching out and stocking up on the best quality products while resisting the temptation to clutter our sales space with barbecues, fountains and space heaters. Instead, concentrating on what we know best - plants and how to grow them. And that’s exactly what we continue to do today.
Inevitably, some aspects of the business have changed. In the past, plants were hand-reared and grown. Nowadays a vast array of computerised machinery is involved, from computer-controlled benches and automatic irrigation systems to robotic trans-planters. Most production is still on site, but due to lack of space, some of the larger specimen and rare plants are produced by our associate growers here in the UK, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium and New Zealand. No matter where or how our plants are grown the same core idea of top quality at affordable prices and a, no nonsense approach, remains.
Not many Garden Centres can boast an eighty-year history, and yes, we have seen many changes over that period. Indeed change will continue as we strive always to supply the best in plants and facilities. One thing, however, will never change. The core philosophy first introduced by Archibald John way back in 1928 remains - the philosophy that built the company’s reputation, sustains it now, and will guide it in the future: that the best way to keep gardeners happy is to offer them plants of the highest quality, sold at reasonable prices