Surprise party mark 60 years for dedicated couple's family-run Keynsham garden centre

August 07 2015
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Family, friends and staff marked a milestone date for a Keynsham garden centre by throwing a surprise party for the couple who own the business.

Family, friends and staff marked a milestone date for a Keynsham garden centre by throwing a surprise party for the couple who own the business.

The event celebrated 60 years since David Morris, aged just 17 and still at school, first launched a market gardening business on overgrown fields at the top of Stockwood Hill.

The venture is now better known to customers as Whitegate Nurseries, or the Secret Garden Centre, where David still works alongside wife Clare, members of two younger generations of their family and many long-serving staff.

The greenhouses and buildings are all the result of David’s own hard work in transforming the land, including the house they live in today after the family spent years living in a caravan on site.

When pressure from supermarkets on market gardeners selling vegetables began to grow, David and Clare changed direction and began selling flowers around 40 years ago. The garden centre now offers a wide range of plants and products for the garden and vegetable patch as well as an on-site café and gift shop.

Granddaughter Sarah Moseley-Williams said: “We are very proud of them both. They work so hard to keep it going and are still up at 6am doing the gardening and watering.

“During the recession the garden centre has struggled yet my grandparents sacrifice everything to keep the place afloat so we could all keep our jobs.”

David, who was inspired to start the gardening business after seeing a big garden centre in the Lake District as a teenager, said he and Clare, now both in their late 70s, work seven days a week but that they both like to “keep on the go”.

“This business requires dedication,” he said.  “We think of our plants as our babies as they always need feeding and watering and we are always watching things. It also needs an awful lot of planning for the year ahead.

“I never dreamed, when it was just me planting out beans, that anything like this would develop.”

The couple have five children and seven grandchildren, with many of them joining friends and staff, both past and present, at the surprise celebration at the garden centre on July 31.