As many young men who resided in Rossington, Ken Yardley began his working life at the local colliery.
His work consisted of monitoring air quality and maintaining ventilation systems. Ken developed an interest in horticulture and left the colliery to pursue his new line of work working for Mr Britney on various gardening jobs. He soon found more work at Walkers Nursery in Blaxton, Doncaster where his knowledge and gardening expertise blossomed.
On 16 May 1967 Ken, his wife Joan and their two children Marlene and Philip moved into 2 Holywell Cottages, Braithwell where Ken founded the iconic Braithwell Nurseries. He paid the princely sum of £2,500.00 for the semi detached cottage and 1.72 acres of land.
Ken bought the cottage and land from Mrs Constance Duffield, the land was not considered to be prime land and was mostly left fallow. Mrs Duffield did however have an old greenhouse where it is believed she grew carnations for cut flowers.
The cottage was originally one house that was subsequently divided into two semi detached cottages. The original house had a half cellar containing a salting table for meat preservation and at the bottom of the land furthest from the cottage was a sheep dip.
|2 Holywell Cottages site and land in 1967
|Around the house before any work was done
Ken and Joan set about making the land more productive whilst their son Phil at the age of 13 started working within the cottage to create a new kitchen and later at the age of 14 he built the conservatory.
Ken and Joan gave over most of the land to growing roses for cut flowers; they also started planting salad produce such as lettuce and tomatoes. They grew most of their produce from seed and diversified into growing bedding plans, carnations and chrysanthemums.
They often had fledglings keeping an eye on their work. Later they started providing seasonal produce such as hanging baskets in the spring, Christmas trees and making exceptional Christmas wreaths.
Blackbird nesting amongst the glasshouse seedlings
As the years went by the portfolio of plants grew, Phil spent considerable time creating areas for displaying the new products and in time the family erected the two small tunnels, one for shade loving plants and one polytunnel for younger and more tender plants. The family continued to use traditional methods of propagation to add to their ever expanding diversity of plants.
To sell their produce Ken held market stalls at Doncaster, Stocksbridge and Barnsley markets as well as opening the nursery to passing trade. He continued to run the Stocksbridge market after he retired.
In 1997, Ken and Joan decided to retire and sold the nursery to their son Phil who had shown a lifelong interest in the business. Phil continued to develop the infrastructure of the nursery with the skills acquired through his study of building and engineering at Leeds University. Phil also continued to expand the range of plants on offer and now in 2020 the nursery provides an exceptional range of shrubs, trees and exotics.
Visiting the nursery is a unique experience, over the years Phil has developed his knowledge of plants, their habitats and their characteristics and is keen to share this knowledge with his customers. Phil has been described as being similar to marmite! Most customers value his insights and knowledge whereas others find it overwhelming. His enthusiasm is infectious and most customers come back year after year. The nursery has thrived without any recourse to marketing and advertising, reliant instead upon word of mouth. The only concession to advertising being a small presence on a Facebook page.
|View to Lambcote Grange farm - Roses were a big part of the business in the early years