During an autumn trip to London, I was fortunate to finally visit historic Clifton Nursery and its shops. One of the main reasons I travel is to see new gardens, discover new plants, and be impressed by innovative displays. This was definitely worth the trip! Located in the city, with land space at such a premium, I anticipated a small shop, so I was in for a surprise!
The original site began as an ornamental garden and nursery ground and in 1851 the Clifton Vilas were constructed around it. In 1880 it was purchased by Johannes Krupp, a former gardener at the Kaiser’s gardens. He turned the nursery into a thriving business, selling quality plants and supplying hotels, theaters, film sets, and wealthy individuals with exceptional, stunning plants for special events. I imagine some of these topiaries would have been used!
At that time, the site housed seven greenhouses, and the second largest palm house in England (Kew was larger, of course.) Krupp’s son took over after his father’s death, but he was not as keen on plants and sold it to Sydney Cohen in 1944.
Cohen was enterprising, and established a landscaping division that increased the nurseries profits and fame. Unfortunately he died unexpectedly in 1975, and the nursery was on shaky ground for a time until Lord Rothschild took it over in 1979.
Under his guidance, the Garden Shop was established and Clifton Nursery’s garden designer installed award-winning display gardens at the prestigious Chelsea Garden Show. He also added branch stores in France and Japan!
In 2003 Tad Paulchowski took over, adding The Quince Tree Cafe and the interiors shop
The nursery is now owned by Martyn Mogford and Will Clark, who have improved the London location and added another, expansive nursery near Weybridge in Surrey.
You can visit them at http://www.clifton.co.uk. or better yet, go visit them in person, but take a big suitcase and be sure to plan to have breakfast or lunch there!