After working for Guinness in Ireland for 20 years David Tristram decided to come back to Sussex and start a nursery business. His family had long been interested in plants and his father, who worked in Stoke-on-Trent during the second war lecturing on gunnery, found and introduced Helleborus niger ‘Potters Wheel’. So it’s not surprising then that David also wanted to breed and introduce new plants.
In 1973 David bought John Walbrugh’s 6-acre Homestead nursery. The site was given to John after his war service by the Land Settlement Association. John was from South Africa and had been partially blinded when clearing up anti-personnel bombs in Italy at the end of the war but had recovered enough sight to run a small tomato nursery. He had also developed an interest in and grown a collection of ornamental conifers.
In 1972 John had been a founder member of a cooperative group called Fargro Plants (later to become The Farplants Group) started and run by Edward Back to grow garden plants for sale to the new ‘Garden Centres’.
The cooperative idea attracted David and he worked the nursery with John for a year before John’s eyesight became too bad and he had to retire. His place was taken in 1974 by a young man called Tim Crowther who worked with David as the Nursery Manager for 38 years until his retirement in 2012.
During this time the nursery was able to use its profits to quintuple its size to over 30 acres by purchasing additional land from its neighbours; building new glasshouses, polytunnels and outdoor growing beds; making a lorry loading bay; drilling a 350’ deep borehole for water; and constructing micropropagation laboratories. Through most of this development work we have also been lucky to have the engineering and practical skills of Steve Forrest who has been with us since 1977.
A list of our new plant introductions and a few other notable milestones is given below:
- 1972 Fargro Plants founded with John Walbrugh’s Homestead Nursery as member
- 1973 Homestead Nursery bought from John by David Tristram
- 1985 Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ launched
- 1987 Much hurricane damage, but with lots of local support in the clear up effort we bounced back
- 1988 Scabiosa ‘Pink Mist’ is launched following the success of ‘Butterfly Blue’
- 1988 Built our Propagation House and installing heated floors (with the hurricane damage insurance money!)
- 1990 Built our first multispan tunnel
- 1991 Erected a low (hopefully hurricane-proof) second hand glasshouse known now as ‘Number 10’
- 1993 Had our Scabiosa featured on television programme Country Ways
- 1994 Built Micropropagation Laboratory
- 1995 Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’ launched
- 1996 Built lorry loading bay
- 1997 Coreopsis Walberton’s ® ‘Flying Saucers’ launched
- 1998 Drilled the borehole
- 2000 Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ awarded ‘Perennial Plant of the Year’ by the Perennial Plants Association
- 2000 Erysimum Walberton’s ® ‘Fragrant Sunshine’ launched
- 2002 David’s Spiraea ‘Magic Carpet’ won the coveted RHS Award of Garden Merit
- 2002 Gaura Walberton’s ® ‘Pink Fountain’ launched
- 2002 Built a new glasshouse now known as ‘Number 2’
- 2002 Crocosmia Walberton’s ® ‘Yellow’ launched
- 2003 Brachyglottis Walberton’s ® ‘Silver Dormouse’ launched
- 2004 Crocosmia Walberton’s ® ‘Bright Eyes’ launched
- 2004 Helleborus Walberton’s ® ‘Ivory Prince’ launched
- 2004 Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim’ launched
- 2007 Euphorbia ‘Rudolph’ launched
- 2008 Crocosmia Walberton’s ® ‘Scarlet’ launched
- 2009 Erysimum Walberton’s ® ‘Fragrant Star’ launched
- 2009 Helleborus Walberton’s ® ‘Rosemary’ launched
- 2011 Completed our latest glasshouse, ‘Number 11’
- 2012 Given exclusivity by Thompson & Morgan to grow Digitalis ‘Illumination Pink’ and then it winning ‘RHS Plant of the Year 2012’ at Chelsea Flower Show
- 2014 Launched David’s newest breeding development, Rehmannia Walberton’s ® ‘Magic Dragon’ at the National Plant Show in June 2014 (celebrating our 40th year!)
- 2015 Hibiscus syriacus Walberton’s® ‘Rose Moon’ launched