The Murphy family are well established in Shropshire with the present owner’s great grandfather, OD Murphy buying W Long & Company (Now Ironbridge’s Museum of the Gorge) and establishing a mineral water works there in 1904 before the opportunity arose to buy the Wrekin Brewery. This remained a family business for three generations until it was sold to Greenall Whitley in 1966.
OD’s grandson, Duncan Murphy (1941-2008) first entered horticulture in 1970 when the opportunity arose to buy Edwin Murrells of Shrewsbury, a well-respected rose grower, from the late, great, Hilda Murrell. Duncan brought in Percy Thrower as a business partner and together they set up the first Garden Centre in Shropshire.
Duncan spent 17 years in partnership with Percy before deciding to take a change of direction. He left the company in 1987 and spent 3 years landscaping before the opportunity arose to buy Harley Nursery from the Baker family. Brian and Suzanne Baker had built up the nursery from a greenfield site in 1970. The nursery was originally a pick-your-own site with an excellent reputation for hedging. Duncan expanded the range of plants grown at the nursery with an emphasis on quality plants and expert advise.
Duncan, as many regular customers will know, lost his fight against mouth cancer in July 2008, one of his sons, Nick carries the business forward.
Nick trained at the well-respected Pershore College in Worcestershire where he left in 2005 after gaining at Honours Degree in Horticulture. Propagation has always interested Nick and he uses these skills to propagate many of the plants onsite at the nursery.
Nick’s dissertation was based on finding a successful way to propagate Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’. The dissertation was entered into a national competition in 2005, held by the International Plant Propagators Society for Plant Propagator of the Year where Nick came second. Nick is an active member of the IPPS who’s mission statement is to share knowledge, information, skills, and resources that improve the productivity and professionalism of its members in the global plant production community.
Nick teamed up with F3RNZ Natural Landscape & Design to build a show garden at The Shrewsbury Flower Show, for their first ever show garden in 2007 they were awarded a silver medal, when they returned in 2008 they were awarded a silver gilt medal.