If you live in southern Ontario, you’ve probably heard of Sheridan Nurseries, one of the largest growers and garden centre retailers in Canada. This year, Sheridan celebrates its 100-year anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion, they’ll be selling a collection of anniversary plants, including a lilac, rose, hosta, heuchera and ninebark. Some of these new introductions are included in Garden Making’s list of 50 new plants in the Spring 2013 issue. There’s also a commemorative book published by Dundurn Press, Sheridan Nurseries: One Hundred Years of People, Plans, and Plants, written by Edward Butts and Karl Stensson, who is the company’s president.
The book covers the history of Sheridan Nurseries, from its founding in 1913 by two English landscape architects, Lorrie and Howard Dunington-Grubb, to its role today in the industry and in home gardening. The company began when Lorrie and Howard saw a lack of ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials available for the gardens they were designing in Canada like the plants they had in England. They started a nursery in Sheridan (present-day Oakville) and hired a horticulturist from Sweden, Herman Stensson, to manage it. Eventually “sales stations” opened in the 1920s in Mississauga and Toronto, with other locations to follow.
The hardcover book includes a large collection of old photographs and catalogue images that provide not only a look into the history of the company, but also into the evolution of gardening in Ontario through the 20th century. There’s fascinating information on how and when new plants were introduced, including many that seem like staples to us today. For example, Korean boxwood first appeared in their catalogue in 1939, though they acquired the seeds in 1922. It was introduced after they saw the need for another ornamental hedge plant that could be used in garden design, and Sheridan Nurseries was probably the first to sell a boxwood hardy enough for Canada. Needless to say, it’s Sheridan Nurseries’ all time best seller.
You can purchase Sheridan Nurseries: One Hundred Years of People, Plans, and Plants in stores now.