In late 1918, Richmond E Harrison set about moving his young family to Hokowhitu, just outside of Palmerston North. Having learnt horticulture from his Father, who had supplied grass seed to the bushwhacking pioneers of the Pohangina Valley, Richmond immediately set about planting Lacebark trees around the lifestyle block, to be sold as shelter for the settlers.
Harrison’s Nursery was established on the same site as those first trees. It is there where Richmond grew plants and grew his own knowledge. Always a keen learner, Richmond had a particular interest in bulbs and herbaceous perennials, which is where most of his plant breeding eventuated.
A mail order service was offered to customers, the catalogue featuring each plant being painstakingly recreated in drawings by an artist. There was no colour photography, so the illustrations were the only way to showcase the wonderful array of colours displayed by the plants offered for sale.
Over the years that followed, the company grew steadily. A retail store in Palmerston North was established to supply plants, seeds and cut flowers, along with a propagating department for growing on-lines to the trade. By 1970, the company had grown to around 80 employees and was New Zealand’s largest importer of plant material.
When Richmond finally decided to put the secateurs down, his son’s; Vernon, Charles and Michael, were ready to pick them up. There were a few changes, as there always are, but it remained a family company, even as the move South was made in 1994.
Today, Easy Big Trees (as we know it) is managed by 3rd generation nurseryman, Chris. We may be one of the largest growers of trees and shrubs in New Zealand but some things don’t change much. The next generation are already here, with Chris’s two sons, Barney and Ryland involved and continuing the family interest in Horticulture.
And if you check the name on their emails, you’ll see it’s Harrison. We like to think Richmond would be rather proud of his great-grandchildren continuing the work he started, in the industry he was so very, very fond of.
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