History of Notcutts
Meet the Notcutt family
Notcutts is a family-owned business founded in 1897 by Roger Crompton Notcutt. Over the years, Notcutt family members pioneered accessible gardening for all, making a wider variety of plants available to grow in any garden. Meet the family members who made Notcutts what it is today, now in its fourth generation of family ownership.
1869 - 1938
Roger Crompton Notcutt
Roger was the first Notcutt to start a business in horticulture. He came from a long line of successful solicitors however because he was the younger brother of two, he wasn’t expected to carry on the family profession, that was up to his older brother.
Roger was free to choose the path he wanted, and it was clear from a young age that this was going to involve the natural world. He had a keen interest in plants and having suffered from poor health as a young man, Roger was urged by doctors to pursue an outdoor life. He listened and spent a lot of time outside, learning from nature and benefitting from the wellbeing effects of gardening.
Like many gardeners, Roger started humbly growing his own vegetables. Soon after, his focus was drawn to breeding Chrysanthemums. He became very good at growing these, winning an award from the Royal Horticultural Society and developing quite a reputation as an expert in Chrysanthemums.
Roger’s passion for horticulture was growing and in his early 20s, he bought his first nursery in Ipswich, Suffolk. Business was going very well and when another nursery site came up for auction in nearby Woodbridge, Roger jumped at the chance to expand. Though he didn’t realise it at the time, the land Roger bought at Woodbridge would become the start of a thriving garden centre business, still used as the base of Notcutts today.
1875 - 1955
Maud Hetty Notcutt
In 1901 Maud Hetty Fielding married Roger Crompton Notcutt and a year later, their first son, Roger was born. Together, the couple worked hard to build their family business which was rapidly expanding.
When her husband and son both tragically died in 1938, it was Maud who took over the running of the nursery and with the help of loyal and devoted staff, guided it through difficult times during the war. Under Maud’s direction with her nephew, Stephen Abbott Notcutt’s help, Notcutts became a limited company in 1946 with Maud as Chairman.
It was unusual for a woman to hold such a position at the time, but Maud was a shrewd lady who got to grips with running the nursery quickly.
Maud’s passion for gardening together with her own contributions to the horticulture industry were recognised with a beautiful white lilac dedicated just to her, the Syringa ‘Maud Notcutt’.
Roger Fielding Notcutt (‘Tom’)
Following in his father’s footsteps, Roger or ‘Tom’ as he was always known, was fascinated by plants and in 1925, studied Natural Science at Cambridge University. ‘Tom’ then trained at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens and it was whilst studying in Edinburgh that he met his future wife, Jean.
With both academic and technical experience in horticulture, ‘Tom’ was able to make a valuable contribution to the family business when he officially joined in 1927. Two years later, he married and in 1934, his son Charles was born.
‘Tom’ worked alongside his father, sharing knowledge and expertise in the same way that all family businesses do. Together they published ‘Flowering Cherries’ in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society in 1935.
Stephen Abbott Notcutt (known as ‘Sam’)
Descended from Roger Crompton Notcutt’s older brother and coming from the legal side of the Notcutt family, Stephen (‘Sam’) was a huge support and guiding light at a time when the family were most in need.
In the years after Roger and ‘Tom’s tragic death, ‘Sam’ stepped in to be the legal advisor, helping Maud and the team turn Notcutts into a Limited Company.
When Maud passed away, ‘Sam’ remained at the helm, overseeing the business on behalf of her grandson, Charles, until he was ready to take over as Chairman in 1974.
The transition from ‘Sam’ to Charles was a smooth one, thanks to years of mentoring and nurture from ‘Sam’ in the ways of the family business.
1934 - 2015
Charles Roger Macpherson Notcutt
Like his father, Charles received formal training, this time on nurseries in Surrey, Holland and at Pershore Horticultural College.
Notcutts became one of the first purpose-built garden centres in the UK and it was Charles and his team who helped shape what the garden centre industry would become. Under his direction, Notcutts became a destination, a place to spend a day out with the family, to relax and be inspired.
As well as his contribution to Notcutts, Charles was an ambassador for horticulture. He helped to establish many trade bodies over his career, giving horticulture a professional voice whilst also protecting the interests of the industry and the people who work in it.
Charles became the first Chairman of the Garden Centres Association in the mid-60s – a brand new association for a brand new type of garden retail in which his own business led the way. Charles was also invited to join the RHS Council where he was a member for many years. His passion also led him to become heavily involved in the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) for over a decade and in 1977, the body awarded him with the Pearson Memorial Medal for his service.
But it was education and research in the field that Charles believed in most for helping horticulture to flourish. Charles was among the founders of the Institute of Horticulture, first as its Treasurer and later in 1987, as its President.
Throughout his career, Charles was a member of several committees, councils and trade bodies alongside his leadership of a successful family business. Charles’ accomplishments were officially recognised in 1993 with an OBE for services to horticulture. In 1997 when Notcutts celebrated its centenary year, Charles was presented with one of the highest accolades in the business; the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour.
4th Generation of ownership
Today, the 4th generation of direct descendants of Roger Crompton Notcutt, are fully engaged with the business, meeting regularly to discuss and agree the stewardship of the business for future generations.
1965 - Present Day
Caroline is great granddaughter of Roger Crompton Notcutt. She has a joint honours degree in Economics and Philosophy and has a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. She worked in the landscape industry for a number of years, implementing retail, housing and educational schemes.
Caroline joined the Board of Notcutts in 2008 and became its Vice Chairman in 2015. Caroline plays a key role in ensuring the values of the family are reflected in the way the business is run and is a passionate ambassador for the business both internally and externally. She has responsibility for Board succession and considers her role to be one of stewardship for future generations of family ownership. Her vision for Notcutts remains very true to its roots - that gardening is good for the body and soul. This notion of gardening and wellbeing is what led Caroline’s great grandfather to take up horticulture in the first place and she aims to ensure this remains the passion for every Notcutts employee and garden centre.
Caroline is a driving force behind the introduction of the Notcutts Garden to all garden centres, a permanent garden display for every customer to share in the delights of what gardening can achieve and take away some ideas to try at home.
Caroline is very proud of her family’s achievements and visits all Notcutts garden centres regularly, sharing her family values and passion for gardening with Notcutts employees, demonstrating that the values which started the business all those years ago are still at the heart of Notcutts today.
1967 - Present Day
Like his father, grandfather and great grandfather, William trained as a nurseryman by working on nurseries in the UK, Holland and America as well as being formally educated in horticulture with a degree from Bath University. Prior to joining the business in 1992 William was an officer in the Royal Navy.
William worked in all areas of the business – nurseries, garden centres and landscapes becoming a director in 1996 and was appointed Group Managing Director in 1999 and Deputy Chairman in 2007. William left Notcutts to start his own diversified agricultural, forestry, energy generation, commercial and residential property business in 2011.
1975 - Present Day
Andrew grew up with a real passion for the family business and as a young adult gained great experience working at our Oxford Garden Centre. After a degree in Politics and International Relations he held senior positions in marketing and sales in the food and drinks industry within the UK and internationally. He then worked in recruitment, specialising in consumer brands and retail, and is now a history teacher.
With a creative flair Andrew played a strong part as the family representative in shaping Notcutts’ new brand identity and proposition which was brought to life in 2018. He has a strong commitment to the family governance of the business and in ensuring the family culture and values are represented.
1969 - Present Day
After studying for a degree in Modern History and Politics, Sarah enjoyed a successful career in the Civil Service working in several government departments ranging from frontline services to management and finally policy making. Sarah now works in the postal services industry spending most of her day outdoors.
Sarah has always enjoyed gardening and successfully completed Royal Horticulture Society exams in garden planning and maintenance. Spending large parts of her day outdoors has enabled Sarah to fully appreciate the stress relieving and wellbeing benefits of gardening.
1980 - Present Day
Will Brooks Keith
After studying Business, Will spent a year travelling Australia. On returning to the UK he spent time working in various garden centres, moving up through the ranks from shop floor to management roles. From there he moved to a management role in plant nurseries. This gave him a great understanding and appreciation for all aspects of the horticulture industry.
Ultimately, Will decided to follow a long held dream, teaching people to drive, which has resulted in him owning and running his own very successful Suffolk based business.
This diverse career progression has really helped him understand the needs of the business, and the importance of his stewardship role.
1982 - Present Day
Robin grew up in Woodbridge near the Notcutts nursery and garden centre. He now lives with his young family near Bridgend in south Wales and is a Civil Engineer delivering flood and coastal risk management infrastructure projects across the UK. He is passionate about long term stewardship and responsible business; maximising the firm's positive impact on customers, staff, suppliers, communities and the wider environment. Robin played a key role as the family representative in developing the Notcutts approach to Responsible Business.
A History of Notcutts
At over 120 years old, Notcutts has a rich heritage, rooted in passion for horticulture. Learn how Notcutts became the flourishing garden centre business it is today.
Roger Crompton Notcutt buys Woods Nursery in Woodbridge at an auction. Today, this is the site of Notcutts Woodbridge Garden Centre and the Notcutts business base.
This was a great opportunity for Roger as the land was perfectly suited to growing plants having already been used for a nursery for 150 years.
Roger takes on his first apprentice, the first of many at Notcutts. Still recognised as the best way to learn and develop skills in horticulture, Notcutts is nurturing several apprentices in its garden centres today.
Roger began writing catalogues to share his knowledge of the plants he was growing at the nursery. This began a Notcutts tradition for producing expert information and advice to gardeners.
1900 - 1950
Roger marries Maud Notcutt and moves his family into the old Georgian House on the nursery site in Woodbridge.
Roger’s first child and only son, Roger Fielding Notcutt (‘Tom’) is born.
Roger joined the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show Committee and remained there for 30 years. His membership to the Committee reflected the success Roger was having at local and national plant shows and exhibitions.
Winning awards for outstanding plant specimens and displays was very important at the time because it raised Roger’s profile as an expert grower which led to lots of new business. This would start a long history of award-winning gardens created by Notcutts.
Roger buys a little shop in Woodbridge town centre to sell flowers, bulbs, seeds and other gardening goods to local people.
Roger wins his first Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show for his Azalea Garden.
Gardening in Victorian times
Early 20th Century gardening was very different to how it is now. Back then, gardening was mostly done by large country estates which all had their own kitchen gardens and expensive parklands to maintain. In the beginning, most of Roger’s business came from supplying these country estates with plants to fill their huge lands and feed their staff.
Every country estate would employ a Head Gardener which was a very esteemed position to hold. Roger would invite Head Gardeners to his nursery for a tea party where they would be received in the highest regard, not only because their status demanded it, but also to secure large plant orders for the future.
A champion for the environment
Roger became a member of the Council of the Roads Beautifying Association -– one of the earliest associations concerned with the environment. As cars became more widely used, so were the number of roads being built, particularly new trunk roads connecting major cities across the UK.
The aim of the Council, whose members included eminent botanists, engineers, ecologists and horticulturists, was to create better planted and more aesthetically pleasing roads.
Roger’s grandson, Charles Roger Macpherson Notcutt is born.
Roger donates four acres of his land to the National Trust at Kyson, the first donation ever received by the Trust from Suffolk.
Roger Crompton Notcutt and son ‘Tom’ die in the same year, leaving Roger’s wife, Maud, helped by Roger’s nephew Stephen (‘Sam’) to take over the business.
Impact of WW2
During the lean years of the Second World War, attention turned to feeding a population ravaged by war. Many of the nursery’s fields were turned over to grow vegetables and greenhouses were filled with fruit and vegetables to help with the war effort.
At ‘Sam’s’ suggestion, Notcutts becomes a limited company with Maud Notcutt nominated as Chairman.
1950 - 2000
Post-war changes to the nursery
After WW2, demand for plants was primarily from local authorities to help rebuild the country. In addition to this, as the big country estates declined, demand for plants increasingly came from home owners with smaller gardens in the post-war housebuilding boom. Notcutts’ trade no longer relied on visitors to the nursery or wealthy clients who had heard about Notcutts from successful plant shows. Gardeners were everyday people who wanted to create beautiful displays at home, no matter what the size of their garden. Interestingly, given the perspective of today, it was the development of single use plastic plant pots which facilitated this shift. Today, both Notcutts and the horticulture industry more widely are working innovatively to reduce this reliance on plastic.
Charles Notcutt starts horticultural training after his National Service as an officer in the Royal Artillery.
Charles Notcutt officially joins the family business.
The first Notcutts garden centre - 1958
After 40 years, the little gardening shop in Woodbridge town centre desperately needed repair work and the decision was made to re-locate the shop to the Notcutts nursery site about a half a mile away. A purpose-built garden centre was opened in 1958 at the nursery – one of the first of its kind in the UK - to meet demand and hold even more stock. The new garden centre was extremely popular with loyal locals and new people travelling further to spend an afternoon browsing the large range of plants that were now readily available.
Today, the original garden centre is still thriving and although it has expanded and evolved over the years, it remains very special to the family, not only as the first of many Notcutts garden centres, but also as one of the first places in the country to offer this new type of retail experience.
The first edition of the Notcutts Book of Plants - 1961
The first edition of the Notcutts Book of Plants is published and fast becomes a favourite with colleagues and customers alike as a complete reference guide to plants.
The rise of the garden centre
On Boxing Day 1962 the ground froze and remained that way until March 1963. Nothing could be done for so long in this period that the workforce couldn’t actually be paid. Despite this, they all stayed loyal to the business until things got better. This terrible winter put spring on hold for weeks, orders were delayed and customers got fed up of waiting for their plants. This marked a turning point for customers who wanted a bigger range of plants being readily available to see and touch in the garden centre itself. Throughout the 60s, mail order plants declined, with more people coming directly to garden centres. With a bigger range of products available that included restaurants, pets, homewares and gifts, coming to the garden centre was now a popular leisure activity.
Charles Notcutt becomes Managing Director of Notcutts.
Roger’s great granddaughter, Caroline Notcutt, is born.
Charles Notcutt becomes inaugural Chairman of the Garden Centre Association (GCA) as it starts.
Notcutts buys St Albans Garden Centre.
Notcutts comes to fully own Solihull Garden Centre after owning half of the business since 1965.
Notcutts Norwich Garden Centre is acquired from Daniels.
Charles Notcutt is awarded the Pearson Memorial Medal for services to horticulture by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) where he was involved for over a decade.
Notcutts is invited to design and build a new garden centre on a seven-acre greenfield site that becomes Notcutts Peterborough.
Another new build garden centre at Maidstone is commissioned, this time as part of a shopping village which marks the start of a new way to sell plants.
Notcutts acquires Mattocks Roses
Mattocks are an award-winning breeder of roses founded in 1875 and since then the Mattocks name has been synonymous with superior quality and disease resistance. Mattocks Roses can be found in many famous and prestigious places including Royal Horticulture Society gardens.
In 1985, Notcutts acquired the Mattocks Roses brand and their base, which is now Notcutts Oxford Garden Centre. Today these stunning and special roses are still exclusive to Notcutts garden centres.
Notcutts became the first company to have 3 Gold Medal winning exhibits in a single show at RHS Chelsea.
Charles Notcutt becomes President of the Institute of Horticulture.
Notcutts Cranleigh Garden Centre is bought from Hollyhocks.
Notcutts Tunbridge Wells Garden Centre is bought from Whiteleggs and Charles Notcutt joins the Royal Horticultural Society Council.
Charles Notcutt receives an OBE for services to horticulture.
Notcutts Staines Garden Centre is bought from Bloomingdales.
100 years of Notcutts
In 1997 Notcutts marks 100 years with celebrations for colleagues and customers all over the UK. In the same year Charles Notcutt receives the Victorian Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society.
2000 - Today
Notcutts acquires Booker Garden Centre in February.
Shows and exhibitions have always been a huge part of Notcutts. The company’s early success mainly came from these award-winning displays which took immense dedication and expertise to prepare. By 2008, Notcutts had enjoyed 50 Gold Medal wins at RHS Chelsea since the first won by Roger Crompton Notcutt in 1914.
Notcutts buys six more garden centres from the North West Farmers group welcoming Wheatcroft, Dukeries, Woodford Park, Rivendell, Ashton Park and Victoria into the group.
Creating a family of members
In 2009, Notcutts launched their first loyalty scheme, an exclusive club for Notcutts members to enjoy 10% off everything every day among many other benefits. Today, the Notcutts Privilege Club is extremely popular with an impressive extended family of members whose loyalty is rewarded with member-only events, discounts, offers and much more.
The Notcutts website launches bringing thousands of products to an even greater audience of internet shoppers and instant, accessible and expert advice for gardeners at home.
Notcutts buys independent garden centre, Garden Pride.
Caroline Notcutt becomes Vice Chairman ensuring her family values are reflected throughout Notcutts.
Large Gold Medal win at Sandringham
As part of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, Notcutts in partnership with Suffolk-based brewery Adnams, created a pub-themed show garden at Sandringham Flower Show. The garden contained around 1,500 plants with a table set for The Queen’s Birthday Party featuring a lavishly decorated cake, designed and created by a Notcutts restaurant chef. The garden won the prestigious Large Gold award with an RHS judge commenting that they “couldn’t find a single fault, it’s the garden of the show!”.
120 years of glorious gardening
Notcutts marks another significant birthday with two new rose launches. Deben Sunrise was launched at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in memory of Charles Notcutt who sadly passed away in 2015. Anniversary Splendour was named by the public as part of a nationwide competition.
The Notcutts Gardens
Work started in 2017 to create stunning display gardens at each of our garden centres, perfectly suited to the local conditions to offer creative planting and landscaping ideas to visiting gardeners.
The Notcutts Gardens provide living inspiration throughout the seasons and a unique experience where a permanent show garden can be enjoyed at a local garden centre all year-round.