Now in its third generation our family-run nursery specialises in clematis and although it began as a hobby, it has become is one of the UK’s leading clematis specialists, with over 28 years experience growing and selling high quality plants to customers worldwide.
Growing and selling clematis began as a hobby for Ruth Gooch and her parents Dorothy and Geoffrey Tolver, selling plants wholesale to garden centres or plant nurseries in and around Norfolk. When in 1985 Ruth and her husband Jonathan bought ‘Thorncroft’ a rundown Norfolk farmhouse built of clay lump, they had an opportunity to purchase further land and expand their hobby into a small business. Thorncroft Clematis Nursery opened to the public at Easter, 1989 with the help of Ruth’s parents who by this time had also moved to Thorncroft. Over the years that their knowledge and experience grew, they gained an excellent reputation for the quality of the plants they sold, the high standard of service that they gave their customers and for the development and innovation which are still at the forefront of our business today.
Through the 90’s the nursery grew far beyond a small business and had up to fourteen staff during the peak growing season although now with technology and changes to growing methods we are now a smaller band of workers. In February 2013 Ruth and Jonathan handed over the business to me their youngest son and my team. Our nursery team consists of me (Peter Skeggs-Gooch) owner and Director, Jonathan Gooch my father, is still a Director. During the main season, Wendy is in charge of the production area and plant maintenance and Carol helps to cover the telephone, mail order and shop assistance. My wife Gillian, who worked at the nursery as sales team leader for several years, also helps out between looking after our children Harry and Jessica.
At Thorncroft Clematis we grow the well-known cultivars, evergreen and herbaceous clematis as well as some of the less common species but we are most well known for having many of the new clematis from around the world several of which we have helped to introduce.
Whilst some clematis nurseries compete to have the longest list of cultivars in their catalogue, we prefer to list only those which are in general production on our nursery (usually around 340 cultivars). The cultivars we stock have been selected for their special merits - e.g. length of flowering period, colour, form and quantity of blooms, strength of growth and generally because they are 'good doers' and worthy of space in anyone's garden, hence if you ask us which are the ‘best ones’ the usual answer is ‘All the ones we stock’!
At the time of writing, February 2015, Thorncroft Clematis has been awarded eight Gold Medals in succession at Chelsea Flower Show, adding to a vast array of medals and awards from other exhibitions and events including a major award from Gardening Which in 1998 for our mail order service which we have continued to develop and improve.
The nursery and its staff remain steadfast in our belief that quality is better than quantity and as such, value is more important than price. Happy gardening!