Alameda Homestead Nursery
Alameda Homestead Nursery is a family owned production nursery specialising in hybrid clematis, wisteria, daphne, hardy perennials and cutflower cymbidium orchids. Our plants are available through many retail outlets in Victoria, NSW, SA and Tasmania. We attend some specialist plant fairs to offer as many clematis varieties as available, the latest being Tesselaars in Victoria and Bilpin in NSW
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ALAMEDA HOMESTEAD NURSERY
In this day of modern social networking and divulging every move one makes, I thought it was time to add a little history of how Alameda Homestead Nursery came to be.
Alameda Homestead Nursery is a family business made up of Judy and David Button, with daughters Amber and Saffron. For those that know us well, Amber and Saffron have worked hard in the nursery from the day they were born. Child labour maybe, but these girls are the most capable people of their age we know, so hard work has only done them good!
I (David) started my horticultural career in 1980, starting a Diploma of Applied Science (Nursery Production and Management), the highest qualification at the time. After three years, I finished and was tossed out into the workforce. Unfortunately there was a serious drought at the time, so fully qualified, I took a job as a flower picker at F Baguley and Son in Clayton. Sim carnations were the main flowers grown at the time along with Roses and Chrysanthemums.
A few months later, a nursery was looking for a manager for their orchid division. They approached Burnley Horticultural College who recommended me for the job. Obviously I took the job, not really knowing that much about orchids, but willing to have a go. After a couple of months there, they moved me to the propagation division as a manager, a position more familiar to what I had learnt at Burnley. The nursery was Tall Timbers Nursery in Keysborough which grew a large selection of shrubs and advanced trees on 20 acres. It was there I met Judy, a new arrival from Holland with a market garden background. A downturn in business at the time saw the eventual demise of the company so we became unemployed. I must mention that we were living in a caravan at the time, so unemployment was not the end of the world.
Unemployment didn't last long though as I got a job as a horticultural sales rep with Fertool Distributors and Judy became a shop assistant at Goodfellows supermarket in Berwick. Things started getting better, the owners of Fertool were very supportive and offered valuable business experience that we have been able to use throughout or lives. Goodfellows brought other opportunities, but Judy changed jobs to Little Acre Nursery in Langwarrin as a propagator. Finally we could afford to buy a house in Berwick and get married. That was 1984.
Buying a property at anytime is tricky, but with interest rates at 13.5% it was time to get some extra income, a second job. At the time, there were a few wholesale nurseries that produced masses of plants for the supermarkets. Being propagators, we built a small greenhouse and started producing struck cuttings. Travelling was starting to wear Judy down, so fortunately she was able to get a job at The City Gardener's growing nursery in Officer. Judy was there for six years, the last three as Manager. The City Gardener also offered room for our cutting business, so I also joined The City Gardener as a labourer/ grower and was there for three years.
The early nineties brought more bad times for the nursery industry, especially the more boutique nurseries such as The City Gardener. It was at that time that we decided to go into business for ourselves. We found a 5 acre rural property in Homestead Road, Berwick. It was the middle of winter and the property was just paddocks. The owner kindly offered us gumboots to inspect the paddocks which we politely declined. We soon discovered that it was a bad move on our part as the entire 5 acres was covered in 3inches of water. A survey later showed that the block was completely flat. That was 1991.
The first plants that were in production were Roses (Old Fashioned, David Austin and Moderns), tubestock for other wholesale nurseries and hanging baskets. At that time two important Clematis nurseries were closing down, Chandlers in The Basin, and a clematis propagator in Tasmania who was supplying wholesale nurseries. Suddenly there were no Clematis in production. We were able to get hold of some varieties from Chandlers to start our collection and that is where we started to be specialist growers of hybrid clematis.
Times are changing though. Over our time in the nursery industry, many things have blocked our way. The introduction of the GST, drought, water restrictions, floods, stock market crashes, increases in costs, the carbon tax, and lack of consumer confidence have all put many of our good retail nurseries out of business, especially in the country.
The fact that most people now days don't like to get their hands dirty and have lost a connection to the garden are adding further pressures as more nurseries go under. Gardening no longer makes people happy like it used to, its just a chore they can do without. Computers, television, entertainment without the exercise or just being a spectator now seems enough to keep people happy. Its a worldwide problem with no answer, but we are working on it!