Home > News > Archive > 12th July 2007

Blooming great nursery

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
New Zealand Nursery of the Year winners
TOP TEAM: New Zealand Nursery of the Year winners - owners Carol and Peter Fraser, with manager Grant Eyre (centre) from Growing Spectrum. Photo supplied

By Cathy Asplin

Kihikihi nursery Growing Spectrum has claimed the prestigious 2007 New Zealand Nursery of the Year title at the Nursery and Garden Industry Association’s Annual Conference in Nelson.

The business owned by Carol and Peter Fraser which is managed by Grant Eyre, was recognised for its innovation, excellence and commitment to quality standards.

Mr Fraser says they were very proud to collect the beautifully crafted pounamu trophy as winners of the Nursery of the Year.

“It means a great deal to us to be recognised like this by the industry.”

For the Frasers the business has been a labour of love for over 30 years.

“We initially purchased the bare block of land back in 1973. When I completed my landscaping apprenticeship I couldn’t get the right products to implement my designs, so that’s when we started growing plants. By 1976 we decided to go into retailing - which we continued for the following 17 years.”

The garden centre was eventually purchased by the garden store chain Palmers and the Frasers turned their focus totally onto growing plants for their wholesale operation. With the demise of Palmers in the mid-1990’s, the Frasers were able to utilise the garden centre buildings again as part of the wholesale nursery.

“We began to focus on where we wanted to be in marketplace. We wanted to be growing products that would take pride of place in any garden centre - premium products that could be taken home to be put straight in the garden and plants that customers would be completely happy with. Later we also looked at added value for our customers - comprehensive labelling, prompt deliveries using our own trucks and plants suitable for the increasing trend towards smaller sections.”

They also saw an opening for growing trees.

“The market for trees had diminished and we saw an opportunity to grow quality specimens. Our son Cameron is now contracted to grow those trees for the company.”

Mrs Fraser has also built up a training centre onsite to pass on their considerable knowledge and skills to students. Mr Fraser says great staff have been crucial for their operation at Kihikihi.

“Our staff are an absolute asset who we try to look after as much as we can with good facilities and working conditions to make them feel valued. Some of the 35 staff members have been with us for over 20 years.”

So a celebration with the staff was ‘a must’ when the Frasers returned from conference in Nelson. A luncheon complete with decorations and ‘bubbly’ was organised by sales staff.

Today Growing Spectrum is one of New Zealand’s largest wholesale plant nurseries and produces around 400,000 plants each year. Award judge John Liddle applauded the nursery for its comprehensive plant range, strong management and innovative approach to environmental initiatives, including the adoption of biological pest control methods.

The New Zealand Nursery of the Year competition is sponsored by Daltons.

“We were delighted with the high calibre of all four finalists. Their success reflects a combined commitment to reinvesting in the garden industry,” says Colin Parker, General Manager of Daltons.

Interestingly the very first potting mix made by Daltons many years ago was mixed specifically for Peter Fraser.