Eden Park Garden Centre has been in the Bartholomew family since 1939, starting with founder Ernie Bartholomew and his wife, Sheila. In the earlier days, along with their five sons - David, John, Peter, Paul and Stuart - the family worked together in running the family business. The site was originally a show ground for landscape gardeners and within a few years they had turned it into a nursery and subsequently expanding it into a garden centre in the 1970's.
Ernie was an estate gardener. He worked for various different dignitaries throughout his life including, Lady Weardale and His Grace the Duke of Northumberland, he then went off to war and on his return he continued his trade in gardening but also moved into landscaping. In 1948 he rented the garden centre site from British Rail where he had a show garden displayed, with a board advertising his services. Whilst working on a landscaping job Ernie was given a greenhouse which he then re-erected on site, and so Eden Park Nurseries was born. In the early days Tony’s Great Grandfather, who lived in a caravan across the road would come over to stoke the boilers throughout the night to ensure the temperature remained constant for the sapling plants.
Tony's Grandmother was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and organised many events through British Rail to help expand the business, she was the backbone of the business and ensured it’s current success with all her efforts.
As the nursery began to grow, the family business also successfully diversified into turf, purchasing a depot in Tunstall, near Sittingbourne in the 1970's and manufacturing John Innes Compost. As this business grew, so did the volume and status of its customers, with the family going on to supply turf for Hyde Park. For over 30 years the legacy remained as Tony’s grandfather was pictured on the bags of John Innes Compost.
In April of 1985, the family purchased the land from British Rail and with this came more expansion. The first shop had been built in the early 1970's and was not large enough to cater for the ever increasing volume of customers, and so the shop was extended. We have included some references below from the early days of the business which gives an idea of the deep rooted high level of service that you can expect from us.
Tony's son Tom is now involved in the business.
1925 letter from The Right Honourable Lady Weardale, "conducted himself to her entire satisfaction, these are extensive gardens and when he worked here in the pleasure grounds, kitchen gardens, fruit and plant houses he is strictly honest and willing and a good worker."
1927 Left Albury Park Gardens, Guildford, letter signed by head gardener to His Grace the Duke of Northumberland
"Worked in the garden two years as an improver inside and out and during that time always tried to give satisfaction, he is leaving on his request to gain further experience."
1931 Head Gardener, The Earl of Carnavron, Highclere Castle
"Employed as first journeyman, he has thorough knowledge of general garden management where early forcing is a feature of such subjects instances peaches, nectarine, melons, figs, strawberries, cherries etc, the general flora and greenhouse plants inc carnations and chrysalemums. He is strictly thorough, honest, industrious, civil and obeyed. He is seeking a change to advance his position in life with my many good wishes for his future success."