During the early part of the 1900s, a lady called Phoebe started a small floristry business in Catford. From a small shop in Sangley Road, Phoebe built up her business selling cut flowers and plants and, of course, making up flower arrangements for gifts and funerals. The business thrived and in 1947, Phoebe and her husband, Ernest, bought a piece of land in Penerley Road, Catford. On this land they grew chrysanthemums and dahlias for the florist shop as well as to supply the cut flower market, then situated at Covent Garden.
Phoebe’s son Roy was growing up and from his early days was interested and involved in the trade.
A small wooden greenhouse/shop was built on the site in Penerley Road and from this Roy and his parents started to sell a few gardening “bits and bobs” such as string, seeds and compost.
Gradually, with more demand for shrubs, trees and fertilisers, the production of cut flowers was faded out.
Customers soon realised that they got helpful, friendly service at Phoebes and as more people visited the shop, the range of sundries increased.
During 1978, Phoebe’s grandson Michael, had a “gap” year prior to starting a course in medicine at university. During this time, Michael helped out at the family business and noticed a huge demand for garden landscaping work. He started doing odd jobs with the help of a friend and has never look back. “Phoebes Landscapes Limited” was formed and grew from strength to strength – it now employees over 20 staff.
After establishing Phoebes Landscapes as a successful company, Michael noticed the growing trend from the traditional “Nursery” type outlets, to fully fledged Garden Centres. In the early 1980’s, the old wooden shop was demolished and a new double-spanned greenhouse was erected. This gave a new shop area of some 2,000 square feet which allowed for a huge variety of garden products to be sold.
The business continued to grow rapidly and in early 1988 the shop area was further extended to 9,000 square feet, giving a very large area indeed. From there the Company grew from strength to strength.
Later during 1988, Phoebes Garden Centre entered into yet another dimension – with the help of Johnny Morris of the BBC’s “Animal Magic” fame, the new Pet Department was opened. Customers soon realised that not only could they get helpful, friendly advice for their plant and aquatic problems, but Phoebes staff could also give expert advice on pet related matters.
From its humble beginnings in a small wooden greenhouse selling gardening “bits and bobs”, the Phoebes group has emerged into the 21st Century as a thriving business and it is still growing …