Past & Present.
Herbert White & Sons has been trading since 2013 but the history of the company and its true beginning extends much further back to the 1930s when managing director Alec White’s great grandfather, Herbert White, began his own career as a nurseryman.
“Great Grandfather White” was growing chrysanthemum and pansy plants as well as gladioli for cut flower in Harlington near what is now runway one at Heathrow from 1931 until 1965 and selling them into Covent Garden Flower Market.
Great Grandfather Herbert on his nursery in 1942
Alec's grandmother & great aunt picking chrysanthemums
Start at the Beginning.
The family stayed in a cottage on West End lane with the fields behind used for the flower crops as well as greenhouses growing tomatoes.
Herbert’s brothers, Ted and Len, ran a pig farm at the other end of the lane with a contract for collecting all the slop from the high end hotels in central London which was returned to the farm on the empty flower trucks on the way back from Covent Garden. This fed the pigs and in turn the pigs produced manure to feed the growing plants and flowers.
This idea of sustainability and not letting things go to waste has informed the ethos at the modern day Herbert White & Sons.
The End of an Era.
Alec’s father, Colin, has wonderful childhood memories playing among the chrysanthemums trying to catch all manner of bugs for his collection and helping his grandfather to pick tomatoes, while his own father, Edward White, used to make the runs down to Covent Garden to help unload the trucks brimming to the roof with flowers.
Unfortunately by the early 1960’s the business had wound down due to Herbert suffering with a long term illness. Sadly Herbert White passed away in 1965 and the business ceased trading.
Alec's Aunty Val as a young girl showing off her father's plants
Alec's grandad in his garden circa 1960
Passing the Passion Down.
All those trips to the flower market as a young man meant that later in life Edward White, Alec’s paternal grandfather, had become passionate about growing his own small chrysanthemum collection for showing cut flower chrysanthemums at various horticultural society competitions.
He trained Alec as a child to help him with getting the blooms ready for judging. Poised with a pencil in one hand and a chrysanthemum in the other Alec would attentively watch him curl each petal inwards on the incurve varieties and patiently curl each petal outwards on the reflex varieties. Alec became so proficient at it by the time he was 10 years old he competed in the adult category of the Wraysbury Horticultural Society Show and won a first in the category.
This rich horticultural history has shaped present day Herbert White & Sons. Still a family run business with Father and son, Alec and Colin White, working together across the brands and carrying on the impeccable work ethic of past generations of family growers.
The HWS team have developed a reputation for patiently growing plants to an excellent standard with a passion for perfection when it comes to exhibiting their award winning plants. Their exhibits are always sure to turn heads at Chelsea, always striving to improve on their last display.
The collaboration between the original White brothers has been engineered into Herbert White & Sons ethos and they pride themselves on following this approach when maintaining relationships with both their brand partners, suppliers, customers and their own team making sure they create a mutually beneficial commercial environment, an exchange of ideas with the belief that collaboration elevates business.