Husband-and-wife clock a century of service at Ashwood Nurseries
A dedicated husband-and-wife team are celebrating clocking up 100 years of combined service at Ashwood Nurseries.
Tony and Barbara Cartwright, of Wombourne, have both been working at the nursery, in Kingswinford, for five decades each, and have been honoured with long service medals from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Nursery owner John Massey presented Barbara with her medal in front of staff. Her husband Tony was awarded his RHS Long Service medal in 2017.
Tony, aged 67, works full-time at Ashwood on the front sales desk. He was working part-time at the nursery in 1967 – more than 50 years ago – when it was very small and undeveloped. But it had a new owner, then 18-year-old John Massey who had ambitious plans to turn it into a productive nursery and garden centre.
Barbara, also aged 67, started work in May 1969 straight from school – and now works three-day-a-week as the web editor.
She said: “We were a team of four and we worked very long days, an early finish was 6pm but it was often between 7pm and 8pm during busy periods.
“We all did a wide variety of tasks in those early years, whether it was advising and serving customers, compiling catalogues and writing labels, plant propagation, planting bare root roses and trees, or – my least favourite job – catching fish in the aquatics section.
“It was the best learning experience for anyone who loved plants because I was working with such a wide range and I was very soon able to specialise in alpines and heathers, our best sellers throughout the sixties and seventies. As the nursery expanded, I added herbaceous plants to my responsibilities.”
In 1971 she attended Pershore College of Horticulture for a year, working at Ashwood at weekends during this time. She and Tony were married in 1978 and had a son and a daughter.
Since then, Barbara has had a variety of roles on the nursery and has been Ashwood’s web editor since 2013.
She added: “Tony and I have now served an amazing 102 years between us at Ashwood and we can honestly say it’s been a privilege to work here.
“We would both like to thank John for giving us the opportunity to work in such a unique place and allowing us the freedom to develop our own particular skills and interests.
"There are several things that have made Ashwood special for us; it’s been the best learning experience for anyone who loves plants, we’ve worked with a great team – and we’ve been so fortunate to make some long-lasting friendships with our lovely customers.”
Tony quickly became a nursery manager and, together with owner John and fellow nursery manager Philip Baulk, was responsible for the day-to-day running of Ashwood Nurseries, developing the nursery into the success story that it is today.
He is still a familiar face to regular customers in The Garden Shop and, with his vast horticultural knowledge gleaned over the years, is always on hand to give advice or simply to have a friendly chat.
He said: “In 1967 there was a tumbledown wooden bungalow that had belonged to the previous owners Mr and Mrs Beach. Adjacent to this was a tiny shop with a small office attached and an open ‘packing shed’ on the front.
“The packing shed was used to pack hardy plants such as trees, roses and shrubs and these were all sold ‘bare-root’ from October to March. A small range of plants in containers was also available grown in used tin cans supplied by the local butcher.”
Ashwood Nurseries is based in Ashwood Lower Lane in Kingswinford – there is one other member of the team who has notched up 50 years while there are over 25 members of staff who have worked there for more than 20 years.