Floral market presence for half a century

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PROVIDING a multitude of floral colour on Bury St Edmunds Market, Hazel Nurseries has been an enduring presence.

The seeds of the nursery’s legacy were planted in autumn 1958 when Fred Lawrence started the stall in partnership with his brother Dick, selling bulbs, vegetable plants and flowers.

The 73-year-old remembers: “You used to have to queue to get on before you got a regular patch.”

The family run business soon gathered a regular following and Fred’s son Stephen came on board after leaving school aged 16.

It passed from one generation to the next when Stephen took over the stall, which can be found outside the Early Learning Centre on Wednesday and Thomson travel agents on Saturday, eight years ago.

His father continues to help out and many of their products are grown at their nurseries in Outwell, continuing a family tradition.

Stephen, 44, explains: “My grandfather was a small holder and used to sell flowers to London.

“We thought we would sell them direct to people.

“I like it because you’re outside.

“At this time of year we’re on bulbs and it’s always changing.

“Bury is a nice town, it’s quite affluent and the people are nice.

“We do grow a lot ourselves and we have a lot of regular customers.

“We do all our own bedding plants and a lot of people come from further away for that.”

When asked what it is about plants and flowers that appeal, he answers: “It’s the satisfaction of growing something from small to seeing the end result.

“It’s about the end product.”

He admits to being a ‘keen gardener’ – citing daffodils and tulips as his favourite flowers.

He explains: “My favourite time of the year is spring. Winter is out of the way and there’s a new year ahead of us.”

How was it when he first started on the stall?

Stephen answers: “It was alright because I had been brought up with it.

“I had been coming on site since I was a kid and I used to play down the Abbey Gardens.”

Looking back on the roots of their success when he first launched the stall, Fred says: “We were pleased to get on the market.”

How has the market changed over the years?

He says: “The traffic used to come past years ago.

“It has changed since the Cattle Market shut.

“We get more footfall but there’s less farmers and their wives who come into the town centre.

“It’s the characters like that which you miss in that respect.

“The arc is good for the town and has 
brought a lot of footfall.”

The stall’s family tradition continues with Stephen’s wife Sadie and two children Alex, 18, and George, 15, helping out when the stall is busy.

Does he think the business will pass down to the next generation?

He says: “I don’t think the kids will come into it. Things might change but you don’t know.”

One thing is certain though, Hazel Nurseries will continue to serve its loyal cutomers on Bury Market and meet all their gardening needs.