Clifton Nurseries - inspiring gardeners for 170 years

Clifton Nurseries - inspiring gardeners for 170 years

Clifton Nurseries's picture
Posted Sep 23rd, 2021
by Clifton Nurseries

In 2021 we're celebrating the 170th anniversary of Clifton Nurseries!  We feel honoured, proud and happy to be part of such a long lasting high profile horticultural business and want to say thank you and pay respect to all those who've contributed in years past and present by telling you a bit about our history .......

Back to the beginning

Our history began in 1851 with the construction of Clifton Villas surrounding a plot of land already in use as an ‘ornamental garden and nursery ground’. The lease was transferred in 1862 from site owner Joshua Hands to Margaret Brown before being bought in 1880 by Johannes Adam Krupp, formerly an apprentice in the Kaiser’s gardens, Germany. 

Johannes established a thriving business growing and selling plants, as well as hiring stock to London’s hotels, theatres and film studios. At this time the site included seven greenhouses and even the second largest palm house in London and the Home Counties (after Kew).  Following Johannes’ death in 1937 Clifton Nurseries passed to his son Frederik.

The Krupp family lived in the Cottage, now known as The Fernhouse

1937 onwards

Born at Clifton Nurseries in 1899, Frederick Krupp (who later changed his name to Kay) took responsibility for the running of the nursery on his father’s death but was subsequently unable or unwilling to extend the lease when it expired in 1941.

The enterprising and very able Sydney Cohen took over Clifton’s lease in 1944 and under his direction the nursery went from strength to strength – with its reputation and influence enhanced further in the 1950s with the establishment of a landscape division headed up by William Duncan.

Following Cohen’s sudden death in 1975, Clifton weathered an uncertain period until the end of the 1970s when Lord Rothschild stepped in to take the nursery forwards.

Clifton Nurseries old plant catalogues

Ownership by Lord Rothschild

Having purchased Clifton Nurseries in 1979, Lord Rothschild instigated a host of inspirational ideas and initiatives including creating an award-winning shop (‘The Garden Shop’) designed by Jeremy Dixon in 1986, a new palm house (‘The Glasshouse’) in 1988, further branches in London and France and a franchise in Japan. Central to this success was Mike Miller (at Clifton from 1960 to 2002) who led Clifton to numerous gold and silver medals at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Under the stewardship of Tad Paulchowski from 2003 to 2011, Clifton carried on moving forwards, including the addition of a café and interiors department. In 2011 horticulturist Matthew Wilson became Managing Director, continuing the design and landscaping legacy with several more Chelsea Flower Show medals.

Exciting developments at Clifton Nurseries under Lord Rothschild's ownership

2016 to the current day

With the 21st century came another exciting chapter in the history of Clifton Nurseries with changes of Managing Director and ownership; firstly to Gavin Jones Ltd in 2016 and then to independent owners and directors, Martyn Mogford and Will Clark, in 2018.  Alongside enhancements to the iconic beautiful nursery in Maida Vale, Clifton Nurseries expanded to include another nursery near Weybridge in Surrey, with a contemporary show garden and space for specimen plants, and a BALI award-winning garden design, build and maintenance operation. Clifton Nurseries continues to thrive, develop and prosper with its own unique style. Now celebrating its 170 year anniversary, Clifton Nurseries has been ‘Inspiring gardeners  for 170 years' - and continues to carry on making history .....

Clifton Nurseries - still inspiring gardeners today


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Clifton Nurseries - inspiring, designing, building and supplying the most beautiful gardens