History of Plumfield Nurseries
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An English nurseryman turned sailor, Henry Wicks arrived in Australia in 1881 and began working at a nursery in 1882. He was quickly promoted to chief propagator and in 1887 bought the business, relocating it to ‘within a stone’s-throw of the Glynde Hotel’. In 1895, a report appeared in the South Australian Chronicle about Henry’s nursery.
The author enthused: ‘It was at Penola that I first heard the Riverside Nursery referred to in eulogistic terms … immediately on arrival at Mr Wicks’ property it is evident that the greatest care is exercised in every department of work.’
Henry bought land at Balhannah in the Adelaide Hills in 1905 for the propagation of stone and pome fruit. The property was placed in the hands of his sons Norman (Hubert Norman) and Len. They rode their bicycles from Payneham to Balhannah, and eventually built a house on the property. Norman and Len traded as the Wicks Bros. until 1917, when Len returned to Payneham to focus on walnuts, mulberries, citrus and persimmons. Norman remained at Balhannah.
As well as the nursery, the Wicks family had 120 acres of fruit trees with apples as their main focus. (1a) Norman was the first orchardist to move from bushel apple cases to bulk bins to store and transport fruit – the same bins still widely used by growers today. Being large and heavy, particularly when full, they needed to devise a way to move them. Norman met with Hahndorf-based engineers the Kaesler Brothers and designed a tractor mounted forklift. He was also instrumental in the construction of Australia’s first fruit cold store, raising more than £20,000 to fund the project.This became known as Balhannah Coldstores.
Norman’s son, Malcolm became the manager of Balhannah Nurseries in 1960, and his sons David and Peter joined the thriving family business. When Malcolm retired in 1981, Peter and David carried on the Wicks Bros. tradition – Peter managing the nursery and orchard, and David managing administration.
In 1999 Adelaide Hills largest orchardists, the Joyce family saw the value and growth potential in the business and made a decision to purchase
Plumfield Nurseries. The nursery was relocated to Charleston around the time of the sale, the name
Plumfield Nurseries was considered a local iconic business and too great a tradition to change.
The move to greater acreage at Charleston allowed the business to expand considerably. The rolling hills of Charleston suited the propagation and harvesting of trees, along with rich loamy soils, good water and plenty of sunshine. Bill Joyce, along with sons Mark and Brett have always been a force within the apple industry and growing trees is a natural extension to their orchard operations. Their significant capacity, knowledge, drive and innovative thinking have been harnessed to take
Plumfield Nurseries to the next level. After some years Peter Wicks was appointed as Production Manager, returning with over 40 years of experience in nursery tree production.
Since 2006 Plumfield Nurseries has expanded their bare-rooted operations and now supply potted fruit trees and ornamentals across the country.
The nursery industry is ever changing as it meets the needs and trends of growers, garden design and the fruit eating public. Plumfield Nurseries considers its role to be providing the best new varieties, with greatest benefit to tree growers, as well as maintaining a base of great tasting ‘tried and proven’ old favourite lines and a wide variety of high quality ornamentals.