In 1911 British landscape architects Howard and Lorrie Dunington-Grubb arrived in Toronto. Their vision was to bring the concept of the English garden to Canada. At the time, there were virtually no private gardens or landscape architecture here. There were also no nurseries in Canada producing the plants they needed. So they started their own. In 1913 they purchased 100 acres of land near Sheridan, Ontario (now part of Oakville) to cultivate ornamental plants. This marked the beginning of Sheridan Nurseries.
Howard and Lorrie were committed to their role as landscape architects. They recognized the need to hire a qualified person to run Sheridan Nurseries so they could focus on design.
In November 1913, Lorrie placed an ad in the Gardeners’ Chronicle in London, England, for a foreman. Herman Stensson, an accomplished Scandinavian horticulturalist, responded to the ad. He arrived in Canada with his family in the spring of 1914 to establish the new nursery.
Herman spent his first season learning the realities of cultivation in this part of Canada. He worked with a small staff of labourers to grow shrubs, trees and a small stock of imported perennials. The first catalogue was released in the fall of 1914 for the 1914-1915 growing season. It featured a selection of 80 herbaceous perennials, 29 shrubs, 12 trees and four climbing plants. As Canadians’ were unfamiliar with hardy perennials, the catalogue included an instructional article. It took care to explain things carefully and informally to Canada’s amateur gardeners.
Growth was rapid. In the 1920’s Sheridan Nurseries brought the first Boxwood into Ontario from Korea and the first Japanese Yew seed from Japan. Broadleaf evergreens, not thought hardy enough for Southern Ontario, were brought in from the United States and Europe and proved suitable. Over the years, Sheridan Nurseries continued testing and developing thousands of plants to select varieties that would thrive and be commercially viable. By 1926 the nursery had grown to 250 acres with an extensive selection of trees, shrubs, evergreens, roses and perennials. The company continued to grow through the war and post-war years, adding farms in Georgetown, Ontario.
In the early 1920s, the first seasonal garden centres or “sales stations” opened. One was near Yonge and Bloor in Toronto, and the other on Southdown Road in Mississauga. Today, the Mississauga location continues operations as one of the largest combined retail and trade garden centres in Canada Other garden centres followed in Toronto on Yonge Street (1950), Unionville (1967), Kitchener (1978) and Glen Williams (1994) In 2003, the acquisition of Weall and Cullen Nurseries resulted in the current day Sheridan Nurseries locations in Whitby, Scarborough and Etobicoke. Today, Sheridan Nurseries operates as a local grower, wholesaler and retailer of plants, garden supplies, patio furniture and home decor products. It offers one of the largest assortments of annuals, perennials and nursery stock in Southern Ontario. Many plants are grown locally in Glen Williams and Norval, Ontario. A passion for innovation continues to thrive with the testing and introduction of new plant varieties. Modern processes for improved efficiencies in growing and environmental responsibility are added regularly. At the centre of everything, Sheridan Nurseries proudly provides exceptional guest service with knowledgeable staff who can answer just about any gardening questions out there.
Sheridan Nurseries has over 900 acres of land in Glen Williams and Norval, Ontario, about 50kms northwest of Toronto. The farms grow over 1200 cultivars of perennials and hardy nursery stock and ship over 1.8 million plants annually to markets across Northeastern North America, including Sheridan Nurseries’ eight retail garden centres.