Open funeral being held for Chichester flower nursery founder

Derek Howell, who founded the award-winning Tawny Nurseries in 1977 passed away recently at age 97. The nursery was a winner of the Observer Business Awards Lifetime Achievement in 2019.
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Tawny Nursery is a family-run retail and wholesale plant nursery that offers a wide range of plants and more. They were founded in 1977 by Derek Howell, who got the patch of land as a settlement Association smallholding.

Gloria Robinson, the daughter of Derek Howell, said: “It was a scheme set up by the government after the war to give some of the people that are out of work jobs. He wasn't one of the original ones, but the original people were given a fork, a spade, some pigs, chickens and one greenhouse.

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"But then as time moved on they were looking for people that could grow things from 1957. Before being asked my dad was the head gardener at a private house in Hampshire. So he applied and got the job.

Derek Howell at Tawny Nursery.Derek Howell at Tawny Nursery.
Derek Howell at Tawny Nursery.

"He got to work was then growing tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and feeding the country because food was still very short, even in 1957.

"My mum and dad got fed up of just growing that stuff, so then looked for their own land and came across the Tawny land.

"He was very keen on wanting to grow flowers and was one of the first people to do packed bedding for flowers.”

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Gloria Robinson also runs the Tawny Nursery in Bell Lane, Birdham, with her brother.

In memory of Derek Howell, who's tending to plants in this image.In memory of Derek Howell, who's tending to plants in this image.
In memory of Derek Howell, who's tending to plants in this image.

She commemorated her father, saying: “My dad was a very happy, smiling, calm person and wanted to share his knowledge and passion of plants with everybody.

"He was very highly thought of and was known as ‘Mr Tawny’.

"He had a great affinity with plants, and he was very green-fingered.

"He learnt it all through experience, he didn't learn it from books he taught himself all through what seemed to be a natural knack of growing, and just knew how to do it.

"My brother and I inherited our love for plants and gardening from him.”

An open funeral was due to be held on Wednesday, January 31, at the The Oaks Havant Crematorium.

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